The road is very wet today and a mist begins to rise from it. Looks like we may have some fog today.
Round Prairie is socked in. It looks really pretty, though.
I meet Rick at Picnic. We have no visibility due to the fog but he says this area tends to clear first. Jeremy has told him 1047 is to the south, so hopefully we will see him when the fog lifts.
Rick suggests I go to Trash Can while he goes to Hubbard. He finds a wolf in the R-V and helps me locate it from here. Itís not 1047 but an un-collared black.
The fog does start to lift so I hope the wolf will remain in sight for Laurie & Dan to see. I hear a report of a black and a gray on the north side being seen from the Institute. Hmm, I could go there but decide to stay in place with my ďsure thingĒ.
The wolf Iím watching seems to be searching for pronghorn fawns. It gets chased periodically by an adult pronghorn or two for short spurts, but the wolf is not deterred. It wanders towards the back of the fan.
Laurie arrives and calls up the hill, asking if I heard the call about the 2 wolves to the north. I say yes, but Iím staying here. She and Dan decide to continue to the YES pullout. By now the fog has lifted and I can see the whole valley. My wolf moves into the trees behind the foothills and I lose it. I never learn for sure which Junction this is but itís probably one of the yearlings.
Now I join Laurie & Dan at YES. They got a quick glimpse of the two wolves but they are now out of sight. We scope anyway and end up finding three grizzlies to the south on Specimen; itís the Junction sow and her two coys. Then Dan finds another grizzly (a small adult) grubbing on the hillside to the west of her.
Then Dan finds a moose in the new growth/deadfall forest to the upper right of Amethyst creek. Wow, what a great spot. Laurie & I are finally able to find it but it keeps going in and out of thick trees. When heís in sight, though, he is a beauty: a healthy young bull.
Next we hear a radio report of a wolf being seen south of Boulder. We pack up to head there, but as we exit Lamar Canyon, Carl calls in a different wolf sighting south of the divide.
So we stop at Slough and put up our scopes. Laurie finds the wolf, an un-collared black, fairly low on the hill, roughly east of the big rock that marks the old Crystal Creek acclimation pen site. This wolf is heading towards Divide Ridge, just shy of the western side of Lamar Canyon.
I watch him for a while, as he goes in and out of view, then lose him for good in thick forest. Laurie thinks this could be the male yearling.
We decide to go back to Dorothyís to catch this wolf coming over the other side, but run into a major bison jam in the canyon. There is even less room to maneuver in the canyon than there was west of the Institute, so we must be patient. We know the lumbering animals will leave the road once they reach the end of the canyon.
The finally do but the jam makes us too late to see the wolf. Watchers at Coyote saw it appear on the western end of Jasper bench but it has already disappeared into the trees.
We stop anyway and scope other critters for a while, finding the eagle nest (a single eaglet is now fledging) as well as pronghorn, elk, sandhills and geese.
I decide to head west again, and Iím glad I did. At the big ski lot today there is a cinnamon black bear sow with her two darling cinnamon coys. Oh, boy, are they cute!
I stop at Hellroaring and scope for a bit, trying to find the meadow where the Wolf Project plane has occasionally seen the Phantom pups. We know itís a meadow with a tree in the center, but we find about 6 meadows that fit that description, and we see nothing moving in any of them.
Then it suddenly starts hailing, so we pack up & leave.
This time as I wind through Lamar Canyon there are a few bison stragglers following the earlier herd to the east. One of them a very badly injured cow. She has two bad legs; one front and one back. Oh, poor thing. She keeps hobbling along, though, gamely following her herd.
Then I think, how will she swim the river with her two bad legs? Sheís quite pitiable.
When I pull in to Dorothyís I learn to my delight that the people here have two wolves in view. One is bedded in the sun in the same gravelly, former river bottom spot where 1048 was several days ago. The other is an un-collared black, perhaps the same one I saw this morning in Chalcedony, or it could be the one we missed coming over Divide Ridge. No way to tell.
The un-collared black has a dull bar marking across its chest, slightly light sides, a small white mark on the tail, and slight white streaks on the withers. This wolf is quite restless. I think it wants to cross the road.
The un-collared black howls a bit, then heads for the road, looking like it will cross between Dorothyís and Coyote. And thatís just what it does. Some people get in their cars and follow the wolf too closely, but the animal makes it across safely. I stay in the lot and get video of it crossing.
I see it again on the north side, moving purposefully towards Secret Passage.
I turn back to look at the bedded wolf. He is asleep and looks like a washed up log!
Dorothy D (Unit 59) had been at the east end of the lot, seeing the same wolf action that I have. She now joins me on the western end. We compare notes and catch each other up. I tell Dorothy that this could be 1047, since Jeremy had his signal earlier today and because this wolf has a lot of gray in his face and on his sides. But when the wolf stands up to re-bed itís obvious to both of us that he does not have enough gray to be 1047, so we pronounce him 1048.
He howls from his bedded position. Itís been nearly an hour since the other wolf left. He seems perfectly happy here, and may sleep all afternoon.
Itís after 1PM, and I am needing my own nap so I say goodbye to Dorothy and head in.
I go out for the evening at 6:45. The day has turned glorious, nearly making me forget how foggy it was to start.
At Round Prairie, I see people out of their cars so I stop to see whatís going on. They are watching a beautiful grizzly across the river. It sits in high grass, looking down at something. Then it suddenly dashes really fast to the left, catches something and begins to feed. Itís a gorgeous bear but I donít know what it just caught.
Laurie & Dan come by and we all watch the bear a while. Laurie thinks it could have caught an elk calf. But we canít tell.
We continue on to Dorothyís. Turns out we have arrived just in time. 1048 has just gotten up. Heís been out here for 7 hours!
When I get set up he is just across the river. He makes for a certain spot on that side Ė Laurie says itís an old bison-calf carcass. He feeds on those remains for a while.
Then he goes back into the river. He starts to swim and gets pulled down in the current a while. He seems to enjoy it! He climbs out on our side and shakes off, then heads towards the road, clearly wanting to cross. He picks his favorite route, between Coyote and Fishermanís. On his way he spooks a coyote in the sage, which runs off quickly to the east.
After I lose him between the pullouts, Dan and Laurie & I move our scopes into the sage meadow on the north side. Laurie finds him briefly below the shale forest.
Dan finds elk on the north side; I find some on the south side and I locate the resident bald eagle. There is a little girl here, crying because she missed the wolf. Itís her familyís last night and I try to comfort her.
Dan and I find three coyotes sitting on the north side, about half-way up the hill, bodies hidden; just their ears and faces sticking out. Makes us chuckle.
On our way home we see two mulies at YES, and then see the moose with twins just outside the Northeast gate. What a nice way to end a great day!
Today I saw: 4 black bears including 2 coys, 5 grizzly bears including 2 coys, bison, 4 coyotes, mule deer, 2 bald eagles including an eaglet, elk and calves, geese, pronghorn and fawns, 4 moose including twin calves, 2 or possibly 3 Junction Butte wolves (including two un-collared blacks Ė or possibly the same wolf twice) and 1048M, and the spirits of Allison & Richard