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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Thankful Thursday - A Full Moon Morning

I have a long streak of trying to photograph the setting full moon every month. That involves riding my mountain bike to a spot in our forest where I can see the mountains. Last month, the moon became full just as a local female mountain lion had killed a deer nearby. She was visiting it nightly to eat, and my cams showed that her route to and from the carcass paralleled the route that I needed to ride to see the full moon. I reluctantly decided to take a month off from photographing the setting full moon.

It turned out to be a really good decision. At almost exactly the time that I would have been riding to see the full moon, that mountain lion was walking within 30 yards of the route. This was that date and time... there she was.

This month, mountain lion activity in our neck of the woods has returned to normal. That means that there are occasional lions traveling through but, most nights, there are none. I am willing to take the risk on a normal night.

I set out in pitch darkness with a headlamp on my helmet. I was feeling a little nervous about the critters in the forest but I pedaled hard to make sure that I didn't miss the setting of the moon. Soon, I settled into a pedaling and breathing rhythm, and I forgot my worries. The Hermit Thrushes were singing their hearts out, with their flute-like voices rising from the treetops. They were spaced about every 100 yards along my route. I'd hear one singing, he'd gradually get louder, and then I'd pass him with his sound receding. Soon, I'd hear the next one. It was glorious!

When I popped out of the forest at a high lookout, I saw the moon still a bit above the mountains and arcing down toward them. I set up and waited patiently. This was my favorite moment.

I always hang around after the moon sets to watch the sunrise. I love watching the world slowly get light. On this morning, the birds awakened and started flitting around as I waited for sunrise. A lovely bluebird couple were busily finding breakfast. I am betting that their chicks were nearby being served by the grownups. The male had caught something just before this photo.
The birds capped off a gorgeous morning.  I am so thankful for the beautiful world around us!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Wordless Wednesday - Love

My love for this zany dog is growing every day.
It has been, and still is, a bumpy road but love conquers all.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Lion, Coyote, and Bear Pair Eat from Deer Feast (night 2)

You may remember that a mountain lion killed a deer back in June, very close to houses. The lion and two bears ate a lot of the carcass on the first night.

Because the carcass was in a dangerous spot for animals who prefer to avoid humans, I didn't expect either the lion or the bears to return for a second night of eating. I was wrong.

The lion arrived when it was barely dark, and she ate the paltry food left on the carcass. Because most people hadn't gone to bed yet, you'll hear the sound of cars and multiple different dogs barking. It looked as if these sounds made her nervous as she continually stopped eating to look toward the road or toward the multiple nearby houses. I suspect that her anxiousness was why she didn't stay long.

After she left, a lone coyote arrived. He was SUPER nervous. He crept up to the carcass, took one bite, and then departed. I think that he didn't want to meet a lion or bears. I'm sure that he could smell them from the previous night.

Finally, two very talkative bears arrived. The sow was the same one from the first night - "Mohawk". I am not certain whether the male was the same boyfriend as from the previous night or if she'd picked up a new one (sows do that without embarrassment during mating season).

My favorite part of the video is near the end when the sow picked up the carcass and left the camera's view just as the male was approaching. I could imagine her saying "MINE, MINE, MINE". He was a good sport about it and let her have her fill.

Please remember that our wild animals are trying to make a living on the edges of our human world. They deserve the space to succeed. I was so impressed with the nearby neighbors letting the wildlife devour the carcass with no interference. They kept themselves and their pets safe while staying out of the way. Here's the scene with only one of several homes visible.

Enjoy the video!

Monday, July 6, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi is doing wonderfully well.
He seems lighthearted and happy. For the past couple of weeks, he wags his whole body when one of us comes into sight after being gone. His wiggling gets out of control when we start petting him.

Hachi gives us both the feeling that he's more content than ever before.

We went for a short camping trip fairly close to home last week. Hachi seemed more stressed out during that trip than when we're at home. He got some bug bites on his abdomen that we tried to look at. Nope - that was not okay with Hachi. He growled to prevent it. I can handle small incidents like that one now that I understand that he's reacting to the stress of the situation. In that case, the main trigger was that we were camping in a new place.

When we got home, he relaxed back into the content and happy dog who we love more every single day. His big sister loves him too. They adore playing.
As I wrote this, Hachi charged over to request pats and play. I am starting to think that love is winning over Hachi's soul.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

There was good news for us on Friday - an ultrasound and chest xrays did not show any tumors in our Black Dog. His blood work isn't back yet but we're hoping that iron and melatonin will bring his red blood cells back to normal. His energy has surged in recent days after a down period, which makes us think that things are going in the right direction.

Recently, I've had a few chances to be in the flowers with him. He smiles non-stop (and so do I) while we lie in the grass. He makes monkey sounds which crescendo into a husky bark, which makes me laugh out loud. He is a funny dog.
Our Black Dog wishes you a Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Frolicking Moose Calf

I saw a moose calf recently, one who had been born shortly before I spotted him. It reminded me of one of my all time favorite moose videos that my trail cams have recorded. It's one worth repeating so I hope that you enjoy it. To me, it's quintessential summer footage!

Happy U.S. Independence Day!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Summer Happiness

It is the time of year when the world is exploding with life. Everywhere I look, flowers are blooming. Yellows, whites, blues... And my sweet Shyla is full of happy energy.
I am filled with my usual summer joy. In the mountains, it is rarely too hot so I don't find there to be a downside to summer. Long days, warm sunshine, and happy mountain biking.

