Tuesday, August 18, 2009

HBC Trip-Yellowstone 2009

Hampshire Bird Club- Wyoming, Trip July 2009. Part two- Yellowstone.

We left Jackson Hole early on a raining Friday morning as we made our way towards Yellowstone National Park. We made a few stops along the way, but for the most part headed directly to the gates. The bottom line…Yellowstone was everything we thought it was going to be and more. The beauty of the Mammoth Hot Springs, (and smell) Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake, Mt.Washburn, Lamar and Hayden Valley’s were simply spectacular. Hard to believe, but birds were not our only focus. Our group quickly got caught up in the hunt for large mammals around the park. Undoubtedly we were far better prepared than most of the other visitors to Yellowstone. With are high powered telescopes and binoculars we fast became a crowd favorite at certain roadside haunts.

Everyone in the group was on the constant lookout for the two most sought after mammals-Grizzly Bear and Wolves, and we were not going to be disappointed. In mid afternoon on day two in Yellowstone we found a fairly large Grizzly Bear in Lamar Valley. Although not close, we were afforded nice looks through are scopes and watched the bear for over fifteen minutes. A little further down the road a Black Bear made an appearance as it slowly worked its way through the field.

This of course was a birding trip….and we did have some interesting sightings. We had one of only ten Trumpeter Swans currently in Yellowstone in the summer. Close to 180 Barrow’s Goldeneye’s, Common Loon, American White Pelican, Swanson’s Hawk, Golden Eagle, American Kestrel’s (many-nice to see since they are becoming scare in New England) Prairie Falcon, Sora Rail, Sandhill Crane, White-throated Swift (3), Clark’s Nutcracker, American Dipper, Lazuli Bunting, Red Crossbill and abundant Pine Siskins.

Early Monday morning- it was decided not to head to Red Rock National Wildlife Refuge, but instead head to Hayden Valley and look for the Wolf Pack. We missed the Wolves by only 10 minutes the other day and wanted to give it one more shot before heading back to Jackson Hole. We made a beeline directly for Hayden Valley on Monday morning. After waiting for the road construction that was on going throughout the park we made it to the lookout…only to learn that we just missed the wolf pack by 10 seconds!!!! Quickly following the advice of one of the volunteer naturalists, we got back in the cars and back tracked a few hundred yards to the next turn out and waited.
The naturalists predicted the wolves would cross the road between the two pullouts to get to a recent carcass- BINGO!! Right on cue the wolf pack came out from the forest and cross about 200 yards in front of us. Plain and simply, it was just an amazing amount of luck. After the wolf encounter, we just worked are way back towards Jackson Hole and finish off our adventure with a trip up to Rendezvous Mountain and a rafting trip down the Snake River.

Next blog entry….HBC trip to South Beach.


Old Faithful


Elk- Along the West Entrance Road.


This was anything but uncommon in Hayden Valley. On one occasion, the Buffalo caused a 45 minute delay. To move the herd along- The Park Rangers would drive up and down the road making some type of clicking sound over their PA system. This seem to work reasonably well.

The sign going into Teton N.P. said....Hitting a 2000 lbs Buffalo will ruin your day and your car.

Another Buffalo jam about to begin....

Buffalo coming out of the Snake River. These animals were very good swimmers.

Sandhill Crane in West Yellowstone, Montana.

White-throated Swift- Yellowstone. Not a great photo, but not bad considering the speed of these guys.

Mountain Bluebird- on top of Mt. Washburn.

River Otter- at the base of the Jackson Hole Dam.
American White Pelican- Hayden Valley.

Bald Eagle- This adult had a nest right along the West Entrance Rd into Yellowstone.

One of four wolves that made up the Hayden Valley Wolf Pack.

Wolf- Talk about luck...that guy in the first car had a look of a lifetime.

Just coming out of the forest.