Monday, June 3, 2013

Yellowstone - Day 7

We “slept in” until 5:45AM today but were still out by 6:45AM which isn’t too bad.  It was 37 degrees when we left and it reached as high at 75 degrees in the afternoon. Today we were going to make sure that we beat the rush to Trout Lake.  In the Lamar Valley, we had another scoped Black Bear but nothing was happening at the coyote den.  We saw 1 coyote in Little America but everything was quiet elsewhere.  Back towards Trout Lake we had another coyote harassing some Bison and the moose with calf was out again at Pebble Creek but they were no closer than they were yesterday.

It was around 9AM when we reached the Trout Lake parking lot and we got one of the last spots.  We got there just as the Yellowstone Association bus was unloading a group of elderly passengers.  Good for them…It’s quite an ascent up to Trout Lake.  All the same, we got ready really quickly and made sure we beat them to the trail head!

It was calm up at Trout Lake and as our luck would have it, there was one otter out fishing.  We watched it dive in and out of the water like a dolphin would as it was hunting.  Just as we got ourselves into position near a fallen tree that we knew would be a good resting place for the otter, it made a close appearance and entertained us for a while.  

North American River Otter

River Otter Under Water

Trout Lake Inlet

We were also entertained by a pair of American Avocets:
American Avocet Pair

American Avocet Solo Reflection

We headed up to Buck Lake again to see if any more otters were out but none were.  The lake was very picturesque now that the flowers had started to bloom.

Buck Lake

After the hike, we decided that we needed to try to get better pictures of the moose and baby.  So, we parked at Pebble Creek and walked out into the trees lining round prairie in hopes of getting close enough for some pictures but not close enough to bother them.  Unfortunately, the closest set of trees to them was still pretty far away and we felt we would potentially disturb them if we left the trees so we just stayed there for a while and watched them.  The moose calf was sleeping on the shore of the river so there wasn’t much to see.

Moose with Resting Calf (Digiscoped Photo)

I had a hankering for another Western Chicken Sandwich and more baby watching (in this case elk) so we headed to Mammoth next.  We had one coyote on the way at Blacktail Ponds.  Initially we struck out with elk calves in Mammoth.  All we saw were females with no babies…weird.  After lunch, just as we were backing the car up to leave I saw a female Elk and calf on the hill behind the hotel.  We parked the car and headed out quickly to see them before they disappeared.

Female Rocky Mountain Elk

Rocky Mountain Elk Calf

As it turns out, the female ended up leaving the baby hidden in the sage as she walked down into Mammoth to graze on the grass and gossip with the other females. “Oh Marge, did you see the antlers on that young buck down the hill?  I sure would enter estrus for that hunk”.

Since we had yet to make it down the Western side of Yellowstone past Sheepeaters, we headed that direction next.  We hit the tail end of a bear jam at Grizzly Lake.  A Female and three cubs of the year had just walked through a meadow.  They were now up in the pines a bit.  We stopped and waited a while in hopes that they might come back out into the meadow but they didn’t.  We did get some fleeting glimpses of all 4 bears which was great.

Back at Roosevelt, we decided to stop to see if the Flicker had a nest in the sign post.  As we got there, a Flicker appeared and headed for the hole.  Just as it was about to land in the hole, a pair of bluebirds came out of nowhere and attacked the Flicker. They ended up driving it away.  Is it possible that the Bluebirds were nesting in the hole this year?  It’s a big hole and likely not a good place for them but their aggressiveness towards the Flicker seemed to indicate that they owned the hole.  We stopped at the sign each time we passed for the rest of the trip but saw nothing so we don’t know what is nesting in the hole this year if anything is at all.

Back in the Lamar Valley we stopped to scope the coyote den and saw one pup out and about.  We played scope-a-goat again at Mt Barronette and found 3 including 1 baby.

Our next stop was outside the NE entrance.  We had heard about a Red Fox den site in the area and our plan was to find it.  The pair of photographers with tripods was a dead giveaway so it didn’t take us long to find the den (how had we NOT seen it before?).  We stopped only to learn that we “just missed” the fox kits.  We chatted with the other photographers for a while until they left.  We planned on staying until it was too dark to take pictures because seeing fox kits was #1 on our list of things to do.  Just as it was getting too dark, I saw movement which belonged to 4 legs behind a bush.  However, once the kit got past the bush and saw us it turned around and disappeared.  That was it…our only fox kit sighting to date.

Despite that little disappointment, it was a great day.  Of course we decided that next day would center around the fox den because we just HAD to get better looks at a fox kits.

We had our typical 9:30PM soup and bread dinner and retired for the evening.

Daily Highlights:
  • 4 coyotes (1 pup)
  • 4 Grizzly (3 cubs)
  • 4 Mt Goats (1 baby)
  • 2 Moose (1 baby)
  • 1 Red Fox (1 Kit)
  • 1 Black Bear
  • 1 Otter
  • 1 Elk Calf

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