"A Sand County Almanac"

"THERE ARE SOME WHO CAN LIVE WITHOUT WILD THINGS AND SOME WHO CANNOT."
"FOR US IN THE MINORITY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GEESE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TELEVISION.".....Aldo Leopold

"THE TABLES TURNED"

"COME FORTH INTO THE LIGHT OF THINGS. LET NATURE BE YOUR TEACHER"....William Wordsworth


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sarah's Signal Mountain View, Number Seven

This is the most colorful time of year in the Rocky Mountains.  Thankfully, Sarah was able to get out with her camera.  These are some of the photos that she shared with us...












As always, thanks for stopping by and come back soon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Throw Back Thursday and Current Wednesday

There is a fad on social media lately where folks post photos from the past on Thursday called "Throw Back Thursday".  I  have not joined in until recently when I realized that on weeks when finding photo opportunities were limited I could go through my archives and usually come up with something to post.  Last week I shared a wild turkey in flight...



This week has produced an occasional photo opportunity including this Broad-winged Hawk...


Persimmons are important autumn food for a number of wildlife species.  Judging by the fruit on this tree there will be a plentiful supply this year...


 
 
Most wildlife that feed on persimmons wait for the ripe fruit to fall to the ground. Some, including woodchucks, might climb the trees to have first crack at them...
 
 


I found several deer this week, but the large bucks are still staying under cover...




This turkey gobbler crossed the road near the Catoctin Creek Park and Nature Center...


A moth rests on a leaf near Catoctin Creek early one morning...


At the Lilypons Water Garden an egret and a cormorant share a perch...


Thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Why Is It So Hard To See a Bear In a National Park These Days?

Our National Parks have long been among the best places to observe wild bears, both black and grizzly, in the lower 48 states.  Recently things have changed, and not for the better.  Sows with cubs like to hang out near roads in parks for the simple reason that boars do not.  Male bears will kill and eat a cub, both out of hunger and to encourage the sow to come back into estrus so that he might mate with her and produce cubs of  his own...

 

 
Sows and cubs near roads cause problems for park staff, mainly in the form of traffic jams.  During our past visits to several parks the volunteers and rangers would do an admirable job of keeping people a safe distance from the wildlife, while moving traffic along at the same time...


Recent cuts in park funding have reduced the personnel available to deal with bear jams...

 
 
 
The response that park managers have adopted is to haze, or frighten, the bears away from the roads whenever possible.  Sometimes this includes using whistles, air horns and even paint ball guns.  I have heard several first hand reports of paint ball guns being used in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.  I took the following photo of park staff using one on a sow and two cubs in Great Smoky Mountain National Park...



The obvious problem with this approach is that many visitors to our parks want to see the bears and after driving for days, with heightened anticipation, it is extremely disappointing not to find a bear to view or photograph.
Often, when the bears have been conditioned to stay away from the roads the park staff closes the hiking trails where the bears have moved to...



During our recent visits we encountered the closure of trails in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton, just because a bear was SEEN on or near a trail.  Park managers, if you are listening, seeing the bears is exactly the reason we came to the parks in the first place.
Staying safe in bear country is not rocket science.  When a bear is spotted one should stop and determine if the bear is feeding and its direction of travel as our son Kyle is doing in this photo...

 
Bear spray should be in hand, ready to be used if necessary, as my wife Cheryl demonstrates in the following photo...
 
 
Each member of our family carries bear spray when in bear country. In our many visits we have never had to use it to deter a bear or other wildlife.
 
A recent survey of park visitors indicated that most would be willing to pay an additional $41 to have an improved opportunity of seeing a bear in the wild.  Here is a link to the article discussing the survey:  http://www.yellowstonegate.com/2014/07/yellowstone-manages-people-instead-of-grizzlies-during-bear-jams/
 
If things continue on their present course the only chance one might have to photograph bears in our parks is to arrive in advance of the paintball gun toting park staff...
 
 
Thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.
 
