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January 14 – Elusive Eagles, Wonderful Wildlife

January 14, 2012

Saturday we set off in search of eagles, both Golden and Bald. The plan was to assist in a citizen science project to count eagles in different sections of the park, but the eagles eluded us and not one appeared anywhere. However, we were not disappointed, as wildlife was abundant around us. We passed elk herds and bison crossing the roads, some which even stopped traffic! We also saw coyote and stopped with the spotting scopes to have a private moment with the entire Mollie’s wolf pack (16 total) while they trekked uphill in a line across a high meadow. What a thrill!

Snowy bison in Lamar Valley

Snowy bison in Lamar Valley

At another spot where we intended to count eagles we instead got to see a Bighorn ram on top of a mountain and discovered several more nearby. A few ravens flew overhead, as well as several ducks – Common and Barrow’s Goldeneye – swimming in partially frozen streams. Even in the cold of winter, life goes on. While we never spotted an eagle, our spirits still soared with each animal sighting and track or scat discovery. We even traced wolf tracks we found by the side of the road! We felt far from our own human world and surrounded by the animals that inhabit this glorious place. Several times we stood silently to take in the sound of the streams, the wind, or distant bird calls. Yet there was more to come….

We spent the middle of our day snowshoeing up steep hills, across a very narrow bridge, and into a perfectly untouched field. After breaking trail in Round Prairie and watching American Dippers and Common Goldeneyes playing in Soda Butte Creek, we headed for our home away from home. It had been cloudy most of the day, with minimal breaks of sunlight and blue sky. But while driving around a bend, we came across the most amazing pink, orange, and lavender clouds at sunset. They only just peeked over the mountain ridges, making the sky appear to be on fire! Across Lamar Valley the light hit the peaks of the mountains and set them aglow. Even as we arrived back at Blacktail Plateau (aka Sunrise/Sunset Point) the clouds were still making orange and purple horizontal stripes across the sky. It was a magnificent ending to our great day of adventure.

Sunset in Lamar Valley

Sunset in Lamar Valley

By Andi Webb, Terry Denny, and Michelle Pearce

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jess Hair permalink
    January 16, 2012 4:43 pm

    That is a BEAUTIFUL sunset! I wish I could be in Yellowstone right now! It seems really fun and breathtaking. 🙂

  2. Donna permalink
    January 17, 2012 8:14 am

    Mr. B, I see you :)! Could you get close enough to pet an animal, particularly a wolf?
    from Jose

  3. Donna permalink
    January 17, 2012 8:24 am

    More questions from students:
    Nick S – Do the wolves eat the baby Bisons? What do bisons eat? Are they vegetarians?
    Did you notice the temperature difference when you were by all that steam?
    Gabi – What type of wolves are there? Do they tag the wolves to track them? Are the wolves improving their population?
    Asheton – Can you ride a bison?
    Michael – How much snow is on the ground?
    Colleen – Do the wolves fear humans? Do they run away when they see humans?
    Brandon – Do you all have any form of protection if the wolves attack?
    Luke – Do the rangers help control the population numbers for each species?
    Josie – What kind of animals are all native to the area?
    Maddie – What have you been eating? Elk burgers?
    Jared – How cold has it gotten?

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