Saturday, July 25, 2015

Photo Gallery for mid-July

Steam rises from Rabbit Creek, a small stream filled solely with hot water from geothermal springs at its source.  Cool early mornings, and most mornings in Yellowstone are cool, emphasizes the steam.

This blog entry includes of series of photos taken in mid-July, in and around Yellowstone.  Several are of the geothermal features and their effects in the park.  

Early morning along Firehole Lake Drive.

Castle Geyser is great when it erupts, but even during a quiet period with steam and occasional small burst of water, it is a dramatic feature, especially with one of Yellowstone's magnificent skies.

Hot water with gas bubbles

The yellow and orange colors are thermophiles, organisms which grow in the hot waters of the park.  A bison walked through here a couple of years ago; today the print left behind is filled with a mat of thermophiles.

The super heated water dissolves minerals and rocks.  Here iron sulfide, probably with a bit of arsenic, creates a thick red liquid that looks like tomato soup.  It is quite a contrast to the clear blue hot water in the pool in the previous photo.

 During Chris' long weekend visit we made a trip through Lamar Valley and over Beartooth Pass. Along the way we were witness to a herd of bison stampeding.  We watched as they flowed over a hillside and down into the valley.  Less than a hundred in number, it was still a reminder of stories of the "oceans" of bison flowing across the plains in the days when their numbers were in the tens of millions.

Bison can run up to 35 mph, something that is amazing for a animal so large and which usually lumbers along, placidly grazing.  But as a number of people  have learned the hard way, they are not always placid.   Five people have been injured in the park this season.  They approached too close and the bison charged.  The park has warning notices all over, but people still go too close.  The last woman injured admitted that she had read the notices, but when she saw other people going closer she decided it was okay to do so.   The newest release from the park is a warning about "selfies."   Three of the accidents occurred as people, already too close, turned their backs on the animals so they could get a selfie of themselves with the animal behind them.

For the photos below, Chris and I started out standing beside my car, on the side opposite the bison. That was fine when they were a long ways a way.  As they got closer, we moved inside the car.

Although the herd was moving, a few of them stopped briefly to roll in the dirt. Dust baths help control mites, fleas etc. which can plague the bison.  It is also common to see Cow Birds on the backs of the animals, eating the insects.

Pronghorn, a member of the goat family (and not an antelope although they are commonly called that), rests in a meadow of sage brush.

Between Cook City, outside the northeast entrance of the park and the Beartooth Highway we got this great view of Pilot Peak in the distance, and a field of yellow in the foreground.  

In mid-July the Bearthooths are a riot of color as low alpine flowers bloom.  The top of the pass is 

10, 470 feet above sea level.  We had hoped to photograph pikas there but it was too windy to sit out on the exposed rocks.

The switchbacks lead down the far side of the pass to the small town of Red Lodge where we spent the night.  

Back in the park, we found this Tree Swallow Nest and watched the adults bring bugs for the demanding young.
Tree Swallows

Not all of my Yellowstone summer is the natural world.  Human history and current human habitation are part of the summer as well.  Here the bellhop and a couple of observers takes down the flag in the evening from the top of Old Faithful Inn.

Remember, you can view the photos in larger size by clicking on any one.  If you click on the first one you can run through them all as a slide show in larger format.

Friday, July 17, 2015

July in Yellowstone

July is a busy month with peak number of guests, congestion at popular spots, less wildlife in my corner of the park, and the Internet has slowed down with the high usage.  I am sitting at a cafe in West Yellowstone in order to have enough speed to download some photos.   Despite the crowds, life here is good and I am enjoying my summer.   I did some travels to other parts of the park, Chris visited for a long weekend, and I found myself photographing birds more than other wildlife.

Here are some photos from around the park, taken this month.  Before the birds and landscapes, here is a family of grizzlies seen along the East Road, north of Yellowstone Lake.
Grizzly sow

This grizzly has two cubs of the year which means they were born this winter while she was hibernating.

Cinnamon Teal along the edge of the Madison River

Canada Geese with their goslings

Mountain Bluebird.  These birds, particularly in spring during their breeding time are a magnificent blue which flashes, like neon advertising as they flit about.

This Tree Swallow was catching bugs and bringing them to the young in a nest in a hole in the tree.

Immature Trumpeter Swan preening.  When mature, the neck with be bright white like the body is here.
Harlequin Ducks at LeHardy Rapids.

I almost missed seeing the "colt" as the young Sandhill Cranes are called.  Their long legs are the reason for the name.  The grasses here are quite high, hiding much of the colt and a good portion of the adult's legs.

This photo and the one below are of a male Dusky Grouse.  I enjoy photographing the males as they strut, puff their chests,  make a deep thumping sound, and fan their tails to attract females.

Three immature Trumpeter Swans

Wapiti, or elk, cows and calves.  The one at the far right has a radio collar so biologists can track them

I caught this beauty the morning after a rainy night.

Grizzly cub stands on hind legs to scope out the terrain and the people standing on the hill observing them,

On a foggy morning, this photo and the ones below we taken overlooking Yellowstone Lake near West Thumb

Sylvan Lake including family of ducks

Sylvan Lake with Cow Parsnips

Great Fountain is one of my favorite geysers in the park.  Here are three different views taken near sunset.  This geyser goes off at intervals of 10-14 hours.  

The next blog posting will include some photos from the trip Chris and I made to Beartooth Pass northeast of the park.   But I have sat at this booth in a West Yellowstone Restaurant long enough.  I'll put together a folder of photos so they are ready next time I have a strong enough signal to download photos.

In the meantime I will be busy with my tours which are going well.   The more I work with the wide variety of cameras which show up on my tours, the better I am at finding settings and helping the guests.  The composition and basics of camera operation have never been an issue.  But my friends know I am a Luddite and I initially found the settings on all the makes and models intimidating.  It gets easier all the time.   I am having fun showing people some of the things their phones are capable of.   

 To view the photos in larger format, click on the first one.  It will allow you to scroll thru in large size.  The captions won't show.