May 22 YNP

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May 22 YNP

Post by Nikon_nerd » Wed May 22, 2019 9:29 pm

Good day in the park today. Had significant grizzly activity finally.

Objective today was to go back to Mary and Sedge Bays to see if the weather would cooperate, and possibly a few bears might be hanging around to have their portraits taken.

On the way in we stopped by the elk carcass on the Madison. Rangers had coned off the road for 1/8 of a mile in both directions near where the carcass was. Signs posted: No stopping, no parking, take wildlife photos from pull-outs only. Many people were ignoring the signage (including me) to park and check out the situation. Carcass was pretty well worked-over overnight. I couldn't even make positive I.D. of where it was at in the morning. Nothing was on the carcass when we checked it out, but I heard from other photographers later in the day that at least one bear had fed on it overnight, plus coyotes, eagles and vultures.

We continued on our journey to the "bays".

All along the Madison was quiet. Drive from Norris to Canyon was uneventful. Nothing but a few bison in Hayden Valley from Canyon to Fishing Bridge. Oh boy, time to "Pay the Piper" and drive through the road construction at Fishing Bridge. We emerged from the road construction area without too much delay and proceeded on to Mary Bay. We saw a large number of cars pulled over at the east end of Mary Bay. I estimate this was around 12:30 pm. We got to the area where the cars were at and noticed a decent size grizz on the side of the hill opposite of Yellowstone Lake. It was about 300 yards out. At first I was reluctant to set up the tripod and get out the big lens, but the wife had better judgement (of course). She told me I should set up just in case the bear came closer. So I did, and sure enough the bear came closer. And closer, and closer. I ended up running quite a ways east to try to keep up with the boar. He followed the contour of the hill, and also came down in elevation to make him even closer to the road. After shooting him for probably 30 minutes, my battery died. No problem, I had a spare in my pocket. Wasn't happy to have to pull the battery tray out and do the switcheroo while the action was pretty hot, but what can you do? Got the new battery, and sprinted down the road all little farther to get in front of the "big guy". Got about 12 more shots and then the new battery died. Uh, oh. No more batteries on me, and the car was almost a half mile away. My date with the boar was over. I proceeded on the long march back to the car. The wife got some more pretty close shots of him, but he eventually changed course and went back up the hill.

After I installed a new battery that I had back in the photo bag in the car, the wife eventually came back to the car too, cuz the boar had gone too high on the hill for anymore good images. We proceeded on to Sedge Bay. Again, a large concentration of cars at the east end of Sedge Bay. We parked. I got out and set up the tripod and the big lens. I could see a bear about 250 yards out on top of a clear flat area half way up the ridge on the side away from the lake. The bear's fur was pretty light, so we figured it might be Snow. When we started talking to some of the other photographers there, they confirmed it was Snow. But as a bonus, there was a pair of grizzlies at the top of a ridge just about 1/8 of a mile back west. Flipping the big lens around and searching the ridge, sure enough, I could see the pair lying down and lounging about. Turns out one of the bears is Raspberry (Snow's mother) and the other bear was her new "suitor". Speculation was that Snow is having a hard time fully separating from Raspberry, and she keeps shadowing Raspberry. We did not have a good vantage point to observe Raspberry and her amorous pursuits, so we focused on Snow. I'm not a bear behavior expert, but from observing Snow this afternoon, she certainly seems despondent, and lonely. We took photos of her for probably an hour or so. Snow (precipitation) was coming down most of the time, but not nearly as heavy as it was last night. Eventually Snow made her way to the top of the ridge. She flirted with disappearing over the ridge several time, but didn't make the commitment. Finally she disappeared. It is sad to watch her. She sure seems to be having a hard time adjusting to a solo lifestyle.

For those interested there is an incredible amount of marmots in Sedge Bay on the side opposite of the lake. Additionally, we saw a lot of Bluebirds in the area while the grizzly action was slow.

We hung around the bays for a little longer, but after about 30 minutes decided it was time to head back. We were hoping to see the Beryl Spring sow that several people reported seeing last night.

The drive back to Norris junction was pretty uneventful. When we got to Beryl Springs there was an incredible traffic jam. We thought ... great it must be the Beryl Springs sow! Unfortunately that was not the case. What it was was one of the worst buffalo jams we have ever encountered in the park! It took us over 45 minutes to drive from Norris junction to just a little north of Madison junction. Several times we had to stop the car and turn off the engine. As we got close to the Madison junction finally the jam cleared and we were able to make our way out of the park.

About a half dozen elk near the Madison bridge on our way out at about 8 pm.
Last edited by Nikon_nerd on Thu May 23, 2019 7:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: May 22 YNP

Post by lah » Wed May 22, 2019 10:19 pm

Those jams from Norris to Madison can be worse than the ones from Madison to West. It's pretty narrow in spots there with nowhere for the bison to go except the road.
Glad you got Snow, and it's interesting there are boars around there, too.
Awaiting your pictures!

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