YNP May 16-21, 2021

Share your latest adventure in Yellowstone.

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timv
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:16 pm

YNP May 16-21, 2021

Post by timv »

The first thing I noticed as I drove north from Flagg Ranch was that both Lewis and Yellowstone lakes were still covered in ice. Even though it was warm,it was kind of a neat feeling to be in the park, before it has fully thawed out. I stopped and looked at Fishing bridge, Sedge bay and other spots for wildlife, but it was warm and midday, so not much activity.

I also stopped at Le Hardy rapids for some Harlequin time.

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After checking in to my place in Gardiner I made my way out to Slough Creek, to see if the pups had emerged. I got oriented with the den site and I got caught up with the latest carcass locations and activity by talking to the wolf watchers.

The bison were everywhere, with more little red bison that I had ever seen. The light winter that kept them in the park also seems to have helped with the baby bison survival rate.

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I think this is a Savanna Sparrow. I am not sure but it was sure pretty and had a good song.

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The next morning I teamed up with my photographer buddy, Steve, and we went in search of activity. We found a pair of wolfs across the Lamar river.
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More wolfs emerged from around the hill that we were parked behind.
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This coyote came from the same area carrying a bison tail. We figured there must be an unseen carcass up the trail from our spot.
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The black wolf confirmed our suspicions with his own meal trophy.
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Further down the road, we spotted a Badger near Soda butte. After we parked, we were able to re-find it, still on the surface. I never got a clean face shot. It had a number of den holes to escape into.

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It was a great first full day in the park. We spent the next few days in the Hayden and Lake area. It was rather warm so we did not find many low elevation bears.

At Hayden valley, we watched for elk or bison in alarm or in full run.
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We knew there were wolfs in the area and could see some of the pack at the island of trees to the West. At the end of the day, we were rewarded when this Wapiti wolf came down the Trout Creek cliff side .
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The wolfs appeared to be on a hunt. They disappeared into the vast Western part of the valley.
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Having seen some wolfs in both parts of the park allowed us to be patient and look for some less common photo subjects. We spent a number of hours at the end of one day waiting for a supposedly white wolf, come to a carcass on the Madison river. It was probably a very light grey wolf but its color did not matter, since we did not see it. The carcass appeared to be picked clean, not even any birds near it. We did see some red dog bison drama, however. This large cow Bison had two calves in her care. She walked across the Madison with out any issues but her little ones were not paying attention.
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When they found out they were separated from mom, they paced the shoreline intimidated by the crossing without mom present.
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For one of them, the fear of separation, overcame the fear of the river crossing, and he jumped in.
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The other one followed suit, not wanting to be left completely alone.
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For the little ones it was an all out swim.
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Mom Bison greeted them on the other shore.
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At sunset these geese swam through the nice colors in the water.
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The next day we saw more colorful birds.
Bullocks oriole
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Clarks Nutcracker
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A handsome Grizzly near Mary Bay in the Lake area.
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The Lake ice was breaking up and the wind had pushed much of it down the Yellowstone river and along the Fishing Bridge beaches.
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At Bridge Bay marina we found this camouflaged Ruffed Grouse.
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She was eating some forest tidbits.
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Near specimen ridge, a grizzly sow with cubs came more than half way down the slope, where she encountered a solo coyote.
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She did a textbook job of protecting her little ones and the coyote soon left.
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I took the quick hike up to Trout Lake looking for otters but only found this female goldeneye on a log.
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Back in the Lamar, another lone wolf was pacing east down the center of the valley. He chose to come over to the road side of the river in his hunt for scraps.
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He seemed bothered by the ravens.
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He was outnumbered.
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This black bear sow was near the Falls area and supposedly had some cubs up a tree but we never saw them come down.
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My last trip by the Lake showed it to be ice free. The wind was blowing ice caps.
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The wind was blowing some silt into the water that made for some greenish colorations around the shallows of Sedge Bay. Western Grebe
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At LeHardy Rapids the light was just right to get some more good sitting duck shots.

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Yellowstone did not disappoint. I really enjoyed this May trip. Watching the park thaw slowly into spring was as exciting as watching the valleys green up and the bears come down from the high elevations. With the new required campground reservations system in place I am determined to book my next trip soon.

Tim V.



Dorothy
Posts: 174
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:45 pm

Re: YNP May 16-21, 2021

Post by Dorothy »

What a great report! Thanks so much -- loved the photos, too. You saw lots of wolves! We got into the park just a day or two after your report and didn't see as many wolves (althought did get a really good wolf encounter), so really enjoyed reading and seeing photos of your experiences. Again, thanks so much for the report!



mdtrot
Posts: 96
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:57 pm
Location: East Texas

Re: YNP May 16-21, 2021

Post by mdtrot »

Outstanding pics, great report. Thanks for sharing.



karenandbill
Posts: 120
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:55 am

Re: YNP May 16-21, 2021

Post by karenandbill »

Great report! Thanks for sharing. Loved the photos, especially the birds. They can be a real challenge to photograph, but you got some great shots. Sounds like you got had a very productive trip in both parks. Glad it went well!

--Bill



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