Monthly Archives

November 2007

Photo of Bull Elk in Sage

Elk, National Parks, Wildlife, Wyoming, Yellowstone

Here is another look at the fine bull elk (Cervus candensis) I spent an afternoon photographing near Mammoth Hot Springs.

Bull elk in sage brush with large rack of antlers during the fall rut (mating season).  This bull elk has sparred with other bulls to establish his harem of females with which he hopes to mate, Cervus canadensis, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Bull elk in sage brush with large rack of antlers during the fall rut (mating season). This bull elk has sparred with other bulls to establish his harem of females with which he hopes to mate.
Image ID: 19718
Species: Elk, Cervus canadensis
Location: Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Bugling Elk at Mammoth Hot Springs

Elk, National Parks, Wildlife, Wyoming, Yellowstone

The bull elk (Cervus candensis) I photographed one afternoon near Mammoth Hot Springs is seen here bugling, an audible cue and a form of posturing intended for both his harem of females and nearby males, meant to establish his dominance and access rights to the females and warn other males interested in breeding away. In fact, there was another bull with harem only a few hundred yards away. The two bulls bugled back and forth for hours, their sounds echoing over the otherwise quiet hills as evening set in.

Male elk bugling during the fall rut. Large male elk are known as bulls. Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Male elk engage in competitive mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling and bugling, a loud series of screams which is intended to establish dominance over other males and attract females, Cervus canadensis, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Male elk bugling during the fall rut. Large male elk are known as bulls. Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Male elk engage in competitive mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling and bugling, a loud series of screams which is intended to establish dominance over other males and attract females.
Image ID: 19698
Species: Elk, Cervus canadensis
Location: Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Mammoth Elk Photos

Elk, National Parks, Wildlife, Wyoming, Yellowstone

After spending a few days in the Madison River area looking at the elk (Cervus candensis) herds there, I drive over to Mammoth Hot Springs. The bulls are bigger and have nicer antler racks there, so I have heard, but they need to be outside of town to get good images. (Many of the elk in Mammoth are literally in town, among the buildings, cars and people. A curiosity but not what I am looking for when taking photos.) I get there in late afternoon after having spent an hour with a inquisitive coyote at Sheepeater Cliffs. I spot some guys with long camera lenses on a hill just east of the town, so I park and walk up to say hello and see what they are looking at. I am the Yellowstone National Park version of a barney: bright red jacket, bright blue rain cover on my telephoto lens, flip flops, jeans (almost chose shorts) and a Diet Coke. Might as well paint “California” across my back in giant letters. These guys are all dressed in camo jackets, khaki or camo pants, hunter-looking boots, with camo covers for the long lenses. They look like this is their back yard (probably is). They tell me they are keeping tabs on a nice 6×6 bull with a harem, all of which are resting in some nearby sage. I say thanks, sit down near them, read my book and wait on the wind blown hill for something to happen. After a half hour or so the bull rises, as does his harem. They spend a few hours moving around the area, toward the NPS housing for a while, back towards us, then across the road and up onto some hills rising above us. The bull elk bugles frequently, and loud. He has some small, fresh wounds around his neck, probably acquired in a confrontation with another bull for rights to claim the harem. I listen to the experienced photographers discuss the bull’s behavior, where they think it will go, etc. — they clearly have been watching him for some time. One photographer in particular seems to know, just by watching the bull’s posturing in relation to the harem and the location of other nearby bulls (some bachelors for the moment), where it will move next, and consistently puts himself in position for good photography angles. By paying attention to him I manage to snag some nice images, elk portraits I have never had an opportunity to shoot before. He kindly offers me a few tips. Once the sun has dipped enough to end the shooting I offer him my thanks and get back to my car to get some food at the hotel in town.

Male elk bugling during the fall rut. Large male elk are known as bulls. Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Male elk engage in competitive mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling and bugling, a loud series of screams which is intended to establish dominance over other males and attract females, Cervus canadensis, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Male elk bugling during the fall rut. Large male elk are known as bulls. Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Male elk engage in competitive mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling and bugling, a loud series of screams which is intended to establish dominance over other males and attract females.
Image ID: 19693
Species: Elk, Cervus canadensis
Location: Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Madison River Coyote in Snow

National Parks, Wyoming, Yellowstone

I spotted this coyote (Canis latrans) before sunrise one morning along the Madison River on the western edge of Yellowstone National Park. I was looking for elk but the bulls with their harems were not out in the meadows, preferring the cover of the trees. This fellow caught my eye however. Amid the falling snow I spotted some movement on the far side of the meadow, just along the river — a coyote foraging. He would move along slowly, pause after hearing a small animal under the snow, jump up only to drop and pounce on the poor creature through the snow. He caught a few while I was watching, but too distant and too dark to photograph clearly. There was just enough light to get a sharp photograph of it only when it went still, which it did just once.

