About The Spotting Scope
The Spotting Scope is a web site and blog dedicated to providing up to the minute information on wildlife viewing in the Greater Yellowstone Region. With constant input from wide ranging sources, we strive to give you current, factual details on where various species have been recently sited and what the best vantage points are to safely observe all the varied animals that live in the Yellowstone region. As part of our service we offer suggestions on safety and ettiquite as well as some instructional guides on wildlife identification and how to's on locating wildlife.
While you were out!!
NE Corner of Yellowstone: Wolf activity was full of fits and starts. This year was the first wolf hunting season for Wyoming.
The Mollies have taken the hardest hit of all. From the tough, aggressive pack of 19 last year, the pack has splintered into other packs and has basically disappeared. (Read More)
Simple rules to make your experience the best.
Quiet. If you speak at a subdued level, you will often hear wolves,
coyotes and the grunts of bison.
don’t be shy. Sometimes the wildlife is far in the distance. If
you don’t have a good spotting scope, wildlife is often just small
dots in a sea of brown. Wildlife watchers are usually more than happy
you take a peek through their scope. However, resist the temptation to
grab the eyepiece with your hand. Simply bring your eye up to the eyepiece
and touch the scope as little as possible.
Locating Wildlife in the Northeast Corner of Yellowstone National Park
Certainly the Northeast corner of Yellowstone is the single most bountiful area of North America for viewing large mammals in the wild. The Lamar Valley is frequently called the Serengeti of North America and for good reason. As we head toward the Lamar area from Tower-Roosevelt we first cross the Yellowstone River Bridge. After crossing, there is a pullout on the left, nicknamed “wrecker”. Wrecker can be a good place to see bighorn sheep up close and personal. One afternoon in the summer, we watched a heard of rams and ewes wander around the parking lot and between cars for almost an hour. Lot's of film got shot on that afternoon.
Another 1/4 mile East from Wrecker is a picnic area on the right – Yellowstone Picnic – We've seen black bear hanging out there as well as some elk and deer. This is a good trail head heading up Specimen Ridge. A moderate, non-technical hike, you will come across bison, big horn sheep and possibly a bear, so bring your bear spray with you.
of Yellowstone Picnic we pass through “Boulder” and “Little
America”, these areas are home to bison and pronghorn. Stopping
in this area we point our optics at Specimen Ridge (on the right/south
side of the road) we always hope to catch a glimpse of wolves, sheep
or bear. Remember to look up high! Sometimes you will have a terrific
silhouette at skyline! (Read
I have often heard people say that they just do not see what I see when I offer them my spotting scope to see the wolf in the distance. What is the secret?
The first and best piece of advice I can give you is don't look for animals.
If you look through a scope, or a pair of binoculars, and try to see
an animal, or rather an animal shape, you will often not see it. First,
the animals are completely camoflaged and blend into their environment.
And, part of the animal is often concealed by brush, trees or
One small animal you may see, albeit only for a second, is the Pika. Most people think these small animals are rodents, actually they belong to the same family as rabbits, lagomorph. Take a look at those ears and it’s a dead giveaway! Pikas are 6 to 9 inches long and can weigh between 4 and 10 ounces. These cute little mammals are most often seen running for their lives across the road. I have to admit that, though I am an avid pika-avoider, there have been casualties.
Boy Scout Photography
We can discuss all the technical aspects of camera and lens selection, resolution, contrast, color saturation and image composition. But there are many far simpler photography considerations that are fundamentally more important. Subscribe to the Boy Scout rule of “Be Prepared”. In other words, keep the camera in easy reach, make sure you have batteries (charged), mmory cards or film, a tripod if you’re using a zoom lens. A camera which is only accessible by opening the hatchback of your rental car will see little use and might, in fact, put you in danger. (If you are in the middle of a bison herd or near a bear or wolf, you do not want to get out of your car.)
Do you know how your camera works and how to use it? Even the simplest digital camera today has zoom, buttons, a settings menu a rotating wheel to select photographic mode. What the heck do they do? It would be wholly impractical to discuss the operation of even one medium priced camera here. But, there is a wealth of information available on line in the form of operation manuals and photo instruction. So, first, if you haven’t yet done it, get out your camera along with the instruction manual and take a few hundred sample photos of various subjects while changing the settings on the camera. Take photos with front, back and side light. Take low light photos, which is often what you’re faced with when out in the wild. Honestly,I don’t know how to use every feature found on my Nikon D90….and I’m an engineer. There are, however some simple controls you really should understand. (Read More)
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