I find overnight rain beaded on the car this morning, and fog on the road
37 degrees at 4:45AM. I suppose it will be a rainy day today. That’s ok, it helps keep down the dust on the campground road.
This morning I debut my new scope. It’s pretty impressive.
I start at Slough in the usual spot with the usual early birds.
At first we see only two adults; the alpha female and the friendly gray babysitter. But this morning, for the first time, I see all 8 pups! Thank you, Swarovski!
Frank tells me two blacks crossed the campground road below us and headed up Secret Passage (the route from Slough to the north side of Lamar Valley).
Laurie & Dan skip Slough this morning in favor of seeking the hunting party from last night but they do not find them and come back to Slough.
Around 9AM the sky darkens with the threat of imminent rain, so we abandon our hilltop. I drive west through the rain and join Bill in a small pullout just beyond straightaway. He has the grizzly sow with two coy.
The rain stops (miraculously) so I get out and happily watch the bears.
From here I go back to Lamar, looking to find the two blacks that we think were headed this way. No luck. But then I hear a report of grizzlies to the east. At Footbridge I see a HUGE jam ahead. I find a safe place near 480’s crossing.
It’s a grizzly sow with two large cubs, grazing on the north side, just below Druid Peak. I’m glad I call it in to Bill because he was not yet aware. Any time I can do a favor for Bill I jump at the chance because, besides his being such a nice person, he has found many, many wolves for me!
As I watch these bears, I come to believe this is the same family I saw last fall, roaming Soda Butte Creek.
I go back west and stop at the Ranch, where someone has found another bear; half of a courting pair up in “no bear meadow”. It’s a good bear day for me!
I watch this bruin for a while then go back west, ending up in another HUGE jam, this one for a badger. There is a den with kits just below the road. People and cars are at a standstill. While I’m stopped I get a great view of the parent plus three beautiful little kits, waddling behind mom.
Then to cap it off, the injured coyote trots by on the north side of the road, causing a mini jam within a major jam.
Eventually enough cars move for me to continue west. I stop at Boulder where I see Don. We scope a while but find no wolves. Instead, we find the grizzly sow with 2 coys again.
It’s still a little early so I drive back down the campground road for another look at the den area. I see a single adult, walking around the hillside in a very tentative manner, almost like it’s walking on eggshells. Then I see a pup dash out from under the wolf’s legs. Hah!
On that note I pack up and head east for my break, finding not a single jam along the way.
Despite a steady rain in Silver Gate, we take our chances and drive again around 6. By the time we get to Slough, the rain has stopped and the skies are clear.
Mark and Carol are here this evening, so we join them. They have just spotted 1229F over near the zig zag willows. She seems to want to cross the creek but then changes her mind and heads west back to the den area.
In the den area we see the alpha female, 907F, 1048M and several uncollared wolves. All 8 pups are also visible, romping and playing on the gully ridge and in the spring meadow.
1229F arrives from the east and greets the troops. The pups run to her, but this time she has nothing for them. She beds and nuzzles the pups, though.
But 1229 is always restless. Soon she convinces 1048 and a black yearling to join her on another adventure. They head down to the goal post tree and on into the Lion Meadow going all the way into the flats.
The yearling and 1229 both swim Slough creek, giving happy visitors a close and memorable view. The yearling continues across the flats below Bob’s Knob, aiming for Dave’s Hill.
1048 does not swim the creek but lingers in the flats. I think he is less willing to cross an area with so many people.
1229F lingers a bit before crossing the dirt road, wandering along the riverbank, silhouetted against the water. A great blue heron is spotted to her left, hunting in the water.
The yearling boldly crosses the gravel road between the two pullouts, heading up the side of Dave’s Hill by the big frost-split boulder.
About 10 minutes later, 1229 follows, taking her own route but aiming in the same direction. I figure they will be seen north of Fisherman’s in about 20 minutes.
1048 is still bedded in the flats when another drizzle begins, so we pack up and head back east. Our only notable sighting on the way back tonight is a mom moose with a yearling, feeding right along the road west of Warm Creek.
Today I saw: 7 grizzlies (four cubs), bison, a coyote, sandhill cranes, elk, a fox, pronghorn, 2 moose, 16 Junction wolves (including
alpha female, 907F, 1048M, 1229F, plus a gray, three blacks and all 8 pups) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.