Itís a bit warmer today, at 27 degrees.
I am first in because Rick is not around. I stop at the cone again and find 3 moose! Just birds on the carcass, though. I do not hear any reports of bears, either.
I drive on to Slough, to what has become my traditional spot, just off the road east of the lot. But strangely, there are Junctions in view. I look in all the normal places but donít find them. Hmm. Maybe the males are off hunting?
I see Doug arrive and start to hike out to the knob, so I pack up and join him. Itís so pretty out here! We see 10 cranes, a juvenile bald, several elk, many bison and two gorgeous swans.
I notice that the natal den is quite visible from here. Just as Laurie & Dan arrive we get a report of wolves in view from Hellroaring. Bill is there. Thank goodness for him!
We all pack up to drive there, thinking they are most likely Junctions, out on a hunt.
We stop at Lower Hellroaring and Laurie finds them but they are moving east and she says we should go to the overlook. I carpool with them because we expect parking to be hard. Dan finds a spot, precarious but good for the moment.
Bill is still here and shows me a grizzly. Yay! But then I see four wolves; all the Junction males: 1047 (still limping but not as badly), big 1048, beautiful 996 and the un-collared male. They trot across the vast expanse, past ponds and bison, heading towards Hellroaring Creek. They cross the creek, shake off the water and continue west. I lose them, then find them again as they come upon a large herd of bison.
The wolves disappear behind a hill but we can tell where they are by watching the bison. I see tails up, bluff charges and then a re-grouping. Alas, I never see the wolves again. We do not see any obvious sign that they caught anything, but this is the beginning of bison calving season, so they may have gotten lucky with a new born calf. We just canít see it.
We stick around for a while, finding elk and bison and a lone swan on the big pond, but no more wolves or bears. Back to the car we go and Dan drives further west in hopes of finding a place where we might see the wolves again. We consider the perch, but the path is still very snowy, and we nix that idea. Laurie shows me a few places where she and Pauline have scoped in the past.
Doug has been at Slough all this time. He watched a pair of coyotes above the den cliff and then moving down to the eastern trees. We think itís possible the females have given birth. They have nothing to fear from the coyotes, though.
On our way back, Bill radios again. He is now east of Boulder, where he has found a winter-kill bison carcass to the north. Hmmm. When we see it, there are just birds on it. But we are grateful to Bill. This is certainly an area to watch in the coming days.
We head back east but find we are a bit too late. 926 was briefly seen on the bison carcass again. And another visitor tells us she saw two black wolves at the tree line heading toward Round Prairie. We look for a while but donít find them.
Along the way there are so many expanses of pure white snow with no tracks, glazed over with a layer of ice. So pretty under the sun!
We get back to Silver Gate around noon and resume reading Rickís pages.
After dinner, I carpool with Laurie & Dan for an evening session. We stop at Slough but things are quiet. We move on to Boulder East to check Billís bison carcass. We see only birds and notice quite a few elk and bison in the area.
We hear a story from other visitors about a black wolf on the carcass this afternoon after we left, then hear about a second black wolf, this one was collared. It was seen close to Boulder and then it crossed the road to the south.
Laurie suspects this may have been the un-collared female, and possibly 1109. If they know about this carcass, it wonít be long before the rest of the Junctions know of it.
We see bighorns up on Specimen and a gorgeous eagle soars overhead. I keep hearing from people who have seen one or two bison calves, but I still have not seen any. I am eager to do so.
We call it a night and drive back east. As we near SG, a mother moose and calf Ė perhaps the same pair I saw a few times on my Christmas visit Ė are walking on the icy road ahead of us. Dan stops rather than push them. We see their prints in the high snow berm to the north Ė where they came onto the road.
They seem to glide along the surface which seems so strange for animals as big as these. The calf is almost all legs! Eventually, mama leads her baby over the south side berm towards the creek. They are beautiful.
Today I saw: 1 grizzly bear, bison, coyotes, cranes, ducks, a bald eagle, elk, geese, a hawk, 5 moose (including a yearling calf), bighorn sheep, 3 swans, 4 Junction wolves (1048, 1047, 996, & the un-collared male) and the spirits of Allison and Richard