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Northern part of park in early Oct

Posted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:46 am
by GreatGrayOwl
Hi all,

Been a long while since I posted, but I've been lurking.

So I'm planning to be in the park for two full days in early October. I've visited that time of year before, but have always been based in Jackson, WY and have split my time between the Tetons and the southern reaches of YNP (basically staying south of Canyon). This time I'm going to be based in Gardiner, MT, and will probably focus on the Lamar Valley and points north of it. All of this is, as ever, weather-dependent. (I'm kinda betting on icy conditions near Dunraven.)

My primary goal is to see bears and owls. Was wondering a few things: anyone know if the Great Horned Owls that sometimes nest at Mammoth and hang out at the buildings there are still around? They usually make for a good show. Also, re: my life-long nemesis bird, the Great Gray: anyone know if they're seen in the northern part of the park in the fall? I've been looking (both at GTNP and YNP) for years and have just missed them several times, but all of those near-sightings were much further south---Lake area especially. I know better than to ask for specific locations; just looking for a general "don't bother looking" or "I've seen them in that area before." Finally, re: bears, any particular spots worth scanning in October? Blacktail Plateau drive for black bears? Swan Lake Flats for griz? I've seen bears in such spots, but always in the spring and summer; wondering what my best bet would be in October.

Thanks for any tips you might have!

Re: Northern part of park in early Oct

Posted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 10:29 am
by lah
I go to the north part of the park the first week or two of October most years, and every year is different as far as bears. They follow food sources. I don't usually see grizzlies at that time of year, I think they're higher going after the moths.
When the pine nuts are plentiful, there are a lot of bears up high around Dunraven Pass, mostly black bears.
When there aren't a lot of pine nuts or moths, the bears may be lower.
Some years you can see quite a few bears. Last year I just saw one cinnamon mom with a cub around Elk Creek.
I don't know much about the owls but don't recall seeing them much in the fall.

Re: Northern part of park in early Oct

Posted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 10:47 am
by GreatGrayOwl
Appreciate the reply!

Re: Northern part of park in early Oct

Posted: Thu Aug 23, 2018 7:34 am
by Doubledub
If you really want to see a Great Grey I suggest a trip to Minnesota in late January. I was able to see and photograph more than 10 different owls as well as a Northern Hawk Owl and 2 Boreal Owls. Having said that, I did note a great grey this May off of Moose-Wilson road. None in YNP. I was up at the northern end for 2 days. I will be back the last week in Sept. based out of Gardiner as well. If I find any I will let you know the general area.

Re: Northern part of park in early Oct

Posted: Thu Aug 23, 2018 7:49 am
by GreatGrayOwl

My life-goal is purchase a vacation/investment property in MT/WY and visit often, especially during the winter, but for now I'm limited to when time and travel permit---often not the ideal owling times. If you do find one in late Sept in/near Gardiner, please do let me know! I have been in search of this species for many years. Probably over a hundred hours of active search-time altogether.

Re: Northern part of park in early Oct

Posted: Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:05 am
by Mike
Went over notes and pics from my last October trip(last 10 days of the month)I don't remember seeing black bears but did see grizzlies at Pebble Creek,Blacktail Ponds,Sow with cub in Hayden Valley.It was too late in the season for Mt. Washburn as that road had already been closed for the season.
By the time I hit the Tetons it was November 1st and the snow was coming down heavy,so heavy that the only way to see a bear or anything else was if the animal was right next to you.I did get a tip that there was a Great Grey Owl working the area along Golf Course Rd.

So I would say that you can see bears at that time of the year from close to the road but I would not call four bears in two weeks a big "get" . Just remember that even if Washburn is still open for the year that even a small amount of snow will/could trigger a shutdown as there always seems to be someone sliding off the road.

Re: Northern part of park in early Oct

Posted: Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:18 am
by GreatGrayOwl

I'm just assuming I'll be sticking around in the northern area and won't chance driving over the pass, even if it's open. ---Unless it's really been unseasonably warm.

Re: Northern part of park in early Oct

Posted: Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:18 am
by Max
The last couple years haven't been great for Great grays. I'd say Moose-Wilson in the Tetons has been the most consistent spot, based on the reported sightings I've heard about. In YNP, you'll want to check the areas that have open forest meadows both north and south of Canyon Junction (Cascade Creek Picnic Area, for example, where I've seen a couple different owls in fall). Farther north, you could always try the northeast corner... sometimes they pop up in the Barronette meadows or near Warm Creek. If you feel like doing a midday trip up toward the Beartooth, there's always a chance of an owl sighting on the way up there too.