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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

08 - 10 May 2009 Trip Report

Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Raven by John William Uhler © Copyright All Rights Reserved

~ May 2009 ~

Mount Haynes by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Friday - 08 May 2009

I left work at noon and made good time going up to Yellowstone. At 3:30 PM I spotted a nice black bear at the Mammoth Terraces. At 4:15 PM I saw a black bear sow with two cubs of the year (coys) on Garnet Hill. At 4:30 PM I found a small black bear low and right of Hellroaring Overlook, probably the yearling that was at the double pullouts last week. At 6:40 PM I spotted a grizzly sow with two yearlings in Round Prairie, probably the same bear that Dan had in the dark, while he was looking for a Great Gray Owl at Pebble Creek Campground. At 7:30 PM I found the white collared grizzly on an old carcass in the river corridor near Lamar Canyon West. At 8:30 PM I spotted two adult black wolves, one adult gray wolf and three puppies at the Cottonwood den site (still 2 1/2 miles away). I camped at Mammoth both nights, low around 30 degrees and highs around 50 degrees.

Saturday - 09 May 2009

At 5:45 AM I found a grizzly in the Lion Meadow viewed from Slough Creek bathroom. I heard howling so Ralph and I hiked to Bob's Knob, thought I was mistaken, but finally found the Cottonwood pack (now three blacks and three grays, even the alpha female was there). They howled and that got the Agate Pack to howl back from west and south near wolf #9's old den (but we never picked them up). At 6:30 AM I saw a large grizzly in Crystal, apparently leaving the river corridor carcass. I went on to Lamar where I heard that they had a grizzly close to the road just north and west of Coyote Overlook. Yep, it was still there, from 30 to 60 yard off the road, for the next 5 hours; just digging and grazing away. At close to 8:00 AM found 7 Druid wolves moving south at Cache Creek/Norris Mountain (4 black and 3 gray). Just before that, I had a brief sighting of a grizzly going out of sight in the same area. At 8:30 AM I found another grizzly in the same area, but this one was coming north and eventually ended up at Dead Puppy Hill (apparently an old wolf carcass in the new growth forest just west of Dead Puppy). Around noon, I spotted a grizzly 300 yards or less from Wrecker Pullout, just grazing and digging, later it must have crossed the road, since there was a large bear jam near the Yellowstone Picnic area (good for the photographers, about 40 yards). Moving up to Hellroaring Overlook, someone noticed elk running and for the next 20 to 25 minutes we had five wolves (3 black and 2 gray) chase elk in the large closest clearing towards Garnet Hill. Pretty nice action, but the wolves never got anything, at least what we could see. Around 2:30 PM the black bear sow with 2 coy's reappeared on Garnet Hill. At 4:15 PM we found a black bear sow with a yearling cub in the clearing behind Floating Island Pond. Meanwhile a single trumpeter swan was in the pond. At 5:15 PM, I was visiting with Ed & Bobbie from Jackson and Dan and Cassie from Silver Gate, when I found a grizzly north of the Old Lamar Picnic area. At 5:30 PM the grizzly sow with two yearlings was back in Round Prairie (apparently she has been there for 4-5 days, mainly coming out in the afternoon/evening. At 6:30 PM a nice sized black bear crossed the road at Hitching Post. At 8:00 PM I found three pups at the Cottonwood den site.

Old Faithful Eruption and Buffalo by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Sunday - 10 May 2009

Started out very nice, I spotted a grizzly in Crystal drainage at 6:00 AM. At 6:30 AM I found a black and a gray wolf at Footbridge. Then at 7:30 AM I saw a grizzly 50-70 yards off the road at Coyote Overlook. Looked like the same small grizzly as yesterday, but I am told that they cracker rounded it on Saturday, apparently they were not successful in getting it away from the road.

Other news:

South gate opened and the road to Tower Store opened also. All the nests are full of Osprey, but nothing on the Peregrine nest. Still two bald eagles on the nest in Lamar. But the Osprey wasn't on the new nest in the Lamar River West area. Had five mountain goats above Round Prairie when I was watching the sow with two yearlings. Rumors are that the Canyon pack has moved the pups from the den area 1/4 mile from Mammoth. Had a helicopter chase big horn sheep on Junction Butte and across from Boulder Pullout on Saturday, assume they were counting; however, with them to lamb in 3 weeks or so, surprised at that action. Tower Campground opens this Friday, so hope to get a spot and get a little more sleep this weekend. With daylight around 5:30 AM and light to well pass 8:30 PM, boy that's a long day.

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