Monday, June 27, 2022

Teaching a simple but effective Fly fishing Technique and a trip to the National Wildlife Museum

Our summer shows are upon us and so we have not kept the blog up to date. Still, we have been able to take time to teach Barb and Dan how to fly fish a small stream. On a rainy day we also traveled to Jackson to visit the National Wildlife Museum. The biggest problem fly fishing here is all the willow trees. They crowd the banks and so most beginners spend much of their time retrieving their flies from the willow’s branches. The answer to this is to use a technique called roll casting.
In it you let your fly line float downstream and then flip the rod tip upstream. The line forms a circle and flips the fly upstream. Tying on dry flies we soon had them both making great roll casts. Now if we could only find fish. The water was not clear, stained really, which presented another problem for novices. Walking up stream Dan soon had a fish on and fought it like a pro.
He followed the fish downstream until I could slip the net underneath the Bonneville Cutthroat trout! Its one of the four types of cutthroats needed for a Wyoming Cut slam Award. Barb meanwhile was making cast after cast, but no fish rose to take her fly. Dan returned to the water and soon landed another nice cut.
As we moved upstream Barb soon had fish attacking her fly, but they were small, and she could not get them to take the hook.
Meanwhile I put on a nymph, and underwater presentation. It worked and I caught two cuts and two mountain whitefish. Releasing them we continued upstream but no more fish cooperated. Renita and I were impressed with how quickly they had caught on! Now if we cold only get a fish on Barb’s flyrod. However, the rains started again, and the waters turned muddy. It was time to do something else.
That something else was to visit the National Wildlife Museum in Jackson. Renita had found out that Wyoming residents got in free on Sundays, and that anyone over sixty-five could buy half price tickets. Dan is a veteran, so he only had to pay eight dollars. Driving by you really cannot appreciate the scope of the museum. There are numerous bronzes on the outside but inside we found a multiroom set of galleries. The artworks included many different mediums ranging from stone birds carved by prehistoric Michigan tribes.
As we wandered from gallery to gallery, we stopped to look at the images of the majestic wildlife. One hallway was filled with womens artwork and discussed the difference between arts and crafts. One exhibit stated that the term crafts is used to denigrate womens work.
It was a real treat to see paintings,bronzes, prints, and other medium from around the world. We strongly recommend anyone in the area take a break and spend a day in the museum. Clear skies

Monday, June 13, 2022

Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge, June 2022

One of life’s birding joys is to observe the little dinosaurs, (birds are their descendants), during the spring breeding season. At that time the males and some of the females are adorned with brilliant colors. If you are really lucky you can even see the birds elaborate courtship rituals and dances. This year our friends Barb and Dan joined us. We made the short drive to Idaho and the Refuge armed with our cameras, cell phones, (for recording the birds calls) and the app Merlin which is great for identification using pictures, locations, and songs, After driving along Tin Cup Creek, we made the turn to the Refuge Head Quarters. We first went to the overlook where we took images of the landscape. Last year a male grouse was dancing there, but we did not see it, just the usual hawks, sandhill cranes, and in the distance ducks.
Stopping at the Main Building we picked up the literature and tried to take photos of the swallows. They were nesting underneath the building’s overhang and while they did not hit us, we did have to duck from near misses, (I did get one good photo of a barn swallow).
Driving on we passed a pond with northern shovelers and a cinnamon teal nesting on a small mound of dirt.
Driving on we passed a kestrel on a fence post, (notice that the kestrel has killed a large mouse in its talons), and several sandhill cranes.
A Western Kingbird posed on a wire
and a red-tailed hawk soared in ever widening circles as it hunted for its breakfast.
My favorite place on the refuge is when we reach the place where the road dissects a portion of the lake. Yellow headed blackbirds hunted for food. Due to the late spring, the cattails where behind in their growth and so we did not get the usual poses in our pictures. Instead, we had to settle for pictures of the birds along the ditch.
A willet waded while two Wilsons Phalaropes swam in quick circles.
The female is the bright colored member of the pair, which is unusual.
At one point a cinnamon teal swam and posed for a close-up image.
White faced and glaucus ibis waded and fed in the shallow water and a flock searched for gravel before exploding into the air.
The iridescent feathers of the ibis are a brilliant purple along with their purple bills.
A sandhill crane fed among the reedy area.
Leaving the water, we mentioned that the rest of the drive was where we saw hawks so of course we did not see any. Again, after telling Dan and Barb about the moose that inhabit the refuge, we never spotted a single one. Nothing like promising something and then nature does not cooperate. Leaving the refuge, we drove to our usual picnic spot where we enjoyed our lunch alongside Tin Cup Creek. It had been a fruitful day as our friends added to their life list. It is so much fun to share trips with friends and Renita and I always enjoy a day of birding. Clear skies

Monday, June 6, 2022

Bear 793, Blondie and her three coys, (cubs of the year). Grand Teton National Park

Our first three trips to Grand Teton National Park had been very successful. We had seen grizzly 399 and her four cubs twice, as written in previous blogs. Since then, we had made our trips without seeing any bears and our friends Dan and Barb were beginning to wonder if they were bringing us bad luck. So, when we heard that bear 793 had not only reappeared after a two-year hiatus and now with three new cubs, we had to make another trip. As we neared the park, our friends Becky and Fred called us to report that they had encountered a massive bear jamb. The bears had gone back into the woods, but it was a good place to start.
As we passed the entrance to Colter Bay, we encountered the massive bear jamb. Renita was driving and found a safe place to park. We didn’t waste any time joining the throngs. No one was taking any pictures, so we walked back and forth talking to people, all of whom had seen the bear family. Several showed us their pictures and told us that 793 and her cubs were walking back and forth along a line of trees. A group started to take pictures and as we neared them and we spotted the sow and then her three new cubs. She was grazing on vegetation and as she fed the three little cubs followed her.
They were not interested in anything but nursing and whenever she stopped, they quickly tried to feed. Occasionally she would stop feeding and look at al the people and you could see her red ear tags. She moved behind trees, and we could only spot her when the family passed across open spots in the forest. We did not care it was so great to be able to watch four grizzly bears, acting well like grizzly bears. She had brought her cubs along the road, knowing that the people would keep boars away, and she knew that the boars would kill the cubs if they got the chance, (by killing the cubs she would become receptive to mating). We spent two hours watching them before they disappeared into the woods. Renita had also heard that bear 610 had been spotted with her three new cubs and so we checked out several other spots, but to no avail.
We ate lunch at the Oxbow Lake area where Dan and Barb got a new life bird, a Western Grebe, (notice the large fish it had caught). After lunch we decided we would head back to the spot where we had seen 793 and the timing was perfect. She and her cubs were nearing a side road and were out in the open, about one hundred yards away, (considered the minimum safe distance.
As they neared the road the cubs crowded around her and when she stopped on the road the hungry cubs started to nurse. She watched us for a little while and then went into the ditch where she allowed the coys another chance to nurse, before moving into the woods.
At one point a member of the bear management team walked down the road and let people approach as the bears had disappeared from sight. Our friend Dan was right behind him but no luck with the bears.
As we left the park a bull elk in velvet grazed alongside the road.
It was also taking advantage of the people as it knew that they would keep the bears and wolves away. The antlers are now growing about one inch a day and this bull would have an impressive rack for the fall. It had been a great day, it always is in the park, but this day Barb and Dan got their first Grand Teton Grizzly bears! Clear skies ps bear 399 was spotted swiming the Snake River and her four sub adults have all dispersed. Two, one woth a collar and one without have traveled to an area near Pinedale, Wyoming.