The Waiting Game & scoping fun! (Forum Post)

by BlueSky on Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:38 pm
http://www.blueskycabins.com/

Question; How long do you wait to see some critter behavior you have never seen and want to? Answer; For us, 7 hours. I’ll get to that in a bit.We arrived Sunday July 8 at Pebble Creek Campground and got the same spot we had last year in August! Soon we were headed out towards Tower. Arriving at Calcite Springs we decided to look for the Peregrine Falcon nest. Not knowing exactly where it was, we were happy to see a long lens pointed down at the cliff face at one of the pullouts past the overlook. We met fellow Ynetter Judy. She had “the” spot to best see the chicks and was happy to show us on her screen the view down to the ledge where the three chicks were. It was hot and the chicks were trying to find the best way to stay out of the sun and mostly out of view.

I spent several minutes trying to find another hole through the trees and finally found a partial view where I could use manual focus and maybe get a shot. Judy was waiting for a parent to come and get some feeding footage of the falcons. Sounded like a good idea after seeing Mark’s (WileEC) shots recently. So we waited… The chicks moved around now and then and Judy showed several people the view on her screen tilted so it was easy to see. After a couple hours of nice conversation with Judy she had to move on, offering me the coveted “spot”.Image
A pile of 3 peregrine chicks.

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Keeping a lookout for mom or dad.

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Stretching new wings.

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Sometimes you just have to sit back and wait.

Determined to see a feeding we decided to wait… As the hours went by we kept trying to convince ourselves that a parent had to show up soon. Tammy took a scope over to offer really nice views of several Bighorn Sheep Lambs and ewes playing and negotiating the cliff across the canyon. It was funny how so many would stop to look at the view but had no idea that the sheep & their babies were precariously negotiating the sandy dirt at the base of the columns. So many were thrilled to see them once they got their “Sheep Goggles” on! One man mentioned he has been looking for 10 years & was so grateful to finally show his wife. She got so excited that she crawled over the rock wall & Tammy quietly said to her ” please come on this side of the wall, you are making me very nervous”. We also were able to squeeze our scope next to my camera for anyone that wanted to see the chicks 92 yards below us. Some visitors were amazed at the view and the location, others, not so much. Lots of smiles from most.
My first photos of the chicks were at 11:14 am. At 6:08 pm a ranger pulled up next to me and said he had seen me here all day and had to know what it was I was shooting. As I was telling him I also kept glancing at the ledge not wanting to miss an arrival. Then it happened. A parent landed with dinner for the chicks! Very difficult to tell what dinner was exactly. The feeding lasted about 15 minutes and off it went for more. We finally witnessed an adult Peregrine Falcon feed the chicks! A long wait but we both agreed it was worth it seeing something we may never see again. Any guesses as to what dinner was?

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The rush to a long awaited meal.

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A Yellow Rumped Warbler stopped by while we were at Calcite.

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After our time with The Peregrine’s, we spent some time watching through scopes a sow griz with coy across from the Institute in the Lamar Valley.

Monday morning we decided to get to Trout Lake before the crowds if we could. Only one car at the lot, so up we went. There were a few people fishing at the other end so we slowly worked our way around the lake watching for otters. We found one and he came out to of the water to check us out and then he made sure he had the area very well scent marked.

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When he disappeared we worked our way around the lake. When we got to the inlet, here came the otter. We stayed very still and he came swimming/splashing right past us hunting for fish.

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After he left we watched some trout swimming up the stream on their spawning mission. Then went exploring up the hill behind the lake. Great view but a huge pile of fresh bear scat meant this was a good place to stop. Didn’t want to possibly wake that one up! When we got back to the trailhead the parking area was full and there were people actually waiting for a parking space to open up.

Next we headed for Dunraven Pass and down to Hayden Valley. As we approached the hill just north of the Grizzly Overlook we could see a crowd along the hillside looking out towards the river. We pulled in to the pullout and found out a solo Grizzly was in nice, scope viewing distance so we decided to watch for a while. Ranger Bill had his scope set up low to show the kids and had lots of people waiting, so we started sharing our two scopes as well. I kept changing the height to make it easy for some of the visitors and Tammy kept hers high for the taller adults.

Watching the reaction of visitors from all over the world seeing a Grizzly Bear for the first time, is always so much fun! So many are so grateful! We met people from all over the world & the thrill of seeing nature in the wild is such a great experience for so many! This is addictive! “Yes” there are the few that drive by yelling the “Whadya lookin at”, but overall it was pretty fun! We did this for quite a while. Eventually someone else set up a scope and we decided to move on. Ranger Bill thanked us for sharing our scopes and gave us each a Bear Protection Program pin, we felt like kids getting a prize!

Back over Dunraven I spotted a wolf way down below heading down towards Tower. We pulled over and so did a couple other cars seeing the same thing. We lost sight of the wolf in the trees but thought it would probably end up close to the road so we continued on. We pulled over at a spot that we thought might work only to look back and see it crossing about a hundred yards behind us. It was a huge black wolf. It looked stunning, with lean long legs & an ominous stare. Probably one of the Mollies. By the time I got out to try for a photo it was bounding out of sight in the deep sage.

We decided to spend the rest of the day/evening around the Lamar Valley being close to Pebble Creek Campground. After a few stops to scan the area we ended up at Footbridge pullout. In the past we have had lots of good critter sightings from this pullout. It took most of an hour but I finally spotted a dark yearling from the Lamar Canyon pack going up and over toward Cache Creek. We thought that might be it. I went to talk to some visitors from the Netherlands we had met earlier. As I was talking with them, I could hear a faint bleating noise, like that of a whitetail fawn that we have so many of at home. It was getting louder fast. Tammy turned toward us from several yards nearer where the sound was coming from and in a hushed voice exclaimed “WOLF!” A pronghorn fawn was running as fast as it’s young legs could carry it with what looked to be the 06 female from the Lamar’s a few feet behind it running flat out. They crossed the road several yards east of the parking area and were up and over the closest hill in seconds! We quickly jumped in our vehicle and drove east to see if we could see what the results of the chase were. We could see absolutely nothing! She may have caught the fawn in the deep sage and disappeared or maybe the fawn out maneuvered her and got away.

Back to footbridge for the last light of the day. We had some excited conversation with a few others that witnessed the chase or at least got a glimpse. For some, this was their first glimpse of a wolf. Even though it was fleeting, they were so thrilled! As we were all wondering what happened, a ranger was coming towards us with flashing lights. He was escorting a wolf that was running alongside the road and another came along behind them trotting through the sage. They were headed in the same direction as the chase. Too dark for pictures but an exciting end of the day.

We enjoyed another quick visit & even enjoyed the height of the tourist season. The majority are hungry to learn & are in awe of Yellowstone. How lucky we are to have such an amazing place to visit!

Time to head home over another feat of man. The Beartooth Highway!

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Can’t wait for our next adventure!

Kevin

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