Pryors – not just horses

I usually try to slip in some of the non-horse attractions of the Pryors in my pictures.  There are so many other things to see and do.  If you are in to geology, the area surrounding the Big Horn basin is one of the best spots to study, with every period except I think Silurian.  I am pretty sure one summer course said they found at least 1 allosaurus and there is this article:http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/fossil-site-near-pryor-mountains-reveals-dinosaur-die-off/article_a57cdbb5-9257-580b-bc25-794294c45877.html  There are old mines and remnants all over the range to discover, but leave them as anything over 50 years old is protected ( see ‘ghosts of the past’ post).  If you are more into the rocks I have found agates of various types and shiny black hematite.  

I haven’t seen one this year, but there are usually bear around the mountaintop.  

Image

 

Image

 

On this trip I was able to see some welcome, and some unwelcome, residents of the pryors along with the horses.  I thought of staking out a hole for nesting birds, but decided not to and only took pictures of birds twice when they happened to land nearby.

Image

 

Image

 

What I was more excited for was running in to one of my favorite subjects (along with horses, bear, wolves, owl…).  I think the oldest may have been about 5 years, so they were all younger, but it is still great to see the ovis canadensis in the park.  There were 7 of the young rams, and 1 of them was putting on a show.

Image

 

Image

 

Image

 

Image

 

Image

 

Image

 

Other than him, they were pretty calm.  

Image

After taking pictures for a while I left them to see Corona/the bachelors, plus things were getting a little awkward.  Look at the looks on their faces.  “Uhh Carl, we’re all boys”

Image

 

When I came back they were still around, resting.

Image

 

Image

 

Image

 

When we went by to leave, they actually came in close to investigate.  I am not sure if it was because of Malaki, but it does seem animals are more interested when I have him.  The not-so-magnificent 7.

Image

 

Image

 

When I saw Garcia and Greta’s filly down low, I could hear something in the juniper.  I had an idea, but didn’t expect it out in the desert.  Either I didn’t notice them last year except as a sound here or there, or this is a major hatch year.  I didn’t even know the Pryors had a cicada hatch and always thought of it as an “East” thing.  I did find and article from Fort Collins Science Center entitled “Spatial correlations of Diceroprocta apache and its host plants: evidence for a negative impact from Tamarix invasion“.  Considering there is a lot of tamarisk along the river bottoms, maybe it has changed cicada patterns.  I won’t know unless I can find that publication.  With forage being scarce at times on the range anyway, i would hate to think of a lot being eaten this summer by cicada and not there come winter/spring.

Image

 

I did see one ally in the fight against cicada in the area a little later.  I thought I saw a polt fly by and stopped.  Sure enough, there was a mother turkey in the sage, with a few polts running for cover.  I didn’t get any good pictures of the polts, but I didn’t want to stress them any more than driving and stopping had.

Image

 

Image

 

It is dry for a lot of the range, and hot.  It seems pretty sparse if you don’t know what to look for, but there is a lot to see around the PMWHR besides just the horses.  I will try to include little bits and pieces I haven’t talked about yet in future blogs- like about the caves or the ranches.  Unlike Yellowstone, you can have it mostly to yourself.  There were only 3 other people there the days I was, and once you leave the main watering holes on the top you lose most of them.  

Advertisements

Dryhead dilema (or not)

Some of what went through my head as I thought about this on the range has been altered with recent sightings, but it will be interesting to see how things turn out.  What I was thinking about Tuesday as I left the range is “What if most of the horses start going to other areas besides the dryhead?”  The dryhead and park are where the most people can have access to the horses and where they will bring the most publicity to the herd outside of the people that follow the various blogs.  It is also the most dangerous place since there are vehicles moving through, not always at the proper speed.  I know some say the speed limit needs lowered, and it would be nice for driving and looking, but I don’t think it would change most people.  I just spent Wednesday in Yellowstone where the speed limit is already higher and people were still not following the speed limit there.  I was actually thinking that just like work zones have double fines, maybe national parks should have double or triple fines.  I guess that would eb another, more political discussion.

You may wonder why I would be thinking the horses were leaving the dryhead.  On my last trip, I had seen Hidalgo and his 7 up near the arch guzzler, so that was on my mind.  Since then, I have learned he is back down on the flats, which is good news.  At the time it seemed that most of the dryhead horses were somewhere else, and why wouldn’t they be?  The ratio on the DH has to be close to 1 stallion per mare,  so why not hide away you mares if you could find a place?

