Saturday, June 4, 2011

Plants and Animals of the BPT

It was another lovely day in paradise and with no group hikes scheduled, I headed out early to see what was new on my neighborhood Beaver Ponds Trail since my last visit two weeks ago. There are still a couple wet spots but someone has been out there with a saw and cut a couple trees which had fallen across the trail. Apparently s/he hasn't done the entire trail though because the biggest, most awkward mess is still deep in the woods. The day was so enjoyable I may decide to do it all over again tomorrow.

Shortly after climbing the hill behind the dorm this morning, I started my hike by spending a half hour watching a distant coyote. I alternated between binoculars and camera. What had me particularly interested was that three pronghorns repeatedly walked back and forth in the same area as the coyote. Their behavior had me wondering if they were daring the coyote to chase them or if the coyote had a dead pronghorn.

I didn't want to interfere so I didn't get close enough to spook anyone but decided I would investigate the scene a couple hours later when the trail would take me back on the far side. When I did search the area, I didn't find the carcass or signs of blood I expected to find. I did find some coyote-sized burrows and a lot of ground squirrels. When I got back to my room and cropped the photos, this one seemed to confirm the coyote was mousing or in this case, probably ground squirreling. But I still have no idea what the pronghorn were doing.

When I got back, I found these elk waiting by the back door of the hotel.

Were they going to sneak in? Are they not allowed in the front door? Do they like scaring the tourists who try to exit? These are the mysteries of life in Yellowstone.

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