Showing posts from January, 2010

An ode to the poor, wet little elk

A poem from my friend and faithful reader Wendy:

"Are God and Nature then at strife,
That Nature lends such evil dreams?
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life;

That I, considering everywhere
Her secret meaning in her deeds,
And finding that of fifty seeds
She often brings but one to bear,

I falter where I firmly trod,[...]"

--Alfred, Lord Tennyson

(Much thanks for sharing Wendy!!)

Before and After



Comment from my father:
"How is it that you are able to be "silently dismayed" for being unable to witness "ecology in action" while, on the other hand, you lable the injured hapless prey as "the poor little lonely, terrified, and wet calf"?? I think there is a soft-hearted human inside the researcher's green refrigerator suit."

Tis true...I am not a completely heartless ecologist.  It is hard to see the life taken away from an innocent, young grazing animal that never hurt a soul.  Seeing the aftermath is much easier than watching the wolves take the calf.  But if its going to happen anyways....

Escape Artist

“Oh no!  Go go go go!!  Get away!  Yaayy!”  I wondered what the wolves thought about being cheered and jeered at by the crowds of people who had lined up along the road to watch the wolves’ attempt at obtaining elk calf victuals.  Most of the onlookers were pulling for the calf.  I was silently dismayed when the calf was able to repeatedly escape the ravenous jaws.  I cannot but help being excited for ecology in action.

Prior to my arrival to the scene, the wolves had shunted several elk away from the main herd.  The small group had taken safety in the waters of the Madison River, a place deep enough for the elk to stand but forcing the wolves to swim.  The river’s current would simply push the wolves downstream, preventing them from gaining any sort of advantage on the hapless elk.  At some point, the wolves wandered away, probably to catch their breath and take a break, during which time the elk were able to get out of the water and make a run for it to the main herd.  But somehow a … on a supervolcano...

At exactly 11:16 PM last night, Yellowstone sent out a reminder to those terrestrial-bound creatures treading upon her soil (this includes me), that there is much more to the park than pretty, puffing, spewing geysers and elusive wolves stealing through the trees after elk.  I happened to be asleep at the time, but no matter, she awoke me without care or consideration.  "What the? the bed is shaking...wait...(now that I'm more awake)...the entire house is shaking!"  Only a short few seconds past, and the tremor was over.  In my dreamy state of mind, I laid my head back on my pillow, muttered "awesome" to myself, and immediately went back to sleep.

This was actually not the first reminder that Yellowstone has issued forth from her bowels.  In fact, one occurred 15 minutes earlier, but I was dead to the world.  Actually, the past three days have held several earthquakes over 3.0 magnitude.  The one that awoke me was the largest, with a magnitude of 3.8.  Click h…

Shotgun Photos: A Smattering of Experiences

The paucity of recent posts has caused me much chagrin, but circumstances and events in Yellowstone have prevented me from making any contributions to my blog lately.  The occurrences of late have been unremitting and much so that I don't even know where to begin.  So, instead of extended use of words, I will let the photos from the past two weeks speak mostly for themselves.

**DISCLAIMER:  Several photos contained in this post may not be suitable for the eyes of children or those who are ultra-sensitive to scenes of dead things.  Parental and personal discretion is advised to prevent possible nightmares or mental scarring.**

On the trail of the wolf...

The fish dropped by a Bald Eagle directly in front of Megan as she zipped by on her snowmobile.

Places the wolves take you...

Goose killsite

"Perty cold out dis marnin..."

Killed by wolves #1: The death of a calf...

My good friend Jon committing himself to good data collection...

Coyote: killed by wolf or other coyot…

Purple Mountain and a Blue Moon

Purple Mountain has been calling to me, beckoning that I climb to its top before the end of the season.  And several nights ago, I undertook answering its summon.  The light emanating from the nearly full, blue moon was dimmed by the thin cloud cover, but I could still see well enough to forgo headlight use.  The world was black and white; no other colors existed.  The climb seemed endless, but even as I slogged on and my skis bogged down in stashes of powder, I was enjoying every minute.  I had already passed several wolf tracks cutting across the trail, causing much suspicion and eyeing of black blobs in the trees, but I soon relaxed my fears, something I am learning to do pretty effectively.  The summit was imminent; I could tell by the tree-top horizon line above me and the deepening of the snow. 

Forcing my skis through deep drifts and wandering about in deep thoughts, I kicked hard at my skis to release them from the crusty and powdery snow, when suddenly…a flash in my peripheral…

A New Year In Yellowstone

Wishing everyone a new year that was even better than the last.  Here's a photo of our new years celebration.  Pretty exciting eh?  You probably wish you were there.

(Mary Ann [seasonal biologist for the park] with Simon on the left, Megan [my coworker] with phone on the right)

On the first day of the new year, my cousin Debbie DeVoe came to visit.  She suited up in the big green refrigerator suit (which kept her nice and toasty), and we zipped into the park, counting trumpeter swans, listening for collared wolves, admiring elk, and chasing coyotes around Old Faithful.  She treated me to a large hamburger, which I haven't had in quite a while.  We both had a blast, and it was great to see her before she heads back to Nairobi.  Thanks Debbie!

(That's Debbie in the green refrigerator suite)