The first time I went to Yellowstone I immediately knew I was going to love this place. Wilderness like it supposed to be. It has, of course, been touched by human hands in the present and the past, but it gives you the feeling it is the ultimate wild. Wolves roam freely, coyotes and foxes hunt for voles in the deep snow and eagles and raven keep an eye out from the treetops.
The most beautiful thing about Yellowstone is not only the many stunning views but it’s the silence. Silence which is only present during the day.. during the night it’s aggressively broken by Danny’s snoring and my annoying cough because of the flu.
Yellowstone is by far the most beautiful place I’ve been so far. A surprise lies around every corner… a wild animal, a stunning view or a nice place to have a big breakfast and hot coffee.
The last time I was at Yellowstone we didn’t see any red fox and I was hoping this time would be different. They look so beautiful in their red shiny winter fur. They are the smallest member of the canine family. The larger ear size of foxes enables them to hear and catch mice and rodents under the snow and they do it perfectly. Their head turns from left to right while their body stays perfectly still. They listen and listen and when the exact location of the vole is found, they leap in the air to generate enough weight to penetrate the deep snow and catch the prey. I must say, they are pretty good at it.
I was so glad to see many red foxes and I have enjoyed every minute seeing them hunt and walk the large snowy plains. Unfortunately the days were very sunny. The sun is very nice after a very cold night but the downside is that the camera sensor captures the heat haze which results in very soft images. At first I thought there was something wrong with my equipment because these heat waves are not easily seen with our bare eyes. The closer the fox came, the less it would effect the image. Luckily we have seen many red foxes and sometimes at very close range. What a beautiful animal and they look so stunning in the white snow.
The second largest canine within the national park is the coyote. The coyote is a common predator in the park, often seen alone or in packs, traveling through the park's wide-open valleys hunting small mammals. Although the coyote is bigger than the fox, their ears are smaller. But the coyote is still a very skilled hunter and their hearing is good enough to locate voles under the snow too. Coyotes stay far away from wolves because they will be killed. On two occasions we saw a coyote run for his life and the reason was probably a wolf pack but they stayed well hidden within the trees. They have many reasons to fear the wolf. Male coyotes can weigh up to 30-40 pounds while the biggest male wolf was measured 130 pounds. After the reintroduction of wolves in the park, the number of coyotes declined with 50%. Eighty to ninety percent of coyote deaths from wolves take place at kills, where Wil E Coyote is not quite so sneaky and gets a little too close to his larger brothers.
As the largest land-dwelling animal in North America, the bison of Yellowstone National Park (often mistakenly referred to as “buffalo”) are nearly impossible to miss. Over 4000 bison walk freely through the park and this soft winter hasn’t seemed to effect them much. They looked fat and happy. Of course the grass has little to no nutrition but the bison have adapted to these poor conditions during the winter. An impressive animal…
Another trip with Natures Images has come to an end. Time flies when you are having fun but the next two trips to Yellowstone have already been planned for me to help guide in September and next year’s winter. A big thank you to all of the people who travelled with us and of course a big salute to our drivers and guides John and John. You have all been great company and I do hope we’ll meet again on one of our next trips, wherever that may be!