I am a writer living in Austin Texas who focuses on the natural world. I love being outside, whether walking my Jack Russell, riding my horse, watching wolves in Wyoming, or just hanging out in my own backyard.
I began keeping a nature journal decades ago. Below are excerpts from those journals
sharing my experiences with dogs, cats and horses,
and observing the natural world in Austin, Texas.
Owl Chronicles 2022 – The Beginning of the End
The owl huddles in the corner of the box. He perches in the entrance in late afternoon or the middle of the day if it’s warm. The past few days he has left the box at somewhere between 6:30 and 6:45 p.m.; shooting out of the box and swooping down, he flies over the fence toward the greenbelt. A couple of days passed when he wasn’t in the box, but they were only isolated episodes.
The Owl Box Caper
We encountered a new problem this month. We turned the camera in the owl box on only to discover it wasn’t working! Tim investigated every possible cause for the issue, but in the end the only solution was to install a new camera. Now. At the most inopportune moment in the nesting season.
The Last Owlet
There is only one owlet left in the box. The fourth owlet left on May 12, several days ago, shooting out of the box suddenly like its siblings. There is always one owlet that hatches last, that is the last to leave the nest.
Leaving the Nest
Three owlets fledged last night. They shot out the entrance somewhere between 8:30 and 9 p.m. The two remaining owlets jumped around the box and hopped up to the entrance, begging for food.
The Screech Owlets Get Ready to Fledge
The owlets are getting ready to fledge. They jump around the box, stretching their fuzzy gray bodies up to the box ceiling, spreading their wings, flapping them. They dig in the sawdust, scratching away, searching for tidbits.
Yellowstone Trip Reports
In September 1998 I visited Yellowstone National Park for the first time and have returned every year since.
A few years later, my boyfriend Tim Springer joined me, and we began posting our trip reports
and photographs of the Park’s abundant wildlife and natural wonders.
Previous trip reports from May 2004 through May 2016 can be found at Yellowstone Experiences ->.
Yellowstone May 2022
A cold, wet spring day. Driving I-90 toward Yellowstone we pass pastures greening up with new grass and mountains dusted with snow. Elk fill the valleys - there are so many of them! Gray clouds cover the sky with intermittent rain showers breaking through, but the elk and horses and sheep are not disturbed from their grazing. It’s been a few years since we visited the Park in May and it’s good to be back when it’s cold; the wildlife is out and there aren’t so many people. It just feels wilder.
Yellowstone June 2021
After a year without Yellowstone, we are finally back in the Park. I want to sink into the mountains, trees and rivers, Yellowstone Lake, all the wildlife. I am so glad just to be here there is nothing that could make this a bad trip. As I write this I am sitting near the banks of Soda Butte Creek, watching Tim throw a line into the water. It is cool here, clouds shielding me from the sun’s strongest rays. Jagged mountain peaks rise up over the rushing water; patches of snow fill rocky crevices.
Yellowstone – September 2019
Yellowstone is gradually settling into fall. As the light changes and the temperature falls, mountain slopes and valleys slowly turn golden even as snow dusts the peaks of the Absaroka range. The Junction Butte Pack has moved into Lamar Valley.
Yellowstone Trip Report May 2016
It’s raining; a cold rain that drenches you in minutes and suddenly stops. We are holed up in the map room in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, sitting at a table at the far end of the room watching passing traffic – human and ungulate – from the floor to ceiling window. This morning it was almost clear as we drove across the Gardiner Bridge, passing a bald eagle perched on a rock, looking for his next meal. The road curves through forests of leafed-out aspen, cottonwoods, and pine trees. A black bear ambles across a clearing in the woods near Lava Creek. Not far down the road, two young bull elk, their antlers still covered in velvet, bed in tall grass on the steep slopes.
Yellowstone Trip Report October 2015
Leaving Bozeman, deep green conifers spread across rolling hills and mountains. Aspen and cottonwoods have peaked, their brilliant gold leaves fading. Muted yellows, reds and greens blend forming Yellowstone’s autumn. A large herd of elk graze the pastures of Paradise Valley while not far down the road, antelope forage in grass. Their migration out of the Park has begun.
Just around the bend from Yankee Jim Canyon a chubby black and white border collie perches on top of a tall round boulder, a sentry greeting an SUV at the gate. Horses graze in pastures far from the road: paints, duns, blacks, grey, sun bleached to almost white.
Previous Yellowstone and other Park Trip Reports 2004-2016
We have a large number of other trip reports on our website Yellowstone Experiences. Reports on trips to Yellowstone, Glacier, Olympic, and Jasper Parks with discussion about hiking, wildlife viewing and helpful tips to make visits to the parks more enjoyable.
Looking for 527
Looking for 527 is a book I authored with artist Susanne Belcher, based on my essay about Yellowstone wolf 527, alpha female of the Cottonwood Pack.
“Looking for 527 by Susanne Belcher, artist, and Christine Baleshta, writer, is a creative collaboration that is part art gallery catalog, part personal journal interspersed with snippets from their correspondences. It is an emotion-evoking tribute to the wolf and the people whose efforts are ongoing to preserve their lives.” Martha Meacham, Story Circle Network