17 Hours of Wildlife Wonderment
It all started with Ranger Rick, the wolf specialist and the black yearling wolf of the Mollie’s pack. The wolf munched lazily on an old bison carcass as Rick described the wolf family tree to our group. We stopped at the Lamar River to check on 2 known baby great horned owl chicks in a nest. All was well with the owls, so we moved on to look for moose. Mike told us to look carefully for moose as we drove to Cooke City…suddenly we heard Lou exclaim “Moose, Moose, Moose!” He had seen a bull and cow moose in the creek, but the bull moved into the woods and the rest of us only saw the cow. “Such a strange and beautifully ugly animal,” someone said. Phew, and it was still only 10:30 a.m.
After a pit stop and photos of a big bison munching on dandelions in someone’s yard, we moved on to find mountain goats. In the tall cliffs we found 8 of these shaggy creatures. It’s hard to believe that anything could live on those steep, rocky slopes.
A wolf decided to grace our presence upon our return to Lamar and after we lost sight of him we moved down into the valley for a bison study. We spent time watching a herd of about 250 bison and learned how to tell male for female and young from old. We hiked up to Trout Lake to find cutthroat trout spawning. The hike was spectacular. We watched the trout run upstream in a shallow creek with a strong current. We also encountered a few garter snakes, mountain chickadees and a Barrow’s goldeneye duck.
Next we encountered a bear jam and found ourselves photographing a cinnamon colored black bear along the roadside mere minutes after watching a fox saunter down the road toward our vans. We headed out to find the owl nest once again. We were overcome with awe as we witnessed one little owl fledge from his hillside nest, flapping his stubby wings as he angled toward the ground. The sun began to set as we rode home. Returning early was not an option as over 600 bison crossed the road in front of us. This spectacular day ended with big smiles and a glowing sunset in Yellowstone.
By Meghan, Meg, and Blair