I head out into a lovely cool, foggy morning. Lots of moisture on the car, but more mist than rain. I hear a shrikeís wings whirring this morning. My first this spring. I also hear ducks quacking, which is not a sound I usually hear in the morning at Silver Gate.
The mountains are beautifully veiled. We all cleaned and packed last night - L & D are flying back to San Diego at 1:30 today so we have to leave wolf watching around 10AM.
I stop at Round Prairie to glass for 1228 or her black mate. No wolves in view but I do hear a woodpecker hammering away.
At Soda Butte east a coyote is on the road, sniffing something interesting. Visibility looks promising today, so I cross my fingers.
At the Slough traditional den I see one black wolf but Iím not sure who it is. I move over to Crystal and see a shape against a rock that I think is a wolf. But it doesnít move so Iím not sure.
Someone is on the radio, reporting two blacks have just crossed the road northeast of Boulder. Someone else calls from Rickís Ė the Rescues are in sight again.
I also hear that someone saw a MOUNTAIN LION on their way in today from Mammoth!
I head west to try to see the Rescues, but on my way past Curve I see people looking intently to the north. Aha! Itís 1229F trotting very close to the road, heading west.
Ahh, I remember the old bull elk carcass at the base of Junction Butte. I bet sheís headed there.
Laurie & Dan are ahead of me. They pull over to watch 1229 and I join them. She disappears pretty quickly into the tall grass, though.
We are too late to see the Rescue wolves so we go back to Crystal. As it turns out, the shape I saw against the rock WAS a wolf after all, in fact, itís collared gray 1340M.
I was hoping it was 907F but Jeremy says her signal is too weak, so she is likely still underground. Rick is in the pullout, surrounded by a school group that is visiting today. He is giving a talk and Jeremy will do one, later.
I spot a collared black (1276F) moving west on an open hillside. She is much closer and easier to see than the bedded gray so we help the school group see her. We also see a bald eagle and two hawks.
Next we get another radio report of wolves on a carcass north of Long Pullout. I am headed there when I see a cocoa yearling just on the south side of the road (having just crossed from the north). This wolf moves east in good view for a while.
When I lose it, I join the crowd near Long Pullout. Just to the north is a flat meadow between two hills. There are two wolves here, feeding on morsels (I think it was a bison calf carcass from a week ago). One is 1276F and the other is collared gray 1341F. They are both bedded, gnawing on small morsels.
The gray gets up first and heads slightly west towards the road. Taylor zips into action to deal with traffic to help the wolf across. He doesnít need help and gets across easily.
1276F starts going east on the north side, but I can tell she is aiming to return to her den on the south side. She also makes it across just fine.
So, once more I head to Crystal again. And Iím in luck. Shortly after I set up, 907F emerges from the den. Yay! She looks thin but overall healthy.
The mist from yesterdayís all-day rain is reluctant to leave, still embracing the high peaks. Itís just gorgeous. We are all happy wolf watchers, seeing one of our favorites, 907F. She turns 8 this year and this is her 6th litter. Itís also wonderful to see my human friends, Larry & Linda healthy again.
We can see the traditional den from here, so I take a look. I did miss some action there, but Frank was on Daveís Hill and dutifully reported it. While I donít see wolves, I do see quite a few elk above the den area, at least 50.
As the clock approaches 10AM we say our goodbyes and head back to Bozeman. On my way through Paradise Valley, a passing truck spits out a stone that cracks my windshield!
Today I saw: bison, a coyote, a bald eagle, elk, a hawk, 7 Junction wolves (including 907, 1229F,
1276F, 1340M, 1341F, a cocoa yearling plus a black at the traditional den) and the spirits of
Allison and Richard.