Elk and wild Turkeys were spotted this last week in the area of the Oconoloftee Visitors Center in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, between the Smokemont Campground and the town of Cherokee on the highway, U.S. 441. I was off on vacation camping at the Smokemont Campground where I spotted these animals and the birds.
The Elk herd had been re-introduced back into the Great Smoky Mountains in about 2001 and seem to be doing quite well. I spotted 2 huge bulls and two unique groups of cow elk. I believe these are Roosevelt Elk but I am guessing about that. The turkeys were along side of the road on U.S. 441 as well.
The bull Elk ran into the area next to the parking lot of the Oconoloftee Visitors Center where it definitely was not supposed to be. Apparently there was an enticing small water hole with mud and the bull beelined straight for that mud and wallowed happily. After just a few moments, the elk was encouraged by a Federal employee (probably assigned to keep the elk in safe spots for themselves and the crowds of people observing the herd) via a pop of soft gun pellets and shouting to leave – and it quickly did.
I recommend going to Smokemont Campground in early Fall mid-week as it was uncrowded and had very clean restrooms and is beautiful (quite crowded in the areas near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on the other side of the mountain an hour away). Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
These Elk were spotted in Yellowstone National Park while I was there last month. I saw the two bull or male Elk sitting down beside some trees in a clearing not far off of a road. I took these pictures while on a photo tour with an experienced guide. These Elk seemed to be sleepy which makes sense as it was about 6:15 AM when I took the photographs. During the mating season, bull Elk will use their antlers as battering rams and will butt heads with rivals during fights in order to win their mate (s). The bulls shed their antlers every fall and will re-grow the huge antler racks during the next Spring. Elk eat grasses mostly and also will occasionally munch on other low vegetation.
By the way, I saw very few Elk during this trip compared with my last trip back in August of 2011. The Elk herds last month may just have been in other districts of the huge park. There were several Grizzly Bears in the same area I was taking pictures, so that is yet another reason why I likely was not seeing many Elk. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Wild Burros or Donkeys, cute little barking Prairie Dogs, Wolves, Pronghorn Antelope, Tundra Swans, Beavers, and majestic Elk were some of the wild animals and birds that I saw and photographed on my recent trip to the Plains states. I took the pictures of the Pronghorn, and the Burrows or Donkeys in South Dakota’s gem of a state park, the Custer State Park. The Burros are descendants of those used by the old gold miners of the Nineteenth Century and do roam freely. I shot the picture of the little Prairie Dog at the Prairie Homestead Park just outside of The Badlands National Park, also in South Dakota.
The Tundra Swans were seen on the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park, as was the Beaver. I photographed the Elk in the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park and also got the picture of the Wolf there as well. The Wolves were mostly behind a low ridge and were just out of sight when I was there taking the picture. This one individual Wolf was ahead of the others and I was thrilled to get the picture. I saw many Elk in Yellowstone National Park and just missed taking a picture of a huge bull Elk with a fine rack of antlers (my camera was not out and we were in the car when the Elk crossed the road).
This wraps up my series of pictures taken during my recent trip this month. Tomorrow I will be showing pictures from my own lake at home. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy! P. S. Sorry about the alignment of the pictures. That sometimes happens when I put on the captions. One day I will learn how to do the process without the odd positioning of the pictures : )
Swans (I think they are Tundra Swans?)
American Pronghorn Antelope