Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Birds, Bison, and Bears - A Yellowstone Weekend Round-Up

Black Bear
We were having lunch at the Yellowstone River Picnic Area and struck up conversation with the family at the next table.  They were wondering about this, "really big crow," and I taught them it was a raven--that's why it was so much bigger than normal.  The little boy asked me what was the coolest bird I ever saw.  That is a question almost impossible to answer.  I probably come up with a different answer every time.  The Dad asked if we'd come to Yellowstone to do some bird watching.  We told him we just bird wherever we go.  We came for the hiking and the birds are just a part of that experience.  It was a neat exchange.

Eared Grebes
As I've said before, my primary passion about Yellowstone National Park is the geothermal wonders--hotsprings, geysers, fumeroles, and all the other reminders of the rich (and ongoing) volcanic history of the area.  That said, its hard not to delight at the the critters.  Over the past weekend we were able to identify 39 different species--28 birds, 10 mammals, and one reptile.  A fairly solid weekend.
This Mountain Bluebird perched on the same fallen tree that we were using as a bench and sang his pretty heart out.
Bison are ubiquitous in the park.  Even still, they were just everywhere this past weekend.  There was almost always a bison in sight in one direction or another.
Eared Grebes have swell little crests, brilliant red eyes, and very fancy looking "ear" feathers.  Even just in silhouette I find them magnificent.   Those eyes are mesmerizing.  We sat on the banks of Trout Lake and watched them tool around the lake, back and forth.
Birds:
Common Raven
Sandhill Crane
Black-Billed Magpie
American Kestrel
Red-tailed Hawk
American Robin
Canada Goose
Barrows Goldeneye
American Coot
Mallard Duck
Northern Flicker
Mountain Bluebird
Williamson's Sapsucker
Common Merganser
Mountain Chickadee
American Wigeon
Eared Grebe
Ring-necked Duck
Clark's Nutcracker
American Dipper
Townsend's Solitaire
Osprey
Red-winged Blackbird
Trumpeter Swan
Bufflhead
Belted Kingfisher
Violet-green Swallow
Great Blue Heron
The same Black Bear digging from some lunch.  We watched from the roadside with a small group of other people.  We didn't see any bears all of last year.  This time we spotted one on our first trip of the season.
Mammals:
Elk
Bison
Red Fox
Coyote
Mule Deer
Bighorn Sheep
Antelope
Yellow-bellied Marmot
Black Bear
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Some of this year's batch of fuzzy-looking, red Baby Bison were out, tagging along behind their moms.  We saw them nursing and romping and it was just about heart-melting.
Reptiles:
Bull Snake (a subspecies of the Gopher Snake)
(Matt and I took a bet on how long it would take for the ravens to come perch in the trees over our picnic table at the Yellowstone River Picnic Area.  They always wait, greedily, for people to leave so they can scour the ground for dropped chips, etc.  Or to see if they can convince someone to feed them (a bad idea, it goes without saying.)  My guess was they would be upon us in four minutes.  The first raven actually took less than two minutes to notice and join us.  The beggars....)

2 comments:

  1. Great photos! The bison are cool looking. :D And the bluebird - I've yet to see one of ours in person.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Loads of great wildlife adventures to be had there, for sure. The bison are remarkable...like fuzzy dinosaurs almost.

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