My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Norris Geyser Basin in Two Lights

I am between my second and third visits to Yellowstone National Park.  On both the previous visits, I camped at Norris Campground. Norris Geyser Basin is less than two miles away.  I visited it the first time just before and after sunrise, in a fog. The second time, my friends arrived at camp, ate lunch and took a nap, then we went to the basin mid to late afternoon on a bright, clear day.

I am always impacted by light and loved seeing some of the same geysers in different lights. And it was also really nice to practically have the basin to myself the first time. And people were definitely getting less in number as the day waned during our second visit.

Some of the boardwalks were closed the first visit but open about a week later for the second visit which allowed us to see all the features.

A foggy look across Porcelain Basin

View from a different perspective of most of porcelain basin on a sunny afternoon

The soft light made this picture look like a painting
I liked how the light made the cool blues prominent early in the morning

I loved the soft lightening on this perfect juxtaposition of an old and new pinecone

This has just a pastel and surreal quality about it to me and more hints at what is there, than completely shows it

And no animals would not be hanging out along the trail except very early in the day

I could not often zoom in due to the fog, because the fog blocked closeup views

Some of the features were not yet sun-lit and gave off a moody feel

The afternoon clouds added to the beauty

I was able to zoom in to enjoy the "abstracts"

Another study of the beautiful colors and textures - not possible in fog or low light

A very long afternoon view

The Colloidal pool looked milkier in the afternoon light

And the afternoon wind increased the texture by adding
water ripples to all those colors and surface textures

Steamboat geyser was one I missed the first time
Pork Chop Geyser - it blew up in 1989 and blew those boulders out -is now a quiet pool

I don't think I'll ever get bored looking at the fantastic landscapes in different lighting conditions. But I expect my next visit will be focused on finding birds and other wildlife. And I'll bore you with a few more Yellowstone blogs from visits to other parts of this huge place.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

In Search of Bald Eagles

July 7, 2015

My boss gave me an seemingly easy job.  "Go find our three breeding pair of bald eagles and see if they have young." Two of these pairs are along the route of my bluebird trail so it seemed like a no brainer.

I personally call the eagles, the Idlewild Eagles, because they have a nest near that spot on Lower Lake, Upper Lake Eagles, and Culver Pond Eagles, again named for their locations.

I haven't made it to Culver Pond yet because I need a truck, which means I need to go after work or on the weekends - we are vehicle poor here- and also need someone to be here to call for help, if needed.

I thought I knew exactly where the Idlewild bald eagles are nesting across from my Bluebird Box16W.

The tree seems to have two nests in it

But maybe not.

A tree further to the left of the one in the first picture

And they mostly just sit - sometimes for the 30 - 40 minutes I watch them.  But the other day, I heard crows behind the nest and one eagle went on a little flight that looked like the kind of flights they do when protecting an active nest. But I've seen no feeding, and no babies.

The Upper Lake Eagles are even harder to see.  They have one nest where it is easy to observe from the road.  But they are using a nest in the last group of Engelmann Spruce along Upper Lake  - near the southeastern end.  I spent about an hour just observing and did find the parents.  But no nest and no young were visible.  So I decided to hike in and find the nest.

The Upper Lake eagles have a nest in this patch of trees

Almost as soon as I left the car, and before I found a way through the strip of willows, a bald eagle came flying at me, screaming.  It continued to either fly or sit in the top of a tree and curse me.  Finally, a few hours later, its mate joined in the yelling. But even though I wove back and forth through the area, I never could see the nest.  But I had a wonderful morning walking through forest, meadow, and marsh and having to jump little streams or backtrack for larger ones.

An unhappy bird

I found a nice game trail through the willows. And I was calling to any bears
and had my bear spray. 

Curse you, woman.  Get off my property!

Almost stepped in this lovely little pool

Liatris likes marshy places - these are almost at the end of their bloom

Some parts looked like Goldilocks' woods

Many of the trees had bases about a foot high, made of leftover
pieces of pinecone - left behind by the numerous squirrels in the area

I scared a squirrel away from his dinner

You can't see me

One of several streams I crossed

He's STILL mad at me and now so was his mate

Indian paintbrush was blooming heavily in places

A view of Upper Lake as I was walking out

This eagle watched me leave, still yelling

I'm sure these guys have an active nest. I'll keep watching for fledglings.

On the personal front, friends have just left from meeting me in Yellowstone for four days.  I'm working four or five hard and long days, then taking off to play with another friend next weekend. Last week, I only worked Friday and Saturday so  I am working more hours to catch up.  While helping Jim with fencing, I got to see a brief glimpse of the back end of a baby moose. And one of my tree swallow parents managed to raise EIGHT babies - they will fledge in the next few days. Life is excellent.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

West Thumb Glacier Basin

July 15, 2015

On my last day camping alone in Yellowstone, I went from my campsite at Norris to Fishing Bridge, and then on around to West Thumb Basin.

It is unique, in that part of it is under Yellowstone Lake.  Some of it is above water in the summer, but goes under water during snowmelt.  And it is also very beautiful.  I saw it under a mostly cloudy sky.  With all this heat going into Yellowstone Lake, you'd think this area would be warmer.  But the summer temps in the water are still about 45 degrees.

An elk seen on the way - chased by at least 30 cars of people

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Fishing Geyser - catch your fish, then dip it into here  to cook - no longer allowed

Baby killdeer 

View across the boardwalks

That's a red mud bubble

After visiting this basin, I came on around the Grand Loop until I could exit to West Yellowstone.  I stopped to buy a few groceries, then came home to work several long days before heading back to  Yellowstone to meet friends.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Trip to Tower Falls

July 14, 2015

I finished up my trip to Norris Geyser Basin around 9:00 A.M. so had plenty of time to see another part of Yellowstone. I chose to take the road to Tower Falls, since I had not been there in the past. This is the most beautiful part of Yellowstone, landscape-wise.  I enjoyed the big views of mountains and hills and the short views of wildflowers. Hopefully, I'll get to spend more time in this area and Lamar Valley.  I have two more friends coming to visit Yellowstone with me but I'll be deferring to their wishes as to where we'll be going.

Fields of wildflowers and conifers

I think this is a penstemon - loved by bees

A long view from a pull-out

So many colors - the fields are changing into fall colors

The entrance to Tower Falls

Tower Falls

View from Tower Falls Trail

The stream Tower Falls is on

The Yellowstone River from the Tower Falls Trail

Rock in the little stream

Roadside view just past Tower Falls

The Yellowstone River north of Tower Falls