A Week at Blacktail Pond (Continued from Yesterday)

Yesterday’s post ended with mama bear attacking her cub.  While I said that I thought it was probably because she was agitated over the wolf having been at the carcass, there is more to it than that.  The cub is 2 years old (actually 21/2 years old) and from mom’s point of view it’s about time for the cub to hit the road.  Biologically, she’s ready to mate again.  This fact is not lost on nearby male grizzlies.  Here is one suitor who has come calling.  The cub moved off when he came on the scene.

A grizzly sow and boar stand near a bison carcass in Blacktail Pond.

Grizzly Sow and Boar, Yellowstone National Park

The next time I saw the sow and boar they were in the act of mating a bit beyond the pond.  The cub was in the vicinity of the pond, but making sure it kept a good distance between itself and the boar.

As I mentioned before, there were other scavengers who benefited from the misfortune of the two bison.  One was a coyote who got some meat from the carcass on the east side of the pond and promptly left.  It probably felt that with grizzlies and wolves around it could find a better place to enjoy a meal than at Blacktail.

A coyote leaves Blacktail Pond with some meat from one of the bison that died in Blacktail Pond.

Coyote, Yellowstone National Park

I mentioned earlier that bald eagles and ravens also benefited from the misfortune of the bison.  I wasn’t sure I had any photos of them, but I looked and found one.

A raven harasses a bald eagle as it leaves Blacktail Pond.

Raven and Bald Eagle, Yellowstone National Park

This photo was quite underexposed probably due to the surface of the pond.  It also has some noise.  Note the blood on the beak of the eagle.

In addition to the wildlife, Yellowstone visitors benefited from the demise of the bison.  The Blacktail Pond area was crowded with visitors, and photographers in particular, for more than a week.

For the most part, these photos were taken under less than ideal conditions due to poor lighting and excessive distance.   The bear and wolf photos were shot at about 175 yards.   In my experience you can’t get good quality images at that distance.  The equipment used was as follows:  Canon 500mm f/4 lens; Canon 1.4 TC; Canon 7D.  I should also mention a book I have found to be very valuable in understanding bears in general and Yellowstone’s in particular.  The book is “Yellowstone Bears In the Wild.”  The author is James C. Halfpenny.  You can find it at almost any book store.  If you’re in Gardiner, Montana, you can pick up a copy of Jim’s book at The Paradise Gallery.  If you go there, you should also check out the wildlife photos on display by several wildlife photographers, including yours truly.


About Jim Coda

I am a nature photographer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I specialize in photos of birds, mammals, and landscapes.
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4 Responses to A Week at Blacktail Pond (Continued from Yesterday)

  1. John Wall says:

    I took a mammal-tracking class with Halfpenny. Definitely worth it if you ever get the chance.

    • jimcoda says:

      Hi John. Thanks for the recommendation. I might do that next time I’m in Yellowstone. In addition to his book on bears I have his book on wolves. It’s also very good.

  2. Pete Theran says:

    Great blog, Jim. Wish I had been there with you.

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