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I went out yesterday looking for wildlife after failing to find light for my landscape pictures. Unfortunately, the snow was coming down when I found a pair of moose. I thought it would be a good opportunity to test the ability of my new 600 F4 v2. Long , long shot, through the trees in the heavy snow.
Anyway the end point is that the lens performed well but the snow performed better and the pictures are marginal, so I will tell the story that went with the pictures to make up for the low quality pictures.
My understanding of moose is that they are mostly solitary creatures except for i) when they are mating or trying to mate, ii) when they are raising their young, and iii) when they group up for protection in the winter. Usually in the deep of winter, they are really hard to find because they don't move around much to conserve energy and the snow gets thick. I have struggled to find them after early November when they are groupded up.
I was driving down the gravel road (Smith Dorain between Canmore and Kananaskis Lakes) and thought I saw some moose in an avalanche chute at a distance. I pulled over and got the 7d, 1.4x, and 600 together with a monopod.
The female moose was in the opening and I watched her for awhile. It became apparent that she is in trouble. She is heavily favoring one of her front legs and limping.
I watched for a while and then saw the bull moose behind a tree. After a time she went toward the bull moose and nuzzled him and they limped off into the forest (30 minutes).
This is not an exciting story unless you put it in perspective. The cow is likely to die within weeks unless her leg improves. If a wolf finds them she will not be able to defend herself because they defend with their front legs. In addition, as the snow gets deeper she needs her front feet to dig through the snow. So highly likely she will not make it for more than a month. I doubt he is seeing her as a prospective mate at this time of the season.
The male moose seemed to be escorting her. The bull is fully capable of protecting himself from wolves and they are likely not to try to approach him. He is about 8 years old and really healthy looking. But since the rut is over I am surprised that he does not just leave her behind.
So maybe this is the winter gathering behaviour that I have been looking for. Or maybe it is just a late attempt at mating for the bull.
In any event, nature is tough and I expect to have the opportunity to take pictures of wolves near this spot or the grizzly family that is just waiting to hibernate about 5km away.
Comments and feedback is appreciated. Scott
1 of 4 The limping Cow
Canon EOS 7D EF600mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4x lens 840mm f/5.6 1/1250s 4000 ISO +0.3 EV
2 of 4 The Healthy Bull
Canon EOS 7D EF600mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4x lens 840mm f/5.6 1/1000s 5000 ISO +0.3 EV
3 of 4 A touching moment (pun)
Canon EOS 7D EF600mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4x lens 840mm f/5.6 1/1250s 800 ISO 0.0 EV
4 of 4 They wander into the Bush
Canon EOS 7D EF600mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4x lens 840mm f/5.6 1/250s 800 ISO +1.0 EV