Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grizzlies, Eagles, and Snow!

click photos to enlarge

This is a continuation of my previous post on our adventures in Yellowstone National Park titled Wolves, wolves, wolves, wolves.

Last night as we were watching the Slough den site this coyote walked in behind us and bedded down about 10 meters away.


We awoke this morning to about a half of an inch of new snow. We were both very tired this morning. The first I noticed I was not up to par was when I lit the stove but forgot to put the coffee on. Due to my slow reaction time, we drove well below the speed limit as we made our way into the Lamar Valley. Nothing here, so we proceeded on to Slough Creek to watch the Slough Creek wolf pack.

The highlight of the Slough Creek wolves was when one of the dark females walked toward the den area. The Alpha female immediately started chasing her. The others joined in. Seven wolves pursued her, but they eventually gave up the chase. It is a strange situation where this female is well received by the pack for the rest of the year, but during denning season, she appears to not be welcome. It appears to be a competition situation, as the alpha female is the instigator. The alpha is receptive to the other females who also have pups this year. It is reminiscent of year ago when Druid wolf 40 chased her sister wolf 42 from the pack. Later 40 ended up dead and 42 was the new alpha female. 42 was clearly the biggest threat which was likely why she was excluded by 40. Of course, we will never know. Just another fascinating reason to watch and study wolves. The seven Sloughs continued on up Slough Creek and out of site, apparently on a hunt.

At the half way point of our trip, we have yet to see a bear. This is the longest bear-less stretch we have ever had in the park. Since the weather is bad today, Paul, Karyn, and I decided to go searching for bears instead of hiking (when we like to avoid bears!). On the way we found an Agate wolf pack member chewing on a leg bone of a carcass. The wolf is referred to as half-tail as she has lost half of her tail and broke her leg. The leg healed and she has nearly full function. It’s amazing the will for survival that wild animals have.


At only the second location we searched we found two grizzly bears! They were interacting with a coyote regarding a carcass that appeared to be there just out of sight. As I indicated in a previous post, this is and will continue to be a very good year for carnivores as there are winter kill carcasses everywhere. We watched the bears for an hour before the weather deteriorated so that we could no longer see. Word arrived that they were also seeing Grizzlies at Slough Creek and in the Lamar Valley.

Today would also be a day of the eagles. We would see 6 different eagles today, 5 bald and 1 golden. Here is a picture of a juvenile Bald Eagle on a carcass with more than 30 Ravens.


Karyn and I retreated to the Lamar Valley to a place called Dorothy’s Knoll and took a much needed nap. Wave after wave of snow has moved through the valley. A Western Meadowlark sang nearby in between storms.


Later we would watch members of the Druid wolf pack. One grey nearby in a heavy snowstorm, then a dark female later after it cleared. Despite the weather it was a great day.



On the way home we found a Red Fox. This makes it our first three dog day (wolves, coyotes, fox)!

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