Iím out at 5AM today, with a lovely bright moon. The birdies are tweeting away as usual. Itís colder today, 33, but it feels fine to me.
A snow plow passes me, although there is no snow on the road. Then I remember the wind-storm and wonder if maybe the Beartooth got dumped on last night?
I scope from Picnic and Institute but find nothing. I move on to Dorothyís, where I happily find Rick & Jeremy. Soon after I arrive, Rick spots 907F to the south, crossing from Amethyst to Jasper. She is carrying a leg in her mouth. She heads up Jasper bench and quickly disappears.
But sheís not alone. Soon we see a black wolf towards the back of Jasper bench. Then a second and a third, all in that same area. Thanks to Jeremy we know two of them are 1048 and 1109. The third black is un-collared.
Two of these wolves are also carrying food. 1048 sits down with his morsel and starts to chew on it. 907 wants what he has and tries a few times to get it but he does not yield.
The four have a rally and I see 907 dominate 1109, which she accepts, since sheís used to it.
The wolves stay in view a good long while in about the middle of the bench, but then they get up and head towards the trees in the back. In a few minutes we lose them all.
Someone finds a black bear on the slope above Jasper and I find a meadowlark trilling beautifully on a rock. Itís a chilly, overcast day that never quite warms up.
Just as I am thinking of adding another coat, drama erupts to the north of us: three other Junction wolves; the alphas and an un-collared black.
Aha! They are after a bison calf. Three bison adults defend it; 2 cows and a yearling. The wolves try and try, feinting and charging, but never quite get their act together. Itís a great lesson for visitors to see how good bison are as defenders and how hard a job the wolves have.
While this is going on, someone spots a lone black wolf above Amethyst bench. I see it only briefly and canít tell it this is a new arrival or one of the three we saw before. Jeremy later tells me it was 1109 is heading back to her pups.
Itís one of those sightings in which you have to swivel from south to north several times. I am not complaining!
The Junctions on the north side eventually give up on the bison calf and begin to travel east. We lose them and find them again and again as they traverse the tall sage hills about half-way below skyline. Eventually I move east to Picnic because that offers a good look back.
The wolves come upon two cow elk and a chase develops. The wolves get pretty close then they all disappear into a gully. The gully happens to be a familiar spot, where, over the years I have seen several chases end.
One elk eventually emerges from the gully, heading northeast. She looks back into the gully, but the wolves never emerge from there. We see birds flying to and landing in the area so we are pretty sure they either got one of the cows or perhaps came upon a calf in the area.
Chloe has an idea for a better angle, so we carry our scopes into the sage meadow south of the lot. We canít see the wolves, but we do see more of the terrain, and notice a lot more birds arriving. That, and the elkís behavior pretty much confirms a successful hunt.
While we are here some of the Yellowstone Live crew shows up, including one of the cinematographers I recognize from last yearís show. He clearly wants to film what is happening in the gully but thank goodness he is persuaded to not cross the road to do it.
He asks Chloe and me our views on photographic ethics for filming wildlife. We answer ďdonít disturb them, especially on a carcassĒ and we direct him to Rick to get his opinion.
Rick sets him straight and soon he and his crew leave the pullout. I canít help but wonder why he had to ask.
Itís now past 1PM and Iím late for my nap so I bid my friends adieu and head east. Again I see mule deer in the upper meadows.
I lie down to rest....but forget to set my alarm. I wake up at 8PM to the sound of hail clobbering the roof and the deck.
Well, I guess Iím not going out tonight! As my sister always says, ďif you oversleep you must have needed itĒ.
Today I saw: 1 black bear, bison, 1 coyote, mule deer, elk, 7 wolves (all Junctions) 1047 & alpha female, 1048, un-collared male, 907F, 1109, and another black, and the spirits of Allison & Richard.