I leave a little late this morning, having had to pack up. My trip is nearly over! The temperature is a tolerable 23 this morning and I have clear sky.
There is a single moose right in the creek at Round Prairie this morning.
Only birds on the Soda Butte carcass. I stop at Dorothyís to scan the river and hear a meadowlark! I didnít know they got here so early! Itís going to be a beautiful day. Bright sun, clear sky, clear air.
I stop at Slough and find a wolf! There were two bedded near the eastern trees. One got up and now a second one rises. I am not able to tell who they are other than blacks. Bill calls to report a bear on the Boulder East carcass so I head there.
Itís a grizzly! I watch it feeding for about 20 minutes, and then giggle as it waddles off with a big fat belly.
Then Nell calls to say she has found me a baby bison! I thank her over and over. The calf is only about a day old but it is already following mom like a little trouper. She is moving with the herd as it travels up and over a low sage hill. Then I find another cow further to the west, which has apparently just given birth this morning on a low slope at the base of Junction Butte. Birthing tissues are still attached to mom. The little calf is still wet, dark red and still hunch-backed from being curled in mamaís womb.
The tiny thing is barely able to stand yet, but trying valiantly. Suddenly two coyotes approach. Oh no! Then two more coyotes bound down the hill. They yammer and yip and I think the poor baby is done for but as I watch, with my heart in my throat, it seems that these are rival coyotes, taking exception with each other. They clearly seem more interested in each other than in the calf.
Mom is a formidable protector, anyway, and keeps a watchful eye. She does not make it easy for them to consider such a plot. Eventually the coyotes move away and the baby nurses a bit. Mom moves a few steps to the north, then lies down to rest. It looks like the calf is trying to burrow underneath her. Itís very sweet.
We see a ground squirrel nearby, standing on its hind legs, squeaking a warning to someone. I tease Doug by calling it in.
Itís getting on in the morning and I have to consider leaving soon. But I drive back to Slough with L & D for one more glance at the Junctions. I am hoping for pups to watch when I return in June.
I see three blacks this time, but all are bedded. We think itís likely that they found the carcass last night.
So I call it a day, say my thanks and goodbyes to Laurie & Dan, and head west.
When I get to Blacktail Ponds I see three men looking out towards Mt. Everts scopes. I pull in to the lot and walk over to them, asking what they are seeing. Cranes, they say. Ah, I say, and see the birds. I am about to leave when I think to myself that one of the men seems familiar.
I ask, is your name John?
He replies, is your name Wendy?
OMG! Itís John Uhler! Heís with Schwabacher and another guy. Itís so great to see him. He looks exactly the same. I ask about Carlene. He says sheís in the car. I turn and there is Carlene! We have a hug and a quick catch up. Rachel doing well, married, and has a baby. They all live in Rexburg.
Itís so nice to know they are still visiting this most beautiful park. I thank John for changing my life. I tell him I wish I could stay longer but I gotta go check in with my office.
I talk with my office in Mammoth while I watch elk grazing. I left Bozeman with snow on ground and ice-laden trees but come back to bright sunny skies, green grass and the tulips are coming up!
Today I saw: 1 grizzly, bison (including 2 new calves), coyotes, cranes, elk, geese, a moose, pronghorn, a ground squirrel, 3 wolves (Junctions 1047, 996 and the un-collared male), John and Carlene Uhler and the spirits of Allison and Richard.