Phantom Lake Bear

American Black Bear captured by Z 9 / 800f5.6AFS

Yellowstone has a very well-earned reputation for bears, Grizzly, and American Black. Back in the 40s, large garbage dumps in the park attracted hundreds of Black Bears. Bleachers were built at the dumps for folks to sit and watch the bears feed on the garbage. Cars would park along the road and hand-feed the black bears in those days, it was a total mess for the black bears. Fast forward the clock to last week. Someone thought that they too should try to feed, hand feed a bear that the Techs have come to call Phantom Lake Bear. It was explained to her that feeding bears is not only illegal, is very dangerous (she was reaching out of her car to feed the bear) but really bad for the bear on so many levels. This story was being told to me by a Tech as he explained the bear had a bad limp because it had been hit by a car! He is a gorgeous bear, should heal but bad habits have been started.

Out from Under the Snow

Lower Yellowstone Falls captured by Z 9 / Z70-200f2.8

While Yellowstone is gorgeous frozen in a blanket of white, there are some locations you can’t get to in winter. This is because the Park Service wisely keeps areas closed to protect people from themselves (though I’m I firm believer in Darwin). One of the spots kept closed is the upper observation platform at Artist Point. We arrived this week just after it got reopened and the view is as spectacular as always. Though only twenty feet further to the north than you stand during that winter, those extra twenty feet bring the river into clear view giving the canyon more drama. And now, the frozen cone is gone so you see the entire fire. It’s just gorgeous, I spend hours there just watching. What a wonder!

What’s Under Here?

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear captured by Z 9 / 800f5.6 AFS

That’s why they have that distinctive hump, to answer the question, “What’s under here?” That huge muscle is the perfect digging machine! Out of its den for only a short while, this 400lbs Griz is in a meadow in Yellowstone looking for quick, easy fat to put on after a long winter’s sleep. Last night, it was finding its meal under Bison Biscuits. Under that moist fertilizer were two prizes, grubs, and tubers. He had a good old time digging under nearly every single biscuit in the clearing, at times digging kinda deep and others, laying down on the rich find directly under the flipped biscuit and lapping it up.

You might be wondering about the look of this Griz. This is a classic looking North American Griz as Lewis & Clark encountered. Still, in its thick, rich winter coat, you can see the “silvertip” or “grizzled” guard hairs for which it received its common name. It was a killer evening watching one of my favorite parts of our treasured wild heritage!

Can Bearly Contain My Joy

American Black Bear captured by Z 9 / 800f5.6 AFS

First morning of our annual Yellowstone Spring trip and had numerous Griz & Black Bears, Pronghong, Snowshoe Hares, Sandhill Cranes, Bald Eagles, Gray Wolves and so much more! Though there is snow on the ground, spring has sprung and I can bearly contain my joy!

Watch Your Step

White-tailed Deer, doe & fawn captured by D6 / 180-400VR

It’s that time of year when the next generation is greeting the world for the first time. Birds and mammals young are incredibly vulnerable in their first hours. Predators know this and this time of year, are on the lookout for them. Actually, they are on the scent for them. Our footsteps, the path we make if we aren’t careful can lead a predator right to our subject. So, be careful, watch your step!

Say Spring in a Different Way

Wildflower captured by D850 / 8-15Fish

With spring comes spring color and for most photographers, a great opportunity with wildflowers. Me, on the other hand, spring wildflowers tend to bring frustration as I try to bring their story to my photography. The flip-out monitor for me is a Godsend taking away one major roadblock to my wildflower photography. What really helped me though was to move away from the traditional macro lens (though I use the Z105mc a lot these days) all the time. Grabbing the Nikkor 8-15Fish, setting it to 8mm, and going exploring I find to be really fun. Especially on a day like this with puffies floating by. Pinching the sun through the pedals getting that starburt just required waiting a few minutes (which seemed like hours) for the blossom to stop swaying in the wind to make the shot.

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