Wednesday, May 18, 2016

5/13 Elk & Other Critters

I'm a bit behind in posting, but I just got a new computer and have been busy getting it set up.

One of the things I enjoyed most about Trailer Village at Grand Canyon is that the elk wander around almost all day.  When I was here about four years ago, I took a fantastic video of a bull elk using his antlers to knock leaves off the oak trees.  This year I saw only cows. 

I am only about 10' from this one, but she did not even look up at me.  She looks pregnant, so I asked a ranger when they have their calves. He said it could be any time in May through June, but they hide the newborns in the woods and do not bring them out until they are a couple of months old.  I saw only two calves, but was in a shuttle bus so could not get photos.

This one still has a lot of her shaggy winter coat.

Here is a video of this herd of cows.  Actually, I miscounted.  There were actually 13 elk.

The elk seemed to be eating three main items:  the Utah oaks, big sage, and grass. The oak trees are small, and depending on where they are, the leaves are in various stages.  This small tree has fully developed leaves and does not seem to have been eaten much because I took this in front of one of the park buildings.
And one of the reasons they like the campgrounds is that it is slightly more open and so there is more grass growing.

This is a slightly larger oak, but with smaller leaves that were just coming out. Notice that many of the branches have no leaves at all and look as if they are broken off.  That is because the elk were chomping on the bunches of tender new leaves. It does not leave much for the tree's health, to say the least!

This is big sage, except it really isn't very big. Note that here the leaves have been neatly trimmed by the elk.  

This one shows the trimming even better.


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