One of the reasons for returning was to go to Trout Lake to photograph the spawning of the cutthroat trout. Last year when I visited it was too early, but this time, I got there on time. It takes a stiff walk up a hill to get to the lake, but once there it was worth it. There is a stream coming from the mountains that enters the lake at the northwest corner; this stream is crossed by a wooden bridge. You can see hundreds of trout going up the stream after laying the eggs are laid in the gravel bottom at the entrance of the stream to the lake. The male trout hit the sides of the females making their eggs to be released at which time; the male spreads them with clouds of sperm to fertilize them. This is easier to observe than photograph.
To kill the time between the unpredictable otters appearances, I would spent time photographing the goldeneyes that at the time were doing their pairing dances and looking for hole in trees to set households. Early in the morning they will do their rituals dances and flights that were finished usually by 0830. At that time 2 or 3 pairs will fly to the top of a hollow dead tree in the side of the mountain. By the third day, when I realized what was going on, I climbed the side of the mountain and set the camera with a tripod about the same height as the top of the tree about 30 feet away and was able to capture a few images of their landings.
Since sunset arrive late @ 2100, after returning to the car from the lake, I will drive up and down the Lamar Valley road in the hope of taking a shot of a wolf crossing the road; no luck here but I was able to photograph the ever present buffaloes, coyotes, pronghorn gazelles and elks.
A few miles the road at the entrance to the town of Silvergate, I ran into a fox family. The animals fur did not look good (notice lack of hair between the tail and the rump); it is suffering from sarcoptic mange is caused the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, it burrows into the skin into which it deposits eggs, feces and other waste. This disease may eventually kill the fox when winter comes because the animal will not have enoughfur to protect it from the winter cold.
The day I arrived at Yellowstone about noon, I witnessed a strange interaction between a badger and a coyote. It appears that the badger was chasing the coyote away from the proximity of it den. While this behavior was going, the coyote will catch a ground squirrel and stop to eat it, the badger will also do the same. And the chase stopped for the few minutes that it took to swallow the prey. The interaction ended near a buffalo at which time the two predators parted ways.
Who knows what next year will bring, maybe I will get the elusive wolves. Stay tuned.