Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Well this is our last day in the park (although we will leave out the east gate early on the 3rd). We decided that we would head into the Hayden for a quick look and then over Washburn for bears.

The valley was pretty quiet, but there were a few elk in the southern end of the valley that were crossing to the east side of the Yellowstone, so we headed up to Washburn.

On the flanks of Washburn at a small turnout between the larger turn out with the big rock everyone climbs on and the Chittenden Road turn out we came upon a small jam. It was Scarface again and this time he was upslope from the main road. We set up the camera, but he dipped down into a draw below our line of site, but we thought he would come back out. Up on Chittenden Road though, they were able to have a good view, but we were a lot closer than they were. We discussed moving up to the other road, but knowing our luck he would cross where we were, so we decided that patience would be better, and it was.

He was casually browsing, but then he decided he wanted to be someplace different and moved, rapidly. He headed to the end of the line of parked cars and crossed the road and headed downslope. There was a bit of consternation, as a small crowd had gathered and several started running to get a better shot, but we were all within 100yds of him. I had the big lens on and wasn’t going to move, and just stayed positioned in front of our trunk. Tiffany got in the truck and in retrospect, she was the smartest of the bunch. I figured that I had missed out on some good shots, because I wasn’t going to approach him, but then my good deeds and rules following finally paid off. He decided to head for the patch of meadow immediately in front of me. He was close enough I had to pull the tele extender off the lens, and I was able to get some full face shots. He is not as photogenic as I would have liked, and this is only an OK shot, but I have some better shots in the galleries where he actually graced us with a look. My guess is that I was in the 15 to 20 yrd distance from him. There was a volunteer there that was counting bears in the Washburn area and he estimated that Scarface was 18 to 20 years old, and in these pictures weighed about 600lbs. After watching bears chase the elk calves these past three weeks, I would have been toast if he wanted me. Fortunately, he was pretty calm about the entire scene and most of the people were being very good.

We headed on back toward Dunraven where we saw a nice cinnamon black bear. Then on down into the Hayden again with designs of going to Fishing Bridge for breakfast. At the south end of the valley, Dori noticed two grizzlies hanging out on the east side of the river, so we watched them for a while.

After breakfast we headed to Mary’s Bay and Lake Butte Overlook. At the turn off for Lake Butter there was a resource ranger and they had been watching a male grizzly just to the north of the main road, but it had bedded down. We went on up the butte and on the way down stopped for some shots of the marmots.

We then headed back through the Hayden and over to Norris. Just past the golden gate we came on a huge bear jam. The was the usual it’s a grizzly bear comments from the vehicles approaching us, but it turned out as expected, a nice looking cinnamon bear.

We then headed toward Roosevelt hoping to come across the cubs again, but no joy, so we decided to have an early dinner at Roosevelt. From there we headed out to the Lamar in hopes of finding wolves.

Just coming up from the Lamar canyon area we came on another black bear, so we stopped and watched for a while. By this time it was getting later so we headed on toward the hitching post for a bathroom break. We noticed a lot of people up on the hill where many used to watch the Druids from, but we decided we needed the break and would check out the den site. There were a lot of people at the den site, but no real activity. When I told them of the people back on the hill, they apparently called on the radio and the dedicated watchers packed up and left, so of course we followed.

Apparently, there was a bison carcass out in the sage, that the wolves had been feeding on, but there was a grizzly on it. It was getting late and the distances were pretty great so we chose not to carry a camera and we relied on the scopes and binocs. This was a great experience as one of the gray druids came in and chased of the bear, the bear started for another grizzly while a third much larger grizzly headed down toward the kill. The thing that amazed me was how timid the bears were with the wolf, because they could have easily kept the wolf off the kill, but I think they were worried the rest of the pack would show up.

So the last day ended well, with us seeing 6 grizzly bears, 3 black bears, and 1 wolf, with lots of interesting stories to tell. It will take me several weeks to go through all of the pictures we took (over 7000) and decide which ones we want to make available to the public.

