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Yellowstone June 2011


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Hi Vlad, I wonder if we met? When were you there?


Then a beautiful coyote was sighted close to the road by a snowy pond. He seemed to be looking for a drink, but as more crowds arrived he skulked away into the trees.




P6030853 American White Pelican by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6030859 American White Pelican by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6030890 Coyote by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6030900 Coyote by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6030905 Coyote by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6030914 Coyote by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Afterwards we returned to Mammoth for a cup of tea and we went looking for the great horned owl, which we found nesting near to the visitor centre. Having worked up an appetite we then popped into the snack bar for some dinner. Suitably fortified, we headed out to Lamar for the remainder of the evening. Just outside of Mammoth, on the way to Lamar we found a cinnamon coloured black bear a fair distance away grazing on the meadow.


As we passed through the Yellowstone Picnic area, one of the black bears crossed the road ahead of us and could be seen for a short while in the trees. Back at Jasper Bench, four grizzlies and a large black bear could again be seen, apparently on a carcass.



P1460719 Sneaky shot of Abbie! by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6030929 Black-billed Magpie by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6030937 Great Horned Owl by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6030943 Uinta Ground Squirrel by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6030949 Elk by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Such excitement in Yellowstone. You have great shots of bison bucking and running. That bear and elk calf sequence and photos is amazing. Sad the calf suffered so long. In contrast the mother elk and calf shots are precious.


I think you should rent out the mascots.


What were your dates of travel?

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I, too am addicted to trip reports. Great shots. Love reading and seeing them.

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Thanks! Lynn, we flew out on 31st March and flew back on June 7th So we were only in the park from 1st to 6th June.

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Further on the wolfers were scoping in the hope of spotting the Lamar pack. A wolf had been seen crossing the road, half an hour before, but there was no sign of it now. We chatted a while to the gathered crowd and I photographed a red-tailed hawk. Then we drove on down to the Confluence. A crowd was watching something swimming in the river close to the road. This turned out to be a lovely beaver! It seemed pretty oblivious to the increasingly large group of people who came to take a look as it just floated along in the water. He eventually turned and headed out across the river away from us, paddling in the shallows. But not before allowing us to get a really good look at him.


With that last sighting in the bag, it was getting late so we headed out of the park to Elkhorn Lodge in Cooke City.



P1460719-P1460724 PANO by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6040960 Elk by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6040978 Red-tailed Hawk by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6040990 Beaver by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6040997 Beaver by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6041002 Beaver by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



176 Sunset by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Day 4 June 4th it’s a dog eat dog world out there!

We were out on the road at 05.30 and we’d only just got through Silver Gate before we saw our first sighting. Two moose! One was right near the road and offered us a chance to get some nice close up shots of this gangly looking ungulate. Moose really do look very awkward, especially when they are grooming themselves!



P6041014 Moose by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6041019 Moose by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6041025 Moose by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6041027 Moose by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6041029 Moose by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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As we entered the Lamar Valley we found the wolfers gathered at the hitching post. Wolves had been spotted earlier on the ridge returning to the den site but were not visible now. We waited a while and high up on the ridge we could see bighorn sheep (well little white dots in the telescope that I have on good authority were sheep!). We carried on to Jasper Bench with a few of the wolfers and stood scoping the area as a carcass was visible.


It was I who spotted my first wolf! I wasn’t sure if it was a wolf initially, being so distant. So I called Abbie over to the scope to confirm it. She confirmed it was definitely a wolf and later she was identified as number 692F. She is formerly of the Blacktail pack but has been ostracised from her family by the alpha female. She trotted up a creek line and then crossed some open ground towards the carcass. This was obscured by a small copse of trees. As the wolfers hadn’t clocked her yet, I pointed out where she was to them and got a bit of kudos into the bargain for being the first to spot her.


She spent some time eating and then spotted some ravens further down the hill. She chased off the ravens and gobbled up the small amount of meat that they’d removed from the carcass. A grizzly then gave chase for a brief moment before losing interest in her. 692F was not perturbed too much by this event and shortly returned to the carcass where another grizzly was tucking in. Three coyotes also tried their luck, but were quite nervous given who else was already in attendance. Further away, right on the ridge line, a sow grizzly and two cubs could be seen.


We watched the events for a long time but it was still very early in the morning and we eventually needed to warm up somewhere. So we drove down to Tower to get a nice cup of tea and out of the cold for a short while. On the way down, we slowed as we approached a photographer by he waved us on as if there was nothing to see. We later discovered that there was a badger den close to where he was. Abbie was rather annoyed, thinking we had been waved on deliberately so that he could have the badgers all to himself but by the end of the trip it didn’t matter so much. At Tower, we found a photogenic least chipmunk in the car park which we watched for a while before we returned to Lamar.




