I am surprised when we pass Hitching Post, the Confluence and the Institute. Finally as I approach Dorothy's I hear the radio crackle. Aha! Wolves are in view.
We stop at Fishermans. I find a spot and set up between Rick and Laurie.
The Lamar Canyon Pack is in view, on a carcass in the muddy flats between the river and the western end of Jasper Bench. The wolves are all rather muddy themselves, so they are a little harder to tell apart than usual!
But I do see my favorite female wolf, the 06, as well as the two adult black males. 755M continues to limp but it does not seem worse. Three of the four gray yearlings are present. Laurie ID's the dark gray male and 776 but the third gray in view this morning remains undetermined. The fourth gray is presumed to be back at the den, babysitting.
Note: 776 is a gray yearling female who lost her collar.
While the 06 is feeding, 754 edges in for a bite. Oh boy! We can hear her growl at him, and hear his yelp as she snaps. This is typical behavior for her. She is so serious about getting to feed first! Wow. When she is finished she heads up onto a rocky knob for a short rest. Now the others may take their turns. One of the grays follows her onto the rocks and soon we have three gray wolves bedded on the hilltop while the other three are feeding.This is a relatively close sighting and I am delighted with it!
After a little while, the 06 gets up and begins to explore the area behind the rocky hill, then turns west and heads toward Lamar Canyon. One of the grays thinks of following her, then changes his/her mind. The 06 takes several looks at the line-up of cars and all the people watching her. She seems to grunt and shake her head at us.
She disappears and I wonder if she will cross the road but I am compelled to keep watching the wolves in front of me.
One by one, the three remaining wolves leave the carcass and head up to the rocks, seeking out each other and a perfect bedding spot. The wolves pose quite nicely for anyone with a decent camera (of course I've left mine in the car). I always enjoy seeing the affection these animals seem to have for each other. After about 15 minutes, the 06 re-appears, returning from her jaunt to or through the Canyon. As she approaches the hill, her family rises to greet her in a lovely rally. No howling but lots of tail wagging and jumping and nuzzling.
Then without further ado, she sets off east, bringing home more food to her babes. The rest of the pack dutifully falls in line.
I drive down to Mid Point and watch their progress along the far bank at the base of Jasper Bench, and then Amethyst. The gap between the 06 and her family widens. She finally stops and howls for them to hurry up. They howl back but make no progress! She gives up and heads on alone.
Do I have to do everything myself? Hah! She is such a character!
Once the slower-moving group is well past my position I move on to Hitching Post in hopes of seeing them cross the river and head home. I want to be ahead of them so I don't interfere with their crossing.
I watch for the 06, as does the crowd, but somehow the majority of us miss her anyway. Jeff calls out "there she is" and she is already across the river AND the road, heading up 21's crossing. She is clever, that one!
I turn my scope west to try to find the others coming in. Eventually, I see 755, 776 and the Dark Gray male appear in the river bottoms, among the willows and river channels. They each take a different route, with the Dark Gray male taking time to find and play with a pelt of some sort.
I love watching animals cross waterways and I am rewarded with some nice viewing this morning. I get to see them wade and swim and shake off and I notice the various channels have differing depths.
754 and the third gray yearling remain in the Chalcedony area. Someone reports that 754 is chasing a pronghorn! I miss it but I do see the gray yearling take a stab at it - then I realize it is the pronghorn's newborn the wolf is after. I suddenly see a much smaller something running between the pronghorn and the wolf. But the wolves are not successful; it turns out to be good training for the pronghorn fawn.
The day has become quite warm. I am now in a short-sleeved t-shirt and can't wait to get out of these hiking boots!
While waiting for the Lamars to show up and cross, I see a golden eagle hunting. At one point the eagle swoops down and grabs something, right at the edge of the old river bank south of me, probably a ground squirrel. The prey is in its talons and the eagle hops up higher on the bank, then lowers its head to begin pulling the fur off.
Suddenly a there is a blurry rush of fur and feathers! The eagle screams out and I hear growling. A coyote dashes in out of nowhere, steals the prize and bounds off with it in his mouth.
Moments later a second coyote joins the brazen thief and they gulp down the meal. The eagle is miffed. It pecks at a few scraps left on the hillside, then it flies off to the north, looking very insulted.
I am getting very hungry so I head to Roosevelt, but find I am too late for breakfast. Instead I pull off the road, make some coffee and scrounge up a lunch from the food I have with me.
Next I head further west to see what else I might find.
I stop a long while at Floating Island Lake watching the various birds here. The sun is beating down and I do my best to stay in the shade.
I don't hear any yellow-headed blackbirds, but I do find the sandhill crane sitting patiently on her nest. Then I notice a family of geese on the western shore. Mother Goose takes her seven cute gosslings into the water with her. They journey across the lake towards the small island where the crane sits.
There is a narrow strip of land behind and to the east of the crane nest which the geese aim for. They climb out on the weedy land and begin squawking and flapping and raising a racket as only geese can do.
The poor mother crane looks like she wants to put her feathers in her ears but she manages to stay put with barely a glance in their direction.
The geese finally quiet down but continue to preen and stretch. It looks to me like a deliberate effort to be annoying to the crane. But the crane mother just toughs it out and finally the geese take to the water again. I can almost hear her sigh in relief!
I head back east and go all the way up to Silver Gate where I visit with Laurie a while, then take a nap. Ah bliss!
Around 7 PM I head back out and set up at Hitching Post on the low hills, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Lamar pups. There are reports of five pups this year - three black and two gray. But other than elk and bison I see no critters.
Then, just as we are losing the light, someone finds a bear out in the rendezvous, prowling the tree-line. It looks like a black bear to me, but when it moves a little further along I see its hump. Grizzly! I head in early back to Silver Gate.
Today I saw: 1 grizzly bear, bison, 2 coyotes, a sandhill crane, a golden eagle, elk, pronghorn, 6 Lamar Canyon wolves, including all the adults and three yearlings, and the spirit of Allison.