Not knowing he was back down, this trip I saw a lot of other DH horses not on the DH and thought he might still be up too.  As I reached the guzzler flat, I saw 2 horses in the trees.ImageThat almost looks like…Belle Star and Hidatsa?

Image

I went past them to see if anyone was at the guzzler, but they decided to get a drink and passed me on the way to it.

Image

ImageAfter a (pleasant) distraction I will write about later, I found Corona was still up on the top right before the arch.

ImageYou can see a picture of Norte avoiding the camera in my post from earlier today.  Here was another small band up on top, but at least it meant that there was some mixing as it added a “mountain” horse in Topper into a DH band.  Just across from them on the other side of the arch I could see 4 of the bachelors that I expected to remain on bachelor flats and not be up top.  Maybe they were looking for the mares, and maybe Hidalgo watched them coming up and snuck down a different route.   You can see the star on Hawk and the little star on Kemmerer.  They were also acting like young bachelors.

Image

Image

As I left the top of the range Tuesday just before lunch, i ran out to lower sykes to glass out to TF and some other areas where I might see Bristol and Kitalpha.  As I scanned, I picked up Blizzard, and a grulla.  I thought they were heading out further, so drove back down and started out toward where they were heading, except I ran into them quicker than I thought as they were coming my way and I think on to Cottonwood Springs.

Image

Image

 

Blizzard didn’t just have the 1 grulla I saw from up higher, he had 3 more.

Image

 

Image

Image

Image

Image

Again, here were horses that I had always encountered out toward Mustang Flats and they were now back where not many would see them.  Since then, they have now been seen out toward the park where they are more visible.

Last year was the first year I started driving from the top down to the arch, and I didn’t see many there in the summer.  I also just discovered the hidden areas of lower sykes later last summer, and only saw SB and Bristol’s bands.  Maybe this year is not abnormal to see all of the other horses in these places, maybe last year was the out-of-the-ordinary.  It could also be that they are exploring new places until things get settled with mares, although I am not sure if things on the dryhead are ever settled.  

I suppose that as long as the horses keep making appearances on the park portion so that people can see them, it doesn’t matter if they wander around in between.  Maybe this explains why I could go through the park some times last year and not find anyone.  There are plenty of hiding places down low, but maybe they were heading up high or out into the desert.  

Since horses are turning up lately (Seattle this week, too), hopefully someone will find Bristol and Kitalpha with all the people visiting soon.  Fool’s Crow, too.

Foal me once…

shame on you; foal me twice, shame on me.

The title pretty much tells you what this post will be about.  First will be the adorable little foals I saw on the last trip, and probably some still-cute-but-becoming-gangly yearlings.  At the end I will post some photos of mares so you can take your guess and see how many you are correct on.  It is probably less than 100% unless you are Maria.  Some of these mares should be, but some of the others that probably won’t look just as round so it might just be full bellies fooling us.

I was finally able to see Nodin on this trip.

Image

Image

Image

What a handsome father, too

Right near them I was also able to see Halcyon’s for the first time, too.

Image

Image

Of course you can’t go to the mountain without seeing this little white fluffball-

Image

Image

Nye and Niobrara are doing well.

Image

Image

As mentioned yesterday, Audubon and Niyaha are back with Morning Star.

Image

I did see Norte, but didn’t get a great photo again.  While Corona and Waif were out in the open, Topper ( or Topper Too – they are still one horse to me, even though they are separated) is teaching the way to avoid being photographed.

Image

Not a foal, but a cute little muffin-top-  I never saw Hailstorm this young, but it reminds me of her with the orange tips from when I did first encounter her.

Image

While I did see Duke’s Monday, I didn’t get better pictures of them until the next day.  Tuesday morning I spotted what looked like 2 Grulla/o and a dun down in the bottom, but while on my way down I stopped to see Gabrielle’s for a while.  it was still a little dark.

Image

Image

Image

If you went to the mountain for the first time and saw these 2 horses together, could some one convince you they weren’t siblings?

I made my way out the path to where I had seen the horses, and it was one of my favorite stallions.  I like him because he is one of the stallions that doesn’t follow the lead of other bands, he does his own thing. He wanders the range more than most other horses, and finds places to hide.  It makes him seem more “wild” in some ways.

