Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fuzzy Creatures - Great and Small

Yellow Bellied Marmot.  They were everywhere.  They sit up on rocks and sun themselves in an adorable fashion.  I have a fondness with anything even remotely red-headed like these guys and foxes.  I just think red hair is so pretty!

Black Bears.  This mama and cub caused quite a stir.  They proceeded to walk across this log looking like something straight out of a cartoon.  That baby was SO tiny.  But, mamas and babies do make me a little nervous.  I wasn't worried for myself.  I keep my distance as I have a healthy respect and fear for all bears--black, grizzly, or otherwise.  But some people were rushing right up to them, 30 feet away I bet.  Fortunately there are rangers on bear patrol to save the senseless humans from themselves and chase them back to a more reasonable distance.  What a job!

American Red Squirrel.  In Lost in My Own Backyard by Tim Cahill that there is a theory that squirrels "yell" and chatter at you when you are in the forest because we are somewhat similar in movement and shape to bears who steal the squirrels' hard-saved caches of nuts.  I don't know if its true, but I thought it was a very interesting theory in any case.  I have always wondered why the squirrels chattered so loudly when we approached them in the forest.  It seems most small creatures would just be quiet until we passed by rather than draw all that attention to themselves so maybe there is something to it.
Grizzly Bear and senseless/stupid/reckless/oblivious/foolish people standing much too close for safety.  I mean they have telephoto lenses!  What are they trying to do?  Take photos up the bear's nose?!  I had to wonder what a bear makes of all this ruckus.  Every time they go out to eat it causes a riot.   
Way across the meadow, over the creek, hundreds of yards away was plenty close for me.  Grizzlies are huge and way faster than one might think.  I have binoculars.  My camera zooms in well enough.   It was even close enough you could watch it quite well with the naked eye.
Along with a friendly park ranger who provided some commentary on both the bear and the crazy visitors on the road, Matt and I watched this grizzly digging up grubs and insects  in the grassy meadow for nearly an hour before moving on and finding our camp site. 
Common Merganser.  Mergansers are among our favorite water birds.  They all have really cool mo-hawks and hoods, just really fancy heads, when breeding.   

Grey Jay.  A.K.A. The Camp Robber.  These cute little grey birds are notorious for landing in camp and making off with any unguarded morsel of food.  As a result we mostly seem them in abundance around camp and picnic areas where a moment of carelessness might score them an easy meal.   
Black Bear.  Unlike all the other bears we've encountered in the park this one hadn't caused a traffic jam of eager park visitors.  There were just four of us standing in the peaceful quiet watching it eat and amble about.  It keep popping in and out of view so while Matt and I watch it with another couple everyone else just kept driving by.  They all looked in the direction we were looking, but failing to see anything big, kept on driving.  It was pretty cool I have to say.  Like a secret bear. 
I once heard that the creators of Yellowstone National Park could never have foreseen the present attraction that wildlife is for park visitors.  The Park was created for the geologic and geographic wonders.  For geysers, petrified trees, mud pots, mountains, canyons, and waterfalls.  It wasn't really created for all the animals that lived in and near those mountains, canyons, and waterfalls.   That seems to have come later.  I find that very interesting. 

The Grand Geyser made me laugh out loud and shout like I was watching fireworks or something.  I am enthralled and amazed with the idea of boiling mud.  We are planning a hike to the peak of Mount Washburn on our next trip.   I found the Grand Prismatic Spring astounding.  But, those critters!   They are equally as much a part of the park experience as the geographic features for me.   They make my heart race because seeing them is all chance.  Old Faithful goes off, more or less, like clockwork.  One knows where to find the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone...its not like it is moving about the park or anything.  I think maybe that is why the wildlife are so thrilling.  I always feel lucky when I happen to catch the coyotes hunting, the bears digging, the bald eagle soaring, the marmots sunning, the squirrels scurrrying.  It is always so brief and so magical.  There is no guarantee you can stop and savor the sights for long because just as quickly as they appear they are gone again.  Apparently many visitors come almost exclusively for wildlife viewing.  And to think that wasn't even a part of the original master plan.....


  1. I love this series you are doing about Yellowstone.

    1. Thanks, Cristy! I could probably write about Yellowstone all day long. It is so surreal and astounding.


Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!