Friday, May 27, 2011

Yellowstone: Animal explosion!

Okay, here's the last of the three Yellowstone National park picture dump posts, and I promise I will get back to talking about writerly things on Monday. Until then, I'm going to throw some wildlife pictures in your direction.

One of the most abundant things you'll see in Yellowstone are buffalo (or, if you prefer, bison). They're everywhere. Seriously. Traffic has slowed to a drizzle? There be buffalo in the road. You look out into the distance and see some brown blobs on the hill? They're buffalo. And they look something like this:
Isn't the baby adorable? They get together in groups and frolic too. :)
After the bison, you'll probably start seeing elf everywhere. They're characterized by their white butts. The black blobs in the distance are pretty much always buffalo and the white blobs are usually elk butts. Of course, both elk and buffalo do hang out by the road, as evidenced in these pictures.
Lady elk chilling out in Mammoth Hot Springs.
Elk with antlers in velvet. They were GIGANTIC.
After the buffalo and the elk, the animal selection is free game. Somedays you can go to Yellowstone and see little to nothing. On other days you can turn every corner and find something new and exciting. One of those exciting things might be big-horned sheep, which aren't nearly as domesticated and dumb as the average sheep.
See that white dot in the center way at the bottom of the picture?
It's a massively pregnant bighorn sheep! That climbed down a cliff face!
And this was a bachelor herd, just chilling in the picnic area. 
Just look at the horns on this sucker. Holy crap!
Now, this next bit is something special because it's something that I've never seen in Yellowstone before: river otters! There are only three otters in the picture, but it was a group of four and they were porpoising upriver.
I cannot come close to quantifying how adorable the otters were.
Now, you might be wondering how I managed to see all of these different animals. Well, you can blame the wolves that were reintroduced into the park. My family is full of wolf people, and once you spend an extended period of time looking for one animal, you start to learn where everything else hangs out too.

While I did see several wolves, they were way too far away to get any decent photos. But to satiate your inner canine cravings, I present to you the less illustrious coyote:
He was just taking a stroll down the side of the road.
For reference, coyotes are a lot smaller that wolves and don't live in packs. They're also found all around North America, so if you're lucky, you can see one anywhere. Even in big cities.

Anyway, now to some birds, because birds are also pretty cool. I have several different bird pictures, but I'm only going to subject you to two. All you need to know is that one of them was crazy and would hang out at a specific window on a specific trailer in our campground for days on end. The other bird is just pretty.
Mountain bluebird--I love how bright they are!
Crazy Bird aka the red-shafted flicker.
Well let's wrap this up, shall we? It's time for the bears! If you were following my tweets, then you'll know I saw a ridiculous number of them. Unfortunately, I wasn't really thinking about taking pictures on the 12 bear day (I was too busy being excited), but I did my best later on.

Now what you need to understand is that most of the time when you see bears in Yellowstone, they're pretty far away. My parents both have spotting scopes, which definitely helps, but it's not too picture friendly. For example, check out these two grizzly bears:
There are some brownish dotes near the top of the left side.
Yeah. Not too great, hmm? However, there are other times which are a bit more exciting, so first, let's look at some black bears:
Black bear that was taking an afternoon nap.
A cinnamon colored black bear that was grazing on grass.
This was actually on a steep incline right next to the road. O_O
Aren't they cute? I love their round ears.

But I sense that you guys might be wondering something though. If some black bears can be brown, then how do you tell the difference between a cinnamon black bear and a grizzly bear?

Well, for one thing, grizzly bears are much bigger and they have a hump. They also like different environments. Black bears can climb trees and you can usually see them in wooded areas. Grizzlies, on the other hand, can't climb trees, and are often seen in wide, open spaces. Observe:
This is a female dubbed "Bling." She has a radio collar and two ear tags. :P
Another grizzly. Note the hump. Also, digging about for munchies.
So what do you think? My pictures aren't all that fantastic (animals don't necessarily like to pose), but I think some of them turned out okay. I also got pictures of a blue heron, a nesting sandhill crane, a female spruce grouse, a male spruce grouse that was in the middle of rutting, mule deer, and some pronghorn. However, I figured that this post was already long enough, you know? Either way, tell me what you guys think in the comments.


Jessie said...

Awesome photos! I've been to Yellowstone twice and saw a fair number of black bears, but no grizzlies. I would love to see a grizzly in the wild. From a safe distance. Because they're scary.

MissKoolAid said...

I came over from your mom's blog. I love your photos and the way you introduce and describe them. You really do have a way with words!

Sarah Robertson said...

Honestly, I think Yellowstone is trying to make it up to me. I went there a thousand times as a little kid and we never saw any bears, but this time I saw at least 30. It was crazy.

I think moose are terrifying. Bears have claws, but moose are crazy. They'll just attack you for no reason and they're big and scary. >_>

Sarah Robertson said...

Aww, thanks for visiting! And I'm glad you liked my photos. :)

Annerb said...

That was awesome! I loved the coyote picture. I like them even though they can cause a little trouble. Your picture-taking abilities impress me. Thanks for sharing.

Sarah Robertson said...


Coyotes make me really happy actually. A lot of people see them and are all "Oh, it's just a coyote," which is just depressing. I actually got to see a pair of them start howling/yipping through the spotting scope, which was nifty. :)

Annerb said...

Oh my gosh! That's so cool! I wish I could have seen it. The one time I got really excited once was when we were driving up to my cabin and we passed a fox on the road. There was so much snow, the fox decided it was just easier to use the ruts on the road rather than bounce around in the fields, no matter if there were people or cars. It was awesome.

Sarah Robertson said...



And that fox story sounds pretty sweet. I love foxes just because I've never seen them all that often. Definitely makes it more exciting.

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