The grass down bottom looks taller, and probably more nutritious, than what many of the horses were grazing on up top.  Using the lower grass which will dry out earlier in the year also lets the mountain forage grow more.  I wish more stallions would follow Garcia’s example.

Image

Just over the hill from him was Greta, Millicent and the new foal, unless I am mistaken a filly.  I think they are the ones I saw out below TF on my last trip, and when the sun is right it makes Millicent look like a dun.  Either way, here they were with a dark little girl with a huge star.

Image

Image

Image

Image

With the good news comes some bad.  A while back I had heard that Demure was seen without a foal.  I tried to tell myself that it was just missed and sleeping, but I had been a little worried when I first saw it and it had diarrhea, so I also knew that it might have had something wrong.  Doc’s band was the 4th group I saw on CF Monday and there was no foal.  Tuesday they moved from CF early to the Lick mid-morning and it was almost as if Demure kept looking for her foal like a mother elk does even after a grizzly has taken her calf.  I looked and couldn’t find anything, but it looks like Mandan won’t have a little sister this year.

Image

I ran back up to the top and saw most of the horses were over in the Penn’s cabin water with the 2 guys from yesterday, so after checking the Red Hole again for bear I decided to head back down.  I did find Duke’s again and got some better pictures.  I will start with Noble and then transition to the mares that some have asked about, first in his band and then some others.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

I don’t think all of these are pregnant, but I gave some comparison shots or was asked about some specifically.  Now you can guess for yourself, because some of these horses burned me last year, so I won’t believe they are until a foal is on the ground.  I saw, but didn’t get pictures of Gringo’s ( dogged by Tecumseh) and no one had a foal.  If I had to pick a “next”, I would go with Graciana maybe.

See Irial

Instead of doing my usual chronological recap of my trip, I am going to do some smaller posts to get some things up.  Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals is also going to triple overtime, keeping me from doing much editing or writing ( and finally just finished 12 minutes into the third overtime)

See Irial

Image

See Irial run

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Run, Irial, Run!

Image

Image

Image

Image

This was one of many times that Morning Star chased Irial around the mountain top in the morning.  Morning Star has his whole family back.

Image

In the afternoon, Irial tried to take out some aggression on Chino, who is probably none too happy himself.

Image

Image

With all of the bands on the top, a chase started in the afternoon I originally thought was Gringo and Tecumseh, because Gringo had pushed him off a few times.  Then I actually looked closer and realized it was two “youngsters” – at heart.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Watch out Santa Fe!  This didn’t make Mescalero happy.

Image

Image

Image

Great time to be on the mountain and watch the stallions sprinting as they vie for mares. I think the Gringo/Tecumseh situation will blow-up soon.  I am not sure if Coronado-Santa Fe was just a quick thing or something that will last.  Irial seems fired up and if he can’t best Morning Star I think his earlier success will lead him to go for some one else.

Spoiled, and loving it

After a rare Friday school day, Ahnya and I decided to run to Yellowstone for the weekend.  We camped Friday night at Big Game Campground and woke up early to make the drive to the park.  Somewhere before Elephant Head Lodge we ran across our first grizzly of the trip on the road.  It nonchalantly walked along until it decided to climb the hill on the North side. It was still a little dark, so the pictures are vibrant.

Image

Image

In a way, that’s the story of the trip.  Various factors led to something just not being right each time, so I don’t think I got any good pictures in Yellowstone.  It was still early and dark.

Image

It was mid-day and the shadows were harsh.

Image

Image

The sun was on the wrong side of the animal.  The sun would be on the right side, but with the haze from the heat the picture would still be soft at a distance.  The animal would be in the wrong position.  For the fox near the den at Yellowstone picnic area we probably could have waited a lot longer to get a better shot, but we stayed as long as Ahnya wanted and then got back to Malaki to move on.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

I actually didn’t even take many pictures considering how much we saw.  What was more important was the time we spent together and enjoying the experience.  I suppose if I lived far away and didn’t get to Yellowstone except once every couple of  years I would have taken more shots even if the conditions weren’t right, but we are spoiled and get to run over quite a few times each year.  While some people stop and see a bear or wolves and then move on, we can afford to sit and watch for hours if we want.

