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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Wind Driven Clouds

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Bear Dances toward Hibernation

Most bears are snug inside dens at this time of year. However, at least one bear still is leaving tracks in our neck of the woods.

The most recent bear seen by my wildlife cameras was in late November. That bear was new to our area. He first appeared at a marking tree. He stood up to sniff the tree.
Look closely at the backs of his ears. You can see a light colored circle on the back of each ear. Those are ear tags. They indicate that this bear was caught misbehaving near humans. In all likelihood, he got into unsecured garbage or a bird feeder. Wildlife officials sedated him, put in ear tags, and relocated him to a new area. He will keep his ear tags for the rest of his life. Another episode of misbehavior will mean that he will be killed by wildlife officials.

That scenario seems about a million miles away when this bear is simply being a bear in the forest. After he sniffed the tree, the bear marked the tree but not the normal way. Rather than rubbing his back against the tree, he grabbed a branch to rub on his back without turning his back to the tree.

Soon, the bear was finished with that tree and walked toward the next one.

The next one was not far away. Our tagged bear marked this tree properly with his back to the tree and dancing as he rubbed his back all over the tree.

His next stop was a small pool of water that was mostly frozen on that night. He placed a paw on it as if to test how strong the ice was.

Soon, he turned around and began digging in the snow. We can't see what he was doing. However, when I was there, I saw that he nibbled on the remaining ground cover. It was a small snack.

Before he departed, he broke the ice and had a drink. You can see (and hear) that on the video that is a compilation of the clips of this bear at each spot.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The wavy rock hills of the desert

In the desert, we spent a whole week at K's Rock. What a treat it was to have such a leisurely time there to explore and soak up the beauty.

It is such a quiet place, with no noise except the wind. The combination of the reddish rock and the blue sky is gorgeous.

All of the rock in that area appears to be striped, as layers of different kinds of rock make up the landscape.

As we explore there, the hills and cliffs of rock dwarf all else.

I can't stop myself from taking a million photos of the stunning beauty.

It's hard to get a feel for the scale of this rocky wonderland. To try to do that, I took photos and video from the sky. This is another place that is great for flying a drone because there is absolutely no one around who it might bother. My goal is to never bother people or wildlife with it unlike the reckless pilots who have given drones a bad name.

The views that this flying camera give me put each little bump in the landscape into perspective.

I get an even better perspective with video taken from the air. Here is a short video taken from up high.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Black Dog Sunday

I have a tough time with the short days at this time of year. I have a couple of tricks to keep myself happy. First, I use a lightbox every morning, and it helps my mood (and my Circadian Rhythm) immensely. Second, I try to be out at sunrise to take photos during the morning golden hour.

This week, Shyla and I had a visiting star on our morning rides - our Black Dog!
That photo gives a good look at how expressive R's face is even though he's lost one eye. It turns out that he still changes his expression using the muscles around his missing eye. For example, he can still furrow his brows, both of them, when he's feeling worried.

Our Black Dog seemed to be very happy to be out running around with his sister. I can see that he's a bit more cautious now with only one eye but that makes sense.

He still can match his sister step-for-step when he wants to.

These two are a special Duo - they make me smile so much. They are so completely at ease with each other. You can see how Shyla's paw is barely touching R's paw. I find that they seem to always be in contact with each other if they're close together. It's wonderful.
Happy Black Dog Sunday from an almost completely healed Black Dog!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Happy Saturday from the Labraduo

We are having fun in our wintery backyard. Hide and seek!
And they thought that they were hidden!!!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Rock Sculptures and Beautiful Skies

One place that we stayed in the desert had the most intricately sculpted very tall canyon walls. The yellow leaves of the cotton woods almost disappeared against the backdrop of the red walls.

The red rock walls form huge and wide canyons.

The wind whipping through the canyons has eroded away huge quantities of rock in places, leaving behind only the hardest rock in the form of huge buttes that reach for the sky.

Even the sandy ground in this area holds secrets. This intricate nest was built by chimney bees. The tube leading up and out of the underground nest was only a centimeter tall and a half centimeter across. After I saw one of these, I saw them everywhere!

One fun mountain bike ride was along a rim that gave me very long views!

Due to the extremely short days, I sometimes was still out as the sun set. That was a sight to behold!

When I was back in camp, the sky would sometimes light up as the sun dipped below the horizon.

And the red walls near us would glow.

Then the stars would emerge, incliuding the Milky Way. The canyon walls in this photo are the same ones as in the daylight photo just above.

I made a very short time lapse video of the sky as the Milky Way floated across the sky and clouds floated in front of it.

