Tuesday, July 1, 2014 – The Trout Just Keep on Running

Tuesday afternoon we went to Le Hardy Rapids to watch the trout run. You just can’t get too much of a good thing. This time some unusual activity kept the outing lively.

small pelican3When we first arrived a white pelican was sitting on a rock in the middle of the river looking around and occasionally primping. He sat on that rock for over an hour and drew quite a crowd. I’m sure he was photographed at least a thousand times. I saw $100 pocket cameras up to fancy rigs that probably cost $10,000. Every so often the pelican flopped into the water and floated 20 feet downstream to a different rock. After a while he’d skip/fly back to the first rock.

Mary Ann stayed with the pelican just in case something happened. I walked upstream to where a different crowd was gathering around 2 men in matching hip waders and red shirts carrying nets on long poles standing IN THE WATER! Now this looked interesting!

In time I was able to get close enough to see that the men were from Wyoming Fish and Wildlife. They were scooping up running trout in the nets, measuring them, logging the measurements in an official Wyoming Fish and Wildlife Running Trout Measurement Log (hardcover edition), then snipping off a small corner of one of the fish’s fins and releasing them back into the water to resume their run. Occasionally an onlooker would ask a question and the men were happy to answer. I could tell they were happy because they smiled a lot.

I was impressed they were able to see the running trout. All I could see was the reflection of passing clouds. Then I realized. Yup. You guessed it. They were wearing official Wyoming Fish and Wildlife Running Trout Detection Eyewear. Gotta get me a pair of them.

After an hour or so I wandered back to Mary Ann and the white pelican. Just then the pelican turned about 18 degrees, exposing a different set of feathers to the birderratzi. The air exploded with the sound of firing camera shutters. It couldn’t have been more exciting if Brad and Angelina themselves were perched on that rock.

Finally the bird decided he’d had enough of the glitz and glamour stuff and it was time for business. He surveyed the swift-running water, zeroed in on a running trout (no glasses needed), flopped into the water, swam deftly to his chosen entrée, and scooped the hapless fish up into his beak/pouch assembly.

small pelican2 small pelicanThe fish was apparently unimpressed at having her run interrupted and thrashed around in the bird’s beak/pouch/throat in attempt to reverse course. For at least a minute the convulsing fish caused the bird’s throat to distort. The bird realized he needed help reeling this one in so he flew back to the rock and attempted to get a handle on the situation. After another 15 seconds, satisfied with his catch, the pelican flopped into the river and floated downstream and out of sight.

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