On a side note, I am trying to make money from my shots, so please forgive the quality of the shots in the trip reports, as these were selected to help tell the story and to encourage you to go to the galleries to check out the better shots.

Thanks for letting us share our thoughts and our trip with you and I hope it allowed you to see what we were doing and inspire you to come view our wonderful National Parks and Monuments.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We started our day about 5:30 again this morning with the intention of heading out into the Hayden. Unfortunately, as we started moving down into the valley it became apparent that the viewing would probably be fairly poor, because of the morning fog.

We did get held up in a bison jam, where we got some decent pictures of a red dog.

I decided we should head on up Washburn to look for bears and boy was I glad we did. We found a small bear jam near the big turn out before the Chittenden turn out. It was Scarface, he was out in a clearing just down slope from the road and he was fairly easy going in allowing people to shot him. Unfortunately, he appears to not like the sun, several of us were waiting for him to come out into full sunshine versus hanging out in the shadow of Washburn, but as soon as the clearing was almost in full sun, he headed for the trees.

By this time we needed to head back to Canyon for breakfast and to meet up with my brother and his wife, who were going to spend the rest of our trip with us. We headed back out for the rest of the day around 11:30. We decided to head over Washburn and on toward Roosevelt.

We didn’t see any grizzlies going over Dunraven, but at the head of the valley for Antelope Creek we came on a nice looking black bear, but the jam was pretty bad, the road pretty narrow, the bear was moving toward a narrower area, so we decided we would move on.

We decided that we would go try and find some of the cubs that have been near the turn off to Petrified Tree. When we arrived at the turn off, there seemed to be a lot of activity, so we headed up. We found the black sow with the single cub, and she was attempting to rest at the base of the tree, but the cub decided he needed some attention and was pestering mom. Again, it was fairly crowded so we moved on to bigger and better things, at least we hoped.

We headed out into the Lamar in hopes of finding wolves or bears, but all that happened was we were skunked. We then headed back toward Mammoth and out of the park for a late lunch.

Overall, the day wasn’t bad, but we really did not see that many of the bigger drawing attractions.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We started the day in the Hayden Valley. At Otter Creek the beaver was back on the side of the road. It was actually lifting up into the pine trees to eat.

Further south, the Hayden bison herd decided to cross the road and created a pretty good jam.

We went all the way to the south pullout in the Hayden because we saw some elk that were looking nervous. Sure enough, across the river was a nice sized grizzly. Then we got reports of another grizzly on the other side of the road. This turned out to be the grizzly from last night, because it had a limp, but was much closer to the road at Elk Antler Creek.

By this time, a morning thunderstorm moved in, so we headed out to Fishing Bridge. In Pelican Creek we saw an odd congregation of pelicans swimming and fishing in unison, we thought it was strange, but it was interesting.

We poked around Washburn, but no luck and I needed to do laundry, so back to Canyon we went.

That afternoon we headed over to Mammoth to see what we could, and we were able to see the bighorn sheep on the way to Gardiner with their lambs.

We stopped at Helen’s Hamburgers for a buffalo burger and an afternoon thunderstorm rolled in.

We drove over to Roosevelt without seeing any action and I decided to go to the Yellowstone picnic area and check for the bighorn ram, but he wasn’t about. Then we were going on to the Lamar when we saw a group of people just past the specimen ridge trail head, so of course we asked, “What do you see?” They saw a black bear on the hill just to the east of the picnic area, but it had gone over the ridge. I was trying to remember the shape of the hill, and thought we should return to the picnic area and look at the ridge, and not five minutes later, Dori saw the black bear come over the hill top. This bear was pretty cooperative and we spent well over an hour with him.

While talking with the ranger, we were able to overhear reports of other jams. There was one at Rainy Lake, and we checked out one at Tower Junction, where another black went over the hill to the north of the junction. Then out toward Petrified Tree where we spent time with a black sow and her COY.

It was time to head back to Canyon and on the northwest slopes of Washburn we saw another fairly large grizzly.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Monday, June 29, 2009

We got up early and headed over Washburn to the Lamar Valley. There was a carcass just down the road from the Institute and there were four Druids on it plus a grizzly bear nearby. We spent most of the early morning following the Druids from the stock trailer parking area.

Back near Elk Creek we came on a bear jam for a black bear with two cubs.

On the western flank of Washburn we came on a huge jam, but it was worth it, there was a cinnamon black bear with a cub eating on a carcass.

The rest of the day was pretty much a bust, but we did take a nap around 3:30pm until 6:00pm. After that we went over Artist Point for some late sun pictures of the lower falls. Then out to the Hayden where we waited at Grizzly Overlook for an hour and observed some sandhills cranes and a bald eagle. Down further south in the valley there was a report of a larger herd of elk and so we went down to see if any preditors were about. We got to see a grizzly chase the elk for about an hour, and then he headed out. But he got a scent of a newborn bison calf and was on the chase almost to the south end of the valley. The calf got away. This was a good day.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

We got up early today to get some shots at the outflow of Swiftcurrent Lake and it’s waterfall. Then we decided to check out the moose at Fishercap Lake, but unfortunately we were skunked. The mother with twins and the bull had been out before we arrived.

We had to get checked out and on the way back to Yellowstone.

We arrived in Yellowstone around 8:30pm. We stopped first to check out the owl’s nest in Mammoth but did not see anything. Then on toward Tower. At Phantom Lake we saw a bear jam, but it was interesting as there were a few bull elk at the outflow of the lake with a ranger parked near them. The jam was at the middle of the lake with a black bear above the oncoming cars. But as we passed, the angle I think prevented anyone from seeing the bear and everyone was taking car shots at the bulls.

Just before the Tower Ranger office we saw a black bear with a cub of the year. Then on the exit of the Antelope Creek drainage we saw another black bear. From here it was too dark to really see anything else.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

We again slept in and didn’t start our hike until 8:30am. We decided on the Grinnell Glacier Trail. There was lots of wildflowers in addition to the nice scenery. We hiked almost to the end of the open section of trail, but it was getting late and we decided that there was a ranger lead walk we wanted to go on, so we turned back. We did see lots of bear scat, most fairly old, but a couple within a day on the trail.

The ranger led walk was nice and we learned that moose was in the area, which I had not realized. We decided after getting cleaned up we would go to Fishercap lake and sit and watch for moose. After two hours we were rewarded with a cow and two twins. By this time, I became fairly cold and the light on the lake was reduced.

Unfortunately, one of the camera bodies acquired the Err 99 code, so it has reduced its effectiveness for us.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Dori and I slept in this morning. We started with some photography around Swiftcurrent Lake in the Many Glacier region. We decided that we would go to St. Mary and try to go up Going-to-the-Sun Road. Just outside of the park we saw a pair of Eagles, I believe one adult and one sub-adult.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road was open and we headed to Logan Pass. This was the first day that it was open. Unfortunately, it was cloudy, windy, and cold, at least for us Arizonans. We hiked a little way out on the Hidden Lake Overlook trail but turned back because we did not have the right gear for the snow bound trail. We headed on down toward West Glacier. There were some beautiful views, but no wildlife sightings of interest.

On the way back up the mountain, just below Logan Pass we did get to see a goat up close. It was out on the road licking salt. Then just over the pass we saw several goats with kids up the mountain side, and then came three bighorn rams.

On down the mountain we found four more bighorn rams, thanks to a bird that may have been a ptarmigan. We saw it and had to turn around to photograph it, when I spied the bighorns, by time we were finished with the bighorns, it was gone.

Continuing on to St. Mary we came on a small bear jam for a black bear with a beautiful yearling cinnamon cub. That was it for animals today.

It is still wild seeing it so light at 10:00pm.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

I left Yellowstone early to head to Great Falls to pick up Dori and head on up to Glacier for the weekend.

I left Canyon and headed toward Norris, then to Mammoth. They only real wildlife I saw was a coyote near Roaring Mountain.

I stopped in Mammoth for some sunrise pictures of the lower terraces and was pleasantly surprised by a snowshoe hare (I think).

Then on to Great Falls and Glacier, the rest of the day was fairly uneventful. Although we were able to see mountain goats and bighorn sheep from the parking lot through the spotting scopes at Swiftcurrent.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

This morning was to be an attempt to get to Soda Butte to see or hear the wolves of the Druid pack. I left at 5:30 and without traffic I arrive around 6:30 at Soda Butte. Unfortunately, the adults had already left. I was treated with the howling of the pups around 8:00am.

While waiting for something to happen, I was treated to seeing several pronghorn run around. By about 8:30 I decided it was time to go and a lot of the wolf watchers were doing the same.

I stopped at the outhouse by what I call the hitching post about a ½ mile from the main pull out for the Druids, and was rewarded with seeing a golden eagle. Unfortunately, the pictures are less than stunning.

I went on back toward Roosevelt and was reward with a small contingent of people on the side of the road. They had seen a badger and her cubs. They are on the north side of the road about 100 meters east of the Rangeland Enclosure wayside exhibit, approximately 1 mile west of the confluence of the Lamar River and Soda Butte.

I was excited as this was the first time I have ever seen a live wild badger, let alone at least four.

I headed on to Roosevelt without incident. From there I decide to go to Petrified Tree and look for the momma and cub. When I came out there they were on the hill directly in front of the junction with the Petrified Tree road. They headed to the west and I decided that there may be another vantage and did get some longer range shots before I had to go.

I met up with Bill and Sue from Massachusetts for my interview for the video. I had a great time visiting and enjoyed giving them my thoughts on why I love Yellowstone so much. Good luck to them with the video.

I then headed back to the badgers to see about getting the 600mm in action. I think I was rewarded with some fine shots. I did have lunch in the turn out before walking down to spy on them and did see momma cross the road twice with ground squirrels both time.

From here I decided to head on to Gardiner for some cell phone signal to check in. Below Gardiner there was construction and after yesterday at Gibbon Falls, I decided no way. So I headed toward Norris.

Just past the upper terrace drive there was a small bear jam for a small cinnamon bear, but it disappeared below the crest before I could get any shots.

Nothing much in the way of wildlife all the way to Norris, and the same was true on the way to Canyon and further on the way to Fishing Bridge where I had dinner at the general store. After dinner I went to Lake Butte Overlook for cell signal and the check in.

I had decided at dinner that I needed to be on Washburn this evening for bears and maybe wolves, but crossing Fishing Bridge I thought I saw an otter, so I thought I otter stop. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an otter, but it was a beaver. I think I got some pretty good shots of her, I think it was a her as she was preening.

On the way to Washburn at the turn off for the Brink of the Upper Falls, there was a good size jam for a nice looking grizzly. Unfortunately, by time I set up the 600mm, it decided to leave, at least so I thought. The jam broke up and it came back out of the undergrowth into the clearing for a couple of minutes, but then a returning trail ride came through and scared it away.

On to Washburn, where I thought it was going to be a bust until on the way back after the sun set on the northwest side, there was a nice looking grizzly on the side of the mountain, but we will have to see how the shots turned out, because I needed to shoot at ISO800 and even then the shutter was pretty slow.

By the way, the mosquitos have finally emerged and they were everywhere tonight.

Tomorrow I head up to Great Falls to meet up with Dori and head on to Glacier National Park for the weekend.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

I overslept today and didn’t get started until 6:15. I headed into the Hayden and did not see anything too spectacular. I then headed out to Lake Butte Overlook for my daily call home. On the way back I saw a nice sized grizzly at Mary Bay.

I did stop at Grizzly Overlook on the way back to Canyon and had reports of two grizzlies in the area, but no current sightings.

I did get some landscape shots at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and I stopped at the second overlook on the north rim drive to check on the osprey’s nest. It looks like they have eggs.

