A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Animals of Glacier National Park

We went to Glacier National Park in early June and it was our first opportunity to use our brand new camera (more on this in another post). It took some fabulous photos, and allowed us to capture some wildlife that we wouldn't have been able to photograph with our old camera.

The highlight of the trip for me was to watch 2 adolescent Bighorn Sheep duke it out over something in a picnic area fire pit. They truly reminded me of Tito and Shaak Ti. The smaller, darker one appeared to be the dominant one (Shaak Ti) while the bigger, whiter one lurked about and waited for his chance to dart in and grab something to eat (Tito). 
We came across these two while waiting in our car (in the cold rain) for our boat trip around Two Medicine Lake (a good tour). We had seen one sheep wandering around the campground when we went in to talk to the rangers and so when we came out, I made John drive around the campground. And sure enough, we came across these two.
We got to park the car pretty much directly in front of them, approximately 30 yards away, and then watched them for 1/2 hour (John here - it was much longer than that). I think John had his fill after a few minutes, but he stuck it out to make me happy. And in the end, we were rewarded with a pretty good close-up of one of them as he sauntered away.
And while it was somewhat cheating, here's a picture of me with a stuffed Bighorn Sheep at the Many Glacier Lodge.

(John here - please note Alycias' awesome t-shirt that I got her for her birthday.  It says "I like to party, and by party I mean take naps".  Truer words hath nigh been spoken by a t-shirt)
And here's a photo of a stuffed mountain goat at the East Glacier Lodge. 
Another highlight of the trip was our walk around the Trail of the Cedars trail. It was a very easy walk (most of it on boardwalk), so I can't really call it a hike. But as we were wandering around, we saw this family looking excitedly through their binoculars. After experiences in Yellowstone and Yosemite, I've learned that you pay attention to anyone who's focused on something with their spotting scope. So we go over and see that they're excited about a duck - a Harlequin Duck. Initially, he was about 50 yards down river and the family was super excited about that (they were doing a bird count for their trip and this duck was #202). But then, he flew up right in front of us and landed in the river to continue floating downstream. I was able to get a picture up pretty close, and he was indeed a handsome duck.
While waiting for our boat tour around Lake McDonald, we also spotted a few other birds in the trees. First, a Yellowbellied Sapsucker was working over a tree pretty well. I tried to get a good picture, but he wasn't so great at holding his head still.
And then a Western Tanager. He's hard to see in the photo, but a close-up zoom shows his distinct orange head and bright yellow body.
We also saw a bald eagle on our Lake McDonald boat tour, but honestly, those are fairly commonplace to us. We see them regularly flying over the Red River of the North by our house.

One animal we did not see on our trip was a bear - grizzly or black. While it would have been exciting to see one while driving around, we were definitely glad to have not come across one while hiking around in the woods.

Finally, one last animal we encountered were hand-carved merry-go-round horses in Missoula, MT. John wasn't super excited to go on the carousel, but it lived up to its name as one of the world's fastest carousels. 
I could feel the wind whipping through my hair as we whirled around and around. For $2.25, it was well worth the trip.


jason said...

I would really love to go to Glacier NP but have never gone - never been to Montana at all, though have been out to Wyoming and Utah a few times. Looks like a great trip, especially for the birds and animals, such as the rare merry-go-round horse.

El Gaucho said...

Jason - I'd highly recommend Glacier, as well as Missoula (though I think that there are a lot of great towns in Montana to visit). We're already preliminarily planning our next trip there a few years down the road.

Unknown said...

Bald eagles are boring?? Take pics of the ones by your house!!

El Gaucho said...

We usually see them when we're walking the pups and we're not armed with a camera. They are pretty cool though!!