Winter Trip Dec. 8 & 9 update Dec. 19

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Winter Trip Dec. 8 & 9 update Dec. 19

Post by karenandbill »

Update: Just heard that this past week one of the pups from the new Carnelian Pack was chased down and killed by a group of the Junctions. One pup got away but the other one didn't make it. With mating season coming and lots of wolves near each other, it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. Hopefully, we don't have more fatalities.

We left for the park on Tuesday, spent the night in Gardiner, and returned home on Wednesday. Coming in through Paradise Valley on Tuesday, we were surprised not to see anything but a couple of small pronghorn herds along the Old Yellowstone Rd and nothing along Hwy 89. After grabbing some lunch and checking in the motel, we headed into the park. Several elk herds and lots of bison were around as we headed towards Roosevelt and Lamar. Just after Hellroaring the wolf spotters were out. There were no parking spaces but in asking as we drove by, the Junction Buttes were about 2 miles out and not much action was going on, so we decided to keep going. We finally saw a coyote in Lamar out by the river, but too far for photos. We headed out to Pebble Creek and just before the campground in the area called Round Prairie We spotted a moose, then another, then 2 more. One bull had a decent sized rack. We got a few photos and turned around at the campground.

ImageDSC_0034 by William Reinke, on Flickr

On our way back we spotted a fox in a pullout eating something. As we eased closer we were shocked and disappointed to see it was eating dog food that had been left for it. In this photo the fox almost looks guilty like it knows it shouldn't be doing this.

ImageDSC_0036 by William Reinke, on Flickr

After heading through Lamar Valley in the Rocky area just before Slough Creek, Bill spotted something rather small waddling along the side of the road. As we passed Karen said, "I have no idea what that was." By the time we turned around and got back to it, it was off the road and all we got was a blurry rear end shot.

ImageDSC_0046 by William Reinke, on Flickr

By this time we realized it was a muskrat heading down to the river. But we have no idea what it was doing up by the rocks along the road.

At Slough the wolf watchers were pulling in by the restroom and some were heading out with their scopes. In chatting with an individual there the wolves were last seen heading in this direction. But it was now dusk and we figured if they did show we wouldn't see much with our moderately priced scope. So we decided to head in and try to see them in the morning.

When we arrived early the next morning, we were disappointed to see the watchers back at lower Hellroaring with nothing currently visible. So we headed over to Slough and there was nothing out there. But as we got back to "Little America", we saw a car off the road with a couple looking up on the ridge to the south. They were kind enough to share that they had seen wolves on the top of the ridge. Bill spotted one briefly, then another. Then there was a burst of snow and 4 bighorn rams were running full speed over the ridge and down over the rocks with now six wolves visible on the ridge. They did not pursue the rams but were neat to see silhouetted against the clear blue sky. They headed east and back over the ridge. We had a good view through binocs and our scope but too far away for pictures.

As we were viewing the wolves, one of the watchers drove up and we were actually able to help him find the wolves for once. He got on a radio and soon a whole caravan drove by us hoping to see them come out further east. We headed after them and pulled in at Slough Creek. Sure enough, there were nine wolves clearly visible through the scope in the snow at the top of another ridge. Most of them were bedded but we were able to see a couple of the pups playing at various times. In chatting with others there, the Junctions have mostly been moving between Hellroaring and Slough. The wandering Wapitis have made a couple of brief appearances and the eight mile pack has also been seen just to the west of Hellroaring. There is also a new pack, the Carnelians, with a couple of pups from this year that has also appeared in the area. Lots of wolves in a relatively small territory but, so far, no confrontations that anyone is aware of.

It was time to head back and on the way out through Paradise Valley, Bill suggested going over to Cinnabar Basin Rd north of the bridge across the river at Corwin. Just as we turned north we spotted some Bighorn right by the road. Three males were checking out the females and two more came across the road to join them.

ImageDSC_0081 by William Reinke, on Flickr

We were hoping to see some head-butting, but other than a little kicking, things settled down and the two rams left heading back up the mountain after a female that showed up on the top of the ridge.

ImageDSC_0074 by William Reinke, on Flickr

We drove on back into the canyon and it was absolutely beautiful.

ImageDSCF9596 by William Reinke, on Flickr

Back on the highway we saw a young golden eagle was on a carcass by the road. We were able to turn around and after pulling off the road get a few shots. A perfect way to end our trip.

ImageDSC_0090 by William Reinke, on Flickr

ImageDSC_0084 by William Reinke, on Flickr

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a healthy Happy New Year!
Last edited by karenandbill on Sat Dec 19, 2020 12:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Winter Trip Dec. 8 & 9

Post by RikWriter »

Merry Christmas and HNY to you as well! Glad you had a good trip.

Posts: 165
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:45 pm

Re: Winter Trip Dec. 8 & 9

Post by Dorothy »

What a fun trip! Nice you got to see some wolves AND those bighorns were cool. Shame on people for putting out dogfood for the fox.

Thanks for sharing and a Merry Christmas to all!

Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:00 am

Re: Winter Trip Dec. 8 & 9

Post by Alicia »

Nice trip report!

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