Coyote in snow covered field along the Madison River, Canis latrans, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Coyote in snow covered field along the Madison River.
Image ID: 19635
Species: Coyote, Canis latrans
Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Photo of San Elijo Lagoon

Photo of the Day

We got out for a walk with the kids last weekend at San Elijo Lagoon. San Elijo Lagoon is one of my favorite places in North County. I have run there several days a week for about ten years, from the east end of the lagoon in Rancho Santa Fe along the south shore, under the freeway and to the ocean at Seaside Beach, and back again, taking me through eucalyptus groves, sage brush, a promontory that is covered with tall mustard in spring, alongside the water and past a few stands of trees that often hold raptors. The lagoon empties into the ocean in Cardiff State Beach, a stretch of beach I love for its hollow, picturesque waves. On my hundreds of San Elijo lagoon runs I have encountered a few bobcats, including a mother with four kittens, countless rabbits and rattlers, a fox, and lots of birds (that I can’t identify since I am not a birder). Saturday was a good day as it had one of the highest tides of the year which forced many birds close to the edge of the lagoon where they can be easily seen. We saw dozens of small birds, all of which we consider ducks, and several largish raptors, all of which look like hawks to us but which might have been Northern harriers. Whatever, lots of birds.

San Elijo lagoon at high tide, looking from the south shore north west, San Elijo Lagoon, Encinitas, California

San Elijo lagoon at high tide, looking from the south shore north west.
Image ID: 19834
Location: San Elijo Lagoon, Encinitas, California, USA

Surf Check

California, Carlsbad, Photo of the Day

We went for a walk on the beach yesterday late afternoon, getting back to the car just before sundown. There were no good waves but the tide was out and the beach nearly deserted, so it was good to be there. The pullout just south of Palomar Airport Road almost always has a few people checking from the bluff. You can read the water all the way from Teramar in the north down to the campgrounds to the south. Sarah and I try to hit Starbucks early each Saturday morning, get the latte and hot chocolate (140 degrees) then park at the bluff and look at the water, its a good spot to kill time.

Surf check.  Three guys check the surf from atop a bluff overlooking the waves at the end of the day, at sunset, north of South Carlsbad State Beach

Surf check. Three guys check the surf from atop a bluff overlooking the waves at the end of the day, at sunset, north of South Carlsbad State Beach.
Image ID: 19808
Location: Carlsbad, California, USA

Ocean water washes over a flat sand beach, sandstone bluffs rise in the background, sunset, Carlsbad, California

Ocean water washes over a flat sand beach, sandstone bluffs rise in the background, sunset.
Image ID: 19806
Location: Carlsbad, California, USA

Cobblestones on a flat sand beach.  Cobble stones are polished round and smooth by years of wave energy.  They are alternately exposed and covered by sand depending on the tides, waves and seasons of the year.  Cobblestones are common on the beaches of southern California, contained in the sandstone bluffs along the beach and released onto the beach as the bluffs erode, Carlsbad

Cobblestones on a flat sand beach. Cobble stones are polished round and smooth by years of wave energy. They are alternately exposed and covered by sand depending on the tides, waves and seasons of the year. Cobblestones are common on the beaches of southern California, contained in the sandstone bluffs along the beach and released onto the beach as the bluffs erode.
Image ID: 19807
Location: Carlsbad, California, USA

Photo of Norris Geyser Basin

National Parks, Wyoming, Yellowstone

Norris Geyser Basin is one of the principal geothermal areas of Yellowstone National Park. Loaded with fumeroles, steaming hot springs, geysers and other generally hot-as-hell nasty holes in the ground, Norris Geyser Basin is best seen on a cool morning when it billows forth steam. The two photos below are from the Porcelain Basin trail.

Ledge Geyser, vents releasing steam, in the Porcelain Basin area of Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Ledge Geyser, vents releasing steam, in the Porcelain Basin area of Norris Geyser Basin.
Image ID: 13483
Location: Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Steam rises in the Porcelain Basin, Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Steam rises in the Porcelain Basin.
Image ID: 13490
Location: Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

See more photos from Norris Geyser Basin.

Photo of a Coyote Hunting Voles

National Parks, Wyoming, Yellowstone

The meadows around Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park are a good place to look for coyotes (Canis latrans) hunting voles. This coyote was found working the tall grass. He would stalk quietly through the grass, stop and listen, poise, leap high and and drop on his prey. Brutally effective.

A coyote hunts for voles in tall grass, autumn, Canis latrans, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

A coyote hunts for voles in tall grass, autumn.
Image ID: 19638
Species: Coyote, Canis latrans
Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Coyote at Sheepeater Cliffs

National Parks, Wyoming, Yellowstone

I usually stop once or twice at Sheepeater Cliffs while in Yellowstone National Park, hoping to photograph the yellow-bellied marmots that are found there. This time I was disappointed: it was too late in the year and they had gone to ground for the winter, and I could not find any of them. As I was kicking back and eating my lunch before continuing on to Mammoth Hot Springs for the afternoon, a coyote (Canis latrans) strolled by and started working in the brush along the river, presumably for voles or other small varmits. He was pretty comfortable with my presence, so I walked along and watched him for a while, taking photos.

Coyote, Canis latrans, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Coyote.
Image ID: 19634
Species: Coyote, Canis latrans
Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA