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Friday, November 4, 2011

A mountain lion on a mission

Winter has engulfed our world in the ten days. This is the little trail that connects our clearing to the forest around it.
After navigating that snow tunnel on my snowbike, K and I emerged into a more open area, where the deep blue sky and snow-laden pine trees painted a beautiful picture.
On the first couple of mornings after our last big snow, K was wired for action. I sensed that she could smell animals all around us. Of course, with my wimpy human nose, I couldn't smell them.

My wildlife cameras helped clue me into the action. Just before our last big storm, a hulking buck passed a camera in the mist of pre-storm clouds. I have no doubt that this big guy is the boss of all the bucks around here.
While it snowed, the mule deer were still on the move. This was during heavy snow and looks like a doe or youngster to me but it's hard to tell in the deluge of snow.
What a look this doe gave my camera!
Perhaps her "look" had something to do with the hulking buck following their group. Her calf is hurrying to stay ahead of him.
Meanwhile, not too far away, I noticed another reason for K's high alert level. A mountain lion had walked directly through the center of our trail system, passing over the rock where I frequently photograph K (see the 3rd photo in the last post), and heading down into the meadow where the Duo and I like to play.  His tracks were hulking and obvious.

During his foray into the center of our trail system, the mountain lion was undoubtedly stalking a small group of elk who have arrived to spend the winter in our meadows. I saw the tracks that the lion left as he hid behind trees and boulders, trying to approach the elk herd without being seen. Then, I saw his bounding tracks as he rushed toward a spot where there was a trample of elk tracks. At that point, I couldn't pick out the lion tracks anymore because they were in midst of such a trample.

I didn't find an elk carcass so I doubt that the lion had a successful hunt.
The lion tracks above told me with certainty that the lion was a male because the heel pad (the triangular back pad) was too big for a female or youngster. In addition, I found "scrapes", places under big pine trees where the lion had kicked back with his hind paws to get down to the dirt and then urinated on that spot. Males are much more likely to leave scrapes than females.

Today, I found out that I'd hit paydirt at one wildlife camera, getting photos of this lion during his nocturnal hunting.
At the point where the lion's photos were taken, he was in a remote and well-covered area. However, later in his foray, he marched directly down the open hillside behind K in the photo below. Yes, this was a bold and hungry lion on a mission! Hmm, I think that I now understand K's high intensity level.
Because K was so wired during our snowbike rides, she lost some of her privileges. Usually, when I have to stop for some reason, I allow her to mill around me as she wishes. In the past couple of days, I didn't trust her to stay out of trouble. In the photo below, she was doing a down-stay on top of the snow crust while I fixed a flat tire.
Winter has swept in with a fury this year. I must admit to some shock at the sudden change... riding a snowbike and struggling to break new trails for riding. I'm sure that it'll get easier as I get my "snowbike legs" - strong but slow legs. If it keeps snowing at this rate, we'll have a record year!

21 comments:

  1. oh the adventures you have. I love reading about them when I am safe and warm sitting in my little house.

    Burrrrr

    Bert's My Vickie

    PS Bert told me today that he was never going to say anything bad about me again. What is that about?

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  2. Your winter is so much prettier than ours is. In no time, ours becomes dirty and grungy looking, but I bet yours stays white and sparkly.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo

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  3. Hi Y'all,

    If y'all are gettin' all that snow I'm glad we've come back to the shore. I'm sure we'll get back to the mountains for Thanksgivin' but hopefully won't get snowed in!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

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  4. lady you get us nervous. Its like riding your bike in a zoo with loose animals, BOL
    Benny & Lily

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  5. Well, I for one am hoping for another record snow year (I bought new skis last evening)! There is even still plenty of snow in the city - though it was warmer today. K looks pretty in orange! Watch yourself with that big male lion following your trails!

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  6. Sorry, K. Even a really good dog loses it sometimes. And with a hungry mountain lion on a mission the good dog has to be reminded how important it is to respect the outdoors.

    Glad you are able to get out in spite of the snow.

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  7. Hi KB
    That big buck was a beauty! You captured a perfect photo.
    It looks so cold even if the sun is shining and the sky the deep blue.
    I hope your fast at changing those tires! You might need to get on and go fast!
    Such a beautiful world. A beautiful blanket.
    love
    tweedles

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  8. I never knew that about the lions triangle pad! Thanks for always teaching me something new!
    Beautiful snow pictures:)

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  9. It looks like you're making up for last year in a big way! I remember you bemoaning the fact that you'd gotten so little snowfall last year. Hopefully this year is much better!

    K glows in that winter light!

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  10. Wow!!! Fantastic pics and SO interesting! Enjoy every moment - great being able to share it with you via your blog!

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  11. That sure is a bike made for riding!

    Stop on by for a visit
    Kari
    dogisgodinreverse.com

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  12. Holy macaroni, that is A LOT of snow you've got! Seems like you're having a very interesting winter! Hope you don't get snowed in though, hehe.

    Pepsi

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  13. Nice articles. I'm just blogwalking and very happy to stop here. And also give you some comment here.

    Dont forget to give us some your comment into my blog too.

    Thanks for share,
    * Rio Prasetyo *

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  14. Hi Everybuddy, wow again. Those photos are fabulous. In the first photo of the mountain lion, looks like he has a collar. Is it a tracking device or just a shadow in your photo? Just wondering. Thanks for sharing. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

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  15. I really love your adventures, and respect and admire how you read the life and signs around you and keep yourself and 'K' safe. Sadly there are those that disregard them. I do hope you've had an enjoyable day!!

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  16. It seems way too early for winter weather, but there's a chance of mixed precipitation here tomorrow morning. I wouldn't mind Autumn sticking around for a little longer.

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  17. It sure makes one feel limited to see dogs scenting. On our walk through the woods yesterday Dexter air scented a few times. Wish I knew what he smelled.

    Mango Momma

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  18. Just as long as that cougar stays out of K's way. That's a big one.

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  19. I've been thinking a lot about how dry the mountains were the last couple of months, and now they are getting pounded. It will be so good for the soil, the trees and next year's wildflowers!

    I so enjoy watching the stories your track photos tell about the animals, but it's wonderful you're able to capture the actual critters at work and at play, too!

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