Quick GT trip

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Dorothy
Posts: 90
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:45 pm

Quick GT trip

Post by Dorothy » Fri Nov 29, 2019 8:08 pm

This doesn't exactly qualify for a Yellowstone trip report, but we almost got there! I ended up with a three-day weekend and, as the weather looked good (for clear roads), my sis and I took off for Grand Teton the weekend before Thanksgiving -- it was just too far to try to go all the way up and around down to Gardiner where would could access Yellowstone in a car.

But we DID have a great time in Grand Teton (with a quick stop in Seedskadee). No bears, although we heard of a couple being seen within the days we were there. BUT, there were tons of moose (literally -- with as many big bulls as we saw, we did see a LOT of moose tonnage)!

We thought we'd hit the jackpot on Friday evening when we got into Jackson with just an hour or so to get into the park. At the roundabout before the airport turnoff, we planned to turn toward Kelly and look for moose, but on the road opposite we saw a couple of cars pulled off so went around and ... WOW! Two great big bull moose in the sage flats, pretty near the road. We spent quite a bit of time watching them, then decided to try to get up to the top of the park and back before dark. Didn't quite manage it (it gets dark so early now), and didn't see anything else, but big smiles for the big moose.

Next morning headed out toward Kelly and jackpot again -- a few pretty big bulls out in the stage flats, and a cow and this year's calf near the warm springs. Headed north to see if anything else was stirring -- a big bison herd at Elk Ranch Flats, but still quite a ways off the road. Nothing much stirring on Pilgrim Creek, Colter Bay or as far as we could get toward Signal Mountain, so headed back down (had some business in Jackson). One more trip around Kelly and BINGO again -- several bull moose moving from the sage flats toward Kelly. We parked along the side of the road to watch, then went around the corner as they continued to move toward Kelly, and parked there. SO impressive to watch these big fellas (one huge, another very big, one middling and one pretty small) walk right up over a rise toward our car. They crossed the road just behind us, walked over the fence (just a little bit higher step -- they are BIG animals) and on into the little town. WOW! What a sight!

Some lovely swan (and duck) view at Flat Creek, then a quick bite to eat at the hotel and back to the park. Headed up Moose-Wilson and BINGO -- something I never really thought to see. A beautiful Kingfisher perched in a tree overlooking part of a pond. He sat there for several minutes (and so did we), showing off his beautiful blue and orange and his top knot. SO COOL! Finally we had to move on and so did he. Spotted a bull moose laying down a ways out in the flats, too, but the Kingfisher was what we were grinning about as we headed back toward Kelly. And MORE MOOSE. Three bulls (again, a huge, very big and kinda small) just past the bridge. THIS IS REALLY EXCITING! The bison herd was crossing the road the next time we saw it. And then dark (much too soon) and back to the hotel.

Next morning a quick trip back to Moose-Wilson on the off-chance the Kingfisher was still around (despite some great photo chances AND a newly rented lens as mine had been really acting up), I didn't have even ONE clear photo of the kingfisher. And wonder of wonders, he was back in that tree. It was still pretty dark, but we tried photos again -- and again, I got nothing sharp. Sob, sob! Oh well, I DO have a great picture in my mind of that lovely bird! Just so special to actually be able to see on settled down for a minute or two. The bull moose was up and around, too.

After church, a quick trip out to Miller's Butte to see if the rams were out, but nothing going on. Then it was time to head for home.

A VERY quick trip, didn't see even ONE elk, but we had SUCH a great time and saw so much! Loved the nearly empty park! Hope to be able to go again sometime soon!



billandkaren
Posts: 107
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:50 pm

Re: Quick GT trip

Post by billandkaren » Fri Nov 29, 2019 9:10 pm

Dorothy, sounds like so much fun!!! Our last trip we only saw one moose and it was in the Tetons on our last day on the way out. Sounds like you really hit the jackpot! Karen and I enjoy seeing the Kingfishers as well. They are usually very wary and hard to get close for a picture. So if you got anything at all, you did well. Love to hear their chatter as they fly. Have you ever been to South Texas? There are two additional species down there. They are really cool also.

Even though we shut our cabin down for the winter, we may make a quick trip out to shovel snow before Christmas. That means staying in a motel in West Yellowstone, but the off season rates are pretty cheap. We also try to stay in Gardiner for a night to go into Yellowstone through the north entrance for half a day. Will post a report if we do. Thanks for sharing.

--Bill



Dorothy
Posts: 90
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:45 pm

Re: Quick GT trip

Post by Dorothy » Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:15 pm

Thanks, Bill. We really did hit the "moose" jackpot on our trip, and we are still in awe over that -- some great luck.

I did spend about 16 months down in South Texas quite a few years ago, but never heard about a different kind of Kingfisher. I get down there occassionally so if I make it back down there in the future I'll look them up and watch for them. Just being able to watch one for several minutes was such a thrill!

Hope you do make it back up to "shovel" this winter. We just had a ball, and hopefully will have the time to actually get up to Gardiner and go into the park (tho' we are also hoping to get a snowcoach tour in sometime, and a sleigh ride on the Elk Refuge). Grand Teton in the winter was magical, and I'm sure Yellowstone would be, too.

Thanks again, and look forward to a report if you get back up there.



billandkaren
Posts: 107
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:50 pm

Re: Quick GT trip

Post by billandkaren » Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:06 pm

We are planning to head out Monday, go through the Tetons down to Jackson Hole and over Teton Pass into Idaho. The forecast is for heavy snow on Sunday so we may have to adjust our route. We plan to drive up to Gardiner on Tuesday and into the park on Wednesday before heading back to Colorado. So it will be a quick trip and hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Along with the Belted Kingfisher like you saw, South Texas has a Green Kingfisher and a Ringed Kingfisher. It's the only place in the US where these two are found. The green is slightly smaller than the belted, but very beautiful as it's almost a metallic green. The ringed looks much like the belted but is twice as big. Both are really cool so if you ever get down there, let me know and I can give you a couple of good places to check out.

--Bill



Dorothy
Posts: 90
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:45 pm

Re: Quick GT trip

Post by Dorothy » Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:00 am

Hey Bill and Karen,

Good luck with the weather as you head up there. Sounds like a LOT of fun as long as the roads aren't awful. How long does it take to get from Jackson up around to Gardiner? I do hope you travel safely.

The two Green and Ringed Kingfishers sound SO gorgeous and I hope I'll be able to get back down there sometime soon. If I do, I will let you know so I can get some hints on where to look.

Birds -- particularly "little" birds -- are SO much fun to try to spot and get a photo of. We have had so much fun tracking down little birds! We're hooked. Thanks for the tips and best of luck on your trip.



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