Yellowstone…River Otters!!!

I’m beginning to feel like the movie Groundhog Day where every week I do the same routine…begin at Mammoth Hot Springs, drive through Lamar Valley, head to Old Faithful for a couple of days, drive around the lower loop of Yellowstone hitting hots spots such as West Thumb, Canyon, the Geyser Basin, etc, back to Lamar Valley in search of subjects only each and every day has yielded new subjects, new photo opportunities. It’s great having the chance to spend an extended period of time in Yellowstone. No two days are the same…including today.

We met Arden at Norris Geyser Basin this morning and the first thing he said was, wolves have been spotted along the Madison, there are ravens flying around, we may have a kill. That certainly got us pumping. We jumped in the snow coach and off we went. We found the area the wolves had been spotted in and even found an area where the fur of an elk was scattered around but, no blood, no kill, no ravens, no wolves. That’s the way it goes sometimes. You win some you miss some and that’s ok. It’s the successes that keep us going. As we headed back towards Madison Junction we found my old friend, coyote mousing in the same meadow he had been hanging in for the last couple of weeks. So, out we hopped and spent a good thirty minutes with him as he hunted for his breakfast. He wasn’t so successful this morning and soon moved off but, not before trotting right up towards us and then down the road. I love the high key feel of this image with the white snow surrounding him…

_6XL0898

We headed towards Canyon for a quick lunch and then off we went along the Yellowstone River looking for more subjects. Suddenly, Arden hit the breaks and began looking through the trees at the river and once he confirmed what he had seen he called out “River Otters”. Sure enough there came not one or two but five river otters swimming by. They hopped out of the river and did their awesome hip hop, run, slide along the ice back into the water for a bit and back out again giving us quite a show. Shutters were clicking madly as we captured their antics on our compact flash cards.

_6XL0966

_6XL0937

_6XL0975

They were headed towards Chittenden Bridge so we jumped back into the snow coach and followed them. We arrived in time to quickly jump out of the snow coach with cameras in hand and position ourselves along the bridge as they came into view. They continued on down river pausing at one hole in the ice before dropping in and disappearing.

_6XL1103

What an amazing experience. Part of me almost wished I had set the camera aside and simply watched but, it was too good an opportunity to miss. Our river otter experience was overe in a matter of minutes. It’s a great lesson in being prepared to catch a fleeting moment. We did not even have time to set up tripods. All the river otter images were captured with my D3S, AF-S 600mm VR, TC-14E II HANDHELD! Good camera technique and VR saved the day giving me new images for my files.