Along with large mammals, birds of prey seem to be a group of animals that most wildlife enthusiasts are strongly interested in. During Summer months, we often see five to six different species of raptors (birds of prey) and occasionally more on each safari.
This Swainson’s Hawk allowed our safari vehicle to approach very closely today so we all took advantage of its cooperative nature by studying its details closely with binoculars and taking some close-up photographs.
Grand Teton and Yellowstone Parks aren’t the best place to live for amphibians and reptiles, but we still see snakes occasionally and the garter snake is by far the most common snake here.
This garter was spotted this morning near Wilson, Wyoming and can be seen “smelling” the surroundings with its tongue. The forked tongue allows it to smell in stereo which is an asset when hunting prey.
A family of red foxes has denned just outside Grand Teton National Park and consists of two parents and five kits. The parents are working full time to feed their hungry offspring and this image shows how one of today’s hunting expeditions was very successful.
The young kits went crazy when this adult returned to the den with a mouthful of small mammals for dinner!
It is definitely more correct to refer to young bison as calves, but they give such an impression of little, red dogs that they are sometimes referred to as puppies. Newborn bison have been a highlight of safaris lately along with excellent sightings of many other birds and mammals. Our recent Wolf and Bear Safari was amazing and, as always, I was impressed with our catalog of sightings by the end of the trip.
Highlights of the safari included: several wolves including newborn puppies, two sow grizzlies with a total of five cubs, coyotes carrying away carrion, enormous bull elk in velvet, a peregrine falcon on its cliffy nest, a great-horned owl nest with chicks and a bighorn sheep ram with a full-curled set of horns.
Ospreys are back in Jackson Hole and almost every osprey nest along the Snake River is occupied with a pair. The bald eagle nest on Spring Creek Ranch had a late start but our local eagles are on the nest and we’ll remain hopeful that they have a successful nest this year.
Other birds to have returned recently include sandhill cranes, several different species of waterfowl and loons.
The “snipe hunt” has been a traditional practical joke on inexperienced campers and consequently has led to many thinking that a snipe is a fictional animal. It is very real but heard more often than seen so this snipe out in broad daylight was exciting to observe on today's safari.
April is a wonderful month for wildlife watching as the national parks are quiet, animals are in motion and each day seems to bring a new species out of hibernation or returning from warmer climates.
Today’s safari observed a very unusual combination of sightings which included four species within the Cervidae (deer) family here in Jackson Hole. The rarest deer found here is the white-tailed deer (seen commonly in the east) so after spotting this large ungulate along the eastern border of Grand Teton National Park, we were especially excited to view elk, moose and mule deer throughout the evening’s outing.
This is a rare compilation of mammal sightings and the addition of bighorn sheep, bison and ground squirrels only added to our impressive species list for the day. Interesting bird sightings of the safari included horned larks, mountain bluebirds, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks and green-winged teals.
We left Spring Creek Ranch at dawn this morning to take advantage of nice lighting for this morning’s photo safari.
These excursions differ from our wildlife safaris in that we work to put ourselves in the best possible photogenic locations while discussing camera equipment and useful techniques for nature photography. We ended up with excellent opportunities to photograph the Teton Mountains, this coyote stalking prey, and Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.