Saturday, February 12, 2022

Maine Moose 2003

I have moose on the mind since I saw four in Yellowstone a few days ago. The only trip I've ever done specifically to look for moose was a tour in Maine in October 2003. I only posted a few images from it at the time because I thought it was disappointing. The guide only found one bull with antlers. After driving around for a while without seeing anything else, we spent much of the remaining time at Baxter State Park watching female (unantlered) moose with a bunch of other random people. I didn't feel hiring the guide added much value, not to mention he was kind of a jerk.

But going back and looking at the images today, there are some interesting ones and after a lull of more than 18 years, I put together a slide show of 15. The images benefit from Photoshop Elements 2021, a vastly better processing program than I had at the time. I was able to get close enough to the moose in most of these images to fill the frame with the 300mm lens, so minimal cropping was required, important when my DSLR at the time only had 4 megapixels. I was also surprised to note that I used flash with the 300mm on a few of the images, including the one shown here. Click on the image to start the slide show.

Maine Moose.  Click here if the image is not visible.
Maine Moose

Friday, February 11, 2022

Grand Teton Moose 2003

This week's encounter with four moose in Yellowstone reminded me that I came across moose nearby in the Grand Tetons in September 2003. I got my first digital SLR a year earlier, but was still shooting and scanning film concurrently. I got a few blurry film shots of a cow and calf on film, and had better luck with a lone cow with the DSLR. It sounds funny to say since moose are so skittish, but the images are too close. I was probably shooting from a car at a moose very close to the road. My long lens on that trip was a 300mm f4, which is a great lens and I still have, but I can't zoom out like with the 100-400 which became my workhorse lens shortly afterward. I posted three more moose images to the gallery for that trip. Except for a distant shot of one racing through our neighborhood last winter, I hadn't gotten an SLR shot of a moose since Maine in October 2003, so until this week's encounter everything else moose-related was caught on trailcams. Click on the image to start the slide show at that point. If you keep clicking, there also are additional and reprocessed images, mostly elk but also a few other things.

Grand Teton Moose.  Click here if the image is not visible.
Grand Teton Moose

Yellowstone Moose

There's nothing better than finding something new at a familiar destination, in this case moose at Yellowstone National Park. The only moose we've seen recently was one running through our neighborhood last winter, but we've never seen one in Yellowstone. On our drive from Gardiner to Cooke City Thursday, we saw one before the Tower/Roosevelt intersection. She (I'm guessing) was buried deep in the brush and I got just a couple of good shots. Then we were surprised to see one in Lamar Valley near where we usually see bighorns. As I was snapping away at him (I'm guessing), another one bounded out of the woods a few yards away. I only got one good shot of him. When we got back to the hotel, I was surprised to see the head of yet another moose in the background of that last shot. So I'm claiming four moose on the day.

Something else we've seen in abundance elsewhere but not at Yellowstone is pronghorn. There was a small herd hanging around the Gardiner entrance the three days we were there. We also saw the usual bighorns, bison, elk and mule deer, although the most elk we saw was outside the park on Friday as we were driving north from Gardiner back toward Livingston. There were hundreds. The elk and moose had all shed their antlers so they weren't quite as impressive as when they have them, but of course the bighorns and bison always have their horns. During our snow coach tour and drive, we also checked off a bald eagle, a golden eagle, and some tagged ravens hanging around the Tower/Roosevelt rest stop. No coyotes or other four-footed predators this time, unlike previous years.

We did the snow coach tour to the waterfalls on Wednesday and the drive on Thursday. I'm not a big fan of crowded bus tours, but snow coach or snowmobile are the only ways to get to most of the park during winter. Yellowstone in the summer is crowded, so winter is a wonderful alternative. It seemed like the guided tour vans were back in abundance after last winter's low traffic during the pandemic. There wasn't as much snow as the other times we've been to Yellowstone in winter. We did the Old Faithful tour last year and the Waterfall tour in 2019, both from West Yellowstone. Doing the tour from Gardiner this time allowed us to do the Lamar Valley drive on the same trip, unlike 2021 and 2019 when they were separate trips. Click on one of the images to start a 42-image slide show.

Moose.  Click here if the image is not visible.
Yellowstone Moose

Bison.  Click here if the image is not visible.
Bison in the snow

Bighorn.  Click here if the image is not visible.
Lamar Valley Bighorn

Bald Eagle.  Click here if the image is not visible.
Bald Eagle