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Wildlife

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Black Bear on a stroll through the spring grass

I have been quite fortunate on my few visits to Yellowstone National Park in having seen multiple Black Bears on each trip. Oftentimes the view is fleeting though and pictures less than stellar. Last Sunday however the stars aligned and I was able to get some great pictures of this Ursus Americanus.

While the morning had yielded many worthwhile photo subjects, none were a bear and I was getting discouraged and frustrated. As we worked our way toward the Tower-Roosevelt area, I was however hopeful as in the past we had good luck there. Sure enough, we round a corner to see a hulking, black form among the tall grass not far from the road.

Having a feel for the direction it was heading and wanting to give it a wide berth and not disturb it, we went past it a good way and pulled over. I didn’t have a good view of the bear initially but I knew the angle I wanted and was hoping it would continue on the path I anticipated. I crouched down, pointed my camera and then waited.

Sure enough, here it came, emerging from the tall grass, walking along and occasionally grabbing a mouthful of foliage for a morning snack. I got a number of good captures of it but this is by far my favorite. I love the low, head-on perspective and the eyes of the bear really look great.

Image available for purchase here.

An American Black Bear walks through the grass in the Tower-Roosevelt area of Yellowstone National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Black Bear walks through the grass in the Tower-Roosevelt area of Yellowstone National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

 

Wildlife drama as Bison calves struggle to cross fast-moving river

Our first day in Yellowstone National Park last week provided some heart-pounding action. Arriving in the afternoon we only had time for a quick drive and checked out the west side of the park along the Madison River. We were happy to find a Bison herd farther west than we had seen them in the past.

Soon though, a drama unfolded as four calves had become separated from the herd and were on the opposite side of the river. A wet winter and spring had the river running very fast and very full. The calves ran back and forth along the river’s edge before finally making the plunge.

They struggled mightily against the fast-moving current and those of us watching couldn’t help but feel scared for them. With lumps in our throats we cheered then on and thankfully, all four made it across and were reunited with their very happy mothers.

Scroll down to view the complete series of images.

Bison calves struggle to swim across the fast-moving Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bison calves struggle to swim across the fast-moving Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

235 years ago today: The Bald Eagle becomes our nation’s symbol

President Ronald Reagan first issued a proclamation for National Bald Eagle Day in 1982 commemorating the 200th anniversary of this majestic creature becoming our nation’s symbol. Man’s stupidity nearly eradicated the eagle from the earth but thankfully we wised up and it has made a miraculous recovery. Now we have the privilege of seeing them regularly and marveling at their beauty. I cannot think of a more fitting creature to symbolize the United States of America. The text of that first proclamation follows:

Proclamation 4893—Bicentennial Year of the American Bald Eagle and National Bald Eagle Day
January 28, 1982

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Whether silhouetted against the sky on a rocky pinnacle in Alaska or soaring majestically overhead in Florida, the bald eagle is admired as one of nature’s most spectacular creatures.

To catch a glimpse of this majestic raptor is to understand why the Founding Fathers chose it to represent the strength and courage of our great Nation. Its grace and power in flight, its vigilance and loyalty in defending its family group, and, most of all, its courage make the eagle a proud and appropriate symbol for the United States. Its presence on the Great Seal of the United States—one talon extending the olive branch of peace, the other brandishing the arrows of defense—is a symbol of friendship and cooperation to our allies and a warning to our adversaries that we are not to be trod upon.

No one is certain what the original United States population of the bird was, although it may have approached 75,000 – 100,000. We do know, however, that its extinction has become a disheartening possibility in recent years.

We have sought to prevent that possibility by restricting the use of certain pesticides. Shooting and habitat destruction are also being brought under control as a result of protection and conservation programs conducted under the Bald Eagle Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Scientists believe we are now beginning to see a subtle but definite population increase through the cooperative efforts of Federal and State fish and wildlife agencies, conservation and industrial groups, scientists, and private citizens. These efforts are truly indicative of the spirit of cooperation and perseverance which is at the very heart of our national character.

