A New Year in Yellowstone

Snow fell often in the days leading up to our first Christmas in Silver Gate.  My lower back protested at having to shovel our driveway so frequently, but Marie’s son Aidan – visiting us from the snowless Bay Area – was delighted to have a white Christmas.  (“But I’m on vacation,” Aidan responded when asked if he might be willing to help with the shoveling.)

I don’t know if it was all the snow or just the holiday spirit, but Yellowstone’s moose population came out in force.  Thunder (our Border Collie) and I drove into the park early every morning, as always, and more often than not we saw at least one moose, usually more.  One morning after a heavy snowfall we watched a big bull moose trigger a miniature blizzard by forcefully scraping his antlers against a snow-laden pine tree.

 

Bull Moose Scraping Antlers Against Snowy Tree

 

Bull and Cow Moose in the Snow at Warm Creek

 

Bull Moose Scraping His Antlers at Warm Creek

 

Cow Moose in the Snow at Warm Creek

 

Snowy Bull Moose Profile at Warm Creek

 

Moose Walking in December Snow at Warm Creek

 

Bull Moose Straight-on in December Snow

 

Bull Moose Crossing the Road at Warm Creek

 

Bull Moose in December Snow

 

Bull Moose in Warm Creek Snow

 

Coyote on the Move in Mid-December

 

Not to be outdone by the moose, Yellowstone’s river otters continued their string of entertaining performances in Lamar Valley.  On several different occasions I watched a group of three otters fish and frolic in the half-frozen Lamar River.

 

Three Otters on Alert in Lamar Valley

 

River Otter Eating a Fish in Lamar Valley

 

Otter Laying Flat on Lamar River Ice

 

Three Otters Huddling by the Lamar River

 

Two Otters in Icy Lamar River Pool

 

Two Otters on Watery Ice

 

Coyote on Frozen Lamar River

 

Unfortunately the otters became scarce again after Christmas, but the moose kept their hooves on the gas.

Bull Moose Walking Near Warm Creek

 

Big Bull Moose Walking Near Warm Creek

 

Bull Moose Walking in December Snow

 

I’d gone a long while without seeing a fox, which was odd because the trail cam in our yard caught foxes trotting by almost every night.  Finally at the end of December I stumbled across a fox hunting rodents in the snow near Pebble Creek.

 

Red Fox Hunting Rodents in December Snow

 

Red Fox Licking Its Chops in December Snow

 

Marie and I spent a relaxing, low-key New Year’s Eve in our cabin, and I even managed to stay awake until midnight (and by that I mean midnight on the east coast).  On New Year’s Day Thunder and I only made it a mile into the park before running across another moose at Warm Creek.  Soon after we saw a moose mom and her calf crossing the road at Round Prairie, and a few days later I almost froze my toes off while photographing three bull moose at Lower Baronette.

 

Young Bull Moose Walking in Warm Creek Snow

 

Young Bull Moose at Lower Baronette

 

Two Young Bull Moose in January Snow

 

Young Bull Moose on a Cold January Morning

 

Moose Mom in Snowy Landscape

 

Temperatures in the park regularly dropped below -10F, sometimes as low as -30F, and in the extreme cold I always enjoy trying to capture the frosted, icy faces of the bison as they search for forage beneath the snow.

 

Frosty-faced Bison in Lamar Valley

 

Young Bison in January Snow Profile

 

Young Bison Running in the Snow

 

Frosty-faced Bison at Round Prairie

 

In early January Marie and I tried cross-country skiing, my first time ever and Marie’s first time since childhood.  We cruised right from our front door to the Warm Creek trail and (surprisingly?) enjoyed ourselves.

 

Marie XC Skiing at Park Border

 

It’s going to be a long winter here, no doubt, but we’re off to a solid start.

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