DAY TWO - Saturday, July 1

A WOLFLESS DAY

Good morning! Itís 5AM and a brisk 34 degrees. Iím leaving Silver Gate in the ďstill darkĒ with the birdies singing like crazy.

Looks like itís gonna be a beautiful clear day. I have a bit of a moon to light my way. My knee kept me up a little bit last night as it is a bit hard to shift position under heavy covers, but overall Iím good.

This time of year, on the drive in, a peculiar phenomenon occurs, in which robins, apparently feeding on bugs at the side of the road, suddenly take flight as my car approaches. This has happened every summer since I first started staying in Silver Gate way back in 2000. Itís like they are trying to commit suicide, yet Iím happy to say that somehow I miss each one.

I run into Rick at Geriatric. He says he thinks the Junctions are still out there and that he plans to climb the hill for a better view. He knows I canít do that, so he suggests I scope from Picnic as the elevation is slightly higher than at Trash Can.

I try but do not find them. Instead I see a grizzly, various pronghorn, a few elk and of course, bison all over the place. I use my new window mount which works very well. Now, if only I could find a wolf with it!

But they never show up. So a little later I head over to Footbridge to join Laurie & Kathie and Becky and Chloe. Everyone is leaving today so itís sad. Well, Laurie will be back after she drops off Dan at the airport.

Kathie gives us a parting gift by passing on a tip she heard of an active coyote den visible from road level.

We bid her farewell and head to Geriatric. Very quickly Chloe finds the den. Itís across the road and the river, just below the sage line at the top of the river bank, hidden a bit by the trunks of several cottonwood trees. A very cute coyote pup is napping on the den porch, raising his head, then lowering it to rest his chin on a mound of packed dirt.

We see the parent coyotes further off, patrolling the sage behind the den, perhaps hunting. Other people join us and some see two little ones behind the parents.

Then the cute pup takes a bit of a walkabout, first straight downhill into dense foliage. He re-appears close to the river bank, sniffing everything. He tools around down there and eventually returns to the den opening.

We also see duck (a goldeneye, as per Chloe) flying back and forth from what we figure out is her nest, high in the crook of a cottonwood branch. None of us knew a goldeneye would make a nest that high in a cottonwood tree. I knew wood ducks did. We learn something new!

A carful of visitors from India pulls in and promptly pops a tire on a sharp rock. Chloe gets to work right away, helping them change it. If you're going to pop a tire in Yellowstone, take care that you do it when Chloe is in the area!

The coyote pup takes a second walkabout, starting in the opposite direction this time. But now heís back, charmingly resting his chinny-chin-chin as before.

The day starts to warm, the tire is fixed and now itís time for C & B to leave. After we say our goodbyes, I head to Dorothyís for a while. I use my window mount and rest a while in my chair having coffee and enjoying the beauty all around me.

Then I head back east.

On my way, I stop to watch a couple of black bears in the moose meadow. One bear is black and the other golden (cinnamon). Several people here are convinced the golden one is a grizzly, but itís not. They may be a mated pair or perhaps siblings because they are grazing quite close to each other.

I take my nap and do my exercises and I ride Laurieís bike which is really good for my knee.

I head back out around 6:30. Itís a toasty 79 degrees. There is a perfect blue sky with puffy clouds.

I meet up with Laurie at Footbridge and we scope a bit. We look for the coyote pups but nothing is moving there so I go on to Picnic. I scope from here a while but Iím getting eaten alive by bugs. I also get sad, thinking about Richard. He was 59 years old.

Rick says no signals of anyone at the moment. Hmm. I decide to head in but get stuck in a bison jam at 21ís crossing, not for a herd but for several bulls who are already getting testy. There is a big one on the right and a big one on the left. A woman in shorts & flip flops gets out of the car behind me and walks along the road towards the bison with her iPhone. She continues past my car and then the one ahead of me, getting within about 20 feet of both bulls. I call out to her ďthose are BULL bisonĒ. She stops. She takes a few more steps but not quite as boldly as before. After a few clicks she turns to head back to her car. As she passes me she asks ďdo you mean they could charge?Ē "Yes, maíamĒ I say.

Shortly thereafter, the traffic starts moving again.

At Warm creek there are several mule deer in the road. They leap across the creek and disappear into the forest.

Today I saw: 2 black bears, a grizzly bear, bison, 3 coyotes (including one pup), mule deer, a goldeneye duck in a tree, elk, pronghorn and the spirits of Allison & Richard.




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