Saturday, April 25, 2009

First full day and we got a wolf (on film).

The day started with 12F temps but blue skies. The birds were still quite active near the lodge and David is giving us all a tutorial.
We went to Gardiner Basin to start our field work. After an introduction to the area and plants we took soil cores from the native grass Poa secunda (Sandberg's Bluegrass) and 3 invasives: Alyssum desertorum (desert alysum/madwort), Eremopyrum triticeum (annual wheat grass) and Agropyron cristatum (crested wheatgrass). The invasive species in Gardiner Basin have sigificantly reduced grassland productivity and we will be investigating their impacts on soil nitrogen cycling and organic matter decomposition. After collecting at GB we heade to Mammoth Hot Springs to look for Centaurea stoebe (aka maculosa) (spotted knapweed), we found very few, but on the way we spotted a lone wolf.

There was a kill (probably an elk) nearby that the park rangers were "guarding" and we figure this wolf was trying to get a meal. We spent a good 20 minutes using David's spotting scope and the 400 mm lens on my camera taking pictures and letting other interested passers by take a look. There are many more pictures (I took over 100 myself) and the video below is taken with a Flip MinoHD through David's scope, not easy to do, but when it is lined up the picture is awesome.

We also saw Bighorn sheep from a distance and plenty of elk, bison and pronghorn antelope.

Tomorrow we are getting up at 5AM to go "Wolfing/Grizzing". It's a 45 minute drive to the best wolf territory and we need to be there by sunrise for the best chance to see wolves or grizzlies.

It was a great first day, we all worked well together, got our research going and got to see a wolf.

Time for bed.

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