deponti (deponti) wrote,

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Lone Elk Park, Fenton, Mo. 200108

After we visited the World Bird Sanctuary, we realized that the Lone Elk Park was right adjacent to it, so we turned in there as well.

The Park was truly beautiful, even in the dried-up sereness of made me wonder how verdant and lovely it must be in spring and summer. There are several biking and hiking trails, but with the sub-zero temperatures, we stayed securely in the car, expending zero calories as we drove through the roads....and very much like Kanha or the Serengeti, we saw the mammals that this park is famous for, quite easily, as they seem quite used to human beings (though they keep their distance) and are not disturbed by passing cars.

The two main mammals that we saw....

Firstly, the ELK ..... contrary to the name of the park, we saw quite a large number of animals. There were not many young ones, though there were several sub-adults.

the magnificience of the antlers...elk stag

and the AMERICAN BISON, which dates back to pre-Columbus America:

american bison grazing

Here are a few views; first, the ELK.

Some does on the side of a camping area:

elk does

Here's a close-up of a sub-adult:

sub-adult elk eye close up

The heavy fur keeps the animal warm through these temperatures.

We were lucky to see this doe suckling her fawn:

Elk Doe feeding Fawn

This youngster has started sprouting small antlers:

young elk stag

This full-grown male was in a dip in the ground where a partially frozen stream was flowing; no matter how long we waited, he never raised his feed from his drink!

elk stag in the stream

I got this good profile of a full-grown male:

Elk Stag

and here are the details of the magnificient antlers:

elk stag ...lovely antlers

In the distance, we saw two males fighting, locking antlers; however, the bout didn't last too long, perhaps it was a mock-battle, rather than a serious fight....

young elk stags fighting

We went on through the winter landscape. The trees had dried brown leaves and it looked as if they had leaves fashioned of copper:

leaves of copper

Everywhere in the distance near the streams were flocks of CANADA GEESE:

canada geese in the Lone Elk Park meadows

Then, the AMERICAN BISON. These are animals I have associated with the prairies (Utah, Wyoming,Montana and so on) , and I didn't realize that I would find them here as well.

What magnificient, HUGE animals they are! Here, to greet you, are Mr and Mrs A. Bison, with their fringed haircuts...:

Just to wish you...

Just look at the mass of these guys...macho is the word to describe them! Look at the thickness of the fur, and the heavy head...I wouldn't like to be headbutted by one of these guys!

bison bull head closeup

I am including this photo not to raise a laugh, though I am sure that will happen...but because I want to know if this is usual behaviour. When one of them urinated, the other one came up behind and smelt the one in front. Do bison also use their urine as territory markers in the way tigers do? Does the scent mean something to other males? yathin...could you clarify?

american bison behaviour

Update: anushsh posted this link to me and I had already read about it with regard to the Blackbuck at Mydenahalli. So this, too, is obviously a flehmen response, it occurs amongst bison, too. Thanks Anush!

Apart from this, we saw a few DEER, too; here is a fawn:

deer fawn Lone Elk Park 200108

Here's the sun going down in the park...the frozen and crystalline quality in the air and in the woods reminds me of many pictures that asakiyume posts from her winter surroundings:

sunset in Lone Elk Park

That was Lone Elk Park... a wonderful wilderness, pristine and beautiful even in the dead of winter.
Tags: birding, photography, st louis, wildlife
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