Looking for Bears and the Wapiti Lake Pack

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Day 4

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

         After yesterday’s and last night’s rain, today looked like it would be a beautiful day.  Lamar Valley was quiet, so we headed for Slough Creek.  The den site was quiet too, but visibility was great with no heat waves.  It was cold, about 30-32º.  We waited in one of the lower parking areas, watching the bachelor bison in the meantime.  Soon three black wolves and a gray appeared, one black and a gray bedding briefly below the den site.  After a while, both wolves got up and walked a distance to the west where they bedded on a ridge.  And that is where we left them.

We decided today would be a good day to head south to Lake and Hayden Valley to see bears – Raspberry, Jam, Snow and her cubs – and the Wapiti Lake Pack.  https://www.yellowstonewolf.org/yellowstones_wolves.php?pack_id=46Unfortunately, none of our plans worked out.  The Wapitis weren’t at their den site and we heard no one has seen them there yet, but we did see a grizzly in the area.  While in past years we could count on seeing Raspberry and her cubs, the bears were nowhere to be seen.  The Lake area was socked in by fog and we could barely see ten feet ahead.  We took a break at Lake Hotel and returned to Mary Bay, Sedge Bay and Lake Butte when the weather cleared, but still no bears.  We did see a handsome coyote hunting near Fishing bridge.

On our way back to the northern part of the Park, we checked the great horned owl nest in Mammoth.  The mother was perched on a branch close to the trunk of the pine tree; she is light colored in the sunlight and faced away from us.  I missed seeing those big yellow eyes.  The chicks must have been deep in the nest because we couldn’t see them at all.

Near Floating Island Lake, cars lined the road watching a black bear sow with two 2-year-olds.  The sow seemed huge for a female, and the cubs were big, too.  The sow played with the cubs, cuffing them and wrestling with them.  It looked like she was disciplining them, but she was giving them life lessons, teaching them how to fight.   On the way to Slough Creek, we passed big horned sheep near the Yellowstone picnic area and a coyote in the opposite woods.  Bison and their calves spread out from Little America to Lamar Valley.  There was no wolf activity at the Junction Butte den site, but the sandhill crane was settled on her nest in a marshy pond, lying with her long, slender neck curved around her body.  We think we saw her mate hunting insects in Little America, pecking and digging in the ground.

The moose was grazing in Round Prairie tonight on the hillsides above Pebble Creek campground, barely lifting his head.  Across the road a prairie falcon hunted in the grass.  He flew in, landed, and pecked the ground searching for tidbits, then flew off to the woods on the opposite side of the road.  We saw the two foxes again on our way back to the cabin.  One was surrounded by people taking photos; the other, a little fellow, trotting along the side of the road.  They have become regular visitors in our day.

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