Monday, June 16, 2014

Yellowstone: June 16, Monday Bloated Bison

My grandfather was a rancher and when he knew that one of his cows was bloated, he punctured to let the gas escape. If he didn't, the cow died.

Last night one of the bison in Lamar Valley became bloated. We were told that while it's calf tried nursing, the other bison gathered around it until it was beyond protecting.

Until this year, one wolf pack specialized in attacking bison calves. Other than that the elk, not the bison, are the preferred prey.

However, the deceased bison provided feasts to grizzly bears, wolves, and ravens while also providing lots of photo opportunities for tourists (in between rain/hail/snow).

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Yellowstone: June 14 Saturday Hayden Valley

The snow's melting, although it has been hailing today and is the coldest it's been since we've been here.

The bisons' loose winter cost blows in the wind.

And, today Mule took his first pictures of the black and of the white wolf and watched them play.

Now he has taken at least I one picture of all of the "celebrity" mammals: moose, elk, bison, grizzly bear, black bear, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and wolf!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Yellowstone: June 12, Thursday Hayden Valley

It was supposed to rain, so we decided to do laundry. I put the quarters In two machines and turned them on.

Thirty minutes later, I returned to put the clothes in the dryer and discovered that one of the machines hadn't turned all the way on. I started it Nd put the other Los in the dryer.

Thirty minutes later, I removed the delayed load from the washer and put them in a second dryer.

My first load finished, we folded them and then waited for the second load. When Mule returned to check them, he discovered that the heating element was broken and the clothes weren't drying. Management returned our money and we restarted the. In another dryer. End result was that laundry took 3 hours

in the meantime, I decided to transfer Mule's pictures from the IPad to the Surface Pro. They consisted of three albums that I hadn't edited at all and one alb lim of bear pictures that included 2 pictures that I had cropped. I copied them to the Surface Pro then deleted them for the IPad. The IPad is only 64 GB and doesn't have a recycle bin.

Next I went back to the Surface Pro to admire the picture bear coming coming out of the river with a fish in its mouth and the one of the bear sitting in the bank, looking out at the river. I learned that the album with edited pictures had not copied. There were no backups.

So, from now on, everything is copied to the Surface Pro then copied to the IPad. Hard lesson to learn. Mule is less upset than me. But it had taken him most of yesterday to take the pictures.

The bison had lost much of their winter coat.

We don't know why the cow and calf were standing in the river while the rest of the herd was grazing nearby

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Yellowstone June 11 Wednesday Hayden Valley

Our first find of the day was

Meanwhile, a herd of elk and their calves were grazing on a peninsula.

A grizzly bear saw them and chased them into the river. It then separated one of the calves from its mother. The calf couldn't out swim the bear. The bear pounced on it and drowned it.

It dragged the carcass back to the peninsula and laid down on it. The whole sequence of events took about twenty minutes.

The elk mother returned, but it was too late and she left again.

Sometimes he slept on the carcass. Sometimes he ate it.,,Sometimes he stood up, as if to stretch. And, sometimes he looked across the river.

where one white and one black wolf darted at the tree line, maybe lusting after his treasure.

At the end of the day, his feast was gone and he reentered the river.

Climbed up the hill.

And disappeared into the trees.

On our way back to camp, we saw our first find was still in the same pond of water.

Yellowstone June 10 Tuesday. Lake Overlook to Upper Geyser Basin

We got up at 6:00 to go to Lake Overview to see the courting grizzlies. Enroute, we saw


While there we saw "Steam Boat"


As you can see there is no mention of seeing grizzlies. From Lake Overlook, we drove to Grant Village then Old Faithful. I went on a tour of the inn, then looked in at the empty rooms.

Looking into the dining room.

Looking across the lobby.

There's a distinct break between the original rooms and the add-ones.

After I snooped around the inn, we watched Old Faithful erupt,

walked around Upper Geyser. Morning Glory at the end of the path,mused to be my favorite. Not so much now. The temperature of the various areas of each pool determines the algae, bacteria, etc. that live there. Fue to people growing objects in the pools, the temperatures have dropped and many of the pools look rusted out.

Now Blue Sappahire, although small, is my favorite. It's at the beginning of the path.

Grand Geyser only erupts 1 to 50 times per year, but at times is the tallest geyser see in the world. It erupted about a 1/2 hour after we passed it. Grand Geyser below

We took the bike path back from Morning Glory and collapsed into chairs in the Old Faithful Inn. After lunch, we returned to Canyon and recharged our electronics.

Yellowstone June 9, Monday Nez Perce

We did laundry then spent the day at Nez Perce.

After dinner, we went to the latest reported place where the grizzly bears were hanging out. They had left of course. But, we saw

on the way back to camp. The ranger said that it was his first beaver jam. He also said that the grizzly bears are courting out by Butte Lake Overview, past Fishing Bridge and that we need to be there by 7 in the morning. guess where we're going tomorrow?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Yellowstone June 8, Sunday Hayden Valley

Maybe the animals are celebrating the Sabbath. They were absent from the Hayden Valley area all day, with the exception of a couple of isolated bison. Unless the bison are in a majestic scenic area, we've became a little bored with them.

Mule wants wolf and more grizzly bear pictures. The problem is that the Yellowstone wolves are most active in morning twilight and that means getting up really early and then hoping that in the thousands of available acres, they'll chose to be by the road where we are. Bears are at least active at both ends of the day.

Last night we were sitting just north of Alumn Creek, waiting to see if anything interesting happened. Some one said that two grizzly bears were sighted just to the south around the corner. We drove there and squeezed into a vacated spot in the parking lot. I parked the car, got out, and we were told, "They went further south."

