Monday, June 7, 2010

First Trip to Lamar Valley

Last evening I was able to tag along on one of the bus tours my employer offers to guests--it's not easy for employees to nab one of these free seats, but it's a nice perk if you do. This was a wildlife focused tour out through the Lamar Valley, considered one of the best areas in the park, and lasted about four hours. Although I saw many critters, I didn't get one good photo because of either distance or movement. Maybe one blur is worth ten words.

Our first stop was at Floating Island Lake which is right next to the road and not very big but hosted a wide variety of birds. Here are a very few.

Sandhill cranes had a nest there and we were told the adults had just chased off a coyote.

Special delivery. I only have one limited field guide to the area. I'm not sure who this is. . . scaup or coot, maybe?

A ruddy duck with blue bill, much bluer than it appears here.

Probably the highlight of the trip was a black bear sleeping by the raging Yellowstone River. The long bridge over the river was lined with people watching and photographing.

With all the rain and snow melt going on, I've heard several people talking about different rivers being higher than they'd ever seen them. Near the end of the outward half of the trip we came to a spot where Soda Butte Creek had undercut half the road.

I saw my first of many pronghorn, and later my first mule deer.

I was so amazed to notice a flower in the midst of all the vastness, I blurred it also. Larkspur, possibly?

There is a wolf den up these hills near the road to Slough Creek campground. Many people watched; some even claimed to see wolves. Not me.

A buffalo through the bus window. We passed several herds with young calves mixed in, but they're considered so common the bus doesn't even slow down.

At Tower Falls, you can see peregrine falcon and osprey nests, and sometimes mountain goats.

These trips go twice daily in the early morning and evening, so I hope I'll be able to catch a weekend bus again before I leave and have better luck with photos if I do. I've now traveled most of the road mileage in the northern part of the park, most of the upper circle of the figure eight which is made by the park roads. People, including me, make fun of people who come here and never go far from the roads, but if you are going to stay near roads, these are some mighty fine roads to stay near.

A few more scenes along the way.


Allan Stellar said...


Anonymous said...

Glad you're having a great time.

Woodswalker said...

I like seeing you have a great time. What a place! Enjoy!

greentangle said...

Thanks, all. Yes, it's certainly quite a place.