Thursday, May 14, 2009

Yellowstone - May 14, 2009

Day 5 couldn't have started any better. Just on the outskirts of Mammoth, we happened upon this grazing grizzly.

Foraging Grizzly

Grizzly Bear

This was a beautiful bear, but it was venturing too close to town. The Rangers showed up, ushered us into our cars, and hazed the grizzly using cracker shells or maybe just firing into the air. The grizzly took off running at full speed. It is awesome to watch a grizzly run. They are so much faster than you would expect.

In Little America, we spotted two more grizzly bears. One was male and one was female but they weren't together. In fact, once the female got wind of the male, she made a hasty retreat in the opposite direction. Having the rental scope sure did help bring these "brown dots" into full focus.

Venturing on into the Lamar Valley we spotted another grizzly headed up the hill away from the road. 4 grizzlies and it wasn't even 8AM yet. The last few days had been a bit windy and we wanted to get a hike in before the winds returned, so we quickly journeyed on to Trout Lake.

The hike was pretty uneventful. The lake was still mostly frozen over which meant the waterfowl had to congregate close to one end. That did make the photo op of these Barrow's Goldeneyes possible though.

Barrow's Goldeneye Pair

After hiking, we headed up to scope Barronette and found 4 mountain goats, but no babies. We are probably a few weeks early to spot them unfortunately. On the way back through the Lamar Valley, we had yet another grizzly sighting from the Footbridge pullout, a coyote at the confluence, and this view also from the confluence area.

Lamar Landscape

At the entrance to the Lamar, the same grizzly that we had spied earlier, was still on the hill. However, this time he was just sitting on some shale surveying the valley. No one saw it but us and through the scope we could really take in its details. This was one plump grizzly for so early in the season and really blond as well. A terrific looking bear.

We were headed to Mammoth for lunch. On the way, we spotted coyotes at Slough Creek and near the self-guided trail. After lunch, we hiked up to through the Tower Campground which was still closed but workers were up there preparing it for the season so no wildlife was around.

So, we went back out to the Lamar where we saw 4 more coyotes, a black bear across from Soda Butte, a bald eagle, and a couple unexpected bighorn sheep on the hill above the confluence. Just past Soda Butte, we ran into the mother grizzly and two yearlings again. They were still too far away for decent pictures but we enjoyed watching them through the scope. Since the scope was out, we scanned the cliffs and found 8 bighorns on the mountain across from the hitching post pullout. We were looking for goats, but bighorn was all we found.

On the way back home, a group of bison mothers and calves were headed towards Mammoth. It was great fun watching the little ones.

Baby Bison


After a late dinner, we hit the sack and planned to start off early the next day since it was our last full day in Yellowstone.

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