Saturday, June 20, 2009

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.

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