Around The Area - Part 1
As promised in my last blog post, I have some photos to share from our travels around the area this spring. Everything shown in these pictures was seen within a comfortable driving distance of Elk Lake. And, as I suggested, there is a LOT to see outside of the Park in the spring. Today we will focus on what we saw along Hwy 287 between West Yellowstone and Hwy 87. Next time we'll take a trip through the Madison Valley and down toward Ennis.
There was a LOT of snow to be seen along the highway this year. Of course that has been the story this spring. Snow. Snow. More Snow. While things are changing quickly thanks to warmer days and even some rain, the view stayed markedly white for a long long time this year.
We spotted this old homestead surrounded by miles of untouched snow not far from Hebgen Lake. Somehow it looked more like some idealistic painting than something one might expect to see at the end of a busy snowmobile season. Beautiful!
A little further along we spotted a coyote hunting dinner. As I mentioned last time, the coyotes have been very visible this spring. We have seen at least one (often more) each time we've been out. We watched this fellow for a few minutes as he trotted about looking for dinner.
Down the road a bit we came to some Beaver ponds. While no Beavers were in sight, this muskrat provided a few minutes entertainment before he tired of being the center of attention and swam away.
However, along this stretch of road, the sheep are really the focal point. Last time I posted some Big Horn pictures from our daytrip in the Park. While Bighorns are not seen very often in the Park, it is not uncommon to see Bighorn ewes and lambs grazing along 287 this time of year. However, on this trip we were also treated to some nice close-up shots of four rams.
While we watched (and snapped photos) each ram approached the guardrail then hopped over. On the other side of the guardrail is a 30 foot or so shoulder and then a drop off down to the Madison River where it drains out of Quake Lake. Here goes the first ram.
Along comes the next ram. Considerately pauses for his photo shoot. . .
Then hops over with the greatest of ease!
Along comes ram number 3. He too pauses as if to say - so, how do I compare? Not bad, old boy. Not bad!
Then, he too, jumps right over to join his buddies. All told, four good looking rams hopped over as we watched
Together, these four boys made a pretty impressive sight. For us, it was a nice treat. As I said, it is common to see the ewes and lambs. They tend to hang around down toward the junction with Highway 87 all winter.
I suspect the draw, in addition to lower elevation and wind scoured hillsides, is the occasional haybale tossed out by sympathetic humans in the area. This ewe and lamb look like they have wintered quite well - especially compared to some of their larger counter parts (particularly the elk and bison) who spent the winter in the Park.
This trip I was able to get a good shot of what I call the 'guard ewe'. While domestic sheep are far from the most ingelligent animals one might hope to meet, the Big Horn Sheep appear to be a bit more alert to their surroundings. I've noticed it is not uncommon to spot at least one ewe (usually they appear to be older animals) keeping her eyes and ears open for anything unusual. Perhaps that is one reason the Bighorn Sheep seem to have survived, and even thrived, in spite of the hungry wolves, bears and cougars who I'm sure wouldn't mind making them breakfast, lunch or even dinner.
So just because our world has been wrapped in a mantel of white for the last few months, does not mean there is not an amazingly abundant and varied amount of wildlife to delight the eye and tease the camera lens! Especially if one knows where to look!
Lady Of The Lake