Saturday, July 24, 2010
If our late evening safari through the Lamar Valley was great on Friday, it was even better on Saturday. The light was even more beautiful; and wildlife was everywhere. We saw a grizzly bear wandering along the banks of Soda Butte creek, pronghorn antelope grazing among the sagebrush, and the ubiquitous herds of buffalo.
Once one spends any time at Yellowstone, it is easy to take buffalo for granted. They are everywhere. Yet it was our encounter with these creatures that was the highlight of this evening’s drive. It began just after the grizzly disappeared into the sagebrush. We had driven less than a mile down the road when we spotted yet another herd. What made this sighting special was not the animals but the light. We parked along the side of the road and, with no other cars in sight, Lewis and I jumped out of the truck to take a look.
It was completely quiet except for the sounds of buffalo snorting and chuffing. The mosquitoes that had plagued us along Soda Butte creek were completely absent here, making it easy to focus on shooting what ended up being hundreds of images. My 100-400 was long enough to capture compositions featuring individual buffalo and, eventually, buffalo head shots. It wasn’t until I started having to back up to get these head shots that I realized how close I was; the entire herd had walked over to me. This explained why Lewis had bolted for the truck…
In some circumstances my situation would be cause for concern but, in this case, these buffalo all knew I was here. They had been watching me the entire time I was watching them. Clearly, if they were approaching me, I was safe. Besides, they couldn’t see me if I didn’t move. No. Wait. That was the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. I wondered if this was the conversation a person had with himself right before he was gored. I moved behind the truck, then into it, as they all crossed the road in front of me. Awesome.
[Click on a thumbnail to view the entire image.]
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