Weekend in Wonderland

Last weekend I enjoyed a trip to Yellowstone with my parents, aunt and two little cousins.  It was my first trip since the interior roads were opened to wheeled vehicles for Spring 2009.

Gibbon Falls

We enjoyed seeing a couple black bears and three grizzlies over the course of the weekend — or at least parts of our two vehicle party did.  Mom, Aunt Laura and the girls were treated to a grizzly bear 30 yards off the road between Mammoth and the Hoodoos that was the bear highlight for the group for the trip.  The other bears seen were a grizzly near Footbridge, a grizzly at the Aspen turnout that occasionally peeked up over the riverbank where it was eating a carcass, a black bear near the Hellroaring trailhead and another black bear just up from the Mammoth corrals.  On Saturday we just missed seeing a grizzly with cub just east of the Narrows.

On Sunday Mom, Laura and the girls made a return visit to Old Faithful, the girls having been very excited by their first visit there the previous day.

Meanwhile, Dad and I visited Canyon and drove east of Fishing Bridge as far as Steamboat Point before heading north again.

Let's go for a drive...

Snowpack is still good, though not as deep as it was about the same time last year, following record snow falls.  Some comparison shots:

Last year:
IMG_0158 - editjpg

A year and 6 days later:
IMG_0856 - edit

Last year:
IMG_0068 crop

A year and six days later:

And for any who might wonder about the state of the Lamar Valley:
Winter Recedes

Bird list for the weekend, including two lifers for this fairly new birder:

  • Trumpeter swan
  • Canada goose
  • red winged black bird
  • yellow headed black bird
  • common raven
  • American robin
  • common goldeneye
  • sandhill crane
  • osprey
  • American dipper
  • mallard
  • white winged crossbill (L)
  • mountain chickadee
  • black billed magpie
  • mountain bluebird
  • American kestral
  • Northern harrier
  • bald eagle
  • Western meadowlark
  • red tailed hawk
  • American wigeon
  • common merganser
  • Barrow’s goldeneye
  • American white pelican
  • great blue heron
  • bufflehead
  • horned grebe (L)
  • scaup (I can’t distinguishe lesser from greater, esp. not at the the distance we were at)
  • Northern shoveler
  • common loon
  • Audubon’s yellow rumped warbler
  • tree swallow
  • American crow
  • Northern flicker
  • brown headed cowbird
  • sage thrasher (foy)

There is an irruption of white winged crossbills in Mammoth Hot Springs that were enjoying the spruce cones on the ground in the judge’s yard (the stone house next to Liberty Cap).  They were a colorful joy to observe.

Bird butts can be cute, too

Pickin' at his food...

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