Feathers and Fur – Part 2 of 2…by Brad Marks

Body hurts, eyes red and very exhausted, I must be in Sin City! Most of that condition is due to non-stop birding since we arrived – the rest of the time, well, as the say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. The birding front has been incredible. Already +22 for the Average Year (link here – not updated yet) with a number of lifers in the mix, all of which will assuredly be featured here sometime in the future. Meanwhile, I wanted to get the 2nd part of Brad’s Yellowstone adventure out to you.

Take it away Brad…

In the last episode our intrepid travelers had arrived in Yellowstone National Park in June.  It was June . . . remember that.  There was a blizzard on the first night.  They scraped snow from cars, endured closed roads, saw geysers, bison, birds, rotten egg smells, etc. 

Now you are up to date.  Time to continue on after our second of three nights in the park.  This is our  last full day at Yellowstone.  Here’s the map to help set the stage again. (It’s a big one a takes a few seconds to open.)

It is still mid-June in Yellowstone.  Another 4” of new snow fell overnight (second night in a row) at Lake Lodge, though much more snow fell in the higher elevations.  Again.  All of the park roads were closed until about 10am.  When some of the roads were finally opened and the car was cleared of snow (same benefit card snow scraper) we headed to Fishing Bridge a few miles up the road.  However, when we arrived, there was only one car in sight with the ranger inside her car frantically waving and yelling for us to stay in our car.  After about 10 minutes, she came out of the car to check the area.  She motioned it was OK for us to get out now.  We learned she was in her car because a grizzly sow and her cub had ambled through about 30 seconds before we arrived.  Their tracks were still visible in the early morning snow.

Shots from Yellowstone National Park by Brad Marks

We walked out onto Fishing Bridge to get a view up and down the waterline.  We’d only been there a few moments when this pair of American white pelicans went flying by.

Shots from Yellowstone National Park by Brad Marks

Hit the jump to learn more about Brad’s Yellowstone adventure.

Continue reading Feathers and Fur – Part 2 of 2…by Brad Marks

Icy Drizzle or Shine, That Grizzly’s Mine

Remember when I mentioned the BIG bears were going to be coming up?  Well, I get to make good on that promise!  Yep, today I bring you the heavy hitters in the Ursus category.  As of late, I’ve focused on the American Black Bear because that has been the primary bear encounters we have had in the wild.  The Grizzly below was the only one we encountered on our May 2013 trip

Grizzly Bear Shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

That folks, was one big Grizzly.  It definitely rivals the previous Grizzly we saw out there (link here) and definitely closer.  From a picture perspective, these shots have an odd grainy grey  shine to them.  There is a reason for that – it was SLEETING at that time these were taken.  Not just a bit of sleet either – it was an all out ice downpour that made it quite difficult to get a decent shot.  The Beast doesn’t mind the harsh shooting conditions, but my fingers were freezing and my eyes were taking a beating – a few shots into it I decided to just enjoy the moment.  For those that have seen the remake of the Walter Mitty movie, remember the point where Sean O’Connell declares that he doesn’t like to have the distraction of the camera – that part of the movie always brings me back to times like this.  The point where you stop concentrating on all the technical camera details and focus instead on all the wonders nature has to offer.  The world tends to get distorted looking through the tunnel of big glass.

Grizzly Bear Shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

For those that may not be up with their Grizzly trivial, you might be surprised to know that the term Grizzly  Bear isn’t the term used by the wildlife scientists.  Nope, those hoity-toity elitists use the clearly more boring moniker of North American Brown Bear – dud.   According to our friends over at Wikipedia, the Grizzly name was actually given by Lewis and Clark – referring to it as grisley in reference to the golden/grey hair tips.  Apparently this just had to be corrected in 1815 – could have at least named it something like the Humpty Bear or maybe the much more accurate Skaryazshit Bear.  Did I mention these beasts have males ranging in the 400–800 lb range and females in the 300-400 range?  For reference, Black Bear males have a high end of the scale at 550 and the females are a little closer topping out at 375.  Honey, where is that bear spray!

For snicks I processed out the sleet to give a better view of how these majestic animals look under normal conditions.

Grizzly Bear Shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

It is officially time to close out the bear posts from Yellowstone.  We were blessed with a number of sightings while we were out there and was excited to finally get them posted on the blog for all to share. Don’t worry, I still have a number of different posts coming from Yellowstone.  I need to get through these so I can get to all those other shoots I’ve fallen woefully behind on.


