2022-05-12 Wrapping It Up At Grand Teton

Barrow's Goldeneye - Bucephala islandica
While we worked on waterfowl below Jackson Lake Dam, I enjoyed a pair of Barrow’s Goldeneyes foraging in the slough beside the Snake River.
American White Pelican - Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
We saw American White Pelicans at Oxbow Bend on the Snake River during most of our visits. This was the only close encounter we had there.

My last two days in Jackson Hole, weren’t very productive for megafauna, so my friend and fellow photographer Joe Ford indulged my propensity for chasing birds. After striking out on bears, we spent Wednesday at Oxbow Bend and Thursday at Jackson Lake Dam. Both locations rate high for birds, and are also potential places to see Bear #399 in her wanderings.

Jackson Lake is forty square-miles, and the largest of the lakes in the valley. The Snake River drains off the Yellowstone Plateau and into a natural lake that is captured by a man-made dam first constructed in 1911, rebuilt in 1916. Then, in 1989, it was raised to 33 feet to deliver water to farmers in Idaho. As ancient glaciers plowed along and gouged out depressions at the foot of the Grand Teton Range, they left behind the ground-up remnants of the rocks they encountered, as piles of debris that geologists call moraine. Several locations at the base of the Tetons capture water running off the slopes of the mountains, but only Jackson Lake carries the Snake River along its long journey to the Columbia River at the Tri-Cities region in Washington.

When the Snake River leaves Jackson Lake, it meanders through the wide valley below in long, winding curves. The bend nearest the road has been named “Oxbow Bend”. There is a wide parking area between the road and the river, where folks sometimes gather to wait for Bear #399 and her cubs to walk by. I found it was also a pretty good place to watch birds on the sometimes glassy water on the river passing by.

During these last days of my stay, I captured images of American Beaver, American Wigeon, Bald Eagle, Common Loon, Great Blue Heron, Ring-Billed Gull, American White Pelican, Bank Swallow, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, and Yellow-Rumped Warbler.

I left Joe in camp Friday morning and headed to Yellowstone, where I booked a space at the Madison Campground for the night. There have been reports of observable wolves in the northwest region of the park. I’d hoped Joe would join me on the tour, but he wasn’t feeling well and remained at our Gros Ventre Campsite (pronounced grow-vont). I’ll miss his company and the good humor we shared.

Click map markers to reveal further information