Today’s excursion was a classic winter wildlife safari here in Jackson Hole with sightings of bighorn sheep, many bald eagles, coyotes, mule deer and thousands of elk. Our local wildlife is very well equipped to deal with snowy days such as today, as this moose photograph suggests. The snow landing on the fur of this moose isn’t melting which tells us that there is a substantial temperature gradient between its skin and outer-most fur which keeps it comfortable even in extreme conditions.
This moose can be determined to be a bull by the presence of its ‘pedicle’ which is the part of the skull from which the antlers grow. It can be seen just in front of the ears. The blizzarding snow surrounding this moose was captured by stabilizing the camera and setting it to a very slow shutter speed. Other interesting sightings from today included a northern shrike and large flock of sage grouse.
Wildlife watching began early on today’s safari since we encountered a red fox hunting within about a minute. This fox has been seen frequently around Spring Creek Ranch lately, taking advantage of the vast undeveloped land within this property. Another highlight came toward the end of the safari when we found this bald eagle perched in Grand Teton National Park. The warm, sunny weather today enhanced the experience even more.
Lots of interesting wildlife sightings on today’s safari including a shy porcupine perched cryptically in a cottonwood tree. These large rodents are fascinating and their unique ability to discourage most predators from bothering them thanks to their thousands of protective quills.
After a full day of wildlife watching, I returned home to find this little owl perched on my wife’s skis, which leaned against our house. I had only seen a Boreal Owl once before so to see one in my yard (and seemingly happy to be photographed) was a fantastic close to the day!!!
Another great Winter wildlife safari today! Highlights included coyotes scavenging, moose browsing, sage grouse flocking and a porcupine roosting. This great-horned owl was serenely perched in a cottonwoood tree turning its head back and forth while studying us. Eventually, we noticed the most remarkable part of this sighting which was a long-tailed weasel clutched in its talons.
Normally its white Winter coat serves as camouflage to prevent such incidents. If you look closely at this image, you can see its leg and tail underneath the owl.
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2011 is shaping up to be one of the best years on record in Jackson Hole. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort opened with a record 130” of snow, followed by unrelenting storms throughout December and January. Now with almost 330 inches of snow to date, lift ticket, lodging, and lunch package options starting at $79—it’s time to check Jackson Hole off the bucket list.
Check out some specials for Spring Creek Ranch.
With non-stop flights from six major cities, a 15-minute drive from the airport to the resort, flying to Jackson Hole offers one of the shortest transit-times of any Rocky Mountain destination. This winter don’t miss the ski trip of a lifetime.
Last weekend we found plenty of snow on and off the groomed trails atop snowmobiles.
During this snowmobile trip, we explored the trails of the Salt Creek Pass as did several other enthusiasts. We enjoyed a few signs of spring along the way on our fifty-seven mile round trip day and we loved every minute!
We stopped in a cabin that is perched on the top of one of the buttes that was built for snowmobilers to get warm and enjoy a quick meal before heading back out.
We are very fortunate to live where we do and we respect the beauty of the land for those who will come after us. Contact a Spring Creek Ranch concierge to get you set up for your own snowmobiling adventure.
The vast majority of our breeding birds here in Jackson Hole migrate to warmer regions, but a select few are tough enough to endure our long winters.
Recently, our wildlife safaris have witnessed several of these species including a few species of waterfowl, rough-legged hawks, bald eagles, shrikes and this hairy woodpecker who visited a feeder today.
Spring Creek’s Derek Goodson Spots Some Elk Near the Resort
Early afternoon, as I was winding down the road from Spring Creek Ranch, I spotted a bull elk bedded down in the trees.
While elk are plentiful in the Jackson Hole, finding them bedded in the trees is not that common mostly because they blend in so well. I wonder how many Spring Creek Ranch guests drove by without even noticing these guys about 100 yards from the road?
These are the same bulls that have been wintering at Spring Creek Ranch. We thought they had moved on as they were seen on the ranch lands below the resort yesterday, but today they are back.
Perhaps, the views attract them – from this vantage point, they have a beautiful view of the Teton Mountains. Or, perhaps, they like the attention of folks like me stopping to take pictures.
Regardless, we enjoy seeing them everyday.
Spring Creek’s Derek Goodson Spots an Eagle
Just before the main entrance to Spring Creek Ranch, I spotted a Bald Eagle perched on a power pole.
These majestic birds frequent the area around Spring Creek Ranch. Eagles and other raptors are often seen on posts or in trees or soaring above the Jackson Hole.
Once bull moose shed their antlers, they always look a little like they aren’t wearing clothes anymore (or like a female moose.) Almost all of the bull moose have shed their antlers, but there are one or two small bulls that are still carrying their mini-antlers around proudly.
This image was taken on yesterday’s safari and if you look closely on the skull in between the ears and the eyes, you can see the pedicle which is where the antlers had attached to the head. This bull will likely remain “naked” for another couple of months before beginning to grow new antlers.