Today would be an attempt at some thermal area shots. I really wanted to try for a Grand Prismatic aerial today, but the trailhead to Fairy Falls was packed. It was very busy in the geyser basins. I went ahead and went to the upper basin and just saw what I could. It was a fairly productive day, I think.

I needed gasoline and a pizza, so I headed to Gardiner. Both ways on the trip today I spent a half hour at Gibbon falls, not looking at them, but waiting to be let through the construction area, so be forewarned.

Just a little north of Roaring Mountain, I did see a nice sized grizzly.

Sorry for the abbreviated report, but it is late and I am headed to the Lamar in the morning.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Monday, 22 June 2009

I had a bit of a late start today, and didn’t get going until about 6:00am. I stopped at Grizzly Overlook first, and was rewarded with seeing a grizzly running across the valley north of the overlook and heading to the tree line.

I proceeded south and was able to see the bear that I had seen last night south of the Mud Volcanoes. It was actually the first pullout south of Le Hardy Rapids. I got a few shots, but it was still fairly overcast and I had to shoot at ISO800.

I went toward Fishing to meet with Bob (tnphoto on Y-Net) and his wife for breakfast. We actually met elsewhere and they decided they would head to Pahaska Tepee to try with the foxes.

Today was a little bit lazy in the morning, but picked up this afternoon. I saw a small jam in the Antelope Creek drainage, but I didn’t stop because the rangers were looking testy and there weren’t a lot of good parking spots, and the ranger looked upset when I tried to park where a vehicle had just left, so I went on without knowing what the jam was about.

I headed over to Petrified Tree and got to see a black bear on the trail to Lost Lake. I was able to get a few shots, but it headed toward the lake and even though I went about a half mile, I could not catch up to see it.

Later, there was a jam right at the Tower Ranger station. There was a black bear with a cub on a kill just off the road. Not sure what they were eating, but it was a good time. Unfortunately, I had to shoot into the sun, so I am not sure how the shots are going to come out. I had to park at the station and hike with the 600mm lens up the hill about a quarter mile.

As I was heading back to the Hayden, I saw a fox at the corrals at Roosevelt just for a second. Then between the Chittenden Turn Out and the next big turn out I saw two black bears, one black and one cinnamon down in the burnt out timber. By the time I parked, and hiked back they were well out of frame. Boy was the wind cold up there. Probably 30mph gusts or more and the air temperature was down to 47, cold for us Arizona desert boys.

I spent the night wandering the Hayden Valley, but without much success. I did see a bald eagle out in the Yellowstone River, but that was it. Of course as I headed back to the Canyon Lodge, there had been a wolf sighting near the Mary Mountain Trailhead.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

My dad and I went to Fort Kearny near Buffalo, WY this morning. This is a state park and it they were having re-enactors speaking to the visitors to the Fort.

Fort Kearny was established in 1866 to protect the Bozeman Trail from Indian Attacks. This was one of the few forts that had a stockade built around it. The fort housed six companies of infantry, two companies of cavalry, and a band. The fort was in use from 1866 to 1868 when a new treaty was established with the Sioux, and a new route to the gold fields of Montana was established to the west of the Bighorn Mountains.

We were treated to a firing of a mountain howitzer, by the re-enactors. Dad and I had a good time. The both of us are military history buffs, and with us both growing up in western Nebraska, the Indian Wars were always items that we were interested in. As a child, my parents often took us to Fort Robinson and Fort Lararmie, and we also drove by the site of Fort Mitchell when visiting my grandparents. Dad and I parted as I needed to get going back to Yellowstone.

I headed back to Bighorn National Recreation Area and the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range to see if I could find anymore mustangs. The band of horses that I had seen on Friday was in about the same location on Sunday. I didn’t stop because I wanted to see more of the area and find additional bands.

