Yellowstone Trip June/July

Post by yellvet » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:46 pm

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Trip Dates: June 15 thru July 14th

We camped at the Mammoth Campground before the Slough Creek CG opened, because I wanted to photograph the elk newborns and spring wildflowers. Had a wonderful time and wasn’t the least bit disappointed. Best photo ops and pix came from the upper tier of the campground. Made a day trip over to Slough Creek CG before it opened, to see the impact of last year’s fire. Gotta say that we were very pleasantly surprised and relieved. The firefighters did a fantastic job maintaining the integrity and primitive nature of the SC campground and the surrounding area. Most of our closest friends are long-time SC campers and backpackers. So, all of us would like to give our sincerest thanks to all the Buffalo Creek fire fighters who helped save the SC campground and trails! You did a superb job!

June 15 through July 14
On June 15th we moved over to the SC campground. Saw and photographed many critters that were in or close to the campground….male grizzly bear, a black bear sow with 2 adorable cubs (1-black, 1-cinnamon), several pronghorns, a few elk and a coyote, badger and red fox that waltzed through our campsite almost daily to hunt. To see the red fox at SC again was a thrill. I’ve been photographing the different generations of the SC fox family for close to 30 years so it was great to see that the fox family had escaped the fire last year and was still OK. The wildflowers, however, were disappointing and fairly sparse this year. And, the few that were in bloom, looked very puny….probably due to the heat and intensity of last year’s fire. Made 2 or 3 trips over to Floating Island Lake to see what ducks and birds were around. Didn’t see many ducks or birds there this year, just a few Coots, yellow headed black birds, a thrush, a few mallards, pintails and ruddy ducks. But not a single sand hill cane (very unusual). Made a few trips through the Lama Valley but didn’t see much in the way of wildlife…just an osprey nest east of SC on the south side of the Lamar R. So, we stayed at the SC campground most days. The fishing was very marginal because the Creek was still very high and stayed high until after the 4th of July. The day we arrived at SC, though, I found a bird’s nest hanging in one of the bushes along the Creek by Site 11. So I spent 3 weeks, photographing the bird’s nest of a “Common Yellowthroat. Birds often return to the same nesting location but this was the first time that I had ever seen the bird at SC. So I was delighted to be able to shoot pix of the nest, the birth, feeding and growth of the Yellow throat babies until they fledged in July.

All in all, it was a pretty slow Yellowstone trip for me this year. But the magic of Yellowstone never grows old, for me or for any of our other Yellowstone friends. Being able to see, follow and photograph the new generations of specific wildlife families is what keeps me going back, year after year. If you’re heading to the Park after Labor Day, I highly recommend that you spend some time at the Mammoth Campground to see the elk. The newborns are pretty feisty by then, as are their parents, who are getting ready for the rut. Lots of bugling going at the Campground and in the fields, directly east of Hwy. 89. At Slough Creek be sure not to miss all the bison charging down the hills to the Creek in early September. Lots of good wildlife photo ops if you park at one of the fishing pull outs: geese, otters badgers, coyotes, antelope and merganser families. And don’t forget to listen for any wolf calls. In September, the hunting packs are usually out and about along the Creek, at sunrise. Three years ago I was sitting at one of the fishing pull-outs with my camera. It was about 7:15am and I was hoping to see some waterfowl to photograph along the Creek. Nothing was going on, so I decided to pack up and leave. I had just gotten up from my chair when I heard one single wolf howl. So I decided to hang around for awhile. Five minutes later three wolves showed up and sat down, right behind my van’s rear bumper. They were less than 10 feet away. But I had already packed away my camera. As a result of my hasty decision to leave and go elsewhere, all I got were some super “butt shots” of the trio, running across the sage and across the Creek. So, here’s my September tip of the day. Don’t be too quick to leave SC if you only hear one wolf howl. Stay put and be quiet. A wolf hunting party might be close by, along with a few other wild critters like coyotes, otters, ducks, bison, bears and badgers. If you’re heading to Yellowstone in September, have a blast. But keep your heads on a swivel, stay on alert and keep your cameras fired up at all times. September is my favorite time to be in the Park. Great photo ops and, best part, the mosquitoes and biting flies have gone elsewhere because of the colder nights.

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