Small Wonders on a Yellowstone Wolf & Wildlife Photo Safari

Natural Habitat Adventures April 1, 2020 0

Going on safari with me can be a little annoying. I have been known to shout out, “STOP THE TRUCK!!!,” getting everyone excited that we are about to encounter a lion or leopard dancing the Macarena to celebrate taking down a Cape buffalo.

Imagine their surprise when I jump out of the vehicle and drop to my knees, usually right in the spot where our tire was about to carve a path. For most guests on our Uganda safaris, their favorite animal from the trip will be our main feature, the mountain gorilla, or possibly a chimpanzee, lion or elephant.

I aim my sights a bit lower. My favorite representative of the African wildlife pantheon is the lowly dung beetle—an animal that has taken recycling to a new level by building a nursery and pantry for its young by rolling animal waste into a nutritious capsule larger than its own body.

Dung beetle in Africa.

It turns out that my fascination with the micro does not only apply in Africa.

In January, I had the incredible opportunity to join one of our Yellowstone Wolf & Wildlife Photo Safaris. I couldn’t have been more excited, as I have had a fascination with wolves my entire life but had never seen one in the wild.

The wolves and other wildlife did not disappoint. I would have been completely satisfied to have seen a single wolf walking through a meadow on a hillside across the Lamar Valley, and that was frankly the most I hoped to see. Instead, our group got a master’s degree in animal behavior by watching the Junction Butte Pack hunting a herd of bison.

The other large, charismatic wildlife also showed up in fine style—we saw a coyote fishing in the river and hunting voles…

Coyote in Yellowstone.

A red fox settling into a day bed…

A red fox curled up in the snow.

Countless bighorn sheep and elk…

Bighorn sheep in the snow in Yellowstone.

Elk butt heads in Yellowstone.

Of course, the ubiquitous bison…

A bison herd in Yellowstone.

And another strange creature that we couldn’t quite identify making its way through a snowy meadow…

A Nat Hab guide treks through the snow in Yellowstone, pretending to be a deer.

However, true to form, it turned out that my favorite critter from the entire trip was one of the little ones…

An ermine in the snow in Yellowstone

I thought about this little ermine throughout the entire trip, and even after fulfilling my lifetime dream of seeing wolves in the wild, our encounter with this slinky subnivean hunter has stuck with me as my most exciting memory.

An ermine jumps through the snow in Yellowstone.

So, wherever your travels take you next, to Africa, Asia or right here in our own backyard in North America’s national parks, don’t forget to appreciate the less-obvious, diminutive highlights.

By Mark Jordahl, Adventure Communications Director at Natural Habitat Adventures. All photos © Mark Jordahl.

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