We and all the other cars took off to the south, reparked, and got out to look of the bears, theoretically a sow with a juvenile (cub that's a year old - not yet two years).

I looked where everyone pointed and could see the two dots moving on the distant ridge Even with my camera at 300mm (480 with the .6 crop factor), they were just dots. Bah Humbug! We've heard more reports of sows and cubs being by the road, close enough to kiss. Ya! That's what we want.

Hayden Valley below:

This is the bear that my camera saw with extreme cropping. Looks like Yogi Bear to me :)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

June 7, Saturday. South of Hayden Valley. Coyote Kills Elk WARNING GRAPHIC

We spent most of the morning charging electronics and posting the last two entries. Then I read in the Canyon Village Lounge.

After I finished my book, we drove to the meadow up above the ones south of Alumn Creek, from there we continued a little south until we saw a packed viewpoint. Naturally, we stopped.

Rangers were there, answering questions about the scene below. Mule deer and elk hid their calves, then go off to graze. A coyote had discovered a elk calf and killed it.


The cat family kills by going for the jugular. Bears, which kill more calves than coyotes or wolves, have such strong jaws that the calf dies quickly. The canine family (wolves, coyotes) kill by biting the calf until it is immobilized then sitting aside while it bleeds out. The ranger had watched the event and said that it took about 20 minutes.

Fortunately, by the time we arrived the calf was already dead.

The coyote rips at the calf's innards, legs, etc, to get at the meat (rather than nibbling in the meat while it's still attached to the carcass).

The coyote came and went several times. Each time it left, it rolled in the grass and rubbed its face in the grass. The ranger said that was to remove the smell of the kill so as not to attract wolves and bears to it (the coyote). if you look closely in the pictures, you can see the blood on its nose. After removing the smell, it laid away from the kill site while it's belly expanded.

It then returned to feast some more. In it's absence, the ravens helped themselves. When the coyote returned, he charged at the ravens. But, they waited nearby for him to leave again.

The ranger said that when the cow returned, she might sniff the calf, but she wouldn't stay by the carcass. If she had been then when the coyote arrived, she would have defended her calf and killed the coyote. We saw a cow return, look down toward the carcass and leave.

The ranger said that the bears and wolves could smell it from about a mile and a half away and it may be a good site to wait for them to appear.

We waited and waited.

After about two hours of waiting, I learned that just around the corner, a grizzly bear had spent twenty minutes swimming in the river before crossing the street and crossing the meadow!

We went back to the lodge dining room, had a prime rib dinner, then returned to camp.

Mishap: Mule step backwards, tripped over a rock, and fell back, landing on his back and hitting his head. He felt a little dazed but was ok. Fortunately, the camp host is near our site and in case of an emergency, they'd call the ranger. But, we're glad it didn't turn into an emergency.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Yellowstone: June 6, Thursday. Bears at Tower Junction, Lamar Valley, and Cooke City

We decided to drive to Cooke City, which is outside the northeast park entrance, to stock up in supplies.

Enroute, at TowerJunction, we saw

which meant that something was going on. In addition, there was ranger standing guard, which meant

Bears! When we arrived, the sow was sleeping at a tree and the triplets were in the tree. But, she almost immediately woke up. The cubs scampered down and began wrestling, rolling around, and running about.

The ranger kept on eye on the people, making sure that no one was standing in the middle of the road. Then after an hour or so, the mother laid down in front of a tree, the triplets climbed up the tree and she went back to sleep.

I was told that she likes to spend spring in the area between the Tower Falls lookout and the road to Lamar Valley. Then, in around July, she goes back to the high country. She only has cubs every other year, so that means it will be 2016 before she has more cubs.

we stood near the Max Waugh group and learned that they had been taking photographs about 16 hours a day!

We have a lot of bighorn sheep photographs, so we drove right past them to the bison herds. The calves keep on nursing while the mother walks around :)

Next we came to an osprey nest that was across the river and at the top of a tree stump, next to a shorter tree stump.

Mule had a great time telling people where to look to see the nest, chick, and sometimes mother.

Before leaving the park, we stopped to look at the mountain goats there were about half way up the mountain and difficult to see. A Yellowstone tour guide said that they are always on the same mountain, but move up as it becomes warmer.

The first town after leaving the park was Silver City, which was only a spit and a holler big. However, just around the bend was Cooke City, where we had lunch at Soda Butte Lodge.

It included a calf that lost it's nerve and went back to the other side, then started agin, then went back again . . .

However, the shopping was worse there than back in the park. The restaurant lady suggested Cody, about an hour and a half from Cooke City.

We decided not to go to Cody and headed back to the park. Where we waited for a group of bison to cross the road

When we finally drove past it, it was still standing on the original side of the road, next to its mother, looking at cars.

We watched a beaver cross the water, then started back. Enroute, first we were I the front of a line of cars following a bison down the road.

Then a herd of bison headed towards us, passing our car on both sides. I turned off the headlights but a lady coming from the opposite direction decided to turn her headlights off and on. I was hoping that she wouldn't annoy them. Bison have jumped on cars in the past, butted against them, and even an accidental swinging if their heads would scratch my car to smittherings. They were close enough that I could have smelled their breath or kissed them. I rolled up my windows and hoped that beyond most possible odds they wouldn't scratch or dent the car. The first of the group passed and headlight lady kept flashing. I didn't yell at her cuz I didn't want to startle the bison. On and on they came. Then the last one passed and with no new scratches, we continued back.

Exhausted again, we went to sleep.