What You'll See:
In this sequence you'll see a herd bull with a relatively large group of cows and calves. The herd bull will occasionally herd some of the cows, causing the cows to vocalize to try to keep tabs on one another and their calves. This sequence contains a TON of vocalizations. As such, it was impossible to label each vocalization without making it overly distracting. So for this video, Chris provides commentary at the beginning of the video, as well as periodically throughout, to help you understand what's coming up, and what you should pay attention to. This should help improve the viewing enjoyment, and the educational opportunity, of the sequence.
Setting the Stage:
The animals in this sequence were moving from the outskirts of Rocky Mountain National Park towards an interior portion of the Park. They moved parallel to a well-traveled road and were making their way through broken terrain and habitat toward another large group of cows and calves that also contained a "herd bull." Filmed in early October, most of the breeding in this area was already done, so the cows were starting to group back up for the winter and head toward their traditional winter range.
While the "herd bull" was still interested in checking the receptiveness of a few of the cows, because most of the breeding was over, the drive to keep other bulls out of the group, and the desire to "fully control" the group, was fairly diminished. The herd bull did, however, still bugle from time to time, and attempted on occasion to keep the cows in a tighter group by herding them (and in one case, very aggressively). Other branch-antlered (albeit immature) bulls were allowed to co-mingle with the herd and cows were "allowed" to come and go as they pleased to a great extent. Because of the size of the group, the terrain and habitat they were traveling through, and the fact that a number of the lead cows were intent on joining the other large group of elk up the valley, the herd ended up becoming fairly spread out, and as such, many cows were vocalizing in order to maintain contact with one another and their calves as they traveled.
Because the elk were traveling parallel to a well-used road, eventually a large number of people started to stop and watch the herd along with us. Unfortunately, most folks generally aren't as interested in the vocalizations and behavior as we are, so—throughout much of this video—you'll hear folks talking, slamming vehicle doors, commenting on what's going on, etc. While the microphone we use diminishes most of the background noise and sound coming from behind the camera in "typical" situations, it can't eliminate loud sounds or talking that occurs close to the mic. Unfortunately, when people see a HD video camera and large microphone set up on a tripod, being manned by "serious looking" folks, it attracts a lot of attention—after all…SOMETHING "cool" must be going on if someone's that serious about recording it!
What that meant for us, and this sequence in particular, was that from time to time, a number of people came over and stood right behind the camera as we were recording and talked—seemingly without care or concern as to what we were doing, or trying to do. While we tried to reduce, or remove, as much superfluous dialog and "commentary" from passersby as we could during editing, we couldn't remove all of it without diminishing the quality of the elk vocalizations and the behavior that this video shares.
Because some of the vocalizations are fairly quiet, like with the other videos, we recommend that you use headphones/earbuds while you view and listen to the video, and turn the volume up to a comfortable, but safe, level so you can pick up on the subtle sounds as they are made. In this video, individual vocalizations will NOT necessarily be identified by text, so turning the volume up as loud as you safely and comfortably can will help ensure no vocalizations are missed.
As in the other videos, for vocalizations that ARE labeled, those that are identified inside parenthesis denote vocalizations made by animals OFF-SCREEN; no parenthesis are vocalizations made by animals ON-SCREEN. A "..." after a vocalization means more of those vocalizations are to come by the same animal, whereas if the "..." comes before the vocalization, that indicates the specific vocalization is the last one identified for that animal, at that time.
ALSO, you'll probably notice the herd bull in this video has a "messed up" left ear that has a green ear-tag in it. In this area, a large number of the elk utilize—and periodically reside in—areas in and around the Town of Estes Park. As such, they are not only in close proximity to humans on a regular basis, but they can get into trouble (e.g., tangled in swing sets, clotheslines, etc). If the local District Wildlife Manager (Game Warden) needs to intervene, the animal will be tranquilized and ear-tagged. The ear tag helps the District Wildlife Manager monitor the animal in the future. In this case, this bull apparently received some sort of assistance from the local Wildlife Manager (probably the incident that ended up damaging his ear) and ended up with a permanent piece of green "jewelry" to wear and show off for the ladies!
Contact Mews, Lost Mews, Assembly Mews, "Long" Mews, Frustrated Whines, Selfish Mews, Glunks/Glunking, Check Bugles, Level 2 & 3 Contact Bugles, Level 2 and 3 Dominant Bugles, and Excited Chuckles