Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mountains and Raptors and Bears

This is one of those posts when I at first wondered which blog to put it on, one of the problems of writing two. It started out being about me and my activities, but they were mostly nature-related activities, and since more people read this than the other, and then the raptors joined the post, here it is.

A couple nights before leaving Duluth I watched a 1981 movie I'd enjoyed long ago, Continental Divide with John Belushi as a Chicago newspaper columnist and Blair Brown as a Rockies Bald Eagle researcher. I think that's all I wanted from life--for a wildlife researcher who looked like Blair Brown to fall in love with me and invite me to live in her remote cabin. Oh, well.

Over a couple days, I migrated with or against the flow of the spring breaking college students in Duluth, Fargo, and Bozeman. Waking up on the bus at dusk, I saw a sign which read Wyoming and saw what appeared to be a he
rd of Bison, but alas, they were cows and Wyoming is just a town in Minnesota--I had many more hours to ride.

I thought it would be quite a nice coincidence if I ran into the same Bozeman woman at the Minneapolis bus station I did last year, but I was on my own this time.
The bus passed the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park during a very grey dawn with a mix of wet snow and heavy rain so I didn't get the impressive views from the last trip. Crossed the Yellowstone River a few times. In a tree beside a smaller river, I saw a Bald Eagle perched. A bus driver said no smoking of any substance including medical marijuana, one of the many items the tea-partying Montana Republicans want to overturn despite the 62% of residents who voted for the initiative years ago.

There was no snow at all on the ground in the Billings area, but a lot in the stretch between Livingston and Bozeman. Temperatures are forecast for the mid 40s while I'm here, and low 40s in my area of Yellowstone so I'm afraid I've missed the best of the snowy park views.

Bear says, "My Grizzly brothers are awake and waiting for you, puny human!"


Grizzly Bears Emerging From Dens In Yellowstone

You wouldn’t know it from the deep snowpack covering the park. But it appears some of Yellowstone’s bears believe winter is drawing to a close.

On Tuesday, March 1, park employees observed grizzly bear tracks on Mary Mountain, which is roughly near the center of the lower loop of the park’s Grand Loop Road.

Bears begin looking for food soon after they emerge from their dens. They are attracted to elk and bison which have died during the winter. Carcasses are an important enough food source that bears will sometimes react aggressively when surprised while feeding on them.

Park regulations require visitors to stay 100 yards from black and grizzly bears at all times. The best defense is to stay a safe distance from bears and use binoculars, a telescope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look.

Hikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers are encouraged to travel in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail, and keep an eye out for bears.

Bear says, "You have a taste of the Tetons. I want a bite of the Bison!"

When checking to see what was happening in Bozeman this weekend, I noticed that Charlie Parr, someone I saw many times in Duluth and whose cds I owned, was playing at a smoky bar outside of town Friday night. It would have been fun to see him in a different place, but since I was fresh off the road myself, I didn't go. Also saw that I missed a lecture here by Terry Tempest Williams by two days, and that Fred Eaglesmith played Livingston a week ago. I wonder which part of the population he made fun of, the people who like to shoot everything or the rich folks who moved here from other states.

Ho hum, just another parking lot in Bozeman.

More specifically, that's a parking lot near the REI store where I attended a presentation by two humans from the Montana Raptor Conservation Center. They brought three raptors with them, a Swainson's Hawk, a Great Horned Owl, and a Turkey Vulture.

Walking back to town afterward, I heard someone yell out a Hello with my name attached. I couldn't tell who it was, but that will probably be one of the many things I learn in Yellowstone this year.

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