Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Today the male fox was out and walked right up to Tim. He was hunting, jumping on the wood pile and poking his nose under cabins. The kits and the female were not around, but their den must be nearby.
The morning began with a grizzly walking toward the Confluence along the the Lamar River. He made his way through the sage at a good clip, crossing the road where he posed for photographers and a mass of visitors. The bear was very accommodating, even with an unruly crowd that walked right down the middle of the road. I stayed by our vehicle, unwilling to get in the middle of the fray. Eventually the bear crossed back to the Confluence side where he stayed into early evening.
Down the road at the Institute, a group was watching for the Junction wolves on the north side of the road and enjoying the antics of a sow grizzly and yearling cub on a snow patch near the top of Specimen Ridge at the same time. This was probably the Junction Butte bear and her cub again. The bears slid down the snow and chased each other across the snow field. There is something very touching about watching a mother bear play so energetically with her cub.
We stopped at Slough for a short while where four puppies played in the grass near the den site. They are fuzzy balls of light gray fur in the spotting scope. No adults were visible, but at least one babysitter had to be there.
Earlier this week we heard about a black bear sow with two cubs of the year near Elk Creek. Parking was almost impossible and the two cubs were perched high on the branches of a lodgepole pine, barely visible. We wanted to look for the Tower bears too, but we heard park rangers were keeping people away, so we didn’t bother. Instead we stopped at Wrecker, hiking out to the shade of a tree. A pronghorn doe gracefully weaved through the tall grass and sage followed by two fawns. She walked behind a large boulder, her offspring tottering after her. They are such delicate looking creatures. Earlier I spotted a doe in Little America with a fawn, so this is the third pronghorn with a fawn we’ve seen. Now I watch each doe and fawn carefully, looking for a second fawn.
This afternoon we hiked to Lost Lake hoping to see the black bear sow and cubs and look for badgers. For the most part, the trail is dry and flat. Lost Lake is surrounded by lily pads in bloom with large yellow flowers and the meadows are filled with phlox, larkspur, and yarrow. It was a cloudy afternoon, thunder once threatening rain. The mosquitoes almost did us in at one point – luckily we carried mosquito nets! When we reached the meadows above Roosevelt Lodge we spotted a large black bear sow with 2 two-year-olds crossing the slopes opposite us. They moved along quickly, the cubs loping to keep up with their mother, then disappeared in the trees. After the hike we drove up to Calcite to see if the great horned owls were around and two fuzzy owlets sat in the nest looking out. The parents must have been nearby, but we didn’t see them.
We haven’t seen many coyotes so far but today we saw two – one at Tower Junction and the second in Lamar Valley. Wish we could find a den somewhere.