Life is little crazy right now with too much happening in our life. I hope to post daily but please don't worry if I miss a day here or there. There may be some big news in the near future. I hope so.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog is an endlessly happy guy.  It's impossible not  to smile along with him.
Our Black Dog is a very content dog.

For those who have been following along with Black Dog Sundays, he will be having tests done at the end of this week to try to figure out why his red blood cell count is so low. In the meantime, we are planning to enjoy these summer days with him.

We'll be taking a short blogging break and will return later this week.

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Shyla Saturday

I can't help myself. I love the yellow flowers. Shyla and I play in them every morning. These are my favorite days of the year.

This morning, I was having breakfast on the deck, another thing that I love about this time of the year. As usual, I had the sliding screen door open by about a foot so that Shyla could go in and out as she pleased. When she was lying inside, I saw a striped rodent zip past me and into the house. A chipmunk!

I quickly moved Shyla to another room and closed up that room to contain the chipmunk. By the time the Runner and I returned to look for the chipmunk, he was nowhere in sight. We searched, with no luck whatsoever. The Runner smartly suggested that I go get Shyla because she'd find him. She came into the room, did not seem to smell a rodent, and began playing with her toy, Elmo.

We humans thought that maybe the chipmunk had gone back outside. We waited a few minutes. Shyla finally left Elmo to sniff a corner of the room. The chipmunk was under the baseboard heater in that corner. Shyla chased him back outside. Crisis averted! Shyla was the nosework hero.

Here's my girl this morning in the field of yellow.
I love her so much.

Friday, June 26, 2020

A Hapless and Cute Yearling Bear Cub

It is rare that I get footage from a trail cam that makes me laugh out loud. This one is of Blackie, the yearling bear cub who is on her own this summer. Family breakup was about a month ago, and she seems to be doing wonderfully.

Since family breakup, it has become absolutely clear that the black cub is a female, and the brown cub is a male. That means that "Blackie" will be sticking around! She will probably adopt some part of her mother's territory. I have started calling her "May Belle". It's partly in homage to the first sow who I knew well (about a decade ago) who I named "Mabel". This cub is almost certainly related to Mabel.

So, May Belle checked out a mountain lion scent mark but she put her own twist on her visit to this spot. I hope that you enjoy this short bit of footage as much as I did.

I think that she was a little embarrassed when she saw the camera. She checked it out - perhaps thinking "Oh no, I hope that wasn't recorded. It's so embarrassing!".

Here she is checking out the camera.

Here's the video.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Thankful Thursday

The glory of the mountains in the summer.
Being able to relax atop Hug Hill without getting cold is a gift. Having flowers blooming on this windy peak makes me smile. And, sharing it with Shyla makes it all so much better.

I am thankful, and I think that Shyla is too.

Wordless Wednesday

Fresh snow on the mountains

Columbines at our elevation

Columbine season is the best

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

A female mountain lion traveling in daylight to find a mate

The female mountain lion who killed a deer on the edge of a meadow was continuing her daytime travels up to the day that she killed the deer. I am guessing that she killed the deer in daylight. With people nearby, that was a stunning move. (Before you get worried, let me say that she seems to have stopped her daytime travels now... having achieved her goal).

This is a fave trail cam spot for me. It's a small clearing about 30 yards from a trail. It's not a busy trail but it's one that I use frequently. The clearing is not visible from the trail but it is possible for an animal to see/hear movement on the trail from the clearing.

She entered the clearing with her nose down. I think that she was sniffing a bobcat scrape. It's also been a scrape (scent marking) site for lions in the past.

Very quickly, something caught her attention out toward the trail.

As she watched or listened. She decided to sit next to the tree. She sat there for almost two minutes.

Then, she got concerned enough to depart quickly. My cam only got this moment in photo form. It was restarting the video recording at that instant.

Just a couple of days later, the lion visited another popular lion site in the early evening. It is also close to a trail. I loved how the bright sky behind her turned her into a silhouette.
It was near here that she eventually found a mate. But first, she killed the deer in the meadow. A busy lion...

Check out the video if you have time. It's very zen to see this lion moving so slowly and calmly. She knows that she's the queen of the forest.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi had a big breakthrough this week.

For Hachi's lifetime, we've had someone help with cleaning every couple of weeks. She, or other workers in the house, completely freak him out. They are very nice people but Hachi has not been able to accept that outsiders might come into the house and roam freely as they work. His response has been to bark hysterically and not ever calm down - even if the people are in the house all day long.

To give you an idea of how bad it has been, we've gone so far as to use a sedative to help him get through days with outsiders working in the house.

When the pandemic started, we canceled every outsider coming into the house... until last week. After more than 3 months of no outsiders in the house, someone spent last Wednesday here.

Drum roll please.... Hachi was fine with it. He spent the day up in the Runner's loft office, and he was quiet the whole time. I thought that maybe he was "shut down" (i.e., scared but not expressing it) but he definitely was not. He had a happy play session with me in the midst of it and then after the person was gone.
Maybe the long break from having visitors stress him helped. Or maybe he's starting to learn.

Now is the moment to remind myself that this is not a linear process. Hachi may not be as fine with the next outsider in the house. However, this week's breakthrough gives me hope.

As these photos show, Shyla and Hachi still love to play when we can find a time and place of solitude to cut them loose. 

We love our Hachi.