One of the cool things about wolf packs having yearlings at denning time is that they wander around and every once in awhile we might get to see one closer than a mile away. Another cool thing, if you are on den watch, is that the yearling feed and play with the pups, which is very cute. It is clear that life centers around the pack’s newest additions and all members are doing their part to ensure the health, safety and fun of the pups.
This morning the Junction Butte black male yearling was out and about in the Crystal Drainage, carrying a leg assembly that he no doubt intended to take to the den. He nearly crossed the road but was thwarted when a car pulled up and occupants jumped out and slammed doors. Wolves are not like bison – they aren’t going to stand still while you run towards them. Anyway, the yearling had his crossing nixed, which meant that I got to see him for a bit. He is a pretty wolf.
While waiting to see if the wolf was going to try and cross under the bridge I spotted an otter! Always a thrill to see an otter but amazing today because the Lamar River is rushing and tumbling. The otter caught himself a huge trout while I was watching and drug it along, swimming and running, until he found a place to eat. Not a great shot but the fish was impressive.
I then went up to the coyote den only to discover that the pups were no longer there. Apparently, a couple of wolves had been in the den area this morning and I am really hoping that those pups made it out of there. I think that they probably did. Mama came back to the den to check on things and so I got to see her.
Since things were a little slow I decided to take a drive up to the Beartooth. There was still a lot of snow and it was breathtakingly beautiful, even in late morning light. Not much in the way of wildlife, but a lot of people driving the road. On the way back down I pulled over to sleep for a few minutes and awoke to a marmot screaming right outside of my window.
On the way back there was a bull bison convention in Round Prairie and so I took a couple of shots of the big guys.
Forgot to mention that there was a weasel in Cooke City. My shots were blurry but it was still fun to see something that I don’t see often.
Drove down to Hayden and it was dead there. The sow and 3 coy has not been seen for a couple of days and no one was seeing wolves. So, I headed back to Slough, hoping to see some pronghorn babies but when that failed went looking for the Sandhill cranes. Found the family but a long ways out. The colts are growing fast.
I did drive back into Lamar and the valley is mostly empty, except for a few pronghorn. Most of the bison are in Soda Butte Valley now, far from the road, which is a blessing. Nothing on the Lamars today, that I know of. I imagine that they are out eating, loving, playing and enjoying life.
There was a black bear jam west of Roosevelt tonight and earlier today there was a jam up at Tower.
Hoping for some photos ops tomorrow! Oh, the Mammoth road to Gardiner is finally open and so is Blacktail Drive.