We are joining our friends from the LLB Gang for Nature Friday!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Thankful for my Bond with Shyla

As I took photos of Shyla in the desert, I had so much fun. She's become a dog who can anticipate what I want her to do and even decide for herself what to do next for my camera.

This was an example. As the sun was setting on K's Rock, Shyla decided that it was time to wave. When Shyla decides something like that, I go with it to encourage her to have confidence to be assertive.
I've encouraged confidence in every possible way ever since I realized how fearful she was when I met her almost 7 years ago. Back then, I had no idea if we'd ever reach a point where we moved seamlessly as a team. I shouldn't have doubted.

When I photographed her in the desert, it was so much fun! I'd forget the time and forget the whole outside world. It was just Shyla and me playing games that sometimes ended up making good photos.

The sunset light inspires me, and Shyla seems to understand that time is short before the sun dips below the horizon. She follows my cues eagerly and fast.

She loves resting her chin on something and looking out into the distance - we can see so far in the desert, and she seems to love that.

She may like resting her chin on something because she can take a cat nap every now and then!
Back when I first met Shyla, I had very little hope that we would end up as such a tightly knit team. Of course, I'd just lost K, a dog with whom I'd built a bond for 8 years so Shyla seemed almost foreign to me. Over the years that I've known Shyla, she's made me a more sensitive and patient person. I hope that I've helped her to learn to believe in herself. It sure seems like it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A Bear Dances toward a Den

A male bear headed upward in elevation in early November, almost doubtless heading for snowy terrain to go into a den. You can see the leaves stuck to his fur. He probably had a nap in the midst of his journey from good eating grounds to good denning grounds.

He stopped at marking trees along the way to leave his mark.

As he headed upward, he passed another bear marking tree but seemed not to notice it at first.

But it seemed as if he smelled the tree as he walked and turned around to sniff it. Bears have incredible senses of smell.

After sniffing, he decided to mark the tree, doing an impressive dance to leave his mark.
Just after that dance, he trudged straight up a very steep hillside. It's an area where I know that there are rock dens so he may be ensconced in one nearby.

Here is a short video of his travels within our neck of the woods.

When I first saw this footage, I thought that this bear might be the last of the year. I was wrong. Another bear was still to come through our area....

Monday, December 3, 2018

A First Look Back at 2018

'Tis the season when I go through the year in photos to make my 2019 calendar. I thought that I'd share a few of my favorites from the first half of 2018.

I took both halves of our Duo fat biking with me one morning. I stopped to call them to me. Shyla was ahead but then R turned on his turbo burners to literally fly in front of her. I love this one because it captures R's personality so well.

He did a similar move in the same spot a couple of months later with no snow on the ground. R does nothing halfway. He throws his whole heart and soul into everything. And, as you can see from the look on Shyla's face, his intensity almost scares her.

This photo was about a month later during our very early spring trip to the desert. I think that R looks so handsome and almost regal in the desert setting. The behind-the-scenes story is that he took off to stir up some mayhem in our campsite just after I clicked the shutter.

At around the summer solstice, we were out for a late evening hike, and I wanted to get a photo of the Labraduo in the setting sunlight. Just as I was ready to click the shutter, R shook - and you can see what happened. Shyla did not look amused!

As I've been going through the photos, I am drawn to the ones that have R's eyes in them before glaucoma attacked them. This one was in a campsite surrounded by high wildflowers where we spent a week in early July. Purple lupines are in the background, and R's eyes glow so true.

And, Shyla's eyes glow true in this one.
Like every year, 2018 had its ups and downs. R's glaucoma was a sad part but he is, yet again, teaching us that his spirit can soar no matter what. It is likely that he'll completely lose his vision in the future but he has shown us that he won't lose his love of life.

I am continuing my journey through my photo library, and I'll almost surely have more to share in the near future.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Black Dog Sunday

Our desert trip was timed wonderfully to give the whole family time to recover from R's diagnosis and then surgery. He was zooming by the end.

He and his sister would race toward me when given the chance. By the end of our time there, R was neck and neck with his sister.

And, the hilarious Labraduo was back to spontaneous singing. They surprised me the first time so I wasn't far enough away to fit Shyla's nose in the photo.

I was ready the second time! They look so soulful!

And then they could also look completely silly.

Since we've been home, R has continued to heal. His fur is growing back which makes a big difference. Many people who meet him don't even notice that he is missing an eye. I do notice but it's become an endearing feature of our sweet Black Dog.

Also, it's become completely wintry so the Duo spends lots of time snuggling in sun puddles!
Happy Black Dog Sunday!