Wednesday 14 June 2017

Grand Teton....... Part One

The Tetons and Snake river.

Mon 5th June
Photographed Mountain Bluebird at the campground, along with Yellow Warbler (which seem to be everywhere) before entering the Grand Teton National Park for the first time this trip. Bought ourselves an annual pass at 80 dollars which will be good for any National Park for the rest of our trip and who knows we may get across again before next June when it expires!
We made our way out to the Snake River Ox-bow Bend area and then onto a bit of dirt road to a riverside area where we’ve stopped a few times and previously seen good wildlife.
This time part of the parking area was closed off as it was under water and the rivers keep rising as the very hot days are melting the snow faster than usual.
We got out the camp chairs and sat and had a picnic lunch and suddenly an immature Bald Eagle flew in and landed in the tree above us.
I couldn’t get a good angle on it to get a picture and then a Park Ranger drove in and the bird quickly left.
There were at least 2 pairs of Spotted Sandpipers nesting in the vicinity and they were flying around calling at any avian intruder!
Two Ospreys were hunting in the river and one flew into a conifer on the other side of the water and called to its mate incessantly.
At least a dozen Mergansers (We call them Goosanders in the UK) drifted downstream past us, one female and the rest all males.
After lunch we made our way over to the Jackson Lake dam area and saw the distant group of White Pelicans and the hundreds of Cliff Swallows nesting on the concrete dam structure.
Watched Pronghorn Antelope on the sage flats in several locations and then made our way back to the campground.
I had a good campfire going in the evening and some pork steaks and jacket potatoes (done in the fire in tin foil) followed by a couple of tots of something kept me going till dark.
Tues 6th June (my birthday!)
Well, 64 today….scary!!!!!
However delighted to be out photographing bluebirds and squirrels on a beautiful morning.
Very hot today and a cloudless sky!
We took a short ride out to Pacific Creek to have a look round.
Plenty of Buffalo grazing on the lush spring grass on the way and a cracking Western Meadowlark singing on the top of a roadside post.
As a special birthday trip I was treated to a visit to the supermarket!
A  huge Albertsons store in Jackson Hole that we’ve used before to stock up on provisions…..more charcoal for the BBQ, more steaks, milk etc.
Oh! More beer but you can’t buy that in the supermarket you have to go to the Liquor Store next door!
Then out to lunch as a birthday pressie!
Steak and eggs at the Bunnery in town was just what I needed.
Watched a huge Buffalo bull cross the road in front of us near to Mormon Row but couldn’t find a safe place to stop so left him go in the hope of seeing more when we get up into Yellowstone.
The weather has started to get hot and muggy and I feel a mountain thunderstorm is due.
We headed back to the campground which is still one of my favourite places to see and photograph wildlife and I checked out a possible old woodpecker hole that I found earlier to see if the Bluebirds were using it.
Not that hole but in a tree behind it I saw the female bird peering from a natural hole in a Cottonwood tree.
I got the camera set up and managed to rattle off a few shots although the clouds were gathering and the light was really poor….no pleasing photographers!
However I got some reasonable shots and am hopeful that tomorrow morning may provide me with light in a better direction.
6pm. And the thunder is rolling around with the occasional flash of lightning and an odd shower. Gives me some time to get this blog written up and we’re hoping it may well clear in time to get a campfire going later.
The second time in my life I’ve photographed Bluebirds on my birthday……. Can’t complain at that!
Thunder cleared and fire lit, a few sausages and some bacon over the griddle topped off with a cold beer!

Female Mountain Bluebird

Male Mountain Bluebird
Wed 7th June.
I was out fairly early to suss out the Bluebird nest but the light was a bit dull and didn’t get to the nesting tree till about 8 am.
I got a few shots of the male bringing food to the female who I guess is still brooding eggs as he is passing her the food.
Also noticed a Tree Swallow nesting in the original old woodpecker hole and a pair of White-breasted Nuthatch checking out another cottonwood for a potential site.
Just in the middle of my breakfast when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a Moose running along the river’s edge of the campsite less than 60 metres away from us.
I hastily got the camera onto the tripod (which was already set up outside for such an eventuality!)
Managed to get a few hasty shots as it skipped and frolicked through the shallows and the willows of the swollen river.
Both Linda and I then went out to the river’s edge and watched it disappear from view downstream.
The Campground staff told me that there had been as many as 13 Moose on the campground in April.
We have always been lucky to see Moose at this site and despite not getting the greatest photos of this one it remains one of the best places to see Moose in the Yellowstone Ecosystem.
After breakfast we drove out of the Gros Ventre valley up to Kelly and across Antelope Flats where we came across a couple of Mule Deer really close to the road. I pulled off the road into a layby and they were walking straight towards us so setup the camera out of the RV window and got some smashing shots in great early morning light. Both had their antlers in velvet.
A bit farther on we came across a Pronghorn Antelope crossing in front of us, in fact I had to stop to let it cross. Managed a few shots of it from the driver’s seat!
We drove up just past Colter Bay on the road toward Yellowstone but didn’t see much apart from some more White Pelicans and some Western Grebes in the bay.
Still very hot and difficult to spend much time out of doors as the heat and high altitude is tiring us quickly.
Spent a few hours watching for wildlife from various vantage points and did see a Northern Harrier hawking the Willow Flats near to Jackson Lodge.
Eventually succumbed and headed back to the campground to sit outside the vehicle in the shade… and type this!

American Robin