Yellowstone National Park (YENP) in the state of Wyoming, USA, is one of the wild parks listed in my safari diary for the year 2013, which I have not visited before. Hence, my visit to this park in last July was to explore its fauna and flora including the Bison, the Giant of Yellowstone.
The wildlife photographic tour to USA was planned from the 8th of July together with my wife Lilani. Initially, we spent four nights at the Moss Landing in the state of California, where we had the opportunity of seeing a few of the sea birds common to coastal belt of the west of USA together with the humpback and the blue whales in the waters of the Monterey bay vicinity. Thereafter we spent three nights with Dr Mani and his Wife, Ramani, in Princeton, New Jersey.
On the 19th morning, we together with Mani and his wife, boarded a flight from New Jersey to Jackson Hole in Wyoming, the closest airport to the south entrance of the YENP, where we stayed five nights at the two lodges located inside the park. The first two nights were at the Lake lodge while the rest of the three nights at the Canyon lodge. Since these lodges were in great demand during summer, the booking was done six month ahead.
The Yellowstone National Park was established in the year 1872, which covers an area of 2.2 million acres. Apart from the wild life, the park is famous for its active thermal features such as geysers, hot springs, mud pots, steam vents and terraces. Half of our planet earth’s active thermal features are located in the YENP. As for the wild life, in addition to bison, the park has a stock of wild animals such as elk, moose, brown bear and the wolf;The grey wolf was reintroduced to the park in 1995.
During our five nights at the YENP, sightings of bison were more frequent than my expectation, mainly in the Lamar and Haydon valley. Haydon is close to, Lake and Canyon, lodges. Male is almost twice that of female. The bull weighs around 800kg and the life span in wild goes up to 22years but in captivity usually more. There were a few occasions when we sighted the few bulls wallowing in the dirt. Apparently, month of July falls into mating season and it’s the rival bull action.
The current population at the park is around 3700 while the American Bison/Buffalo, once numbered in the millions going up to 50millions by some estimates. Today, the number in the North America stands around 500,00, while most are raised as livestock on ranches that are not pure bison due to cross-breding with cattle. It’s obvious that the super predator on the planet earth, the human, was responsible for this reduction.
Although my main attraction at the park was the bison, I was keen to see a grey wolf. Hence, we spent most of the time in the last three days, at Yellow stone in search of the grey wolf. On the advice of the game rangers, we drove to Lamar and Haydon valleys in the mornings and late afternoons in search of the grey wolf.
In the last evening at Yellow stone, we sighted a grey wolf in the Haydon valley, but it was very far to capture an image even with my canon 800mm telephoto with the 1.4 lens converter. At the same valley, a grizzly bear was sighted, but far away. On this occasion, my 800mm lens was useful and the visitors at the sight got the advantage of seeing the bear through my camera.
During our stay at the YENP, I was also able to capture a few images of birds including three birds of prey, Bald Eagle, Osprey and Swainson’s Hawk of which the hawk caught my special attention since I have not sighted it before.
On the 24th morning, we drove back to Jackson Hole airport. Lilani and I boarded a flight to Anchorage to continue our safari in the state of Alaska, especially to visit Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park to see the brown bears catching salmon and to Barrow for Snowy Owl. Mani and Ramani extended their holiday in driving to Glacier National park in Montana State.