It has allowed me to learn a lot about the behavior of the animals, and how to use that to get in position for better shots at other times.  One example was the cow elk we saw in Haydn Valley.  I can not “know” for sure what had happened, but experience allows me to be fairly positive.  She was fairly near the road, so many people stopped and took a snapshot before moving on.  What they may not have noticed is her behavior.  I had seen it last year in Grand Teton.  She might move away at times, but she kept coming back to the same area, cautiously.  When we had first arrived there was a raven or 2 in that area. In all likelyhood this was a mother whose calf had been killed by a grizzly in the past day or so and her motherly instinct didn’t allow her to leave.

Image

We left Yellowstone about mid-day and decided to swing by the Pryors since 14A was open and about as quick as going to Greybull and up 14.  Sure, we might be a little spoiled that we can just stop by some of the places we do on a whim for a short time.

I didn’t see the main horses I wanted, mainly Demure or Greta.  Baja had moved all the way down from the top on the last trip to Cheyenne Flats now.

Image

Image

Just above the flats we ran across some bachelors. It is still a while before they will be getting a harem of their own for most of them, but they are growing up.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Garay had the most excitement of the horses I saw.  His little band was sort of sandwhiched between the bachelors as they moved down, Baja’s, Cloud’s, and Teton’s.  He was either moving to keep his mares away from the established stallions, playing in the mud puddles ( good to see they had some good rain) or chasing off the bachelors.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Of course I had to take some pictures of Encore.

Image

Image

Image

Image

I did find Jackson’s band, but they were in the brush so I couldn’t even see if everyone was there.  I didn’t see any new foals, but saw Nye and Niobrara move through gaps.

Image

The last horse I saw on BT was the poor, lonely Chino.  He has a bite mark right near his tail, but otherwise seems to be doing fine.

Image

I did some horses way out in the valley at the end of Turkey Flats.  If it had been just me, or on a day we weren’t heading home I would have trekked out to them.  I still wish I had, but I will be there again either after church tomorrow or on Monday with plenty of time to search around .Image

May 25th – I’m a loner Dottie, a rebel

While driving to the McCullough Peaks on Friday night, I wasn’t sure where I was going to go Saturday.  Sandy (Sisti — Wild at Heart Images)  had been posting a lot of great pictures from Yellowstone, so a trip there seemed like a good idea.  Yet it was also Memorial Day weekend which would mean a LOT of people.  I also had to be home Saturday night, which would mean I probably wouldn’t get to a lot of Yellowstone.  As I drove out from my camping spot to the highway, I still wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, but made a quick decision to head left once I had to make the choice.

With the thought of people every where, I decided to go to the one place that there probably wouldn’t be too many people, Fifteenmile HMA.  I didn’t see another car or person my whole time there, which I doubt I would have been able to say about much of anywhere else.  Right before I got to Fenton Pass, I was surprised to see first one elk, and then 3 more.  I knew there were elk over near Meteetsee, but I didn’t know they came this far out into the desert area.

Image

 I also saw some small buck deer growing their antlers back out.

Image

 While I did not get a lot of great photo opportunities, it was nice t be some where I didn’t hear any cars in the distance and could just listen to the sounds of nature.  The more active spots in fifteenmile center around the water, where a lot of birds gather.

Image

The only horses I was close enough to get pictures of were right at a wash that had water freshly run through it.  We both surprised each other a little and they proceeded to run to a safe distance to watch me.  I have mentioned it before, but many of the horses in HMA’s outside of McCullough and the Pryors that I have been to are a lot less tolerant of humans. I was fortunate to get the shots I did of these 2.

Image

Image

Image

Image

I could not find any more horses down in the bottom.  I went back to my favorite viewing spot and scanned in all directions.  I was able to finally locate a few horses in an area I have seen them before. I hiked there once.  A long hike but there were a lot of horses there that time.  They only allowed a few shots before moving around the corner and up a draw.  With that in mind, I decided I wasn’t going to make the hike to them today.  If they had foals, they would want left alone even more than usual.

I made my way back to McCullough.  The first horses I saw were moving down the creek in the area just on the Cody side of the WYDOT section.  I was able to sneak low along the sage and set up on the overhang before the horses got to an open area where I could photograph them.  They never came too close, but I did see where they like to lie in the creek and dust.  I am glad I had my new, longer lens to pull them in some.