I drove about four miles and found another band, right on the side of the road. The stallion was a beautiful tan color, there were two younger adults that were gray, and a young colt that was tan and blonde. In the valley just below them was a dappled mare and another gray horse. I only intended to stay an hour in the park overall and I spent the full hour with them. Then I needed to head on to Cody.

On the way out, I saw another band of horses, and then the excitement of finding a nice prairie rattlesnake on the road.

In Cody, I stopped at the Wyoming Rib and Chop house for dinner. I know they must think I am cheap, but the have one of the best buffalo burgers and it was only $7 for a half pound burger. Definitely try the place, the other meats look great, although I do suggest reservations.

On toward the park and it was raining again. I stopped at Pahaska to see if the foxes were about, but strike three. I don’t think they are there anymore, because I have tried three times over the last week.

Once inside the park, just before Lake Butte Overlook, I came on a bear jam. It was a small grizzly with the standard coloration. It was on the embankment on the north side of the road less than 10 yards from the road. Right below it was a small SUV and the female driver was out of the vehicle and directly behind it. I recommended that she get back in her car because she was too close, but she just looked mean at me. I think it scared her into the car when it decided to cross the road immediately in front of her vehicle. It then proceeded along the guard rail on the other side of the road. I could not believe a family with a toddler got out of their vehicle on the other side of the road and ran over to the rail. I finally had to leave before the frustration got to me much more.

I headed on toward Canyon. In the meadow about a mile south of Mud Volcano I came on another bear jam. This one was a little larger and I did get the 600mm out for it. The lighting was not that good, so I was shooting ISO800, but it was still 1/40 of a second on the shutter. This was a nice looking bear, I just wish the clouds weren’t above us again. It started to rain so I went on into the Hayden. Both of the overlooks had people, but no real action, so I decided to call it a night and get checked in and go to bed early for tomorrow morning.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Well today was a wonderfully bright and sunny day in north central Wyoming and South Central Montana.

My dad and I went to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument for some history lessons and trying to understand the tactics employed by Lt. Col. Custer on 25 June, 1876.

One of the new things that has been added since the last time I had been there is a new memorial dedicated to all of the native Americans that died during the battle.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Trip Report, 19 June 2009

I got started at 5:30 this morning, but as soon as I went outside, I did not expect the wildlife viewing to be that good this morning. The skies cleared last night and thus we had a heavy fog in valley and really couldn’t see anything.

I decided to try to get some images for black and white today, and the Hayden Bison herd was conveniently located at Grizzly overlook. The most exciting thing I saw this morning was a pair of the Canyon pack attacking an elk. Unfortunately, they had already started when I pulled up and they chased her back into the fog on the west side of the river. This occurred directly across from Mary Mountain Trail Head.

I headed on toward the east entrance, because I was leaving for the Battle of the Little Bighorn Monument. About a mile past Lake Butte there was a smaller grizzly lying on the slope opposite of the road.

The most exciting thing though was finding a bachelor herd of bighorn sheep. Two of them climbed a small rock outcrop just east of Sylvan Pass below the Corkscrew Bridge turnout. I parked below them and came back. There were 7 males of varying age, but two had very nice curls.

I then stopped to try and see the fox pups, which are still there. I could only devote a half hour and was skunked again. Maybe Sunday night when I return.

I headed toward Lovell, WY to go to Bighorn Canyon NRA and specifically the Pryor Mountain Horse Management Area. My plan was to check it out quickly and then come back on Sunday afternoon. Just inside the management area there was a group of horses with a foal. Awesome.

I then continued east on US Highway 14A. This is quite the beautiful drive and it tops out at 9400ft.

Not a bad day after all.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Trip Report, 18 June 2009

I started out today at about 5:30 for the Hayden Valley. The elk did not seem to be as abundant as previous mornings, but it also rained most of the night. I did see quite a few on the west side of the Valley near the Mary Mountain Trail. I did not see the beaver this morning at Otter Creek, and I determined today that there are both beaver and muskrats at Elk Antler Creek.

