Friday, May 15, 2009

Yellowstone - May 15, 2009

We were out by 6:30AM today since it was our last full day in Yellowstone. We headed out towards the Lamar Valley and encountered a trio of coyotes in Little America that seemed to be fighting over something. They were too far away to get good pictures but it was interesting behavior to watch as they postured and growled at one another.

Since we hadn't seen a ton of wolves this trip, we made it a point this morning to look for them. We didn't wait long as we saw a gray from scoping distance on Jasper Bench. Further down the Lamar, the scopes were out and the regular wolf watcher vehicles were all parked together. All the scopes were pointed at 5 members of the Druid pack that, we were told, were returning from an unsuccesful hunting trip. Of the five, three were black and more easily seen as the small pack trotted through the sage on a nearby hill. Soon, they disappeared behind a large hill and we ventured on.

Out by Soda Butte, the female grizzly and cubs were visible in the distance as well as a big male across the valley from the female and cubs. Back to Little America and we found another grizzly that had taken a bison calf. The bear was really visible through the scope but soon hunkered down behind some rocks to eat.

We decided to take a late morning hike at the Yellowstone Picnic Area. We have had good luck with wildlife in the past on this trail. This hike lived up to expectations as we saw multiple osprey on nests, tons of mountain bluebirds, a lone coyote and two cooperative bighorn ewes:

Bighorn Ewe

We also heard, then saw, this Mountain Chickadee:

Mountain Chickadee

We worked up an appetite during the hike and headed to Mammoth to the just opened grill. A Western Chicken sandwich and fries were calling my name and they didn't disappoint. We also found the bison mothers and calves that we had seen the evening before entering Mammoth. They were all sprawled out on the green grass sleeping in the mid-day sun.

One Tuckered Bison Calf

One Tuckered Calf

After lunch, we headed to Tower and found a black bear but we moved on since it wasn't in good light. The male bighorn will still hanging out around the Yellowstone Picnic Area. This one was having problems getting his lunch in his mouth:

Bighorn Ram Having Problems with Lunch

We spotted another grizzly on the way to the Lamar Valley and yet another coyote near Soda Butte. We had apparently just missed this coyote chasing off a black wolf. We hung around a bit at Soda Butte, but neither returned.

We needed to return our rental scope so we headed to Silvergate hoping to find some moose. We decided to drive towards Cooke City after dropping off the scope since we had heard others mention moose sightings between the two towns. We didn't even get out of Silvergate before encountering this one in the evening light:

Silvergate Moose

We spent about a half hour watching this moose graze before we headed back to Gardiner to call it a day. Back in Little America, we found this bison just "itching" to get rid of its winter coat:

"This winter coat is itching..."

Besides more bighorn between Mammoth and Gardiner, the drive home was uneventful. All in all, another great day in parkidise.

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