DAY SEVEN - Monday, January 1, 2018

CALVIN FINDS THE 8 MILES

This morning is even colder than yesterday. Itís minus 8!!!!! Brrrrr!

But the sky is clear and full of stars. Round Prairie is gorgeous in first light this morning. I think there are moose shapes out there but I keep going. As I come down the hill to Trout Lake I see the mama moose and her calf just beyond the pullout, and Iím happy they are reunited.

I stop at the Institute for a while to look for Lamars, hoping for a repeat of yesterday. Lots of other people have this idea, too, but they are not seen. Rhonda finds a fox coming from the carcass area but I am not quick enough to see it.

There are numerous coyotes in the area, grabbing what they can. And plenty of birds, including a golden eagle. But it looks like the wolves are elsewhere.

Hmmm.

I head west but people at Slough reported no wolf activity there, either, so I decide to drive even further west. A small herd of elk crosses the road in front of me just west of Tower. Pretty. I expect to find people at Elk Creek but it is empty. I stop to scope from here myself but then I hear Calvin on the radio. Heís found wolves on the Blacktail.

Yay!

I drive there and finally find him at the Mary Meagher cabin lot. They tell me the story as I get set up.

While Calvin and Lynette were stopped at the S Curves they heard howling behind them. They saw bird activity coming from the little copse growing below the north end of the S curves, and then saw wolves. Quite a few of them, travelling to the north.

It took a while for them to find a place to park where the wolves were still in view. Unfortunately most of them already went downslope just enough to be out of sight. But they still have six in view.

Jeff M. is here, and he helps me find them. Itís a bit difficult because the area is a wind-swept snow field containing a lot of wolf-sized and wolf-shaped rocks!

I see a beautiful light gray, light on sides & legs with a dark back. Just gorgeous. Then there are 5 blacks.

Two of these have light sides like 763. One of the collared blacks has a gray chin. I donít remember the numbers anymore, but this wolf is quite distinctive.

The wolves remain bedded for a long time, with just a head up or a re-adjustment. But then two of the blacks get up and roam around a bit (probably yearlings). They eventually choose new bedding spots, which luckily make them easier to see.

We are treated to an extended howl session in which it is confirmed that there are far more than six in the area. The 8 Mile pack is large at the moment Ė numbering perhaps 13-14 wolves. Itís a beautiful chorus.

Eventually word spreads and the rest of the wolf watchers who had remained in Lamar get the message and convene here. Kathie & Laurie & Rick huddle together, trying to better identify individuals in this pack because they are not seen that often. I am happy to see Rhonda and Dora join us because they do not yet have a radio. And other Yellowstone visitors join us, too, with whom we happily share our scopes.

Later in the day I hear a report that the Lamars have been spotted back in the valley. Apparently the pack has gotten separated: 926 on the south side of the road and the other two on the north. This is typical because Small Dot is still uncomfortable with the road. But all three are visible and have created quite a traffic jam.

Laurie & Dan and I decide to head east. We know itís unlikely any of the Lamars will still be in sight but we need to go that way anyway.

By the time we reach the Lamar, the wolves are out of sight and traffic has cleared. Ah well. Maybe weíll see them tomorrow?

Today I saw: bison, coyotes, elk, 2 moose (including a calf), 6 wolves (all from the 8 Mile Pack Ė 5 blacks and 1 gray) and the spirit of Allison.



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