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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

26 December 2009 Trip Report

by Wendy

Wolves near Canyon by John William Uhler © Copyright All Rights Reserved

~ December 2009 ~

Yellowstone Wolf ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

Saturday - 26 December 2009

Another amazing day in Parkadise. Started at Hellroaring at 7:45 AM and 8 degrees - but crystal clear skies and no wind. Druids on the carcass right off. Helped lots of folks see their first wolf this AM. And we had a nice golden eagle in a tree behind us.

The three Lava Creek wolves were in the area, too, but beat a retreat to the west since the Druids still outnumber them. They worried some elk up on a basalt cliff but moved on out of sight, while two bighorns snuck up the other side of the cliff.

Headed east to see Lamar Valley but never made it there. Stopped to watch the little orange (yes orange!) bison calf from Boulder pullout, then got a report of Mollies so headed back west to Elk Creek. They were way up on Specimen Ridge. They may have had a carcass, but saw no birds. So far away again - I counted 8 that I could be sure were wolves, but there were likely more.

Then back to Hellroaring where I was pleased to see 480 chowing down with three other Druids, while the new male was bedded further away.

After a while the Druids moved off to the west. They eventually topped out on a hill and began to howl. Soon the remaining bedded Druids joined them, and then I was thrilled to see a prodigal daughter return - 571F. She raised my Druid count to 9!

Then the Lava Creek pack showed up again, heading to the finally vacated carcass, only to spook for some reason. They ran back up the slope, to the northeast, giving us a nice long view. They are lovely wolves.

Yellowstone Wolf and Buffalo ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

About 30 minutes later we learned why they spooked - Blacktails! The five adult Blacktails burst onto the scene, appearing suddenly in the car cuss area, presumably from the west. They investigated every spot where any wolf from either of the two packs had walked or bedded or stopped. They sniffed and rallied, tails high, jumping on each other in excitement. Then they ran this way and that, following every scent trail they came across.

The Druids disappeared over their hill (these two packs were far apart) and we finally lost them loping through the sage following the route the Lava Creeks took to the northeast.

The Lava Creeks had about an hour's lead on them so I figure they will not be caught.

All this in freezing cold - oh my poor toes! No normal human should put themselves through this (!). Ended the day back at Elk Creek where Rick found Mollies and I saw dots. Finally one gray crossed across the snowscape, so I could confirm I was really seeing a wolf!

In the end, my count exceeded yesterday's. 25 wolves from 4 packs!

Also saw lots of coyotes mousing, a fat Clark's nutcracker, a bald eagle, many elk and a herd of about 50 bighorn sheep (Specimen Ridge).

Yellowstone Wolves ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

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