American Holly

American Holly
American Holly

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Visit to the Bear and Wolf Discovery Center

Kris really wanted to see wolves, and since wolves were mostly up when  and where she wasn't, we decided to visit the Bear and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. The center houses bears, wolfs, and raptors that cannot be released. One bear was 20 when she was removed the second time from a little town. and has lived at the center the last fifteen years.


The bison at the entrance

Cian takes advantage of phone service to call his dad


The day was overcast, but we only had a few raindrops on us at the end of a ranger talk about how a special breed of dog is being used to haze bears away into wild areas and away from people. For their story, click here.  After the ranger told us about the reasons the bears are at the Center and how the Fish and Wildlife Service is hazing bears to keep them from coming near people, a handler called in one of the Karelian dogs.  Then people could line up to go meet her.  One of the things these captive bears do is test garbage cans for bear resistance. There is a display of ones they have tested, mostly all bent up and broken open. They also have displays to show how you need to put up an electric fence around your orchard, garden, and bee hives. 


The bears have to come out  a few at a time to "forage" for food hidden by the staff


They lose some of their food to the waiting ravens

The Center has six wolves in three packs - and different enclosures.  We got the special treat of hearing them howl, due to the really dark day.  You can watch wolves from a cabin with huge glass windows, as well as from other vantage points. 



We think dogs came from wolves that carry a tame gene - maybe like this one



Just sweet


One of the above wolves when it was trotting around. 


The enclosures look quite natural, except for the fence

This was my favorite wolf and he seemed to be leading the howling 

Then we visited the flight pens of several raptors.  All of them were injured or poisoned and cannot live in the wild. I was not able to get a decent picture of a peregrine falcon and there were three eagles in one cage, but here are the rest:


I wish bald eagles had a voice to match their bold and agressive stare


Aquila golden eagle can't fly, but she did a lot of walking around his enclosure.
The golden ruff is the source of their name

Clark, the great horned owl


Nahani, the female rough-legged hawk

And we had to stop twice for bison pictures on the road to West Yellowstone.



Calves are under two months old and still red. 


Think these guys are playmates, not siblings

I find it sad that these magnificant animals cannot live in the wild, but am glad they are helping to educate people and perhaps they are helping others of their species survive in a natural habitat. 




A Very Special Yellowstone Visit

June 10, 2017

I got to have a wonderful visit with my daughter and only grandson last weekend.  Kris, her friend, Patti, and grandson Cian came up to Yellowstone and I drove over to camp with them.  They were camping at Grant Village  so we spent a lot of time on the loop road, checking out some of the geyser fields.

We also got to enjoy a little wildlife.  I only saw elk and bison but Kris saw a bear after I left.

And the weather was not very accommodating.  It was mostly cold and cloudy with a few short intervals of sun.  The steam was so low and thick that pictures were hard to come by. And I had to drive through a blizzard in the mountains west of Yellowstone.

But here is a little of what I captured.



Grand Prismatic Spring


Another view of Grand Prismatic Spring


Nettle bud

Think this is a kind of a penstemon - loved by long tongued bees. 


Edge of one of the pools

Pastel view, including the white stumps

The bird flew but the colors remained

Kris and Cian

Female common goldeneye in Yellowstone Lake

View at Tom Thumb

Big Cone - the only geyser above the high waters of Yellowstone Lake

Another Tom Thumb View

Geyser field at Tom Thumb- first good light I'd had all week

This week, I'm having to stay close to the refuge and do a bee survey.  All the working week was too cold and wet to survey the bees. I'm also closely monitoring our dam and trying to make sure we capture as much water as possible.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Birds of Red Rock Lake

Red Rock Lake is home or a stopover to some two hundred and thirty two species of birds.  During the winter, only a few species live here, but as spring comes to the Centennial Valley, more and more birds are seen or heard. This is an important site for Trumpeter Swans.  It was established to try to bring them back when there were less than seventy of them. Today we have provided swans across the west and have over 100 breeding here. Many songbirds pass through here or remain to breed. We also have breeding ducks, Franklin gulls, terns, and wading birds. And we also have lots of breeding raptors, including bald eagles, ferruginous hawks, Swainson's hawks, kestrels, red-tailed hawks, and peregrine falcons. I'll never be able to get pictures of all of them but it keeps me busy trying.



MacGillivray's warbler


Our very common Northern Flicker, red shafted


I caught this red-tailed hawk hunting. I have also found its nest but can't see any action in it.


Red-tailed hawk


The rule for identifying sitting sparrows holds up here - if they fly up and sit, they are Savanah sparrows. 


This western tanager  is one of my most recent pictures. We were still seeing waves of migration coming through in late May


Sandhill cranes have been most elusive - this is the only one I've seen till yesterday when I saw it with a mate. 


Bluebirds were already starting to lay eggs when I first checked, the second week of May


And now some of them are feeding babies


California Gull


A female phalarope

Shoveler pairs are nesting in wet areas 


A bathing Savanah sparrow


Male cinnamon teal- the one in the back is displaying - part of a group of 6-8 males plus females


A  trumpeter swan

Lesser scaup pair

Feeding avocet


Phalarope pair- the lady is the pretty one because the male raises the children


Barn swallow - they are way outnumbered by the cliff swallows and tree swallows


The yellow headed blackbirds are very closely associated with water


Long-billed curlews breed here


I often see willets with long-billed curlews - and their call is heard throughout the refuge


Red necked grebes nest on Widgeon pond but seldom come close enough for a decent picture. 


 Click here for a list of refuge birds.  Note that the ones with asterisks breed here. I have lots of birds to go before I see them all.


For more great blogs about wild birds from around the world, click on the picture.