Thursday, May 28, 2015

Our first class in Yellowstone

Mom and I took an excellent Lodging & Learning class (Spring Wolf and Bear Discovery) based out of Mammoth Hot Springs.  Mammoth has some neat things to see in itself, including elk that appreciate it as a sanctuary:

Our guide Ted found many great animals and regaled us with information and stories on many topics.  Here's a bull elk grazing near the road, unperturbed about our bus or the many gawking eyes:

A beautiful place for a morning overview:

Bison babies everywhere!  We couldn't get enough of them.

A view of the Bear Tooth range to the northeast:

Pronghorns crossing the creek:

A newborn bison baby!  We just missed seeing the actual birth, but did witness its first steps and nursing.  Incredible.

A post office fitting of a National Park:

Lizzie from the Wolf Watchers gave an excellent talk about how they use the radio collars to track the wolves.  We had not spotted one yet, still hoping and looking.  In the meantime, it was great to hear from one of the Wolf Watchers.

A collar that had been chewed off and recovered:

Scanning the cliffs for mountain goats:

Got em!  Here is a digi-scope photo (taking a picture through a scope) - not a great shot, but the little white blobs are the mountain goats:

Yellowstone traffic challenges, for the people and the animals:

Ted took us on a nice hike and we got to see some interesting things, including:

The den where one of the original reintroduced wolves (#9) had a litter of pups - neat!

An older bull elk:

Ted showing how the hump bones fit on the bison carcass:

We spotted a bear with 2 cubs - very cool.  Ted found several bears and we never got tired of watching them root around.  We even got to see a bear with a name - "Scarface" - taking a nap.

Bighorn sheep hanging out near our lunch spot (along with a raven that liked to steal food...):

A travertine terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs:

Another photo from an evening run near Mammoth:

On our last morning we got up extra early and drove out to try our wolf watching luck again.  This time we were successful!  We saw several wolves that morning, moving fast along the far hillsides.  There wasn't a good way to get a photo of the wolves (on my camera), but here is the scene in the foreground:

Other animals that we saw sans photos - osprey, Harlequin ducks, marmots ("whistle pigs"), mule deer, coots, magpies, and a yellow-headed blackbird.  Also several bald eagles, so majestic.

Another lovely hike, this time down to the confluence of the Lamar and Yellowstone rivers:

Group photo of our class:

One last surprise for our class - a bison "stampede" headed across the Yellowstone bridge:

Quite a sight!

Thank you Ted for an excellent 3 days of animal watching and learning!

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