Mike's Trip April 28 to May 11

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Mike
Posts: 102
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:20 pm
Location: California

Mike's Trip April 28 to May 11

Post by Mike »

Entered the park from the west entrance on a bright and quite warm Wednesday afternoon.I did not see anything on the drive to Mammoth Campground but was struck with the lack of snow cover and the low water levels in the rivers.I was lucky to get the last available camp spot to the dismay of the others lined up behind me.I talked to a lot of people that go to the park on at least a yearly basis and no one was happy with the new reservation system,gone are the days where you could get a spot any time before May 1st.

After settling in at camp I headed out to the Lamar Valley,no elk,and I mean NO elk at all not even at Mammoth( I was later told that there was a large amount of Elk still in the Paradise Valley)There was some activity at the Slough den site,mostly wolves trying to keep the grizzlies away from some food source that was growing all around the den.The Lamar River was way low and the osprey nest in the canyon was occupied by a pair,could never see if they had chicks or not.The valley had a decent amount of bison,some with red dogs.

Saturday everyone at Mammoth Campground were evicted due to all the spots being reserved,I just had to move down three spots to the site that I had reserved,but I imagine that some could not be to happy to have to leave with really no place to go,a lot went to Eagle Creek on Jardine Rd. or out to Yankee Jim,I later heard that all of those camps were full too.Due to having to move camp I got a late start out to the Lamar and just past Boulders had this wolf cross the road right in front of me and head west toward the Yellowstone Picnic Area.

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Saturday was the last of the seventy degree days,the night was quite a lightning storm,after that it was pretty much rain,snow or most of the time graupl with temp at time down right cold,sixteen degrees at night and daytime temps around thirty seven.

Not much happening till Sunday when six wolves spent hours trying to take a bison calf down off of Hellroaring turn out.The wolves would charge the calf and get hold of it until the herd would come to the rescue.The wolves would back off and lay down for a while then right back at it,I could not understand why the cow was staying apart from the rest of the herd,it just invited a attack.
After three to four hours the wolves gave up and moved on.

If bears are the thing you wanted to see you were in luck as there were bears everywhere,grizz at Slough Creek,lots of bear activity above Jasper Bench,Amethyst Creek,off of Footbridge and out at Kay Meadow,up on the fingers where I got a twofer with a grizz and a red fox.Most of the bear activity was up high where the sun was greening up the high spots.The first grizz down low was a grizzly spotted by one of the spotters(Bill maybe) at Round Prairie with possibly a coyote in it's jaws,when I heard that I had to get up there and check it out,never did find the bear but as I rolled up a very frighted red fox run from the open meadow across the road along Pebble Creek bridge.The speed of him running and looking back made me think that perhaps the bear had a hold of a fox and not a coyote,perhaps the foxes mate.

I think we have a new star wolf,a male black yearling with a collar was everywhere,usually traveling with a older grey female with a graying muzzle,while by myself at Footbridge I was lucky to see him give chase to a antelope,that lasted about three seconds,then have him cross Soda Butte Creek right at the pull out and then cross the road and disappear up toward Druid Peak.The old wolf stayed down in the valley and occasionally howled.

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Moose were almost always around at Round Prairie,a cow with a one year old calf and a couple of bulls,one who took interest in the cow,he started to slowly walk towards the cow and calf,so they started to move away,then the bull broke in to a trot and cow and calf did the same ,finally the bull was running at full speed and the cow and calf high tailed it as fast as they could run and off in to the brush.

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The cooler weather brought out the animals,started to see more and more elk,deer,and black bear who were at all the spots you would expect,Phantom Lake had a sow and cub and a cone zone all week,lone bear at Floating Island lake,Boar behind the Tower Ranger Station,sow with two cubs way up on the hill behind Petrified Tree,under the Yellowstone River Bridge,a large black bear out in the open at Amethyst Creek which was strange as there had been grizz in the same spot on prior days,black bear seen multiple times at the east entrance to Lamar Canyon and a sow with a white blaze on her chest with two cubs,one black,one cinnamon in the pines east of the Picnic area

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Starting in to my second week,on one morning as I entered the Lamar in looked like the nickname given to it,"The American Seringetti" ,there were bison everywhere on the valley floor,and more and more bison were calving.That is probably the reason that bison carcasses were popping up,and pretty much close to the road.One at the turn between Petrified Tree and Tower that I only saw a grizz and some coyotes on,also saw a badger in the same area.Another bison down right off of Coyote turnout that had action on it for multiple days including the black yearling wolf.

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And one more at the Old Picnic Ground that had grizz,wolves,coyotes all taking turns,first a grizz came down and crossed the river straight to the carcass,I left for the night and the next morning the bear was still on the carcass.While sitting on the site waiting for the next animal to come in a feed out of the corner of my eye I saw a lone red dog running full speed and alone with no other bison insight,he ran to the carcass and sniffed it and then just kind of hung around what must have been his mother,not too much longer the black yearling wolf showed up and dispatched the poor little one in about fifteen grueling minutes. I never did see any animals feed of the calf carcass even though it laid less than a hundred feet from the cow carcass.The third day five coyotes came in and fed and then were run off by once again the black yearling wolf and two other wolves who in turn were chased by bull bison for quite some time until the bulls gave up.Saw another badger while observing all of this action at the OPG

On Thursday the sixth the gate at Slough Creek was opened and people could now get down a little closer to the den site,there were reports that there were pups spotted peeking up out of the den site,so it looks like we will have a new generation.Friday was the Opening of the Hayden so off I went to get in the half mile lined of cars waiting at seven AM,nothing really happening water was really low at Le Hardy's Rapid,very little snow cover,people were watching out to the west of Trout Creek were there was a grizzly,too far for me with no scope and glare of the sun on the snow fields made it difficult on the eyes.Moved on to the lake,nothing went as far as Cub Creek and decided that I would go check out the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody as I had never been there,did not no what to expect but was very pleasantly surprised that the museum was very well done,spent three hours there,could have stayed longer but knew I had a long drive back to Mammoth.

This trip ended up being one of the most enjoyable trips as there seemed to be something happening at every turn,lot's of animal interactions,wolves pretty active(not just watching the den site) so many bears I stopped counting,two badgers which I had not seen any in years this early in the spring.

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karenandbill
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:55 am

Re: Mike's Trip April 28 to May 11

Post by karenandbill »

Mike, Looks and sounds like you had a great trip! We saw some of the stuff that you did, but you saw a lot more with the bears and the wolves. You got some nice photos as well. Thanks for sharing. We'll have to check out the museum some time when we're out by Cody.

Karen and Bill



Dorothy
Posts: 167
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:45 pm

Re: Mike's Trip April 28 to May 11

Post by Dorothy »

Wonderful report with great pictures. Thanks so much for sharing!



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