After leaving Madison Junction Gus and I drove to Norris Geyser Basin. After all these years it was nice to be back. With the sun already sinking in the western sky long shadows fell across our path and the low light already had hints of gold in it, enhancing the surreal landscape that unfolded before us.
While Gus concentrated on taking pictures with his cell phone camera or recording short videos, I was smiling the whole time and gazing around me in wonder…and, looking for birds! This was my first time being in Yellowstone as an eBirder, and though I have a few incidental reports from previous visits here, this would be my first time making effort based observations. I was ready to see some birds!
While Gus was busy photographing geysers I followed a little path into the woods where I found this pond. Though there were no ducks or shorebirds, I did find a robin on a downed branch along its edge.
Behind me I heard another bird and was amazed to find a Lincoln’s Sparrow! while Lincoln’s sparrows are common across the united states, they are rarely seen. I seem to have an affinity for them, for I have seen several in many different states! Now I could add Wyoming to that list!
Gus and I finally left this tranquil spot and followed the boardwalk across the basin. Here we were able to walk over the shallow water and peer down into the thing crusts of earth and the multi-colored algae and thermophiles that grows in these thermal springs. One of the first things you learn when you get to Yellowstone is the fact that different colored algae grows in the thermal pools and springs according to the water temperature. Greens and blues mean cooler water while reds, oranges, and yellows means hotter water. White is the hottest of all and after 160 degrees F no algae will grow at all! So, if you see a clear hot spring stay away, because that water is so hot it will boil the flesh right off your body and kill you instantly if you fall in!
So, it kind of surprised me to find two ravens walking around on the edges of the hot spring down in the geyser basin. I wondered what they were doing but a close look with my binoculars revealed they were eating some kind of fly-like insect that was hopping around on the white-crusted ground! The insects must have either tasted good or been very nutritious for them to expend that much energy trying to catch such tiny food!
As we continued around the trail I looked back towards the geyser by the entrance to this geyser basin. I heard a few birds in the surrounding pines and found a few Yellow-rumped warblers and a couple of Mountain Bluebirds! In the end I saw 7 species at this location. The sun was setting by the time we left and we headed back to west Yellowstone and our motel. this first evening in Yellowstone national Park ended up being one of our favorite memories because we took our time and enjoyed this spot without trying to rush around and see the whole park. Below is the list of species I saw at Norris Geyser Basin on this day.
- Common Raven
- Mountain Chickadee
- Mountain Bluebird
- American Robin
- Yellow-rumped Warbler
- Lincoln’s Sparrow
- Dark-eyed Junco
(click the link above to see all posts from this trip)
My last look out over Norris Geyser Basin 9-10-13