On June 20, 1782, the bald eagle became our Nation’s symbol and national bird. As we approach the bicentennial anniversary of that event, we have an excellent opportunity to pause and reflect upon the importance of the bald eagle, indeed of all our fish and wildlife resources, to a healthy America. On this occasion, let us renew our commitment and dedication to the conservation of our natural heritage as symbolized by the bald eagle.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, in accordance with a joint resolution of the Congress (SJ. Res. 121), do hereby proclaim June 20, 1982 as “National Bald Eagle Day” and designate the year 1982 as the “Bicentennial Year of the American Bald Eagle.” I call upon the people of the United States to join in these observances with appropriate activities in their homes and communities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 28th day of January in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixth.

RONALD REAGAN

An American Bald Eagle flies across beautiful blue skies in Colorado. 235 years ago the Bald Eagle became our nation's symbol. (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Bald Eagle flies across beautiful blue skies in Colorado. 235 years ago the Bald Eagle became our nation’s symbol. (© Tony’s Takes)

Posing Pronghorn buck

Our second day in Yellowstone National Park last week saw us head to the Lamar Valley, our favorite area of the park for seeing wildlife. As always, it did not disappoint.

Among the creatures we were able to view and photograph was this handsome Pronghorn buck. He was initially lounging around, watching the tourists go by then got up and struck a nice pose for me.

Sometimes mistakenly called antelope, their closest relatives are actually giraffes and okapi. It is believed Pronghorn developed their extraordinary speed when the now extinct American Cheetah was a threat.

They are in fact the fastest land animal in the Western Hemisphere and second in the world only to the Cheetah. They can sprint at speeds up to 60mph and run for extraordinarily long distances at slower speeds. That speed and endurance continues to come in handy for escaping the threats of today – coyotes, wolves and of course man.

A Pronghorn buck poses in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Pronghorn buck poses in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley. (© Tony’s Takes)

Surprise little Moose bull

One for Moose Monday from late last week. We were out sightseeing, driving along the Teton Pass Highway just west of Jackson, Wyoming. I spot this dark, brown creature with its head down in a field and at first glance thought it was a horse as it didn’t seem all that big.

Not wanting to miss something good though I quickly pull over just to check and we were happy to find this young bull Moose. He is likely only a year old or so judging by his relatively small stature and the nubs he has for antlers.

Our presence didn’t seem to bother him and he seemed more curious about us than anything but then became bored and moved to a more sheltered spot where we couldn’t see him.

A young Moose bull stops to check out its surroundings near Jackson, Wyoming.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Moose bull stops to check out its surroundings near Jackson, Wyoming. (© Tony’s Takes)

White-tailed Deer doe in the soft morning light

This pretty lady was a bit captivated by me – and I have to admit I was a bit taken by her as well. 😉 The beautiful, golden light of sunrise was pretty much perfect for capturing an image of her as she took a break from grazing.

A White-tailed Deer doe pauses from grazing to check out the photographer.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A White-tailed Deer doe pauses from grazing to check out the photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

Great Blue Heron flyby

It isn’t often these big birds cooperate with me but on this day, one did. It was in flight, following the South Platte River and passed at close range giving me some nice images as it did.

A Great Blue Heron flies across the blue skies of northern Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Great Blue Heron flies across the blue skies of northern Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bald Eagle launches to defend its territory

Well, this happened quickly. The male Bald Eagle at this nest is not normally pleasant, always making a ruckus anytime anyone or anything comes even remotely close. On this day, a young Bald Eagle dared to intrude on its territory and it was not happy. Fortunate for me, the young one was flying right behind me leading the adult to launch and fly right over me. Taken along the South Platte River north of Denver, Colorado.

A male Bald Eagle launches into the air to defend its territory.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Bald Eagle launches into the air to defend its territory. (© Tony’s Takes)

Cliff-side owlets keep close watch on the photographer

I had seen pictures in years’ past of this Great Horned Owl nesting spot but never could figure out where it was. By chance, social media gave me a clue and on my way through the area I had to check them out.

The sun had barely come up and the spot was heavily shaded meaning high ISOs and not great quality pics but it was fun to find and see them, particularly given the unique spot.

The two owlets were quite active and keeping close watch on everything around them, including me. They apparently have fledged in the past day or two so my one photo opportunity with them was my last.

Prepped for launch

Having just finished its meal, this Swainson’s Hawk is ready to fly. I was too late to catch the eating action and had to settle for this shot. You can see it is wearing some of the leftovers on its beak. Probably needs to use a napkin next time. 😉

A Swainson's Hawk prepares for lunch from a pole.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Swainson’s Hawk prepares for lunch from a pole. (© Tony’s Takes)

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