Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mama griz and COY

Yellowstone National Park: May 5, 2010

I hope it is not too confusing for you, my readers, when I mix Yellowstone posts in with current posts. I'm back to Yellowstone now.

Grayness has taken over – farther west it appears to have started snowing. We’re heading in early. As we approach Rosie’s Woods I see a grizzly on the right, just close enough to consider photographing.

I’m so glad we paused. There is a tiny cub with her, a COY (Cub of the Year). The little guy has a light muzzle and a very light collar (collar of fur, not a researcher’s collar).

Mama and cub amble across the narrow valley, climbing over one boulder and around others. When she reaches the toe of the talus slope on Junction Butte she paws the ground, obviously finding something to eat. Soon she heads up the talus slope with the little cub right on her heels. When she pauses, the cub gets underneath and peers between her legs. This Mama has a thick full coat. She would be just out of hibernation and hasn’t started shedding yet. Her cub looks tiny next to her He is covered with dark brown wooly fur. She is very gentle, carefully lifting her foot when disentangling herself from him.

Mama hikes with the little fella, zig-zagging up the talus slope and then foraging again as soon as she reaches the grassy zone. After forty minutes the cub seems to be tiring. When Mama pauses to eat, he lies down instead of exploring. Soon she is on a somewhat level area and lies down on her side, with her back to us, to nurse. If I hadn’t watched bears nurse before I wouldn’t be sure, but the way she holds her right arm up, I know she is nursing her cub.

She settles into a different position and both nap. I bet the cub is snug as a bug tucked in her dense fur. They sleep for about an hour. Snow is falling when she awakes. We last see them, barely see them, disappearing over the rise on top of Junction Butte, snow softening their outlines.

1 comment:

  1. Aaawwwhhhhh. What a wonderful sight this would be. I like the way you captured the gloom of the day with the snow beginning to fall.