Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Yellowstone - October 3, 2007

Day 4 started out with some light rain and was pretty much on and off rain all day. Just past the NE entrance we ran into a herd of elk. It was probably the possessed herd from a few nights back, but they seemed less possessed in the morning light. We also encountered a herd of at least 20 mule deer around Pebble Creek. They were on both sides of the road and didn't seem to care much about us. That's the biggest herd I have ever seen.

Just past the Trout Lake pullout we had a coyote cross the road, give us a quick look and take off up the hill. This keeps our daily streak of coyotes going.

Nothing much happening in the rest of the Lamar Valley so we headed on to Slough Creek to check on the wolves. This was a good idea since the Slough Creek pack was on another kill but closer now so that they were more than dots to the naked eye. Of course, viewing through the scope was great. We saw 9 wolves total. There were also 2 bald eagles hanging around waiting for their turn. With my 500mm lens steadied by the side mirror of our rental car (Yes, a tripod purchase is in my future), I managed to get this shot. It shows 4 wolves and both eagles:

Before reaching Tower Falls, we ran into the herd of Bighorn Sheep again. The light was better this time and they seemed intent on being photogenic. I didn't want to disappoint them so I snapped off a few frames:


The Dunraven pass was still closed and we didn't feel like going the long way around to Canyon so we headed back into the Lamar Valley. Just before Slough Creek we encountered a good size Bison Jam. This is where we met "Norman". He was just too cute and frisky to resist. He was obviously a late summer birth so we hope he makes it through the winter:


In the Lamar, there was a grizzly hanging out far across the valley but he disappeared into the trees before we could get the scope on him. By this time, we were getting hungry for lunch and we needed gas so we decided to drive to Cooke City for both. On the way, we saw a moose running at full speed just passed Soda Butte. The moose was on the other side of the valley and quickly disappeared into the trees. That was our first running moose so that was pretty cool. It looked very horse-like as it ran which surprised me a bit.

After lunch (by the way Buns and Beds deli in Cooke City makes good sandwiches) we wanted to walk around a bit and there was a break in the weather so we took the YS picnic area hike. This area affords great views in both directions. Too bad rain cut the hike short but did provide this photo op near Roosevelt:

The weather got progressively worse so we headed home early to get some well needed rest. We did manage to catch an interesting grouping in the Lamar Valley:

Another very rewarding day in the park:

12 Bighorn Sheep, 9 wolves, 5 bears, 2 bald eagles, 1 coyote, 1 running moose (I swear I should make a song out of this daily tally…) and the usual assortment of Bison, elk, deer, and pronghorn.

A 5 bear day is pretty darn good and our best ever in YNP (we saw 13 in Denali). However, since I am naming tomorrow's report "Bear Day" you can bet we do better than 5 so stay tuned...

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