The storm clouds of the day before gave way to cotton candy clouds and sun shine on this day and the animals, once more, came out to play.
I had heard earlier from Max Waugh that he had seen a pine marten near the Hellroaring Trailhead and from Dave Cowell that he had seen Williamson’s sapsuckers there, too. So, I made that my first stop of the morning. There was a male Williamson’s sapsucker excavating a nest cavity while 8-10 inches away, on the same tree trunk, a male mountain bluebird was bringing in nesting material to his nest cavity.
Birdsong from a myriad of birds of several varieties filled the air. After some time, I reluctantly moved on.
Passing by Elk Creek, I saw two adult black bears. My next stop was at Rainy Lake where there were two playful black bears — one black in color and the other cinnamon. Ranger Ed, one of the wonderful ‘people-at-bear-jam-managers’ (the bears don’t need management – people do), thought that they were a courting pair and that the black was female and the cinnamon male. That was soon to be revealed to not be the case, as the black bear dispelled us of any such misunderstanding. In any event, there was some entertaining interaction between the two.
His companion followed the same path and stopped to roll in the same patch of sand.
Courting? Siblings? Undetermined at this time. Upon arriving at Calcite Springs, a perpetual black bear “nursery,” I found that the “Heiress Apparent” of the late great “Rosie” had put the kiddos down for a nap. I exchanged greetings with Hélène van Dijk and René Wierda before moving on to use the facilities at Tower Fall, where I visited briefly with Sandi Sisti.
I stopped at the overlook from which the osprey nest on the canyon spire is viewed. No eggs yet. However, a violet-green swallow, after what seemed an excessive amount of preening, posed for me.
Driving through the Lamar Valley, I saw that someone had picked up a few hitchhikers.
(those are brown-headed cowbirds on the back of a bull bison)
My next stop was about 1/2 mile west of the Yellowstone Institute / Buffalo Ranch in the Lamar Valley, where I spotted a badger doing the magic-carpet-over-the-valley-floor routine.
Once again I visited the Calcite Springs nursery, but there being no parking and a great horde of people, I kept moving — and I’m so very glad I did!
At Petrified Tree a black bear sow with two cinnamon cubs-of-the-year (COY’s) were putting on a GREAT show. The two cinnacubbies climbed fire-seeded lodgepole pine saplings that weren’t quite up to bearing their weight. They’d bow over the tops of those saplings before tumbling out. Sometimes they had wrestling matches and the victor would throw the other out of the tree. I was in stitches watching their antics.
“That’s not flying, Buzz, that’s falling.”
“Falling…. with STYLE!”
Eventually mama bear marched the cubbies to off to a tall whitebark pine tree, where they climbed to the uppermost branches to settle down for a nap, while mama dozed at the base of the tree.
Keeping up with two young ones wears a mother out.
Next I was delighted to see 15 eared grebes at Floating Island Lake. Whoo hoo!
A sleeping cinnamon colored black bear at Phantom Lake and the Quad-mom trio family in their regular haunt were the next brief stops as I made a quick trip to Mary Bay, which had been, the prior two days, still covered with ice that was breaking up. By this evening, the bay was ice free.
I was in my tent by 9:00pm, dead tired and thoroughly satisfied. As I drifted off to sleep, all of the wonderful sights of the day replayed themselves in my mind’s eye.
More photos here: http://www.bigskycountry.net/yellowstone_may19_2012