Itís unusually warm this morning Ė 36 degrees at 5:43. No new snow overnight but the sky is overcast.
As I pass the Confluence, I see a goose ahead of me right on the road, waddling its way toward the river.
My first stop is at Slough, where I see a black wolf walking up the slope below the natal den.
A second or two later a grizzly is spotted above the den and further east.
While I am watching the bear, I lose the wolf, so I drive over to check the Crystal area. I learn later that just after I left, a little drama occurred. 1336M decided to pay an ill-considered visit to the Junction den area. He appeared just west of the western trees. At first he was greeted as a friend by three of the Junction babysitters but then Big Daddy Alpha male caught wind of him. He bolted towards the interloper and the chase was on. The young wolves flip sides and join in the chase, showing their allegiance to their pack leader.
Doug says he thinks contact was made but they all disappear and then back comes the Alpha Male, right back to his spot under 890ís tree. Laurie thinks at this point that the Alpha female has given birth, and her mate is doing his duty.
Later still, 1336M is spotted again, seemingly fine and fit, bedded on a low hill north of Long Pullout.
Meanwhile, I am scoping from Crystal, looking for 907. Instead of finding her, I see a black wolf roaming the area. This wolf was later joined by a collared gray (1341F) and the ďskinnyĒ gray yearling. The three wolves came together for a happy greeting. Then 1341 leads the two others up the Divide Ridge, where there is a large herd of bison. We lose them as they near the top.
I join Laurie back at Slough and we see the Alpha male bedded again under 890ís tree. Three more wolves (two blacks and a gray Ė probably the flip-flopping babysitters) are roaming around here and there.
I notice more pronghorn in the area and Paul spots another grizzly, this one climbing up the lion meadow and then east.
We leave Slough to go to Long Pullout, hoping to see the Wapiti male. By the time we arrive, he has just crossed the road to the south. We find him crossing the flats towards the treeline. He is quite handsome with a bit of silver gray in his dark black fur.
We look for other wolves in this area but donít spot any, so I guess the females have lost interest. Maybe he is too young?
We get a confusing report of possible action in Lamar Ė confusing because we donít know the location. I stop at Dorothyís long enough to find a coyote in the flats, then continue further east. The location turns out to be the Confluence. I see Rickís car beneath Geriatric, so I park and haul my scope up the hill. I hear howling from the southeast as I climb. Oh, it sounds nice.
Rick tells me Doug Mac saw a hunting party of Junctions traveling through the old Druid Rendezvous. They are now heading down into the river corridor. By the time I manage to get my scope up, they are nearly out of sight. I do see the big, collared gray, 1340M. Then a minute later, I see good old 1048M, bringing up the rear.
A light rain has begun to fall as we try in vain to re-acquire our wolves. I see bison and more pronghorn, and a bald eagle perched in a tree. The temperature starts to drop, and the light rain becomes light snow.
Itís after 11AM and it looks like the precipitation is going to last a while.
So down the hill I go. I stop at Footbridge for one more look but donít find any. Time to call it a great morning of wolf watching.
The snow gets thicker as I drive east and by the time I get to Silver Gate, itís starting to stick.
Today I saw: 2 grizzly bears, bison, a coyote, a bald eagle, elk, pronghorn, 10 wolves (including 9
Junctions Alpha Male, 1048M, 1340M, 1341F, cocoa yearling plus two other blacks and two other grays),
1 Wapiti wolf (1336) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.