P6041044 Least Chipmunk by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6041046 Least Chipmunk by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6041058 Least Chipmunk by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Thanks for the great report! Yellowstone is part of my dream America safari starting from Alaska and ending in Amazon :D Did you find the park crowded ?

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Vlad the Impala

I was there at the end of June, so our paths wouldn't have crossed, but I'm really enjoying reading your trip report and seeing all your photos - it brings back some good memories!

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I was beginning to wonder if you ever saw a moose! You had already seen pretty much everything else. I think you saw more bears than I've seen in the past 20 years.


I think pronghorn are under-appreciated by most tourists. I think they are quite handsome, and they are the fastest thing we have in North America. They co-evolved with North American cheetahs afterall. But they won't jump over a fence. Now fences are built so pronghorn can go under them.


Great report!

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Back at Lamar and there was more wolf action going on as the alpha pair of the Lamar Canyon pack, 06 the female and 755 the male and one of the yearlings were digging up a coyote den and killing the pups. Apparently this might have been an act of retribution, for the coyotes had been harrying the wolves on a carcass recently. I’d imagine it is the wolf’s way of keeping down the number of competitors. We saw this unfold through spotting scopes. Thankfully it was too distant to really see what was going on. But we could hear the coyotes howling in distress as their pups were killed and eaten and it was very sad to see the wolves were attacking their smaller cousins.


Apols for poor pics but they were very far away and there was heat haze distortingthe pics too:



180 Lamar Wolves attack a coyote den, killing their pups by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



185 Lamar Wolves attack a coyote den, killing their pups by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



186 Lamar Wolves attack a coyote den, killing their pups by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


I was inspired to do some painting whe I got back:



It's a dog eat dog world by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1460755 dark grey male by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Having done the deed, the wolves then went to quench their thirst down by the river. After drinking their fill they headed up the hill towards Jasper Bench first taking an interest in some bison calves. The bison put paid to any unwelcome attention by quickly gathering up their young into a small crèche, surrounded by the adults. The wolves lunged half hearted at the herd, but soon lost interest as they loped towards the carcass. We lost sight of the wolves for a while as they disappeared over a hill.



P6041131 cropped 2 Wolves 06 alpha female, 755 alpha male and the dark grey male taking a drink by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1460760 lamar wolves drinking by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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A golden eagle seen soaring over the valley provided a welcome interlude in an otherwise eventful day. Then, later on the wolves reappeared on the carcass that 692F had been working with the bears earlier in the day. They eventually departed heading left and flushed and elk from the sage brush. One wolf picked up an elk fawn, whilst mum stood some distance away looking on in horror as her baby was taken from her. The elk fawn didn’t seem to struggle, so I think it might have been killed much more quickly by the wolves than the unfortunate fawn that was taken by the bear the previous day. Alternatively it may have already been dead, perhaps stillborn. There was no way to know as it was so far away.


The wolf carried the elk to a small patch of snow, probably so that it could be cool while he ate. The other two soon joined him. They then moved further down the creek towards the base of the hill where they sat and ate. Thinking they wouldn’t be moving for some time, we decided to go and make a loo stop. On the way back from the confluence, I spotted the 06 female heading back along the other side of the river towards where the coyote den was. In hindsight we should have stopped and waited where we were, but we headed on to Buffalo Ranch to turn around and check where the other two wolves were. They were still where we’d left them.


We tried to turn around and hurry back to the 06 female but we got stuck behind a line of traffic and a red jeep doing a three point turn right across the road, blocking us in :angry::angry: . It was therefore too late as we just caught sight of her as she was about to cross the road about half a dozen or so cars ahead of us. The traffic was, understandably, at a standstill and so by the time we caught up with her she was already some way out the hill heading towards the den site. We followed her progress for the short time she was still in view and then returned to the males.




P6041140 cropped 2 Wolf 06 the Alpha female returning to her den by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6041140 cropped Wolf 06 the Alpha female returning to her den by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6041141 cropped Wolf 06 the Alpha female returning to her den by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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We hoped to be able to follow the males as they returned via the same route to the den, but unfortunately by 15.30 they still hadn’t moved. So we decided to go to Silver Gate for an early tea deciding to chance that we might return in time to see them make a more later that evening.


Dinner was in a rustic cafe decked out with rather too much taxidermy for my liking. So we ate quickly and were back in Lamar within an hour or so. The wolves had moved but the people watching had lost sight of them. We waited for a long time but they didn’t reappear. Eventually we moved on.


We found another nice coyote between the construction site and the Yellowstone picnic area.



193 Lamar Valley by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6041146 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



196 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051192 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



Mammoth hot springs by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051198 Mule Deer by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051204 Mule deer by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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A moose was spotted in the cover of some trees close to a clearing just past tower and a black bear was again seen briefly near Hell Roaring. Two sandhill cranes were investigating their old nest site and we also had a brief encounter with a garter snake.



