Thursday, June 8, 2017
Early this morning the Junctions were bedded in Lamar Valley. They got up shortly after we arrived and moved west, one by one. The morning light was especially good, allowing us to see all five collars. The second gray we’ve been seeing is 907F. It was believed she denned elsewhere, but she is apparently traveling with the pack again. The wolves tested an old bison that swirled around and kicked at them. The situation quickly reversed, the wolves chasing the bison. A cow elk watched nervously from behind a berm then trotted off holding her head high. The Junctions finally gave up and headed into the trees.
We headed to Slough Creek arriving just in time to see an adult walk into the pine trees followed by a single pup. Way below the den a coyote hunted in the tall grass near the Slough Creek ponds.He weaved through the grass, pouncing and coming up with nothing. Red winged blackbirds and yellow headed blackbirds perched in tall reeds bordering the ponds, filling the quiet morning with their calls.
The Tower bears were out this morning. A black bear sow grazed in the meadows below Calcite with two yearling cubs. A ranger said she was turning out one of the cubs who was not hers. He was abandoned earlier by his own mother so she could find a new mate and had been hanging around this sow and cub. The sow chased the cub up a pine tree, climbing after it and forcing the poor cub literally out on a limb of the tree. The cub clung to the swaying branch as the sow inched toward it. The sow finally turned around and crawled back to the trunk of the tree. When we left, both bears were still in the tree.
This afternoon we hiked to Beaver Ponds. The trail begins near the Magistrate’s house in Mammoth and finishes near the Mammoth cabins passing through woodlands, meadows and wetlands. Wild flowers, including Rocky Mountain Iris, are everywhere. In one of the ponds, two ring-necked ducks are raising a family of five. They swam about, in and out of algae. Circling around towards Mammoth there are wonderful views of Mt. Everts, Electric Peak and the Gardiner River. There was a nice breeze and clouds kept us from getting too hot.
On the way to Little America and Lamar Valley we saw a cinnamon black bear and her cinnamon cub of the year at Elk Creek. The sow foraged in the grass in between deadfall while the cub followed her and ran up a tree stump to photographers’ delight. The Junctions were bedded again in Lamar Valley when we passed through – it seems to be their rendezvous site now – and the grizzly from yesterday morning was still at the Confluence surrounded by excited visitors.