DAY THREE - Sunday, July 12


WOLVES AND KESTRELS


I wake with the birds at 5:30. Itís 47 degrees Ė a nice temp. I head to the VC bathroom to wash up and change my clothes. It looks fog free this morning.

I stop at the big double pullout to watch a lone grizzly grazing in the western meadow. Beyond him are the sandhills with their tiny colts.

I drive to the spot west of Canyon Junction where I can get cell service to call Rick and email Laurie about the grizzly and what I saw last night.

Now I head to Grizzly Overlook. Very few people here but there is a man from California with his teenaged daughter and son who are here to see their first wolf. We find a small herd of elk with one calf on the slope south of the sandboxes. I suggest that the dad watch the elk while I scan the sandboxes for pups. Moments later, he tells me the elk are running!

Why are they running? Because two wolves are after them! Itís the alphas.

At first the dad says the wolf behind them is a black but when I look I see the alpha female, and then a dark gray which I believe is 755. At first he seems so dark I wonder if itís another wolf pack, but the other folk are sure itís him. The wolves give up pretty quickly and bed at the top of the hill at the edge of trees. I get one good look at 755 and recognize him, then the sun pops out over the hill and I canít see anything. I try moving to the end of the pullout to have the trees shade me but that angle does not offer a good look at the hillside where the wolves last were and tall trees block me. Grrr.

We never see the wolves again so we content ourselves watching elk a while.

Hunter arrives and offers to go up the hill with me. I agree and up we go. We can that all the elk escaped to the river. We count 11 cows and three calves. Eventually they all go back up the hill and mysteriously enter the forest with their babies, to the right of where we last saw the wolves. It seems like a bad move to me, but maybe they know something I donít.

We also watch a mule deer and one cow elk walk all the way from the river to the point and then further to the west.

The collared grizzly from yesterday is again in the telephone pole area, sniffing for elk calves in that zig-zag pattern. We do see a lone elk mom way out there, so perhaps she has stashed her calf in the sage.

I head down the hill and find Jeff, along with Colleen and Des. We chat a good long time and see a bald eagle, pelicans and four swans.

Colleen and Des are planning to be in NY in November so I insist they call me and give them all my info. The wolves do not reappear but itís already been a good day.

I have plans to meet Tracey and Kevin for lunch at Roosevelt, so bid goodbye to my friends and head north. But I stop again at the pullout on the right where I often see otters. A bear is grazing in the eastern meadow there. His fur looks odd, like it has not yet shed for the summer.

Some people in the lot believe it is a black bear. But I think it is a grizzly. A Ranger is here so I double check with him. He confirms it is a grizzly but I donít want to be a jerk so I keep my mouth shut (for once!).

On to Roosevelt, with not much to report on the way. We have a great time and then run into Ranger Bill doing a demonstration on the porch on our way out.

I drive into Little America to show Kevin and Tracey the kestrel nest Ė the birds are now fledged but still in the aspens. One fledgling is sitting on a branch eating a smaller bird on a branch. Kevin goes happily nuts. Tracey shows me more photos of her baby boy William.

I hug them goodbye and head back west. I stop at Yellowstone Picnic to change my clothes and on my way out, I graze a big boulder on the side of my parking space. Uh oh. There is a little bit of damage to the under bumper, which I eventually have to pay for.

I stop in Mammoth to thank Allison for the nice wolf sightings on this trip.

Iím back in Bozeman at 4:30.

TODAY I SAW: Bison, 2 grizzly bears, mule deer, a bald eagle, elk (including 3 calves), 4 kestrels, pelicans, swans, 2 wolves of the Wapiti Lake Pack (755 and the alpha female) and the spirit of Allison.




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