By the time we arrived at the entrance the weather was warm and I was not dressed appropriately - black jeans! We all got out and set up the self timer on the camera so we could have a group photo with the sign...
After driving for only 10 minutes we encountered our first American bison! We had read quite a bit about the mammals and birds which we were likely to see but we didn't realise that we would see quite so many animals! Some of the bison were huge! There are many signs warning visitors that bison, bears and wolves are dangerous and the distance you should keep from these wild creatures.
|American bison (Bison bison)|
We carried on driving from Mammoth Hot Springs towards Tower Roosevelt and stopped at several pull in points along the way. Other birds and mammals we saw and which I managed to photograph include....
|Canada geese (Bránta canadénsis)
|Elk (Cervus canadensis)|
|Red-tailed hawk (Búteo jamaicénsis)|
|Barrow's goldeneye (Bucéphala albéola)|
|Either a Uinta ground squirrel or a Wyoming ground squirrel (Urocitellus armatus/Urocitellus elegans)|
We had been travelling along this splendid route for quite a while, avoiding bison and their calves as we went. Once we reached Tower Roosevelt we carried on Eastwards along the Lamar valley. It was along this stretch of road that we noticed a lot of people standing with binoculars, scopes and cameras all pointing in one direction. We stopped and asked what they were looking at. I couldn't believe my ears when he said "a mother grizzly and her one year old cubs"!!! He said that they had just gone out of sight but he had his scope positioned on a bald eagle nest! I was soo happy! We all had a look through his scope and I found a landmark nearby and pointed my camera in that direction. It was really far away and my 300mm lens wasn't really up to the job. I had circled the bald eagle nest in the photo below.
|Two bald eagles (Haliaéetus leucocéphalus)
|Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) is also known as the silvertip bear or the North American brown bear and is a subspecies of the brown bear|
|This was taken at focal length 300mm so it shows how far away they were from us|
|Ground squirrel wondering what we are all looking at!|
|Chloe, James, Mum and Auntie all watching the fabulous bears!|
Chloe took over the driving so James could have a nap. However his nap didn't last long... all of a sudden Mum shouted "moose!!!" and James woke up with a fright! Chloe reversed (very safely) back to a parking point (Soda Butte Creek) and we quickly and quietly walked back to the area it was spotted. Moose are very secretive creatures that manage to stay well camouflaged given their size.
|Cow moose (Alces alces) hiding behind a very young, small tree!|
|American dipper (Cínclus mexicánus)|
|Bison adult and calf once they had moved out of the road|
Once we had overcome this hurdle we seemed to be making some headway until.... Black bears!!! People were standing at the side of the road with their scopes and cameras and as I glanced up at the slope thick with trees I saw them! Chloe did another great job at speedily finding somewhere to pull over and we jumped out and had fantastic views of a mother with her year old cub. Could this day have got any better?!! Well we could have seen wolves too, but that is just being greedy!
|American black bear (Ursus americanus) lens focal length 300mm so we were pretty close!|
The sun started to set behind the huge mountains as we wound our way to our cabin. The Yellowstone river glimmered pink and orange in the evening sun. It wasn't an easy drive up the steep uneven road and at a few points it seemed like we were driving over the edge, but we made it there in one piece and WOW what a view from our balcony! The day had blown all our expectations and we were really excited to see what the next two days would bring!
To finish this instalment I shall share a few of the landscape and other general photos from the day :)
|Window shot whilst driving to YNP|
|The ridge where we saw the grizzly bear mother and cubs|
|The view from our cabin balcony at dusk|