Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July

 Happy 4th of July. I am updating my blog this evening as this has been an incredible week for wildlife. There won't be a lot of text, but the photos, with brief captions, says it all.

During my tour on Thursday we saw 5 adult and three grizzly cubs, two wolves, a coyote, marmots, osprey, bison and elk. That is my bear record for one day. Although the sow and cubs were a long ways a way, some of the others were quite close. I usually do not photograph during my tours, but one guest had a Nikon and was regretting not having a longer lens. I loaned him mine which was in the luggage area of the Historic Yellow Bus. Since I had it out, I took some shots too.

After the first four grizzlies, I was headed to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, hoping to make it for the rainbow in the Lower Falls. This time of year it is spectacular but the sun angle is only good for about 15 minutes.

When we got to Hayden Valley I could see we would not make it due to the huge traffic jam. However, that turned out to be two wolves on a carcass, grizzly sow and three cubs across the creek, waiting, and a coyote circling, hoping everyone else would leave so he\she could have a chance at the leftovers. I believe the bear made the kill, but she may have ceded to the wolves as fighting them off would have made her cubs vulnerable.

Anyway, one of the wolves left, came towards the huge crowd, being held back by rangers. But it came close enough for the view above, with a long lens. It then swam across the creek and headed toward the den, probably to regurgitate food for the pups.

Two wolves on the kill with ravens sneaking in. Coyote sniffing area where wolf had passed through minutes before. And a very distant and blown up shot of the grizzly sow with her triplets.

One of the grizzlies along the north side of the lake, digging for roots or grubs.

The cutthroat trout are spawning. Their journey to the spawning grounds includes getting over Le Hardy Rapids, no mean feat in this year of abundant water. The river is running high and hard. Took almost an hour and used up a 4 GB card to get just two acceptable photos of fish in the air.
Cutthroat Trout are our native species, but in trouble now as someone put Lake Trout in Yellowstone Lake and numbers have plummeted.

Summer arrived almost in concert with the solstice. I didn't get any photos of our most numerous and ubiquitous summer species, the mosquito.

Summer also means thunderstorms. This one was on my way home from two days working at Old Faithful.

Lots of spring rain creates cascades of water along the East Road going to Cody. The sun was on the scene when I went over early one morning to do shopping and get my hair cut. Actually the last blog posting was from Cody after I saw this rainbow.

View from Lake Butte Overlook. I went up several times hoping for more shots of the Blue Grouse. The evening I took this shot, it was a consolation for not seeing the grouse.

Blue Grouse courting. He puffs up his chest,
showing the red region, fans out his tail
and makes a thumping noise. The hens did not look very impressed, at least at that time, and kept on eating and wandering away from him.

Lady Slippers or Fairy slippers, depending on where and who you talk to. These were at the end of their bloom when I finally got over to see them. They are growing on the trail from the dorms to Lake Hotel.

I took a weekend trip to Red Lodge with the two Pat's (one is in charge of the post office here, the other is in housekeeping). We went over Beartooth Pass, explored around Red Lodge, Rosebud Lake, Roscoe where we had a great dinner, Belfry, Powell (site of the Heart Mountain Internment Camp during WW II..there wasn't time that day to visit, but I plan to go back), and back via Cody. While we didn't see a lot of wildlife, we did well on flowers. Sago Lily above right,

Prairie Smoke left.

In the Beartooth Mountains, right, with alpine flowers in the foreground. Tiny, rock hugging flowers, they defy the winds and cold temperatures at just under 11,000 feet elevation.

the tiny little sharp point, about two thirds from the left of the photo in the saddle of the range, is the "beartooth."

Marmots are common in the Beartooths......and in much of Yellowstone as well.

And what exploration outside the park would be complete without a little mining history, especially for this old Bodie guide and resident. This was a copper mine area. We tried to get to the old stamp mill for Cooke City area but snow blocked the way. However, I now know I can get close enough in my low clearance Toyota to make the trip. I will hike part way but I had been told I could not get within range. Obviously I can...AND WILL.

This blog program is frustrating as the layout I put together and which shows on my computer before I hit the save and send buttons is not what shows up on the blog site. I just hope it isn't too fractured this time.