Monday, April 28, 2008

Wolves!

click photos to enlarge.


This is a continuation of my previous post on our adventures in Yellowstone National Park title Coyotes and Carcasses.

After the afternoon relaxation and tea, we headed back into the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone in search of wolves. At a place known as "Footbridge", we met up with a friend of ours, Paul, who we have spent time with on previous visits to the park. I beleive this is the third year that our visits have overlapped with his. Other friends of ours are scheduled to arrive later in the week.

"Footbridge" is a turnout which is close to where the Druid wolf pack have once again denned. Each turnout in the northern range has a criptic name that are used by the wildlife watchers - Hitching post, trash can, picnic area, Dorothy's knoll, etc.

The evening would turn out to be good for wolves. The Druid yearling wolf in the photo entertained us for 30 minutes.

 

The yearling walked through the valley stopping to chew on an old bull elk carcass half submerged in Soda Butte Creek. After a while he haded across the road and up toward the den site. Later, just before we planned to leave for the evening two more wolves entered the valley. They kept looking behind them apparently for other wolves to join them. As they sat down and waited, we heard two wolves howling at the den site. The two waiting in the valley didn't answer back, but kept looking back and forth from the den site and then back to where they came from. This is how the evening would end as the light faded.

This morning we traveled to Slough Creek where it is believed that the Slough Creek Pack has denned. Seeing no action here, most of the watchers moved west. Paul, Karyn, and I decided to stick around. Paul mentioned that sometimes it is better just to stick in one place that drive around looking for action. A short while later I was looking into where the Slough Den was 3 years
ago. I asked him if that den was the hole behind the middle aspen tree. Just then a wolf crawled out answering my question. We watched as this wolf walked around apparently looking for scraps then hiking off to the North out of site. We aren't sure if this is a female with puppies in the den. Her behavior wasn't quite right. It could have just been a yearling that was investigating and slipped in there just before I looked. We will talk to the local biologist about that one. We appeared to be the only 3 people who stuck around to see it. Wolf watchers always believe the viewing is better someplace else. It would end up, that we probably had the best watching today.

A bit later, Paul, Karyn, and I were joined by another woman Jean on a hike to tower falls from tower junction. This hike is on a closed road so it is an easy walk, 4 to 5 miles round trip. We were a bit nervous as they had seen a Grizzly Bear near the start about 30 minutes before we headed out. The hike climbs up the canyon wall of the Yellowstone River providing great views of the river and down onto nests of Osprey.

 

It is usually a great hike for black bears but we didn't see any today. We did see lots of birds and a Yellow-Bellied Marmot. On the hike back down we were attacked by a killer Blue Grouse.

 

The grouse wouldn't let us go. He kept chasing us until we were a few hundred yards away from where we first found him. He showed very unusual behavior as he appeared to try and divide our group. Not sure what would cause a threatened individual to step between two of the threats, but he did it over and over again. Maybe this only happens during mating season. I will have to investigate further.

For Lunch, Paul, Jean, Karyn, and I went to the elk creek overlook. We ate in the beautiful sun as Mountain Bluebirds flitted around in front of us.

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