One more picture from yesterday before I call it a night.
One of the challenges in shooting at Crystal Springs is that you can have too many subjects. There are a number of mallards and Canada geese plus a smattering of other ducks like wood ducks, wigeon, scaup, bufflehead, and ruddy ducks. They can cluster up and move rapidly across the pond when visitors feed them, which leads to busy backgrounds and distracting wakes in photographs. So I bided my time until I not only had the subject that I wanted, but also with the water looking the way I wanted.
There are a few pied-billed grebes here. These are little birds compared to a mallard or goose and fairly timid by comparison, this was the only one that swam anywhere close to me. Fortunately, most of the other ducks were drawn off by a family tossing cracked corn near the bridge, so I was able to take some nice pictures during the few seconds it was in view.
During the summer when they are in their breeding plumage, pied-bills have a white bill (which gives them their name) with a black vertical band in the middle, but in their nonbreeding plumage they have a more nondescript bill like this one.
“Only shapes to see, perhaps, not to touch.” – Gollum describing the Dead Marshes in Tolkien’s The Two Towers
The next in my series of colors and textures from Yellowstone, one of my favorite pictures from this trip.
Walk the boardwalks that wind through the Norris Geyser Basin and you’ll see, hear, and smell a variety of thermal features. The water in this little pool was actually cool enough for patches of grass to grow, and I was struck by the reflections of the grass in the milky water.
After spending the afternoon and evening in the thermal areas around Norris, I had planned to visit the thermal areas around Old Faithful the next morning. However, I picked up a tire puncture on the way back to the hotel and had to get that patched in the morning, and the road to Old Faithful was closed by noon when I made it back into the park, so I didn’t get to continue my exploration of Yellowstone’s famed thermal features.
Something for next time.
I normally concentrate on wildlife on my visits to Yellowstone, but with the wildlife not cooperating as much on this trip, I enjoyed turning my eye and my camera on sights I might otherwise pass by.
Somewhere along the way down from Amphitheater Lake in the Tetons, I lost my hat.
I try to be an ethical hiker, so I backtracked for a bit but still couldn’t find it. It had been stuffed into my coat pocket along with my bear spray and some snacks, so I’m not sure how it fell out. I had a spare waiting in the car, so it wasn’t a problem for the trip, but it has joined a list of minor items I’ve lost the past year or so, including caps for cameras and lenses.
Looking back, though, I’m not sure that I actually lost it. I think it was stolen.
I had hiked this trail the year before and enjoyed the scenery, the exercise, the handful of grouse near the trail, and the bear I saw raiding squirrel caches near the top. This year I saw no animals at all and turned around up high when I got into heavier snow. I think the bears were there, just deliberately hiding from me, and suspect that a thieving bruin stole my hat when I wasn’t looking.
There are signs at the trailhead warning against letting bears get at an unattended backpack, but I think they need to also warn hikers to watch their pockets. As dangerous as it is for a bear to associate food with a hiker’s backpack, I think we’re in for a lot more trouble when they realize they can overwinter in a snuggly warm winter hat.
I’d be on the lookout for bears that are nattily dressed — make that hattily dressed.
This picture of me was taken the year before at the top of Mount Washburn in Yellowstone by a hiker from Seattle. The hat in the picture is the hat that is now adorning a lucky bear’s noggin.
I came across this male and a few of his females at the end of the day at Yellowstone’s north entrance in Gardiner, Montana. They were browsing in the meadows near the side of the road, a location I’ve seen pronghorn a number of times.
The male had some strange rectagular patches of missing fur on his right side, which reminded me of the shaved patch our cat Templeton got when he went in for surgery. You can see the edge of one of the patches in the lower left corner of the picture.
I had just arrived in Yellowstone when I came across this bull near the Madison River. He had a much smaller group of females than another bull a little ways down the river. It was near the end of the fall rut and he was clearly exhausted, laying down in the meadow beside the river. Even when laying down with his head on the ground, his antlers stuck up and gave away his position. He never kept his head down for too long though, as eventually one of the other bulls in the area would bugle and he’d lift his head and call back.
I was dressed more for the day’s drive and not for the cold fall weather, so as the sun began to set my teeth began to chatter despite my winter coat. After spending an hour and half with this one bull, though, I finally got the look I wanted as he looked in my direction as he called out, nicely displaying his rack of antlers.
I chose a vantage point to give me a similar background to the bull below (taken in a similar location the year before), with the alternating fields of light and dark brown.