And Who Might You Be?

A lesser sandhill crane stands in a meadow near the Beaver Ponds Loop Trail in Yellowstone National Park

I wasn’t sure what I was looking at when I came across this crane in Yellowstone National Park in 2004. I was only aware of two species of crane in my country, the sandhill crane and the whooping crane. It looked like a sandhill apart from the brown coloring on its body, so I wondered if it might be a juvenile. Later research showed this to be a subspecies of sandhill, the lesser sandhill crane.

We’re moving to Arizona soon (we’re in Arizona at the moment, we found a house yesterday we’d like to rent), so I’m going to have a lot to learn as I explore my desert home. No matter how long I live here I’ll still come across identification puzzles, I still do even after being in Oregon for 21 years, a combination of my lack of skills and nature not always being so easily pinned down.

Little, But Less So

Two black bear cubs walk single-file up a hillside

Two black bear cubs follow their mother (she’s just out of frame to the right) up a hill in Yellowstone National Park in October 2006. She was very protective of these two, when another adult bear came wandering by she sent them scurrying up a tree without waiting to see if the other bear meant trouble (it didn’t). The cubs were still quite small compared to an adult but were much heavier than they would have been in the spring, a necessity for the winter that arrives early in Yellowstone.


A black bear named Rosie walks near a stream amidst fall color in Yellowstone National Park in the fall of 2006

There have been multiple generations of Rosies in Yellowstone, a name given to a line of female bears that has stayed near the Roosevelt area. According to a park ranger on my fall visit in 2006, the previous Rosie didn’t appear to have survived the winter, she had lost a lot of fur before she hibernated. The new Rosie was a fine mother, looking carefully after her two cubs (who were following her just out of frame). She’d been tagged in her ears to help identify her, although its hard to tell in this picture since it matches the bits of brown leaves in her fur. The picture was a bit of a nod to wildlife photographer Nick Nichols, whose work in National Geographic inspired me. The light was low and the bear moving, so I tried to capture the movement with a low shutter speed and panning with the bear instead of trying to go for sharpness and freezing its motion. A technique Nick did well but I did not, but I still enjoyed the moment.


A variety of mineral deposits at Yellowstone National Park

As someone who loves playing around with shapes and colors and textures, my head nearly explodes when I see a scene like this. Sadly I didn’t have a wider lens at the time but I did my best to capture how many different little scenes you could see from this one location. Two of my recent posts (the orange mineral deposits and the watery fingers) were taken from this spot but with a longer lens, plus some other pictures I may post in the future. Mammoth Hot Springs is always crowded since it is both fascinating and right next to the hotel, so as someone who is a bit crowd averse I limit my time here, but otherwise I think I could spend a week wandering around. One of my favorite hiking trails also leads up from near here.

Oh Yellowstone!

A Lovely Pair

A pair of mountain goats in Yellowstone National Park

This pair of mountain goats reminds me of a pair of Kiwis (or were they Aussies?) that I met at the lookout on the top of Mount Washburn. They were young and touring a bunch of national parks in my homeland and asked my opinions on my favorite parks. They were lovely folks and although I headed back down the trail before them, they later came running past, saying the ranger had told them there were mountain goats near the trail. I kept my walking pace and arrived a short time after them, but the goats were already all the way down the hill and moving off. I got a quick picture but a better memory, meeting nice people on the trails is one of the joys of our national parks.

The goats aren’t native to Yellowstone but they were perfectly adapted to this part of the park, I was astounded at how quickly and easily they covered the steep slopes below the trail. I was even more impressed by the time I arrived back at the car, huffing and puffing, and unconvincingly consoled myself that they’d probably be equally slow and tired if they were carrying a heavy camera and lens.