October 6th and 7th

Share your latest adventure in Yellowstone.

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October 6th and 7th

Post by GreatGrayOwl »

My quest for a Great Gray Owl continues. That’s what I expected, of course, but I did dare to dream—and I did focus my efforts on trying to find one.

Because of that, I suppose I didn’t devote as much time as I could have to glassing for bears and wolves, but it was still a pretty exciting day and a half.

These are just hastily sketched notes—I’m recalling things out of sequence. All of the action was in Lamar. Swan Flats was really quiet, and because the road up Dunraven was closed for most of the time during my stay in Gardiner, I never made it further south than Roosevelt. The road between there and Mammoth was good, as always, for birds and the usual herbivores, but nothing that would entice anyone to race out the door at 5am. (On that score, I’m not reporting on those super-common species, with a few exceptions. Suffice it to say, the bison, deer, pronghorn, and elk are abundant all over the place.)

Remember, if these lists seem slim, it’s because most of my days were spent at spots like Warm Creek and Baronette, scanning trees for owls.


Lamar frosted with snow (most of which melts off by mid-morning) is a sight to behold.

No carcasses at the moment, it appears.

Distant looks at grizz at a few spots along the south side of the Lamar in Little America. Well past the usable range of my 400mm. Ditto with what I’m told is a wolf but impresses me more as a coyote.

Highlight of the day—by far—were my best looks ever at golden eagles: two of them in a dead tree near the confluence. After 30min or so they took off and I got some nice flight shots of one.

Mountain goats on some cliffs, south side of Lamar, just east of Trout Lake area.

Pretty light on a bull elk along the road back to Mammoth in the evening.

Was hoping to take the old Gardiner road back but it was closed for the entirety of my visit.


It appears wolves have taken an elk (I think it was an elk) in the Lamar, south side, not far from Slough Creek. The carcass is set back from the road probably 300 yards—add the dim morning light and the falling snow, and it doesn’t make for great pictures, though I’m guessing the folks with 600s and 800s are getting some decent shots. Eagles (both species) are also on the carcass.

Later in the day, more wolves (the same group?) are more visible and quite playful further east, across from the Institute.

Not far from here I wander a bit into the valley, which is always a fun experience. Bones are scattered everywhere and faint smells of sage and sulphur are transporting. I have a fairly close (100 yards) encounter with a coyote who watches me for a while and then slinks off. I’m not carrying my camera, so it’s just a memory.

Highlight of the day is my first ever badger sighting—back near Roosevelt, across from the morning carcass, where all appears to have gone quiet.

On my way out of the park, have to deal with some less than intelligent drivers ogling the elk scene at Mammoth, which is in full swing.

I've posted a few pics here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/noahcomet ... 4256882585

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Re: October 6th and 7th

Post by lah »

Thanks for the report. Sounds like a pretty nice couple of days. It seems golden eagles show up occasionally around hitching post -- I'm glad you saw a couple I didn't see one eagle in 4 days in the park in late September.

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Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2017 6:10 pm

Re: October 6th and 7th

Post by GreatGrayOwl »

All of my previous golden eagle sightings in the park have been distant views of soaring birds---such as this one a few years back:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/noahcomet ... P3e-akvSfg

That was my "life" golden. So this year was really a treat.

There were only a few of us staked out on the birds. Lots of people rolled by and asked what we were looking at, then, when we'd explain, they'd say "huh---cool," and keep on moving, looking out for wolves and bears. I get it---the "charismatic megafauna" is the big draw, and the main reason why lots of folks visit the park to begin with. But it takes some restraint not to lecture. :) In my visits to the park, I've seen dozens and dozens of wolves and probably more than a hundred bears. I've seen maybe five solid-ID golden eagles, and never nearly as close as these ones. But so it goes.

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Re: October 6th and 7th

Post by Dorothy »

Sorry about the lack of great grey owls! But just think, when you finally DO see one (and you will) it will be all the sweeter and much more special.

Thanks for the great photos and fun report. I loved the wolf pictures, even if they are far away. And jealous of your badger encounter. That's one of the "smaller things" we are always looking for. Did see one once (running across the road and then in the sage for a bit) but haven't managed to spot one since. And the eagle photos are GREAT! I have found that I really love looking for (and spotting) birds, large and small.

So thanks so much for the report and good luck on the Great Gray Owl hunt!

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