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.

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!

The Veery First

Veery captured by Z 9 / 180-400VR

I’ve seen more bird species than I’ve photographed. With nearly 800 in my image library, I have a few but there are a lot more to be added. But it’s a challenge, you could say I’ve photographed all the easy ones. Easy here being defined as seen more often in more places. I’ve been fortunate to feed my passion for birds in 2022 going after species on my list and successfully adding them to the library. This week I was pleased to add one, not on my list that I last saw over a decade ago but had never gotten glass on until yesterday. The Veery is a small thrush that migrates at night south to South America in the fall and is just now getting back to its nesting ground. It’s a secretive bird that prefers the forest floor. It’s a busy place down there. This morning we saw one in the first soft light of the day. Grabbing the Z 9 / 180-400 off the tripod, I was able to get low and get a fortunate clean shoot of it in an uncluttered piece of the forest floor. I was so happy to have my Veery first photo!

I Can Do Common

Yellow Warbler captured by Z 9 / 180-400VR

I have two basic goals when I go after bird photographs, loving the situation and coming back with images. Today, we tend to travel to specific locations for specific birds. Often, there is some rarety(s) that are the target but can be elusive. Tunnel vision on that one species might garnish you with the photo, sometimes you come back with nothing. You can either chase it or, let it come to you with time and basic biology. The difference I think is loving the situation. There are many magnificent rare warbler species at Magee Marsh, then there is the Yellow Warbler. A gorgeous, goofy little warbler, they are pretty common. While waiting for the Yellow-throated or Black-throated Green, Blackburian, Bland & White, Magnolia, or other rarely seen, there is the Yellow Warbler everywhere. I’ve taken thousands of photos of the Yellow Warbler, looking for that uncommon of the common photo waiting for the other rarities to come through. The twofer here is, I sharpen my skills on the Yellow so when the Cerulean buzzes through, I can get the glass one it and the picture made. In loving the situation, I can do common.

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