Slacker Catch-up

I’m a big-time slacker. I have not made a post since early September! So, what have I been up to? Well, I enjoyed a September trip to Yellowstone. The elk were in rut at that time. My sister and I enjoyed watching a herd of elk with 20-30 cows and about 15 bulls, of which 6 where 5×5 or bigger, before sunrise on Saturday morning.  No bull had yet established dominance.  But a battle soon commenced which changed that.

Who is your money on?

If you said the bull on the left, you are right!

We found a ‘lil red doggie somewhat behind his classmates who had already darkened with maturity.  Only his head had darkened.  What a character!

In the same herd was a young bull emulating the big boys, “sniffing” at a cow.

Overall, though, that Saturday was pretty quiet.

On Sunday, my travel companion was my son.  On Saturday, while with his grandparents and cousins, he had found itty bitty frogs at Yellowstone Lake.  He was excited to return there to show me.  Being small and very well camouflaged, they were hard to spot.

(he was gently treated and promptly returned to the water)

We also enjoyed watching a mousing coyote in the Hayden Valley before turning homeward bound.

We were in for one last treat on our way home:

As fall progressed, I enjoyed more elk rut action at the National Bison Range.

I also enjoyed the fall scenery at the National Bison Range.

I enjoyed some autumn lunch-time walks around Missoula, too.

On Veteran’s Day I, rather appropriately, I felt, saw this pair of bald eagles for the first time.  I’ve seen them regularly in the same spot since.

I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with the family and managed to get out one afternoon to check out the bighorn sheep herd that often winters west of Anaconda.

I’ve made a few birding trips to the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, since the new year started, to get my year bird list going.

On one of those trips I was surprised to encounter a family of five raccoons active in the afternoon.

And, finally, last weekend I made a trip to Polson where, at that time, there were 6 snowy owls hanging out in a housing subdivision.  I’ve heard since that there are now 15 in the area.

I can’t help but wonder if there is a wizard or witch in the subdivision in Polson who has recently turned 11 and whose muggle guardians are trying to block owl post… The snowies there seem determined to make their delivery — and their numbers are increasing!

Owl Post?

So that gets me pretty much caught up, as a skim over of the last few months.

I hope to return to Polson this Sunday to see if I can find any owls that want to model for pretty pictures.   Last Sunday there were five roosting on roofs and one roosting on a water tank  and none being active or photogenic.  They got active after sunset when the light was too poor for photography.  I’m hoping for better luck this week.

The snowy owl irruption of winter 2011-2012 is bringing snowy owls to places they are seldom seen.  While it’s not unusual to find a snowy owl or two around Polson-Pablo in winter, 15 in a subdivision is a most unusual occurrence.

More info on this irruption in this article (photos in this article were captured by my friend, Max Waugh), and in this great video.

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