This fellow is one of the usual suspects: his name is Scarface, and I’ve seen him before in Yellowstone. He’s over twenty years old, with a mangled right ear, and..yes..a scarred face from too many run-ins with other grizzlies. I’ve only seen him from the road, which is just fine with me: coming around the bend on a trail and meeting this particular face is not on my bucket list. But it’s pretty exciting to watch him lumber across a meadow in the setting sun.
One of the great perks of living in western Montana (and being retired!) is that I can wake up on a Monday morning, check the weather, and decide that the time is right for a short jaunt to Yellowstone to see what critters are around. I did just that last week, and had a glorious three days. No wolves, although I knew they were around, but lots of other great activity.
My first evening I took a picnic supper out to one of my favorite spots to sit and watch: Slough Creek. There were plenty of wolf watchers on the hill behind me, so I knew something was going on, but no one was down on the little hill that I like to stake out. As I settled in, I saw dirt flying out of a ground squirrel hole about a hundred feet from me. As I got closer the digging stopped, and all was quiet. I sat and watched, and after about 5 minutes this guy popped up:
So cool. He posed in triumph for a few seconds, and then headed off to bring dinner to his family:
And badgers were definitely a recurring theme. The next morning I stopped by some more wolf watchers, and as they were all peering across the valley I spotted another badger right at our feet.
Those badgers were a couple of nice surprises, for sure. Another surprise for me was how photogenic the wolf watchers can be:
Later that day I watched a coyote trying to get something from an old bison or elk leg. He worked and worked at it, but I can’t believe there was much meat left for him.
I watched him until he wandered off, but then saw him about a half a mile away with some large piece of booty in his mouth. He was so far away that I couldn’t get a decent photo, but here’s what I got:
Any idea what that could be? Maybe a piece of old bison hide? I needed someone with a good scope!
The weather was gorgeous, so I decided to just hang out by the Blacktail Ponds for the afternoon. Good choice. As the afternoon wore on the critters seemed to come to me: a Sandhill Crane (alone and with a beautiful Yellow-Headed Blackbird), a moose, and a big old black bear. An American Avocet even posed with a pair of Cinnamon Teals in the background.
OF course, even without the wildlife, Yellowstone is glorious: