August 26, 2013 Ennis,Montana

Whitetail fawn
Whitetail fawn

Got out before sunrise again this morning and went north on 287 out of Ennis to explore the area around Ennis Lake, a lake formed by the damming of the Madison River.

1941 Plymouth
1941 Plymouth

 

Next to a ramshackled dwelling, near a small fishing access recreation area just a mile off 287, I stumbled on a great old 41 Plymouth, a great watercolor possibility.

 

 

Mule deer Doe and fawn
Mule deer Doe and fawn

A little further north on 287 was the road that looked like it would go around the east side of the lake. There was another boat access recreation area on the east side of the lake with several nice looking sites right on the waters edge, but when I got out to take some photos of them, and the mule deer feeding in the willows along the lake, I was engulfed in a cloud of mosquitos and had to quickly retreat to the car. The campsites look quite nice, but I’m not sure about staying here if the bugs are always this bad. Incidentally, this is the first place I have encountered bugs of any sort in my week long stay around Ennis, not too surprising I suppose, with the constant 20 mph breezes.

 

The road around the lake soon crossed a concrete bridge and split left to the dam, and right to continue around the lake and eventually reconnect with 287 south of Ennis. I took the road to the left and went about three miles down to the dam and then a little beyond until you are not allowed to go any further. The road runs down through a narrow canyon reminiscent of a miniature Grand Canyon of the Gunnison, steep black rock walls towering above both sides of the water, where it looked like bighorn sheep should pop up at any moment, though none did. I could see a bald eagle floating way up above the opposite cliffs, and all kinds of small fish breaking the surface of the water. A sign along the banks of the river below the dam said the river here contains arctic grayling, along with the west slope trout, brookies and browns.

I had to be back at my campsite for the mobile tech by 9 AM, so I wasn’t able to wait for some sunlight to make it’s way down into this canyon and be able to get some shots, so no images, but if you are in the area, it is a definite must see.

The tech replaced two burnt out solenoids that were the root of my front jacks problems and it was determined that the springs that retract the jacks were not fully retracting them and that is what most likely caused the solenoids to burn up. I decided to bite the bullet and replace all four sets of springs as a preventative maintenance measure. The solenoids were a couple of hundred dollars each ( ouch! ) and the springs $30 a pair. Add in 4 hours of labor at $100/hr and I have pretty much blown my motorhome maintenance budget for this year, sure hope nothing else major goes wrong.

Pronghorn buck and harem
Pronghorn buck and harem
Pronghorn mom and fawn
Mom and fawn

 

 

 

 

 

Today, with only scattered afternoon showers, I had an opportunity to make an early evening photo trip and found a few more pronghorns and this lone whitetail fawn grazing in a crop field, no mom anywhere that I could see.

Osprey on fence post
Osprey
Young mule deer buck
Young mule deer buck

 

August 25, 2013 Ennis, Montana

Montana horses
Montana horses

Once again up early and out before sunrise, pretty much retracing my route of yesterday morning down the west side of the Madison River south of Ennis.

Two pronghorns in the foothills
Two pronghorns in the foothills

 

Small bachelor herd of pronghorns
Small bachelor herd of pronghorns

 

 

 

 

 

Took a side road up into the foothills and through a lot of scattered mini ranches, and found a few more small groups of pronghorns.

 

Osprey nesting platform
Osprey nesting platform

I have noticed many nesting platforms for ospreys erected on the side of the road and in pastureland all along the madison River Valley. Most seem to still have an all but full grown chick or two still in the nest, with one or both parents around.

Montana horses
Montana horses
Big red
Big red

 

 

 

 

 

I found my small band of horses from yesterday a little further from the fence and managed to get some of the shots I had hoped to get yesterday.

Weather remains quite hot with strong breezes bringing some relief if you are in the shade. Late afternoon thunder showers hit almost every day severely limiting early evening photo excursions.

As always, click on any image to see a larger version.

Image of red horse
Red 2
Palomino image
Blondie
Morning Trespassers
Morning Trespassers

 

Pronghorn buck
Pronghorn buck

 

Pronghorn buck
Pronghorn buck

 

Pronghorn buck
Pronghorn buck

 

Pronghorn mom and kids
Pronghorn mom and kids

 

Fjord pony
Fjord pony

 

Small bachelor herd of pronghorns
Small bachelor herd of pronghorns

 

Montana horses
Montana horses

 

 

August 24, 2013 Ennis, Montana

Prospecting for wildlife along the Madison River

Pronghorn family crossing the road
Pronghorn family crossing the road

Unfortunately I have to address my HWH hydraulic leveling system problem. For a week or so I have had one front jack that will not descend, now I have the other front jack deciding that it will not retract, so time has come to find a service technician. Fortunately, the people here at the Ennis Rv Village had the card for a local tech who does work on these HWH systems and I was able to get an appointment for Monday AM. Unfortunately, his hourly rate is $100/ hr., sure hope he is worth what he charges.

Fleeing pronghorn family
Fleeing pronghorn family
Pronghorn family fleeing
Pronghorn family fleeing

 

I took off this morning at sunrise hoping to find some deer to photograph and maybe even some pronghorns. I headed down a road on the west side of the Madison River out of Ennis heading toward the fish hatchery. It didn’t take long to find both deer, though no nice bucks, and my first pronghorns of the trip.

 

 

 

Doe and fawn
Doe and fawn

 

There was a doe with her fawn grazing in the tall grass alongside an irrigation ditch and I stopped to take some photos. I was horrified to see how badly tick infested the fawn was, while the doe had no visible ticks. You would think mom could help her poor kid out somehow, but I guess that is not how it works. Perhaps the fawn should consider signing on with a baboon troop.

 

 

uch! You'd think mom could help with those ticks
Ouch! You’d think mom could help with those ticks
Fawn and thistle
Fawn and thistle

 

 

 

 

 

Scouted out a couple more small campgrounds along the Madison River and got some shots of couples heading out flyfishing with their guide. Looks like a great way to spend a gorgeous day like today.

Jenny inspecting my Madison River campsite
Jenny inspecting my Madison River campsite

 

Flyfishing the Madison
Flyfishing the Madison
Flyfishing the Madison
Flyfishing the Madison

 

 

 

 

 

The open range
The open range

 

Crossed over the Madison River, from the west over to the east side, and drove through a couple of miles of open range pasture, where I could see hundreds of black angus, and hoped to find more pronghorns.

 

Determined not to let me pass
Determined not to let me pass

After getting through my black angus road block, I ran into a few more female pronghorns and their fawns and then finally found where all the big boys were hiding.

Pronghorn bachelor herd
Pronghorn bachelor herd
Pronghorn girls watching the boys go by
Pronghorn girls watching the boys go by

 

 

 

 

I would guess that the mating season has yet to start for them as the males are still herded up together and the females and youngsters are still in separate bands.

Horses follow the leader
Follow the leader

 

Freckles
Freckles
Red horse portrait
Red 2
Red horse portrait
Red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way home, I stopped by a horse pasture hoping to get some full body horse images for my painting references. There were a couple light horses, a few beautiful reds, and one paint that I thought would make a good addition to my reference gallery. Well, before I could get up to the fence to take my shots, they had all covered the hundred yards or so between them and the fence. They must be used to people bringing them something to eat, or were they just being friendly?

Anyhow, I couldn’t resist taking some horse portraits since they really were beautiful animals.

Two pronghorns
Two pronghorns
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier takes flight
Northern Harrier takes flight

 

Doe in the stream
Doe in the stream

 

Freckles 2
Freckles 2

 

 

Flyfishing the Madison
Flyfishing the Madison

 

August 21, 2013 Scouting trip to Yellowstone National Park

Washed the car and the motorhome first thing this morning to try to remove whatever the clear glaze that was sprayed all over both while going through the construction zones yesterday ( calcium chloride? ). Fortunately, though hardened and yet still sticky to the touch, it did seem to come off. Kind of neat to be able to wash vehicles in a campground, especially since this campground’s well sits above a geothermal hotspot and the water comes out of the spigot warm, works well for car washing but would take some getting used to for drinking.

Decided to head to Yellowstone to check out if there would be any chance of getting into Mammoth Hot Springs campground for the next couple of weeks. I knew it would make for a long day, but with the temperature hovering around 90, I figured why not spend the day in the air conditioned car. So I took 287 south to 191 south into West Yellowstone, a very pleasant and interesting route, especially along the shore of Hebgen Lake. Then 20/287/191 into the west entrance of the park, then north up 89 ( Grand Loop Road ) to Mammoth Hot Springs Campground.

Checked out two National Forest Campgrounds on the way in just north of West Yellowstone to see if they might be viable options. Spoke with the attendant at Mammoth and she said it normally is not a problem getting in if I were to show up at 11 AM . Looks like there are a few nice sites for rigs my size here.

Quite a rack, Yellowstone bull elk
Quite a rack, Yellowstone bull elk

On the return trip home I stopped for a bull elk shot, but couldn’t help but notice the lack of all types of wildlife while driving through the park today. I assume the elk are just now probably starting to descend to the lower meadows for the breeding season. I have never been here this early before so the lack of elk and bison was a bit of a surprise ( did encounter one bison grazing along the road ). I was also a little surprised that the traffic in the park really wasn’t all that bad at this time of year.

Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup

 

Stopped at a beaver pond on the way back home for some shots on what I think are Lesser Scaup, a new duck to me.

 

 

Lesser Scaup, mom and ducklings
Lesser Scaup, mom and ducklings

Back on 287 about 25 miles south of Ennis, I drove into a couple more National Forest campgrounds to check them out. One was completely empty and the other had but two tent campers set up.

Sandhill crane pair, Montana
Sandhill crane pair, Montana

One was on a bluff looking down on the Madison River ( this is where I was surprised by the sandhill crane pair ) and the other had sites that back directly up to the Madison River. Also stopped to check out one private campground of Hebgen Lake that had full hookups for a now shoulder season rate of $35.

 

Sandhill Crane, Montana
Sandhill Crane, Montana
Sandhills in the sagebrush
Sandhills in the sagebrush