Bear in Mind it was High Sun

It seemed appropriate to go with this topic for today’s post in light of the fact that our 2nd Amendment is under attack by clueless liberals who do not even bother to understand the intent of our Founding Fathers before pushing their own ridiculous agendas. The right to BEAR arms is not about how many bullets it takes to kill a deer (I am especially intrigued by the congressman – talking to you Franken – who give this asinine argument for why we only need 7 bullet magazines) The 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting and it isn’t about sport and if you think it is then you are not qualified to be setting policy. Want something to think about? Consider what these pro-gun control advocates would do if their precious 1st Amendment was under scrutiny.

On a much lighter note… Hey look at the cute bear pictures!

Yes, we are once again back at the Indianapolis Zoo.  Unlike the elephant, this time we bring you a true carnivore – in fact one of the top carnivores in the animal kingdom food chain.  Okay, if we are splitting hairs they are technically omnivores, but I doubt they go around commenting on how much they prefer berries to the taste of raw meat and fish.  I’ve had the privilege of seeing these creatures in the wild and it is quite breathtaking (link here).  They exude a true sense of power as they lumber along that commands a high degree of respect.  I felt a little remorse watching it simply pace back and forth within its exhibit knowing their brothers were enjoying freedom in one of or Nation’s most beautiful parks – one must admit we have come a long way in our treatment of animals  in captivity and clearly this one was not outwardly suffering.  I am not a bear psychologist but guessing there is a call to the wild buried deep in there somewhere.  My utmost appreciation for letting us experience what it is like to be around one but out of harm’s way.  You will never catch me this close to one out in Yellowstone!

Hit the jump to read and see more pictures of the Grizzly!

Continue reading Bear in Mind it was High Sun

Bear With Me… Almost Through Yellowstone

Good news! Linda and I took our cameras out this morning and did some sunrise and bird shooting at Banner Marsh and then moved down to Emiquon (link here) to finish out the morning.  I missed the bald eagle off of Route 8 – it was in hunting mode and spent the time just circling way above the trees.  If the rest of the shots come out as good as they looked on the chimp viewer I’ll have plenty of blog fodder for next month – granted I get through the Yellowstone series first.

But on that front we are really getting close.  After this one I believe there are only two more animal series and then one for water landscape and another for land landscapes and we’ll put a bow on it.  Sorry about flooding you with these, but this is my sweet spot for photography and I really enjoy the post processing and posting almost as much as taking the actual shots in the field – well, truth be told, out in the field is a lot better than post processing but what good is pressing the shutter if you are not willing to put the time in to make them look their best?  Now “best” in this particular series is not as tack sharp as we strive for in our work.  The lighting was not the best (I know, old excuse, but it’s the truth) and the Beast was being pushed to its focus maximums.  Employing higher than usual ISOs are the answer to this, but this typically gives rise to that that evil demon we call Noise.  The shots were put through the ringer in Lightroom to pull out as much detail as possible, but there is point when it works against the shot to do much more.

So today’s topic (if you couldn’t surmise from the title) is all about the Bear.  In particular, the Black Bear.  We have been very lucky on our two trips to Yellowstone in that we captured bears both times we were there.  To see the other set go here.  Most of those were actually of the cinnamon brown variety, but our first bear sighting on this trip was the uber-rare grey variety.

Am I crazy or does this look exactly like a black bear laying in the grass?  Granted I may be biased, since intriguing rocks are always acceptable fodder for my photo outings.  So you might be asking yourself “How does he know it isn’t a Grizzly Bear? – giving some credit that you were aware there was a difference)  It is actually pretty easy to tell.  Grizzlies have a prominent hump on top of their shoulders…since it was missing from the gray specimen above, it must be a from the Black Bear family.  At least if the rest of the week proved fruitless in the search for bear we could say we photographed one.

But alas, we did stumble upon a real live Black Bear on our way back from checking out the wolves in Lamar Valley.  Shot was transitioning in and out of light and even with the Beast at full 400mm it still fell short of really bringing it in tight.

Oh, and was actually had the black fur.

Yes, it was clearly a younger specimen, but this is not the time to get choosey – just getting a chance to see one or two while you are out there is a thrill in itself.  These shots were taken from the side of the road looking back into the hillside.  There was an opening where this particular bear was rummaging around.  The tree shadows and traversing through multiple light levels made it difficult to get a decent exposure while keeping any definition in the black fur.

Hit the jump to see more picture taken of the Black Bear (the live one)

Continue reading Bear With Me… Almost Through Yellowstone