Friday, December 10, 2010

Yellowstone in Winter

Winter is the best time to see the Park. The magic and the beauty would be plenty of reason, but think about how the animals have to struggle to survive in this harsh environment. We see elk, bison and many others trying to dig into the snow to find nourishment. And meanwhile they are expending energy just getting to the food. And the nutrition in the grasses, etc. is not much of anything. In addition, there are many fewer visitors in the Park at this time of year. But there are hazards. I'll enclose a photo of a Institute Bus in a slide off. No damage, no injuries, just traveling at 30 miles per hour and the ice on the road sucked the bus into the ditch.
Other facts about Yellowstone make it an interesting place. Such as the Bison. There are about 4000 in the Park. One of the few herds that are genetically pure. No cattle DNA in these bison and there are about 500,000 bison in North America. So it is extremely important to keep these animals in an environment that allows this to happen.
The thermals in the 35 by 45 mile caldera also make for dramatic viewing in winter. They have been getting better equipment to monitor the earthquakes. As a result when there is what they call a swarm, they can count how many. This year has been the most active with over 3200 quakes, mostly very minor and with no danger of anything major happening. So be sure to come and visit and see all these exciting things happening!!! Steve

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Pile of Otters

We saw these otters yesterday near the confluence of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek. They seem to have a den near there and it is one of the few places where the river is not frozen over. In addition there have been numerous sightings of big horn sheep on the road between Gardiner and Mammoth Hot Springs. The picture above is an especially good looking ram.
With all the snow the wolf watching has been good and the wolves seem to be getting plenty of elk prey. The Lamar Canyon pack is hanging out near the Buffalo Ranch and all of them look healthy. We are headed to Gardiner to spend the night at the Yellowstone Association Overlook campus as well as get in some skiing.
The next class begins on Monday, it is "Painting Yellowstone in Winter" and Linda is going to support and maybe pick up some painting pointers. Steve