A day outside the park

Made an early morning trip into the park to look for some wildlife highlights for my group in a few days but headed back through the northeast entrance by mid-morning. I stopped in Silver Gate at the home and gallery of my friends, Dan and Cindy Hartman, wildlife photographers and naturalists extraordinaire.

Dan was up in the Beartooths photographing pikas, but Cindy mentioned a pine marten had just been in the trees out front. A quick look around and I found it.

Martens are members of the weasel family, larger the our mink, smaller than our otter and found in forested habitats. They have beautiful brown fur with a bushy tail and orange patches on the throat. Their large paws allow them to run on top of the snow. They hunt voles, mice, small birds and eggs and are very efficient predators.

The Hartmans often have martens hanging around their house, lounging in the trees and working their wood pile for a meal. This marten proved to be very cooperative and made itself comfortable in a hollow snag. We watched it for 30+ minutes while it yawned, napped, and made use of every nook and cranny in that snag.

When she finally woke up and began to hunt she worked her way around the house and into the forest where Cindy thinks she may have young.

If you are in the area, visit the Hartmans at their gallery, Wildlife Along the Rockies, in Silver Gate just outside the northeast entrance to Yellowstone. You will undoubtedly learn something, see some interesting birds at their feeders, and you can buy a beautiful wildlife print. And you might even get lucky and see a marten.

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