Image

Image

Image

The next location that I had a chance to see some of the Peaks horses was back the “main” road just  above the waterhole.  There was a car parked in the road taking pictures, so I stopped behind them and grabbed some to as the horses moved along and then across the road.  I can actually identify 4 of the horses and if I look a little more may find some more names.

**Update – I was able to learn some more names from Deb Little and get a field list. I have added the names in the captions.  Thank you for the help and now I can hopefully name McCullough horses when I do updates on them.**

Image

Legacy

Image

Taurus

Image

Tecumseh

Image

Medicine Hat

Image

Tigress

Image

Legend, Tonkawa and Tradebeard

Image

Image

Red Rocker?

Even though the horses were still near  the road and I had not taken pictures of all of the individuals, I decided to move past the car once it go to the side.  Having been here before, I had an idea that they were heading down to the waterhole.  I prefer to let horses move to me, rather than driving in to them, like I just had, where they might not be as comfortable.  I drove around and down to the far side of the waterhole, back away from it.  There are a few reason this made sense. The first is as I just mentioned, to let the horses make a choice to move in when comfortable.  It also meant I was on the side where they wouldn’t have to go by me to get there.  Probably the best reason from a photography stand-point is that it also put the sun at my back with the horses in front getting less shadows.  I saw some of the horses come over the hill toward the water, with the car following and more horses behind it.  The people were driving right down with the horses, and stopped on the near side of the waterhole where the horses had to go right by them.  It probably meant a little closer photos, but the light was probably not as good.  I do not know the McCullough herd as well and the car between them and the water did not stop them, but I would imagine they didn’t know these horses either or they would have come down ahead of them.  There is a part of me that wishes they would close the roads that run right up to the water holes in McCullough.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

 Being on the far side also meant I had some reflection.  I am not sure if I like the 2 horse or 3 horse better.  Probably the 3, although it goes against my personal tendency ( not necessarily a good one) to get everything zoomed in with less empty space and more details.

Image

Image

As the horses left I thought the car might go to the right and back around to where the horses might cross the road again.  It didn’t.  It followed most of them right back up, with some still behind them.  Honestly, the horses never ran, so maybe it was no big deal.  I have had Pryor horses move right by my car.  Yet I think I have learned a little about horse behavior.  While they didn’t run, the horses also never stopped to graze as they went along.  The Pryor horses move by, but it is usually slow and they graze as they go.  The times they aren’t comfortable with you it is usually obvious.  These horse may just have been in a hurry to get back to where they came from, because horses can move fairly quickly when on a mission to get somewhere.  I can’t say I know, it just bothered me that day for some reason.  Maybe it was just having to “share” the horses with some one after having all morning to myself.

Image

Now that 14A is open, it is not much longer to go to Lovell and over than it is to go to Greybull and up, so I decided to stop by the Pryor range for a little while before going home.  I stopped at the center to call Lori and Kaibab seemed to think if any one stops by he should be fed.

Image

Lower Sykes was first to hopefully see Garcia, but no one was in the spots I could see.  I then checked the Bad Pass guzzler and saw Inniq and Medicine Bow.  It looked like there is maybe a scar on Medicine Bow’s forehead .

Image

Image

Lori had told me that the Greeters no longer included Jesse James.  I found this to be the case both this day and when I was back out there June 2nd.  I did  not see him yesterday, but the other 3 were in place.  On the 25th, Hickok had the ladies across Crooked Creek Bay and was hanging out above them on the cliffs.

Image

While looking at the Greeters, Malaki and I saw this poor bird that appeared to have a broken wing.  Nature has some interesting defense/protective mechanisms.

Image

In a totally different area by himself was JJ. It was far off, but I am pretty sure this is him.

Image

Coming back over the mountain I was reminded that I need to spend time in the Bighorns too.  I saw 4 or 5 moose before Burgess Junction.  On the East side I was able to find one close to road that I think was close to giving birth.  When I first saw her I thought maybe she had and had afterbirth hanging out, but now I think it may be pre-birth material.  I think I could see the calf’s bulge on her right side, but she didn’t seem to be in a hurry to push as she just kept eating and eating.  She was still there as it got darker so I left her to probably give birth over night, unless I was totally wrong.

Image

It was a short Memorial Day weekend for photography, but I had seen a lot.  Sunday and Monday brought hail storms and spotty weather anyway, with rain continuing through Friday.  That is good for the forage.