Evening of Saturday 9 June saw us entering Yellowstone. The temperatures had dropped from the high 80sF in Cody to 37F and we even had some light snow. We did see some Buffalo and Elk on our way through but didn't stop to photo any on route as we knew we would definitely see enough of them at later stages. We did stop to photograph a bunch of swallow/martin type birds which were having a feeding frenzy by a bridge ove a creek and got a couiple of flight shots, aided by quite a strong breeze into which the birds ghad to fly. I believe the birds are
We had known this kind of weather was always a possibility - on previous visits to Yellowstone we had always been there in July or August, by which time it was high Summer, chicks were almost fully grown and more or less independant and calves etc were well into their growth cycles.This was, indeed, why we had chosen to go earlier to try and catch a more Springlike atmosphere, even though a late Spring in Yellowstone could obviously bring snow and even road closures. However, just before arriving at our first destination (2 nights at Mammoth Hot Springs in the NW corner), we witnessed the grim face of life in Yellowstone - we came upon a Grizzly Bear dining on Elk calf (scroll past thenext two pictures if you are squeamish)
The following morning we woke to find these 2 ladies basking in the sun on the front lawn of the hotel.
And then we went off on our first drive round the park. It was still cold (35ish) but what the heck we were on holiday(-:). As we drove through Dunraven Pass - one of the highest passes in the park - we stopped to check out the snow that had been( and still was ) falling. We were very lucky to catch this little bunch on the pavement:
The next picture is me, sent out into the worsening weather to get documentary evidence
followed by evidence that sufficient fresh snow had fallen to make snowballs
The temperature soon dropped to freezing as we summitted the pass but warmed up to about 38 by we made our next stop near Tower Falls, where we were entertained by a
White crowned Sparrow.
Later we saw several bull Elk whose antlers were still covered in velvet and still growing. This first chap had the largest set we saw in Yellowstone, but try and bear this picture in mind when the pictures from Rocky Mountain Park come up later - they will really show the difference in the seasons between Yellowstone and the rest of the Western USA.
it must be quite an itchy process, this growing of antlers every year.
There were also lots of Ravens in yellowstone, they seemed to be even more common that the American Robin, I guess as a result of all that available carrion as much as anything else.
The folowing morning the weather improved somewhat and we went on our first walk, through the Mammoth Hot Springs geyser area. Th first bird we saw, I couldn't identify on my handy chart.
until I saw the following pair
and realised it had been the female Mountain Bluebird- the card lacks most females sadly.
Next to come were the Violet-green Swallows. Thes areactually nesting in crevices older parts of the Hot Springs formations.
Next on the scene was the Chipping Sparrow.
Later in the day we drove further afield, doing a first ever run for us up the Lamar Valley in the Northeast Corner.
First spot was a pair of House Finches in a forest edge.
Before we left tha area we noticed across the river there were these 2 Sandhill Cranes.
At a later stop we came across our first Clark's Nutcracker - a bird not on the Wyoming chart but identified later when we were in Rocky Mountain park and when there will be better pictures.
More 4 legged wildlife quickly followed:
A Coyote - more nosey than wily-
Buffalo and very small calves
and Pronghorn Antelope
Within the space of about 2 miles at the beginning of the lamar valley we found,as a result of local tip offs 3 different nest sites, which provided us with much entertainemnt over the next couple of days.
Firstly a Great Horned Owl nest with 2 Owlets.
The following day when we visited, one of the parents was ther and later started to feed the Owlets.
An osprey nest:
Over the 2 days we neversaw the osprey offg the nest so presume they were sitting on eggs. we did see (presumably) the male return with fish which the sitting bird ate.
A Bald Eagle nest with 2 chicks, though at a greater distance and we only saw the chicks through a scope.
One of the adults kindly gave us a flyby, but not nearly as close as I would have wished for.
The Lamar valley also presented us with more nesting sites but this time of the Cliff Swallow - not as you would expect on an out of reach cliff, but under the eaves of the layby toilet!!
our first Beaver was also seen in the Lamar Valley.
Also a red Tailed Hawk overflew us
Further 4 legged beasts seen in the Lamar were Pronghorn Antelope with calf
Bighorn sheep, though unfortunately not the super mature rams with the huge curly wurly horns
some very distant Mountain Goats
A very distant female Grizzly Bear with 2 cubs
In all honesty even in the scope these were almost only big dots(-:) and we would never have seen them if we had not been told they were there.
Lastly was a Buffalo with passenger - presumably explaining how this bird got its name of Brown Headed Cowbird, this one seems to have caught an itch as well.
That's all for now, more from Yellowstone later.
Part 5 can be found here:
USA Holkiday Wildlife pics - Part 4 - Yellowstone completed and the trip out to Jackson Hole
Bob this is an amazing report, and absolutely wonderful photos, I feel like I went there too. Love the Owl feeding the young, the whole report is wonderful, looking forward to the next.
Pleased to meet you, Bob!! Always nice to see a pic of a forumite.
Ditto everything Birdie said.
What wonderful photos and amazing animals. Is the bluebird really that blue? It's beautiful. The second photo of the red tailed hawk is brilliant. I love the beaver, and what is it about swallows and toilets? I took a pic last week of a swallow on its nest in some ladies toilets!
Sparrow what is it about swallows and toilets?
Both Swallows and Martins seem to prefer pebble-dashed or white painted buildings. I think that fits a lot of public loos.
Thanks Galatas. That explains it!
Bob, All I can say is that this is what retirement is supposed to be about.
The reports just get better Bob, all great photos, as i was scrolling down i kept saying "that's my favourite so far" but the Bluebird has got to be my fave ...so far, on to part 5
Another set of great pictures Bob. I love the Owls, although I wouldn't want to come face to face with one of them on a darK night!