There is a thin film of wet snow on the car when I come out in the still dark. It’s 36 degrees, still overcast.
The wind is fairly steady all day and we get some intermittent drizzle.
At first light at Slough, the alpha male leads a group of 10 other Junctions past the Marge S tree. I get my scope up just in time to see the last stragglers moving through.
Several people leave to go to Lamar River bridge or Aspen to try to find the hunting party. Since this is the second day in a row that they have gone that route, it’s possible they have a carcass in that direction.
From the looks of things this morning, the pups adventure last night was not a walkabout but a decision to move. Laurie and Rick both confirm that it’s normal for pups to decide where they want to hang out.
Well, I’m very happy with their decision because they are much easier to see near the sage den than the natal den. This morning we see several in this area, romping and wrestling each other, exploring here and there on their still-wobbly legs. They have short bursts of boldness, then race back to safety.
Some of the grass has grown tall with the recent moisture, and the pups are often hidden from us and each other behind the taller clumps. The official count has grown to 8, confirmed by Jeremy, Rick and Laurie, with 5 grays and 3 blacks. I have yet to see a full count myself.
907F and the alpha female continue to get along. They are not buddies, but the alpha has not been seen pinning her aunt for several days. We see both females nurse the pups at different times which I find interesting. The alpha tends to stay close to the sage den and we see her nurse the pups there.
For a while this morning, 907F sits on the den porch. She howls, in short spurts and we wonder if she wants the pups to come back up there?
But the pups are not responding, so she tucks her tail and comes downhill to them. The pups run to her and she nurses them, standing up in the traditional way.
The alpha female comes out of the sage den while 907 is nursing them but thankfully, she does not interfere. Then they are distracted by the arrival of 1048M from the west.
A frenzy erupts as both females and all the pups rush up the hill to greet him. One black pup seems larger than the others and one gray pups seems smaller than the rest. I get a count of 7, 3 blacks and 4 grays.
1048 delivers food to all of them. Then he continues east while the alpha female moves past the western trees. Ahh, she sees another wolf coming in. It’s a yearling. She meets the yearling alone and gets a good feeding.
After this she goes back to the sage den and a few pups go inside with her.
Next comes 1275M, bringing a bone treat for the pups. They mob him.
A little while later, 1048 walks across the sage hill to the west. The pups rush towards him. He spins around and then moves uphill quickly, with the pups following him like he’s pulling them on strings behind him.
Their efforts are successful, though; 1048 gives up more food. Now he beds down and some of the pups bed down next to him for a while. But soon they are distracted by their siblings and wobble downhill to play some more.
The sun peeks through the clouds but they quickly close in again. The temp remains cool, never reaching 50.
Once again we see elk grazing among the rocks to the left of the den cliff, and more of them grazing in the yellow grass meadow. I am always happy to see elk.
Things slow down as most of the adults are now bedded. There have been several reports of bears over the radio so I decide to drive west to see them.
At Longs I watch a black bear with two cubs at the tree line. Then Bill finds a grizzly sow with two coy much higher on the same hillside. Her cubs run up a tree while mom grazes below. Then they come down and mom sits up to nurse them.Awwww.
Around 12:30 I head back east.
It could be the light, but the Lamar looks greener today. The snow looks great on the high peaks. I am happy because I know the Park needs the moisture.
There are DEFINITELY more people in the Park than before. A line of eight cars is waiting to get in through the Northeast gate. I don’t remember seeing that for a very long time!
After a break, I head back in at 6PM. It’s pretty chilly, 37. Laurie & Dan decide to stay in.
I pass Bill near Footbridge and he radios that he just saw a black wolf in the Druid rendezvous. I pull into Trash Can to try to find it but I don’t.
I continue to Slough where I am happy to find clouds blocking the sun. I end up seeing a total of 8 adults tonight and some wonderfully active pups.
They romp and scamper about both sides of the sage den. But I still only see 7 total!
A gray adult heads down into the Spring meadow for a drink and a black pup follows. A collared black adult follows the pup. Ahh, this is 1276F. She does not seem pleased that the pup is down here. Three times she tries to pick up the pup to carry it back. This pup is really too big to be carried. 1276 finally succeeds but carries him only a foot or two before she sets him back down.
However, it was enough for the pup to understand he needs to follow her.
She walks back to the sage den and the pups does what he’s told.
I have a new favorite among the uncollared black adults, a dark black male, maybe a 2 year old or a big yearling. He’s very handsome and is especially good with the pups.
I leave Slough around 8:45. I stop at Trash Can to try again to find the wolf Bill H. saw earlier. And as soon as I set up, there is the wolf!
I see an uncollared black with a skinny tail heading west at the treeline. He is scent-trailing. For a moment or so he seems to have lost the scent. He walks in circles a bit until he finds it again. Now he continues, nose down.
But he stops when he comes upon a large bison herd. I pan over the herd a bit and when I turn back, I’ve lost the wolf. Ah well, the wind in my face has become a bit much so I pack up.
A beautiful sunset has begun and there is a full moon, too. Very nice.
My last sighting of the day is a fox on the road at Warm Creek.
Today I saw: 3 black bears (2 cubs), 3 grizzly bears (2 coy), bison, a bald eagle, elk, a fox, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, 20 wolves (13
Junction adults including the alphas, 907F, 1048M, 1275M, 1276F and 7 others plus 7 pups) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.