Not even eight minutes in and we checked our first item off the list. I pretty much got out of a moving vehicle with my camera to get the shot. Turns out elk are all over the place. We of course didn’t know that at the time. We learned quickly that the best way to find wildlife was at dusk, dawn, or to look for droves of tripods with paparazzi cameras. (I may or may not have been told by one of the tripod people that I was too close to this particular elk.)
There are even more bison than elk. They like to block traffic, and they are never in a hurry. At one point when we were in Hayden Valley observing these huge bison and some wolves, a helicopter came in to drop a carcass. They hadn’t found the bear who killed the hiker in August and they were trying to lure more grizzlies to test their DNA. It was like CSI meets Animal Planet. (They do think they finally identified the killer bear.)
JRob has aspirations to be a birder. (Nerd Flag) He even brought his Birds of Yellowstone book on the trip. This black, grey, and white, Clark’s Nutcracker, followed us through Lilypad Lake.
Bald Eagle in a nest… WHAT!!! How freaking awesome.
We had been looking all week for mule deer. Right after this one, we saw a doe and her babies. Adorable.
Now to the only animal sighting disappointment. Big Horn Sheep are tough to spot. We all were very excited when we saw what we thought were sheep scampering along the cliffs. Turns out they were just mountain goats. Still cute, but NOT on the checklist.
We also saw a coyote, fox, pronghorn, moose, chipmunk, squirrel, and GRIZZLIES!!!! We actually saw five grizzlies… a sow, her cubs, and two others that tried to get their kill. It was awesome. And don’t worry mom, it was from a safe distance. We watched them for half an hour with a group of about 15 other people. The ultimate checklist item deserved a toast.
Fortunately we had stopped at the General Store to buy a six-pack of Scape Goat (awesome local brew) to celebrate appropriately. And for those of you keeping score, I started drinking beer this trip. Finally.