I headed to the southern overlook first this morning. Today was a good bear day. This morning was a terrible morning for photography. There were two grizzlies courting and copulating on the east side of the river. They were paired for about 30 minutes. This was awesome to witness, but I really wish the overcast had been gone.

I proceeded down to Fishing Bridge for breakfast and then out to Mary Bay for cell signal to take care of some personnel business. I decided that was a good place to hang out and watch for otter and grizzly, but to no avail.

I then headed back to the cabin for about two hours of computer work and then headed over Dunraven. At the biggest turnout on the northwest flank of Washburn, I was able to observe for a minute or two a beautiful blonde grizzly bear. Reports are that it has been seen in the spot several days in a row.

I proceeded down to Tower Falls and checked on the osprey nest. The nesting pair were there repairing the nest, but it did not look like they had eggs. Across the river I was able to observe a bighorn ewe and lamb.

I then headed past Roosevelt toward Mammoth with designs on making it to Phantom Lake to check for the Great Gray Owl. I also wanted to try again and determine where the coyote den was, but I did not see it yet. At Floating Island I saw the sandhills cranes again, and they are nesting on the island. Then I continued toward Phantom but was stopped by a bear jam at the same location I had seen a black the night before. I was able to get just a couple of shots of the bear before something scared her and she headed for a tall tree.

I had already decided it was going to be too hard to get to Phantom with this bear jam, so I spent some time chatting with two couples who all were photographers as well. They gave me the best information yet for finding the coyote den and I think I have found it, but no sightings yet.

I then headed out to the Lamar. The bighorn ram was at Yellowstone Picnic area again, with the usual small crowd. I proceeded out into the Lamar with the intent on getting up to Silver Lake. I was primarily looking for moose out that way. The usual suspects were at the Druid den sight.

I was in hopes of seeing the black bear at Pebble Creek again, especially since the sun had come out. But it wasn’t there. However, I did get a few quick shots of a black bear in the meadow across from the Thunderer Picnic Area.

What was meant to be a quick stop at Baronnette Peak took a little longer than planned. I was able to seen 4 adult mountain goats and 3 kids. I attempted to get some shots, but just too far away. Maybe if I get up to Glacier.

I went to the Bistro in Cooke City of dinner and it wasn’t bad. I had a pleasant conversation with some like minded gentlemen from Wisconsin. The construction between the entrance and Cooke City is pretty major right now, and I could see the busy times of day taking a while to get through, so I don’t think I will be going back right away.

On the way back into the park, I saw lots of individual mule deer. Then I came on a fairly good sized black bear crossing the road. I am up to 6 bears for the day. I had decided that I needed to get back to the Hayden before it was too dark though, so I headed out.

In Antelope Creek I had my first moose sighting of the trip. She was fairly gray, but she did have a calf with her. The light was pretty dark, so I elected to go on. On the side of the Antelope Creek Valley, several vehicles were parked. I was able to see a black and a gray wolf, as well as a grizzly (7 bears). It was too far away and to dark to even try for any shots. So on to the Hayden. Here I had my last bear sighting of the day. I saw it from the southern overlook, but I could see it was heading toward the Elk Antler Creek drainage area, so I went there and set up. The sun had come out as it was setting, so the light was a little better. The bear was short though (or the sage was tall), because only his head and shoulders were above the sage when he was moving. So I had seen a total of 8 bears today, 5 grizzly and 3 black bears.

Tomorrow I will check out the Hayden with hopes of sunshine in the morning, and then head bag to the cabin to check out and head to Sheridan for the weekend.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

Trip Report, 17 June 2009

Between my not feeling the best and not being used to such long days, I overslept by an hour this morning. I got out of the cabin at 6:10 and headed straight for the Hayden.

The beaver was swimming this morning in the same place I had seen it the previous mornings.

I just missed seeing a pair of grizzlies chasing the elk again on the south end of the valley. I did stay and chat with folks there and found out that I had left about a half hour too soon last night. After I left the valley at the southern overlook in plain below it, four grizzlies attempt to take down an elk. The reports were that they missed taking any down.

