Saturday, August 11, 2012

Yellowstone Lamar Valley, Wolf, Deer, Coyote, Pronghorn (again) and finally, a White Tail Deer

Today we decided to head to the Lamar Valley, which would take us by the place where the Park Service had put up bear warnings, and people had see Wolves in and around there.  We did not get up early for this one, which means we had to fight more traffic....but our eyes were open wider.

The Lamar Valley is where they re-established the buffalo heard(s) which, at one time, got down to about 40 animals.  Here is a portion of a plaque which talks about it.
 As mentioned in a previous posting, the buffalo heard is up this year to around 4,200 beast.  The highest of all time was 5,000 back in 2005.  But this year's population, which includes 600 calves, is up by 14%.  So the Buffalo are doing fine within the park.

Below are pictures of the "Buffalo Ranch" as it is today, which is not too much different than it was when they first built it back in the early 1900's.

And the herd in Lamar Valley is very large.  From afar I thought it was cattle...but as you get a bit closer you see just how large the animals are and realize pretty quickly that they are Buffalo.  Below is just a small portion of it.
Of course, there are no fences in Yellowstone, and they do travel where and when they want, as we found out a few days ago.  Here, with they wide open expanse, only a handful seemed to want to get by the road.
This poor guy in the Mustang, he was right behind a big SUV which had come to a total stop in the road...and these were the Buffalo near the road, so he (the SUV) had already passed them by.  I was just thinking "I wonder how long it will be before he loses his cool and honks."  And then we came to full stop behind a pickup truck who had a perfect view out his window.  It took about 4 seconds, and the HONK! HONK!  Well the guy in the pickup starts driving, and the SUV moves up about 3 tire turns worth and stops again.....last thing I saw out of my rear view mirror was the mustang driving around the SUV, and I am sure, although I did not see it, told him how many friends he had in this world with his one finger.

The Lamar Valley is a wonderful, blush green valley with a mixture of rolling hills and rocky mountains, with the Lamar River running right through it.  Now we did not get all the way to the North-east entrance, but we did go through all of the Lamar Valley and a little bit beyond.  Here is a little more of what we saw.
The Yellowstone River just before the Lamar River joins it, which will nearly double the size of the river from this point on.
 Above, a shot of the Yellowstone looking to the south, below, a shot of the Yellowstone looking to the north.  Both are on or near the bridge as we just head towards the Lamar Valley from the upper loop.

 Above a shot of the southern side of the road just to the west of the Lamar Valley, below a shot of the northern side in the same general area.

Above is the Lamar Valley looking to the east.  Below is Soda Butte, an ancient, extinct geyser cone near the eastern boundary of the Lamar Valley.

 Along the north side of the road, you can see images like these two ....

 ....or like these two.  There is a real blend of rounded hills and exposed rock within the mountainside.
The Lamar Valley area is where the wolf was reintroduced back in 1995.  The valley is not only home of the buffalo, but of the black bear, grizzly bear, wolf, and Pronghorns, among other things.

Today we saw another Bald Eagle, this one sitting on its nest far away (sorry for the poor picture).

A Pronghorn closer up than before, but still a bit too far away.  We just missed the real close up of as we were eating our lunch and could not get the camera out fast enough....sorry.
We also saw a wolf near that dead buffalo we talked about a few days ago.  We waited in that area for at least 90 minutes, had our lunch there, left, went to Lamar Valley, and finally as we drove back, saw the wolf.  I saw it in the binoculars, while Marcia just saw a small black object out there moving toward the shadow of a tree.  Sorry, no picture.

On our way back home, we did get a few better pictures of the Tower Fall area, but not the fall itself.  The rock formations in this area are real neat.

We then headed toward Canyon Village Area passing by Mount Washburn.  On the north side is some more good Grizzly land, but after 45 minutes we still saw nothing.  On the south side of Mount Washburn, we did see a White Tail Deer alongside the road, but there was no way to get a picture without stopping a line of traffic behind us...and we have seen many White Tail Deer in previous areas.  However, this was a nice looking doe, and I wish we could have included her in our collection.

At Canyon we turned to the west toward Norris, and there was a sudden stop of vehicles in front of us.  It turned out that a Coyote had crossed the road, but by the time we got up there, it was well away from the road.  The arrow points to where the Coyote is as it continued to walk away.
Well, last time I was here a Coyote was walking right along the roadway....Once in Yosemite during a November visit by myself 35 years ago or so one got on a foot bridge with me.  So my up-close and personal account with a Coyote has already happen...but Marcia only got to see the hind side of it as it walked away from the roadway.

Although we had a few raindrops from time to time during the day, the rain did not really hit us until shortly after we passed Norris...and it continued to rain all the way until Idaho boarder.  We did see those large Bull Elk again, and this time many cars had stopped, and we saw very young children well within the 25 yard safety zone.  What some parents will allow their kids to do....

As we got to the Idaho boarder, the rain let up, and we got this parting shot.
We are not going to fight the crowds on Saturday or Sunday...we have some things to do including some laundry, dumping waste water (which means move the motor home, dump, move back to where we are), and we are still trying to decide what to do for church on Sunday.  Bottom line, no blog for Saturday, but will fill you all in on Sunday night or Monday morning.

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