Trip Report - June 2009

Lewis and Debra Demler

Click on the small pictures below if you want to see a larger image.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Our Little House on the Prairie
I spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning at the house. We finished the framing and put the sheeting on the roof. Next week we will order the metal for the roof. That should be available before the end of the week. The siding should be available in two to three weeks. I also went over the specs with the electrician this week.

I got back from Livingston late Friday afternoon in time to make a quick trip into the park.

I went to Tower and then came back to the room. The following pictures are samples of some of the wildlife I saw on this short visit.

Bull Elk near Blacktail Pond
I saw many bison and elk every time I went into the park. There were at least 4 bighorn sheep on McMinn's Bench. They were at the top and were moving so it was hard to get a complete count. There were at least 4, but probably more.

There were two large bull elk in the Blacktail Pond area. There were also a lot of people trying to get pictures. I was able to stay back from the crowd and got several pictures.

There was still water in the depression by the blue bird nest. Phantom Lake also had lots of water. Unfortunately the Blacktail Plateau road was closed.

Avocets at Floating Island Lake
My next stop was at Floating Island Lake. The water level was lower than in May. I always stop there to check out the ducks. I was not disappointed today. There were the usual complement of mallards, coots, ruddy ducks and ring-necked ducks.

To my surprise there were at least 18 avocets that stopped in here during their migration. They were a bit out of range for the camera I had along but this was special so I took a lot of pictures.

The sandhill cranes were here in May but their nest was destroyed by coyotes. They built a new nest on the island.

Avocets at Floating Island Lake Avocets at Floating Island Lake

Black Bears at Elk Creek
While I was taking pictures of the elk at Blacktail Pond a visitor stopped and told me about some bears further down the road. I stopped at Elk Creek to watch the a black bear with 2 cubs. She was eating non-stop and the cubs were playing with anything they could find. They were having a great time climbing the trees.

I continued towards Tower and happened upon a bear jam past the Roosevelt corrals. Three women wanted to get close-up pictures of the bear using their cell phones. Fortunately a ranger was in back of me and he was able to stop them. As he was telling them the facts of life the person in front of me told the ranger to lighten up as the women only wanted some pictures. You NEVER want to tell that to a ranger. 'Nuff said.

I turned around at Tower and went back to the room. The trip back to the hotel was uneventful.

Black Bears at Elk Creek

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sandhill Crane on Nest
This was my first full day in the park. As I left the hotel it was partly cloudy but the forecast was for strong storms later in the day. My plans were to go over Dunraven Pass with a stop at Tower and lunch at Canyon, then check out the Hayden Valley on my way to Fishing Bridge. I planned to continue on to the East Entrance.

The sheep and bull elk were out but at different locations. The tourists were out in droves. I stopped at Floating Island Lake again. There was only one avocet, but I did get to see the sandhill crane on the nest. There was a lot of water fowl as normal.

I stopped at Tower Junction to talk to the hikers. I did not go on this hike for obvious reasons.

Snow on the Mountains along Dunraven Pass
I stopped at Tower and then went over the Dunraven Pass. I did not see any large animals, but the scenery was great. The north side of the mountains was still snow covered. There was also a lot of snow on the side of the road and in the gullies.

I ran into several squalls and even a bit of snow, but for the most part it was sunny. The Chittenden Road is closed but you can get to Mt. Washburn on the Dunraven side.

I stopped at several pullouts to take in the scenery. Then I went to Canyon for lunch.

Grebes in the Hayden Valley
I headed down to the Hayden Valley after lunch in Canyon. I saw the usual elk and bison south of Canyon.

I stopped at the first creek in the Hayden Valley and watched these grebes for a long time. They were snoozing and I had a hard time getting a picture of one with its head up. It was very windy so they just floated around with their heads tucked in to keep a low profile.

A few people stopped but most were not interested in a few "ducks". It is surprising how much people miss as they drive through the park.

Snoozing Grebes in the Hayden Valley

Snoozing Grizzly Bear in the Hayden Valley
I left the grebes and continued driving south. I encountered a lot of people on the road over the next small hill. A grizzly bear was snoozing on the far side of a small "pond". I watched for a while but the only signs of life were when he moved his head.