P6051207 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



206 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051233 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



208 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



214 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



220 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



226 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



228 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



239 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



240 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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The park was not as crowded as it will be now but yes,there was probably similar volumes of traffic as I experiened in the indian tiger parks. However, aside from the wolf crossing the road (see above) and the occasional RV blocking our view, the amount of traffic rarely affected our ability to see the animals. This is because, unlike India, you are expected to park up your vehicle off the road and view the animals on foot. The Rangers do a great job of directing traffic. So e.g. at the bear/elk sighting, we were all stood on the opposite side of the road to where the bears were. The old Faithful area is more crowded than e.g. Lamar.

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Day 5 5th June a little bear waves goodbye

Just before 6am, after Silver Gate on the way to the park, we had the pleasure of seeing a Cinnamon Black Bear and her two one yr old cubs. They were right at the side of the road and for a while were just for myself and Abbie to watch.



P6051246 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051262 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051268 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051280 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Both the babies looked very much alike. The family decided to ignore us and enjoy chewing on the fresh grass and plants that were sprouting. Then another car came by and stopped. The mother bear watched intently, deciding what to do....... but the grass was just too fresh and tasty so she decided her family could stay. The little cubs although alike to look at, were quite different. One of them liked to stay near Mum.



P6051305 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051311 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051292 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051313 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


But one of them was brave and liked his or her own space.



P6051291 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051326 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051335 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr




P6051328 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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After exactly 10 minutes, as if we had booked a viewing, Mummy decided that it was time for her and her babies to go back into the woods and rounded them up. And Brave Baby Bear decided he was brave enough to give us a wave! And then off into the woods with Mum!




P6051359 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051365 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051370 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051372 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051377 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051390 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051392 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr




P6051397 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051400 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr :D

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When we finally got to Lamar we found out that we’d missed four wolves on a carcass. They had just headed back to the den before we arrived. But we didn’t really mind because the bears were so wonderful to watch. We waited further down the road in the hope that the wolves might re-emerge but to no avail.


So we carried on to where we saw the badger den in the hope that we might catch the occupants at home. With no sign of the badger initially, we walked towards the river where we photographed some scenic shots of pronghorn against the mountainous backdrop, as well as a few of the newly emerging flowers. A common merganser was seen on the river and a few bison were milling about by the lake. A nice gentleman turned up with his son and had the strangest footwear, they looked a bit like sandals crossed with wetsuit boots, but had toes! I have never seen the like of those before and just had to comment on them! He asked us what we were photographing and we told him about the badger den.




P6051412 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051415 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051430 adj by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051435 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051436 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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After parting company we decided to take a walk to the top of a small hill on the other side of the road, and Abbie suddenly spotted the badger sunning himself on top of his sett. We gradually edged closer in the hope of getting some close up shots without scaring him off. He graciously allowed us to approach within a reasonable distance before deciding that it was time to head out on a hike.




P6051494 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051504 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051505 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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A red-tailed hawk soaring was the next thing we came across. Then we stopped with a couple of other people to watch a scruffy-looking coyote digging a hole by a large boulder. One of these people was fellow Y-netter Alicia who was there with her husband and friend.


I nicknamed the coyote “Wile-E”. Poor Wile-E was in a sorry state and clearly in some discomfort because he (or she) kept shaking himself. After some time, digging, shaking, digging some more, Wile-E decided to make a beeline straight for where we were standing.



P6051551 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051562 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051592 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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I thought to myself, he must surely veer off away from the small group who’d gathered to watch. But Wile-E kept coming.... and passed within feet of us as we gawked at his audacity! As Wile-E got closer we could see why he was in such discomfort, miserable mange! He crossed the road and carried on his journey, completely oblivious of us it would seem.


Mange is a big problem in the park and may have been introduced deliberately by some unscrupulous person to try and get rid of the wolves. Sadly several wolves have indeed succumbed to mange.



P6051604 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051609 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051611 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051612 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051616 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051617 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051624 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Alicia told us that they had been stuck for a long time because a baby elk had decided to take shelter under their car. After chatting to Alicia and friends for a while, sharing stories of our sightings, we decided to go on to Tower for a nice cup of tea. Then we went on to Blacktail where a coyote was sniffing around a newly exposed bison carcass. He didn’t seem to be able to get into the carcass though and eventually bedded down by the ponds. We spent quite a while waiting there to see if the carcass would attract anything more substantial such as a bear or wolves. But nothing appeared. There were however, a few birds, including red-winged, Brewer’s and yellow-headed blackbird, brown-headed cowbird, cinnamon teal, lesser scaup and mallard.



P6051638 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051642 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



Blacktail lakes by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P6051646 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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