DAY TEN - WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13

A SILVER FOX

I get going a little later than usual today, having to re-load everything in the car. But I see moose again Ė this time itís two of them walking through Soda Butte creek, visible through a clearing just east of Baronette.

And I see mulies, too.

We start out scoping from Footbridge. Rick radios to the watchers at Slough Ė so far nothing there.

Our greatest spotters, Calvin and Lynette and Robin and Steve are no longer in the Park, so we donít know anyone who might be looking from further west. Doug is already here in Lamar.

Heís currently scoping from Eastern Curve so Laurie & Dan and I try to do our part by scoping from Picnic. We have so often seen the Lamars on the ledge trail from here, or wandering around by the Moose-head tree. But not today.

We do find the largish herd of elk with all the calves up on Ranger Rock hill.

Doug calls to tell us heís found a grizzly up on Mt. Norris so we drive east to join him. We watch the bear and I enjoy the songs of many meadowlarks. We also find elk and a small herd of bison entertains us by crossing the creek.

I love this spot, especially now, with the creek still flooded and muddy, there are no fishermen yet. No offense to them, but I do prefer seeing the Soda Butte without a human presence.

Itís a truly gorgeous morning.

Then Doug says ďwe have a fox!Ē I turn and right there on the road is a gorgeous silver fox trotting along like he owns the place. He crosses the road right behind my car and moves south into the sage, looking for a meal. We follow him with our scopes for a good long time, as he gets closer and closer to the creek, until he blends in to the sage and loam.

(Note: Iím donít mean to claim this was a separate species. The animal looked like a red fox, minus the red/orange coloration. He really was silver-gray colored, like 755 in his Wapiti days.)

We scope 480ís crossing, and I think about the day when someone will first see the hoped-for Lamar puppies.

But the day is getting on. Laurie & Dan ask if I want to try Slough once more. I say sure, since Iím going that way anyway.

As we drive through Lamar Canyon we pass a lone black bear walking up at the top aiming for Secret Passage. People are out of their cars trying to photograph him.

We catch Rick just as he is about to leave Slough, so we stop to talk a while and then I say my goodbyes.

I head up to Antelope to make use of the great cell signal so I can take care of some office business before I hit the road.

On my way back I see the black bear sow with one cub, and I chuckle to see a line of leather-clad bikers, balding and bearded, at the side of the road, straining to see the bruins.

At the ski lot I see a cinnamon black bear running to the north, spooked by the trail-riders coming through.

And a third black bear causes another jam at Upper Elk creek.

As I pass through Mammoth I am quite surprised to see no elk at all. Hmm, I know a protective elk mother caused some injuries last week. I wonder if the Mammoth personnel have hazed the rest of them away for a while?

I see the first fishermen of the season (well, first for me) in the Gardiner River at Indian Gardens.

I have an easy trip back to Bozeman, with a little help from the Beatles. Itís always good to be in Yellowstone but Iíll admit to some disappointment in the wolf-watching for this trip. In 10 days I saw a total of 14 wolves. Most days I only saw 1 or two and saw no wolves 3 out of 10 days.

Of course, not having an active den to view is the most obvious reason, but I think not having telemetry is another factor. This is not meant as a complaint but an observation. Iíll have to check old reports to see if I have had a previous spring with a similar outcome.

I sure made up for it in bears, though, and moose too! And I seemed to see more elk and elk calves than usual, too. So Iím glad for all that. Itís always good to spend time in Yellowstone.

Today I saw: 5 black bears (and 1 cub), 1 grizzly bear, bison, coyote, mule deer, elk (with calves) a fox, pronghorn, 2 moose, no wolves and the spirit of Allison.

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