May 16, 2010

Gros Morne Moose

With an area of about 1800 square kilometers Gros Morne National Park is second in size in Atlantic Canada's national parks only to the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve in Labrador.  Gros Morne has even been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage due to its richness in geological history.

This post isn't about the geological history of Gros Morne, but about its abundant moose population!  Alces Alces (moose) was introduced in Newfoundland in the late 1800's.  The first attempt with a cow and bull from Nova Scotia was a failure.  1904's attempt near Howley on Grand Lake was an outstanding success.  By 1941 moose sightings were recorded as far away as the Avalon Peninsula!  Today, Newfoundlands moose population bridges the entire province and is thought to be around 150,000 ungulates strong.

*Please click all images to view larger.

Gros Morne Cow Moose.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/100th.  f4 @ ISO 1600.  Finished in Capture NX2. 

Even though much of the park is inhospitable to moose, Gros Morne boasts one of the highest densities of moose anywhere in the world!  Between 7000 and 8000 moose are thought to be living within the boundaries.  This extremely high density is very evident to motorists traveling through in the early mornings and late evenings along the main highway through the heart of the park.  This is especially true in the spring months when new growth begins to grow low in the valleys, providing moose with a new source of nutrition after a long winter of browsing balsam fir.

Grazing Moose.
Nikon D700. Nikkor 70-200mmVR. 1/30th.  f2.8 @ ISO 3200.  Flash as fill.  Finished in Capture NX2

 Browsing Balsam Fir.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/500th.  f4 @ ISO 200.  Finished in Capture NX2.

A few weeks back a friend of mine called twice within a week late in the afternoon asking if I would like to join him on 'moose runs' to the park.  "Hell yeah!"  This friend of mine is something else.  I've been kidding lately that he could find a couple of moose in downtown Toronto!  I honestly know of no one who spends more time in the woods.  He almost always has his camera with him just in case of an encounter of some sorts.  In the last little while he's produced photos of countless moose, snowy owl, and even pine martin!

Maybe he has a sixth sense?  Maybe he can smell them?  Or maybe he just has a ton of experience with wildlife.  He seems to know where the moose will be and when.  Heading out with him is always a great pleasure and an thrilling experience!

 The Moose Whisperer.  
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/500th.  f4 @ ISO 200.  Finished in Capture NX2.

Once over 'Sou'East hill' you can almost guarantee moose sightings.  Both sides of the road are great places to view the beasts.  One needs to keep their eyes peeled.  It seems at times a moose can walk behind an small bush and almost disappear!

Smelling the Air.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/1250th.  f4 @ ISO 200.  Finished in Capture NX2.

 Moose Burp.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/250th.  f4 @ ISO 640.  Finished in Capture NX2.

There are a few great spots to view moose off the side of the road in the area.  On one of our trips we pulled up to one such place to see if there was either one in the clearing but there wasn't a sign.  As we were about to return to the road I noticed two coming out into the open....then two more....then another two!  We sat quietly waiting to see if either would dare come close.  Amazingly all six walked right out into the open in front of our lenses!  I would have had an image with the full group but I only had telephoto lenses with me.

 Moose Trio.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 70-200mmVR.  1/100th.  f2.8 @ ISO 560.  Finished in Capture NX2.

Gros Morne Moose Congregation.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/250th.  f4 @ ISO 640.  Finished in Capture NX2.

Even stepping out of our vehicle and mounting my 500mm lens on my tripod seemed to have no effect on them!  My friend accidentally leaned on the vehicles horn without either animal spooking!  Minutes later a cell phone ringing still had no effect!  Incredible!  One of them even walked to within 40 feet of our parked vehicle, noticing us, but not worried in the least.

Bull Moose Portrait.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/125th.  f4 @ ISO 1400.  Finished in Capture NX2.

We were lucky enough able to witness behavior that neither of us has seen before!

Cow and Bull Moose Kisses.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/100th.  f4 @ ISO 1100.  Finished in Capture NX2.

There is nothing I like more than getting out with my camera to shoot wildlife, especially when the action is nonstop!   Coming home from Florida was a little tough at times for me as almost every day I had a great wildlife photography outing down south, if only for an hour or two.  I was worried that coming home would be disappointing in that regard.  However, shooting the moose in Gros Morne rated right up there with anything I had experienced in Florida!  What a great feeling to be stood downwind from such a magnificent creature, only tens of meters away.  They see you but can't smell you, wondering what this strange creature before them may possibly be.  

Thanks for the adventures Mike!  I had a blast!

Till Next time.....
All Tongue!
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/250th.  f4 @ ISO 500.  Finished in Capture NX2.

All the images you see in this blog post are available for sale.  Custom framing is available.  I print all images myself on a wide format professional series Epson 7880 printer.  Please contact me by email listed below.

RONiN photography (Scott Grant) offers print and image sales, printing and enlargement services, photographic instruction, and wedding, graduate and portrait photography.  If you would like to contact me please do so at or call at (709) 634-3693.  I'm located in Corner Brook, Newfoundland in Canada.

If you would like to learn more about RONiN photography please visit 

1 comment:

  1. Great shots Scott! I love the golden light in Browsing Balsam Fir, and Smelling the Air is a great behaviour shot, of course the tongue is excellent too!