SUMMER VISIT 2014; PART TWO

DAY FOUR Ė Monday, June 16

I leave at 4:40 today. Itís 41 with some cloud cover. There are mulies at the side of the road and a huge elk decides to cross right in front of me just west of Moose Meadow. I slam on the brakes and stop in time but everything goes flying.

There is a bit of fog in Round Prairie Ė it looks quite pretty.

Pronghorn cross the road at Confluence. Iíve seen no one scoping anywhere so I figure they are all at Picnic and keeping quiet. But only one car is here. Still nothing on this dead bison. I hear Rick got a weak signal on 911 and 926F as expected, at the den. Thatís all.

Hmmm, ok. I head further west and find folks at Fishermanís. There are three grizzlies on the carcass. A large black one and two smaller grizzly-colored ones. I think the big black one is the courting griz that Betsy and I saw earlier in June.

The black one dominates the other two, charging at them and making them run.

I also see elk, sandhills, bison, pronghorn and geese.

Laurie gets a call from S curves. They have wolves in sight. I head there.

Today there is a really beautiful fog through Little America which continues in spots throughout the Blacktail, particularly at lower Hellroaring. There is a sensuous mist rising from Phantom Lake.

It was Marlene who saw the Prospect pups early this morning. She and Jeremy and Rick then moved to ďthe spotĒ. Rick got no signals, but of course pups donít have collars! Laurie & I arrive about 6:30 and we set up. I get lucky today Ė I am the first to find a wolf! It is an adult and moments later, the pups come out.

We have 3 adults, 2 blacks and a gray, and all three pups. The black pup is the most bold while the two grays are scairdy-cats. We watch the black stalk a pair of sandhill cranes. When they move he gives chase for a little bit but then he stops.

A chorus of coyotes arises, yipping and howling, which spooks one gray pup, making him run back to the forest. We laugh but itís very cute.

An adults comes in from the west and the little pups come rushing towards it for a greeting, wagging their tiny tails, begging for food. They get a regurgitation and when they finish eating, they start romping and playing with each other. Sometimes the adults join in and sometimes they bed as if they are worn out.

The pups bed for a while, then get up for more play. It is a beautiful day and a very nice sighting.

There is a spot where a number of wild iris grow. I love those!

While this is going on, folks back in Lamar were finally rewarded with a wolf sighting from Picnic. The Junction Butte black female and 911 were together, trying to get to the bison carcass but attentive bison were keeping them away, continuing the ďfuneralĒ procession that started yesterday. Finally the bison moved off and both of them had a nice long feed.

Apparently, 755 is no longer in the area. Hmm, I hope he and 911 didnít get into it over the black female in any dangerous way.

Anyway, when these wolves wander out of sight I decide to head back west to see the other two. We know it will be crowded.

Marlene & I stop at Hubbard Hill, once we get a look at the number of cars further east. There is a coyote on the carcass. Colleen radios that a wolf had been feeding earlier but he moved west.

Rick was back in Little America because Laurie found 890 there. Itís raining again. I turn around and head towards Laurie. I miss 890 but end up seeing 870 instead. I head out to Bobís Knob but the wind is so fierce out there I turn around. I pack up and head for Boulder because both alphas were headed west anyway.

I scope for an hour at Boulder but find neither wolf. So back east I go again!

I head to Trash Can and set up on the hill for a better view. There is an un-collared gray wolf on the bison carcass. Laurie thinks it is a male yearling from the Junction Butte pack who often goes out on his own. There is also a grizzly. Scarface, in fact.

Then I see a collared black wolf approaching carcass from the western end of RV Ė this wolf stops, sees or smells something it doesnít like. It turns quickly and runs pretty fast to the east along the river. Itís 926F.

Meanwhile, there are now three wolves plus Scarface in the carcass area. The black female and 911 come down from where they were bedded in the treeline. Just as they reach the carcass, some people walk out close to river, pushing them off. They head back up the hill of the big fan.

Then Betsy finds the un-collared yearling. He spooked west, but now he comes back to the carcass, grabs two bites while Scarface isnít looking and then scent-trails the other two uphill.

When Laurie heard 926 was in the area, she and Kathie went to Footbridge to check on her. Sheís still visible around 1:30.

It starts raining again and I head down to my car to drive east. I miss 926 at Footbridge so I drive east, meaning to stop at Soda Butte East, but then, there she is, in the flats just east of the cone. I stop at the cone and set up to watch her.

She comes to the river, crosses, runs across the flats and crosses the road.

Now I head to Silver Gate for a short nap. Itís raining again.

I head back out at 5:30 to meet Laurie & Kathie for dinner at Roosevelt. Her friend Bonnie from the Institute is moving back east and this is her last night here.

I see Kathie pulled over at the Institute. Sheís shows me 889 bedded on a hill to the north. She does not see 755 up there, so we donít know whatís up with that.

We all gather at Roosevelt for a great meal.

Then back we go to Silver Gate. Scarface is asleep on the carcass when we come by. Even asleep he is enough of a threat to keep the birds away!

But thereís a steady rain so we head in. By the time we get to Silver Gate the rain has turned to snow.

I am supposed to hike with Jackie & Phil tomorrow. If itís raining like this I might cancel.

Today I saw: 4 grizzly bears (including Scarface), bison, coyotes, sandhill cranes, mule deer, a bald eagle, elk, pronghorn, 9 wolves: 6 from the Prospect Peak Pack (3 adults & 3 pups) and 3 lone wolves (911M, the JB black female, and the un-collared gray yearling) and the spirit of Allison.




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