The wind was picking up and it was getting very cloudy so I left and continued driving south.

There were a few pelicans on the Yellowstone. There were also a number of red-tailed hawks and eagles.

I saw a couple of wolves at the last Hayden Valley grizzly paved pullout. I did not stay too long as they were not much more than dots in the scope.

LeHardy Rapids
I stopped at LeHardy Rapids to check out the harlequin ducks. The river was very high and the island was covered with water so the ducks were not there.

I went to the double trash can pullout to check out the pelicans. There were no pelicans, again due to the high water. I did see some pelicans at Fishing Bridge.

The sky looked extremely nasty but I started for the East Entrance anyway. I could see lightning ahead of me but thought I would be ok. I was wrong. The storm caught up with me so I turned around and headed back to Canyon.

Grizzly Bear crossing the Yellowstone
It stopped raining when I got back to the area in which I saw the grizzly bear on the way down. I stopped and the bear had come to life.

He crossed over to the other side of the road and headed to the river. He swam across the river, shook himself off and then left the area.

There was a lot of lightning to the west so I went to next pullout to try to get some pictures but I was too late. It started to rain again so I headed off to Canyon.

I stopped to look at some water fowl before I left the Hayden Valley.

Wet Grizzly Bear Across the Yellowstone

Lone Bison near Canyon
I saw this bison south of Canyon and stopped to take some pictures. After a quick stop at Canyon to purchase the latest wolf sheet I headed over to Norris. On the way I took the Virginia Cascades drive.

By the time I got to Norris it had started to rain again so I went on up to Mammoth. I stopped several times along the way to look at the scenery. I even went back to Sheepeater Cliffs to look for marmots but there were none.

There was a lot of water along Swan Lake Flat but I did see some sandhill cranes. It was not too wet for them. I did the Upper Terrace Loop and then headed back to the room.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mergansers Near LeHardy Rapids
Another full day in the park. The weather was a bit better than yesterday

I started with the same route as yesterday. I did not see the wolves or any grizzly bears in Hayden Valley. The grebes were at the same spot and there were more pelicans at Fishing Bridge and in the Pelican Valley area.

On the way back to Canyon I stopped to watch some mergansers north of LeHardy Rapids.

Canyon was like a zoo so I did not stop for lunch. They could have planned better for the new traffic patterns.

Big Horn Ram near the Yellowstone Picnic Area
I went back over Dunraven as I wanted to try to find a moose. I did not see any moose along Antelope Creek but there was a black bear. Everyone was parked in the road so there was total gridlock.

I went on to Tower Junction and headed out to the Lamar Valley. There were pronghorns and a bighorn ram near the Yellowstone Picnic area and grizzly dots in Little America.

I checked for moose at Soda Butte picnic area and then went to Barronette and saw several mountain goats including a nanny with 2 kids. On the way back I saw the Druids from the Foot Bridge Pullout.

Moose in Floating Island Lake
I had about given up on finding any moose this trip but Floating Island Lake came through for me. This guy was standing the water eating and ignoring everyone that was watching. A ranger came by but since everyone was behaving did not stay.

It was getting dark so I called it a day and headed back to the room.

I saw several large bull elk, some pronghorns and a few small groups of bison near Blacktail Pond.

This weekend was great and I was sorry to have to leave but I will be back in July.

Moose in Floating Island Lake Moose in Floating Island Lake

Moose in Floating Island Lake

Monday, June 22, 2009

Young Great Horned Owl at Mammoth
I had to go to Livingston today so I checked out of the hotel and went to the Town Cafe for breakfast.

I decided to make one last quick trip to the park. I went to Tower and then turned around as I had business that had to be completed before I left. I headed back to Mammoth. I did not see too much as it was close to noon.

Lady luck was with me and got to see this young great horned owl at Mammoth. So did a lot of other people and that area quickly turned into a parking lot.

This was a great end for a short trip to the park.

Young Great Horned Owl at Mammoth Young Great Horned Owl at Mammoth

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