Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Yellowstone - 1st 24 hours

We drove into the Teton area last night. It seemed a good omen that as we were driving up the road that would drop us into the Teton Mountain area we saw our first grizzly. While I did not get a great shot, I did catch it as it stood up and popped up its head over the willows to check on the people that were trying to watch it.

As I was working on paying this month's bills, we saw a coyote run along the road right near the camper. On our first loop near Obsedian Cliff we saw a mother grizzly bear and her cub near the road. She saw us about the same time we saw her and herded her cub up the side of the mountain and then walked in sight just above the road for a little while. Great sighting, but no time to get a good photograph. After she headed up she was always pretty hidden in the trees. Just up the road, there was a coyote running along the road, with a car right behind it, with a lady hanging out the window with her small point and shoot camera trying to get a photo. (Yes, I hang out the windows and doors of my car sometimes trying to get a shot.) Once again, it happened too fast to get a photo.

We could see clouds moving in from the northeast, blocking out the last evening sun. Sure looked more like snow than rain, and the temperature was right for snow.

As we headed east from Mammoth just near Tower Falls, we saw a black bear foraging. It was on Henry's side and this time we did get a shot. I quickly handed him the camera with whatever lens was on it (it was my landscape lens) after making a quick adjustment to shutterspeed to get something fast enough for a handheld shot.

We passed a sandhill crane sitting on her nest on a small island in one of the ponds. I passed on trying to get her picture because the light levels were low. I figured that she was likely to still be there at a better time of day on another pass through the loop.

The clouds were still coming in, the sun was probably down, but we still had some light. We saw a car facing in the same direction we were traveling but on the wrong side of the road. It must be a good wildlife sighting and it was. A black bear foraging along the creek working its way upstream, oblivious to the human watchers above. I dug out the 100-400 to get started. But as I realized that I would have more opportunities as it went upstream, I asked Henry to get the big lens out and ready. Now I knew light wasn't great. I already had the ISO at 1600. I would not be getting quality images. But the photo fever was on me . . . I fought with the big lens tripod, I hastened up the hill hauling lens, camera and tripod headless of whether I was getting winded or not. And I kept trying to get a keeper shot of that bear. Light was so bad it wouldn't auto focus, so I switched on manual. And I enjoyed watching that bear scratch himself against a tree (turns out that is marking behavior for bears). The light was getting worse, so I finally just enjoyed watching the bear as it continued upstream. The first photos of him are the best, none is competition quality. But this is part of the Yellowstone experience, rounding the bend and having a wonderful wildlife encounter.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mary Ann! First of all, thanks so much for the link to my web page, how sweet!!
Love the photos here and great to see that you are a writer, as this was one of my first loves also and hope someday when I am not so busy to write a childrens book! I can tell from your blog that you have a rich rewarding life and that makes me smile! See ya on the net Bud!!

Mary Ann Melton said...

Thanks, Susi. With your art and photographic skills plus writing, you really should do a children's book. It would be beautiful! Thanks for the comment!