Saturday, June 20, 2009

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.

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