Thursday, October 24, 2013

Birds, Beasts, and Alum Creek

1. Clark's Nutcracker-kab Clark’s Nutcracker 9-11-13 Bridge Bay Marina

September 11, 2013: Everywhere we went in Yellowstone I counted birds, but there were not a lot of birds to count. I would see a few here and a few there and I found different birds at each location leading to a final list (to be published in the next post) of 28 species overall within Yellowstone National Park. After leaving West Thumb earlier in the day I found a little cove on the lake that was full of ducks. The birds were so far away and the sun so bright that I could not tell what many of them were until I got home and off-loaded my photos.

2. cove full of ducks-kab In this bunch I found Lesser Scaup, goldeneyes, bufflehead, and Common Mergansers.

3. what ducks-kab But I also found ducks I could not identify. The duck in the front right is obviously different than the three behind it but what are they?

4. goldeneyes-kab I found these Common Goldeneyes at the Bridge Bay Marina, but there were many more ducks to far distant to tell, even with a photograph.

5. horned grebe-kab Distant picture of  Horned Grebe in non-breeding plumage identified by its long, upright neck, thin bill, and white cheek. The back is long and flat whereas the similar Eared Grebe would have a shorter and rounder back and a dark cheek. while it’s not the greatest picture there is still enough information there to help with identification.

6. hiding in the cove-kab I estimated there were at least 120 goldeneyes across the cove, but even this shot is too distant for me to positively I.D. any of them.

7. cormorant-kab But, it didn’t take me long to figure out that this was a Double-crested cormorant. I saw two of them here at the Bridge Bay marina along with some barn swallows and a couple of ravens. Ravens were the most common bird I saw.

8. bison-kabThough I wanted to see some elk and hear them bugling I only found bison instead.

One of my goals on this day was to try to find the Trumpeter Swans. I had been told by a park ranger the night before they could be found at a place called Alum Creek. I suppose we should have gone there first, but it was all the way across the park and I decided we should work our way around to that point as we visited several other locations along the way. As it was, by the time we got to Alum Creek on the east side of Yellowstone it was 2 p.m. and all I found were ducks and geese!

9. alum creek-kab Ducks in Alum Creek

From there is was a long drive around to Mammoth Hot Springs and back to Alum Creek again at sunset. On our way we stopped at a place called Swan Lake on the road south of Mammoth. While I didn’t find any swans there either, I did spot a pair of Bald Eagles in the trees across the lake.

10. eagles-kab Can you see the black and white spots in the trees in the middle?

Yep, those are eagles!

It was just after sunset when we arrived back at Alum Creek for one more check to see if any swans had flown in for the evening. While Gus waited in the car I got out and walked along the edge of the road. Just south of us was a bison road block.

11. bison roadblaock-kab Bison, bison everywhere!

12. alum creek-akb But all was peaceful and serene on Alum Creek without a swan in sight!

13. sunset light-kabI marveled at a ribbon of rosy light as it fell across the spine of the hills beyond.

Then I said my good-byes to Yellowstone and got back in the car with Gus to drive away. I do not know if I will ever make it back here again.

14. good-bye yellowstone-kab Evening light on Alum Creek 9-11-13

Trip to Yellowstone and Utah 2013 

(click the link above to see all posts on this subject)


  1. Hi Kathie Ah! I am sorry you did not see your Swans however that evening sun setting and light in those last shots must make up for it. They are stunning. It still was good to know what you did find and I loved the single Bison shot. Never seen on in the wild.

    1. Margaret, I have no regrets other than rushing around too much! But yes, that final lighting was so sweet!

  2. Yes, it was bad luck about the swans, but it seems to have been a great trip and you have lots of lovely photos and memories even if you don't get back there, and you've shared some of them which I for one have enjoyed very much.

  3. You are going to such wonderful places that missing a swan or two weighs lightly against seeing all those bison and other wonders.
    I so miss having someone to go to interesting places and share them as well as the driving but that's life.

    1. Arjia, you are right, no swans but lots of fond memories! Well, at least you have virtual companions!

  4. Hi Kathie

    I have been scrolling thru all your wonderful posts from Yellowstone a place I really want to visit. You captured some truly lovely scenes.

    All the best.

    1. Guy, I am sure you would love it and I am sure you would need to spend more than one day to take it all in! I do hope you can get here one day!

  5. What a beautiful area! And great shot of the Clark's! Jealous(but in a good way) Congrats! Remember, always hit your target spots first....and then back track:) But I get easily distracted as well:) We'll find the TRSW together.

    1. Chris, I do hope so! I have seen them before but over 20 years ago!

  6. You may not have seen Lots of birds but you did get around to some gorgeous Yellowstone scenery.

  7. Beautiful birds and gorgeous Yellowstone photos. Great post, Kathie!


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.