Monday, October 1, 2007

Yellowstone - October 1, 2007

Since this was our first full day, we wanted to use it all. So, we were out of the cabin at dawn.

Just after we passed through the NE entrance and turned the corner past Warm creek, my wife has me hit the brakes for.....a black wolf. This was our first true wolf encounter and we were thrilled. The wolf only stayed within sight for less than a minute and with the low light, this is the only evidence we have:
Black Wolf

If we saw nothing else the rest of the day, we would have been happy. But, that didn't last long.

A quick stop at the Mt. Barronette pullout yielded two coyotes hanging out and mousing. One was collared and they posed for lots of pictures.


Once the coyotes cleared out, we pulled out the scope and got a great look at a male Mountain Goat high up. He appeared to have his full winter coat already (he will need it later in the week...).

Next up, not 3 minutes later was this fellow crossing the road at a place we now call "moose junction":

As we passed the YA Institute in the Lamar, we saw a lot of cars pulled over with scopes pointed up the hill. Turns out the Slough Creek pack was on a kill in a small valley. They were mostly obstructed by trees, but we managed to see 4 of them. We also confirmed that it was a pack of coyotes that we saw the night before, since wolves do look noticably different.

Once they laid down there wasn't much to see so we pressed on to Slough Creek for a quick bio brake. But, we didn't make it far as we encountered our first bison jam and this little guy:

Once that cleared out, on to Slough Creek. Turns out, someone was waiting for us and was not shy at all. Another coyote:

So far we had seen more wildlife before 9AM then most people see all day :)

At Tower we ran into our favorite Bighorn Herd (met them many times last year). Looks like they had more young ones this year. I will save the pictures for our next encounter with them.

Nothing much happening over the Dunraven pass but we did see another coyote in the Hayden valley with a Bald Eagle not far away:

On to Le Hardy Rapids (Thanks to another Y-Net tip). No Harlequin Ducks but we did see these pretty Mergansers:

Back over Dunraven and another bear jam. A sow and cub. Fellow jammers say this is a Grizzly, but we decided that it was a cinnamon black bear.
Black Bear

Black Bear

Just past Rainy lake we ran into the resident mother black bear and her two cubs. The cubs were at the top of a tree and the jam was out of control so we moved on after a brief glimpse.

Back through the Lamar and our first close look at Pronghorn, one of my personal favorite animals in the park:

We were running out of daylight as we neared "moose junction" again and wouldn't you know it....

A female moose:

After spotting some mule deer along the way we passed the Mt. Barronette Pullout and found a herd of possessed elk. So, if you venture that way in the evening, beware...

What a day :!: :!:

12 Bighorn Sheep, 5 wolves, 5 Bears, 4 Coyotes, 2 Moose, 1 Mt. Goat, 1 Bald Eagle and the usual Bison, Elk, Mule Deer, and Pronghorn. Not bad for a days work.

Thanks for reading this rather long post. It was a busy day but stay tuned for tomorrow because that is "Wolf Day"...

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