Saturday, September 25, 2010

2010 RMNP Elk Rut

Ever since we got back from our vacation to Wyoming, I've been looking forward to my next opportunity to do some wildlife photography. The annual elk rut in Rocky Mountain National Park seemed like the perfect chance, and I somehow managed to get Taryn to wake up at 5 a.m. and come along with just a bribe of a $4 necklace and some ice cream.

Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the elk. We saw more meadows that looked like this than any with actual elk in them. Another photographer said this was the fewest elk he'd ever seen.

Sheep Lakes in Horseshoe Park had the most, including this calf...

...and this cow.

One bull put on the biggest show, including plenty of bugling.

I didn't expect so many bluebirds, but we probably saw at least half a dozen.

A Gaillardia aristata hanging on to a few last petals.

We also managed to hit a good time for fall foliage, as the view beyond the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center demonstrates.

That bull I mentioned earlier had quite a harem, and seemed to be attracting other cows as the morning wore on.

Clearly due to his impressive bugling.

Do sunlight and changing leaves combine to make an aspenbow?

Taryn was a delight the entire day. For a girl who wears purple fleece jogging suits, she does enjoy the outdoors.

Fallen trees are, of course, for trying to traverse.

I have absolutely no idea what these berries are. Whenever I watch outdoor survival shows, I reflect on how I'd be dead in no time if I were ever stranded in the wilderness.

On our second pass through Moraine Park we saw this lone bull missing half his antler rack, resting peacefully in the shade. He didn't seem to be missing the rut at all.

He didn't appear to care very much about us, but I still tried to respect his space and not get as close as the trail would have allowed. We just snapped a few pictures and then headed out for lunch and the aforementioned ice cream.

Even without seeing as many elk as I'd expected and hoped, the day was still a complete blast. Now I just to need to figure out which National Park I can get to next and when!

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