After 4 years of trying to get a good shot of an Abert’s Squirrel it was the OTulloh’s photo safari where everything came together. Abert’s Squirrels are not rare, but they are not commonly seen in the park due to their large territories of 10 acres or so. These squirrels are very dependent on ponderosa pine, and with their large ear tassels they are a very unique tree squirrel. I see them a few times a month while on tours but all I get to photograph is their tails bouncing away. This is Rob Otulloh’s shot using a 300mm f4, and our subject just sat in the tree a few feet away obsessing over the cones. It was a very cool opt to share with clients.
This week the coyotes have been very active in some open and not so open areas of Rocky. This time of year the coyote packs are spending their last few weeks together, the pups of the year will break off on their own, and some will stay with their parents and act as helpers for next year’s pups. While they hunt rodents coyotes will stop, ears erect and all of a sudden pounce, jumping a few feet in the air to catch cute fuzzy things. This shot is by Chris Sprangers while on a Photo Safari. It was edited with an Antique Sepia appearance as the light was a bit harsh. With the bad light the effect hides the shadow and noise.
Yesterday right before the Beaver Meadows entrance a group of four coyotes lounged and trotted through the ponderosa pines in search of food. They drew a crowd of folks, but they really didn’t notice much until one fella drove far too fast right at them. They are definitely in their winter coats, and they were loving the high 30 degree afternoon.
While on a photo safari with Mike from Kansas we visited the McGregor Mountain Lodge and were pleasantly surprised by two big bull elk, one being Lefty. A bull with a funky left ear who seems to visit every winter season to the bird feeders. Well Lefty’s friend got into the Christmas Lights getting festive on the first sunny day after a winter storm. Christmas and the Holidays are just around the corner, even the elk know it!
The elk season has come and gone, but romance is still in the air in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s the mule deer’s turn, and like usual the animals sure aren’t disappointing. This huge 12 pointer came out of the wood work and was hanging around a group of 6 females, while harassing and showing off for the two spike bucks. The shot shows the flehmen behavior of the male who is standing over an area where a doe just peed. With this behavior he can determine if the doe is close to coming into estrus.
While scouting around this afternoon I wanted to head out to Moraine Park to see if the gigantic elk herd that was there yesterday was there again today. It definitely was. In the shot below I used Photoshop’s counting tool, and added the 8 elk that are around the corner out of view. The total, just a mere 462 elk. The park service currently estimates the elk population in the park to be between 600-800 for the winter season.
As the sun finally sank below the Continential Divide the skies caught fire and I found myself literally running around the mountain side looking for a nice foreground. Its not perfect but it looked pretty good.