SUMMER VISIT 2014; PART TWO

DAY SEVEN Ė Thursday, June 19

Well, Iím happy to say that staying in last night stopped whatever bug was trying to get my throat. I feel great, no soreness or scratchiness.

Itís 40 degrees at 5:02 (so, Iím a little late)

There is fog in the valley, but we can see the carcass well enough to know there is nothing on it. However, 911 seems to be in the neighborhood, so we keep looking.

I stay on Trash Can hill, scanning for wolves. I find a bear far west on Specimen, and then two more on a hillside of Amethyst, grazing amid yellow flowers.

Doug is the first to find a wolf. Through the fog, he keeps seeing something moving in the rendezvous area, in the high sage. I finally see it, too. I see excited wagging tails of at least two wolves. I also see coyotes leaping straight up in the air, as if trying to see over the sage, on either side of the wolves.

Laurie is the first to figure it out.

They have found a coyote den and are digging it out to get to the pups.

Oh, no. This is one part of nature that is not pleasant to see. Well, we canít really see it (thankfully) due to the distance and the height of the sage, but now that I know whatís going on, I donít want to look. My heart goes out to the coyote pair, frantically trying to distract the wolves, to draw them away.

We think there may be three coyotes putting up a relentless but probably unsuccessful defense. We do figure out that the wolves are 911 and the Black Female.

I can hear the coyotes barking and yipping. I notice one large coyote and two small ones, so, perhaps mom and two yearlings? The heartbreaking drama goes on a long time and finally we see the wolvesí lower their heads. Thatís not good.

Iím afraid the pups are done for. They donít eat them, they just kill them. Nature has made these two species competitors. This is why coyotes are so often seen chasing wolves when there is only one alone. They have many bad memories to avenge.

After a while, we see the wolves chase after the adult coyotes in short bursts, but the coyotes evade them. And finally we see the wolves heading south.

There is a bison herd in the fan and the wolves move swiftly through them and out of sight. Then someone says there is a gray to the left Ė but itís not a wolf Ė itís one of the coyotes. The large one. And to our amazement, the coyote has a living pup in its mouth! One of them, at least, has survived! And thereís another on the ground! Oh! Itís so tiny! The poor thing starts to run back towards the den and the large coyote, now joined by the other two, run in circles trying to find it again.

Oh, those poor coyotes are so stressed. For a good while we see the tiny pup on the ground with a yearling babysitter, and we hope against hope that the wolves donít choose this moment to come back. And as if itís not harsh enough, two magpies keep harassing the coyote trying to protect the pup. It makes us wonder if the pup is injured, but we see it moving a lot so it doesnít appear so.

There could be another dead pup nearby though. I ask Laurie if the coyotes would try to move dead pups and she doesnít think so.

Eventually the coyote family heads south east to try to find a safe place for their surviving pups. They probably have numerous dens in the area. Or they might just dig another.

There are many visitors up on the hill with us. I donít know how much they understood about what was going on, but many of them were happy to see both a wolf and a coyote pup.

After this I decide to head south to Canyon.

I stop at the peregrine nest south of Calcite. I can see the mom, with one chick under her breast. While I am watching the chick raises its rear end and shoots out some poop! Yuck! Not something I need to see again. Hah!

I talk with two ladies here who know birds. They give me tips about seeing the owls in Mammoth.

The sun comes out but itís still a cool 55 at noon. However, when I get up to the top Washburn is still wreathed in cloud. Thatís ok. Cool weather is always good for animals.

I see a single white tailed deer on the other side of the pass.

I take a nice nap at the Cascade Lake Trailhead Ė one of the few places where I can usually find some shade.

In the early evening I head out to Hayden to look for Canyons. I teach myself the telephone pole area and scope from Grizzly Overlook with some nice folk but see no wolves. However I do find bears and elk.

In the sage just west of the point two gorgeous grizzlies are grazing. There are elk in the area as well, and more on the other side of the road.

I hear Unit 15 on the radio. Neither of us has any luck but we agree to tell each other if we do.

And of course, I see lots of bison!

I check in to the campground and have to admit, itís a chilly night!

Today I saw: 5 grizzly bears, bison, 5 coyotes (including 2 pups), 1 white-tailed deer, elk, 2 wolves (911 and the Black Female) and the spirit of Allison.




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