 
,

 
 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sarah's Signal Mountain View, Number 6

Sarah, and her friend and co-worker, Dan, recently completed a strenuous hike into the Teton back country...


The hike, known as the Paintbrush Divide-Cascade Canyon Loop, produced the following photos...





 

 

At one point on the hike a black bear was feeding on Huckleberries near the trail. He was loading up on calories needed to get through the long winter hibernation...


Days end in the Tetons often produces fabulous sunsets...
 


Thanks for visiting. Stop back soon.

 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Yellowstone Scenery

When talking with someone who has just visited Yellowstone National Park (YNP) for the first time, I am often surprised at the small amount of wildlife sightings they report.  Perhaps it is because they are overwhelmed by the varied and beautiful scenery.  In this blog update I hope to share some of the sights of YNP.

The road from Gardner, Montana leads to Mammoth Hot Springs which is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine...
 
 
The limestone from rock formations along a fault is the source of the calcium carbonate.  As the calcium carbonate, or travertine, builds up various configurations are formed...
 
 
Orange Spring Mound, above, and White Elephants Back Terrace, below, are two examples... 
 
 
As the travertine terrace slowly expands it encircles living trees and eventually kills them...
 
 
The water generated by the hot springs forms the Boiling River, which flows down hill until it joins the Gardner River...
 
 
Here, it creates a delightful warm water swimming area for visitors...
 
 

Near the mouth of the Boiling River can be found ancient geysers...
 
 
And evidence of geological upheavals from thousands, or millions, of years past...
 
 
Also found at Mammoth Hot Springs is the historic stagecoach road to Gardner which can be traveled by automobile during warmer months...
 
 
Aspen trees are plentiful along the stagecoach road...
 
 
The Gardner River Canyon rises from the valley floor...
 
 
 Another popular feature in YNP is the ancient redwood petrified tree located about three miles West of Tower Junction...
 
 
Tower Junction is also the location of the 132 foot Tower Fall...
 
 
Just south of Tower Junction one encounters Calcite Springs which marks the downstream end of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Geothermally altered rhyolite and steep columnar basalt cliffs are ancient remnants of lava flow...
 
 

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a remarkable and beautiful geological feature...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
The Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the continental United States. It flows over 600 miles from Wyoming to South Dakota where it empties into the Missouri River. For part of this distance it flows through the Hayden Valley...
 
 
 
 
From the Hayden Valley it is a short drive to Mount Washburn which rises 10,423 feet above the west side of the canyon.  When descending Mount Washburn it is not uncommon to find ones self above the clouds...
 
 
 
Wildflowers grow abundantly on the slopes of Mount Washburn...
 

The Bannock Trail, once used by Native Americans to access the buffalo plains east of the park, was used from approximately 1840 to 1876.  A portion of this trail extends from the Blacktail Plateau and ascends the Lamar River Valley to the Lamar-Soda Butte confluence...

 

 
 
The Blacktail Plateau is home to Grizzly Rock, so named for obvious reasons...



Geothermal features are found in many places throughout the park...

 
The blue water of this pool indicates that it is too hot for bacteria or algae to live...
 
 
The Chocolate Pot geyser below, located along the Gibbon River, maintains a temperature of 130 F.  The three to four feet high cone has green, yellow, brown and orange streaks formed by warm water loving bacteria and algae.  Mineral oxides are responsible for the dark brown color...
 
 
The Madison River is a widely known, and acclaimed, trout fishery...

 

The Madison flows between high rocky mountains through much of its course in YNP...


 



In 1988 Yellowstone experienced one of it's largest forest fires in history.  Dead snags still stand, although new growth is apparent in most areas...

 
As you can probably tell by now there is much more to Yellowstone than just the wildlife...
 

I hope you get an understanding of the vastness of Yellowstone, and why good binoculars are a must.  A spotting scope is a wonderful item to have along if you are travelling by automobile...


 
Thanks for letting me share some of the scenery of Yellowstone National Park with you.
 
Be well, enjoy nature, and come back soon.