I decided to head on south for my normal routine of going to Lake Butte. I decided to drive as far south as Bay Bridge first and saw the Gull Point Drive. I had never taken it so, I took the road less traveled. There was a nice fog over the lake this morning and finally, the sun was to be seen for a while. I decided I should try my hand at some landscapes, since I have focused so much on wildlife.

I then headed back to Fishing Bridge and on to Mary’s Bay. Right at the beginning of Mary’s Bay there was a small jam and they were looking at the water. There is a dead log right there and perched on it was an otter. By the time I got the camera set up, it had caught a trout. What a wonderful find.

I drove on up to Lake Butte Overlook, and proceeded back to Mary Bay, over an 1 ½ duration to no avail. So I decided to head toward the Lamar at about 10:00am. An acquaintance that I have been talking with who is shooting a wildlife documentary, arrived in the area around 11:00am and found a sow grizzly walking in the area.

The bighorn ram was across the street at the Yellowstone Picnic area again, both when I went into the Lamar and out of it.

I was going to try and see the coyote pups at either Slough Creek or at Petrified Tree. I had been told the pups at Pertified had been moved so I started with Slough Creek. I finally found the location and proceeded to spend an hour there and took a quick nap. I did not anticipate seeing anything, but had planned on coming back.

On the way out, I saw a Pronghorn with a fawn, and finally in the sunshine. It was great to watch her care for the fawn and then the fawn test its wild oats and start running and playing.

I needed to head to Gardiner for gasoline, as the gas in the park is $2.99 and I wanted a pizza from Outlaws. The gas was $2.73 at the Sinclair and $2.75 at Cenex in Gardiner. I didn’t stop at the Petrified Tree pup den, figuring I would see it on the way back.

I had heard reports of moose at Floating Island Lake earlier in the morning and there were a few people at the turn out, so I stopped. There was a pair of Sandhills Cranes there, but no moose. On toward Mammoth. Just before Phantom Lake, there were a few people pulled out for the Great Gray Owl, but I wanted to get on into town.

I stopped in Mammoth for about an hour, mainly to check on the Great Horned Owl and her owlets. I was fortunate to see one of the owlets, and the mother was perched on the administrative building behind the nest site. Pretty cool, and the sun finally came back out and back lit the owlet, ever so slightly.

After dinner, I headed back to the park. I did see one bighorn ewe below Mammoth, but I admit I wasn’t really searching. I wanted to get to Phantom Lake to see the Great Gray.

I arrived at Phantom Lake and it was a small mob, so I thought my chances were good. They weren’t. I waited for about 3 hours, chatted with other photographers, and finally caught a glimpse of the owl, way in the distance. I didn’t get a shot of it, because it perched in a tree a long way off, and I had taken off the tele-extender because the others were saying it had been hunting that morning and the day before right in front of the pull out, and the extender was cutting down the field of view. I assumed it would stay put for a bit, but by time I got the extender on, it was out of there. I waited another fifteen minutes, but it was after 8:30 and I needed to go.

I was a bit bummed, because lots of people were reporting bears and I had yet to see one today. That all changed on the way back to Canyon. About a mile to the west of Floating Island, I came on a small jam and spied a Black Bear and a COY. It was pretty dark, but did get some shots of the mother.

I stopped at the Petrified Tree den, to try and find it, but I just didn’t know where to look.

Then one toward tower, near the lower of the two lakes below tower, a large black bear crossed the road in front of me and a few other cars.

Past Tower and just coming out of the Antelope Creek drainage, there was another small black bear down in the creek area. So now I have seen four bears for the day, bringing my 3 day total up to 15.

At the beginning of the big prairie area of the Antelope Creek, there were several cars pulled off, so I asked if they were seeing wolves and they were. The descriptions given made it sound like the Canyon Pack, but hopefully it is the remains of the Agate Pack. They were hunting elk on the lower end of prairie. Now its time for bed to start all over again in the morning.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.