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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Caturday: A Mother Mountain Lion and Two Kittens

This photo told me that the next batch of trail cam photos would be fascinating. I knew that it was a mountain lion and a kitten! I based the "kitten" assessment on the bars inside the kitten's front leg.

 In contrast, this was mom - note the lack of bars inside the front leg.

It turned out that it was a mother mountain lion and two kittens. For the first days, they hung out at the extreme end of my trail camera network. They went back and forth both at night and early in the morning. Usually, that pattern means that they are feeding on a carcass for most of the night and then walking to a "day bed" for snoozing the day away.

After the first couple of days, they took a long walk, probably looking for more prey. The kittens are big enough to wander on their own. Thus, the kittens would sometimes lag mom by 3 minutes or so!

And then, as they tried to catch up with mom, they'd CHIRP to communicate with her. If there hadn't been a mountain lion very nearby, I would've thought that the sound was a bird!

At one point, mom paused to let the kittens catch up. As she stood still, I was struck by how thin she is. It must be extremely hard to hunt for yourself and TWO very big kittens. I suspect that the kittens are within a few months of when they'll go off on their own. However, they are still probably not good hunters and rely on mom to kill prey to feed them. It's a huge job for a mother mountain lion.

Enjoy the video, including the audio CHIRPS, either here or at Youtube.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Flower Friday - The Joy of a Little Rain!

We finally got some rain, and the flowers rejoiced! This wild rose was just opening, and its color seemed to become more brilliant.

This Blue Flax also was happy, although its flower drooped a bit under the rain.

Thanks to the rain, the Blue Flax flowers kept blooming rather than shriveling so Shyla could play in them.

It is that time of year when the flowers are all blooming simultaneously so it's hard to give them all their due. However, I had to stop and admire this Columbine with Arnica and Wild Roses blooming behind it.
I must say that I adore this time of year. It's as if Mother Nature is having a brilliant flower party, and every part of our world is filled with flowers!

We are joining the LLB Gang for the Flower Friday Blog Hop.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Grateful for Our World

This morning, early, Shyla and I visited Hug Hill. I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude that we have such a glorious spot within 15 minutes of mountain bike pedaling from our house. My gratitude tells me that I am where my spirit belongs.
In the winter, Hug Hill can be a harsh freezing place, with west winds as fast as 75 mph hitting me from the direction of the mountains behind Shyla in the photo. At that time of year, I usually am the only crazy person who wants to go there. At this time of year, it's difficult to remember how harsh it was in January. The flowers are blooming, the hummingbirds are buzzing around, and the sun is warm on my shoulders.

Shyla adores playing on Hug Hill. Somehow, she's managed to get past the fact that a bad person hit her in this spot about a year ago. Thank goodness that we can still love this place despite that awful event.

It's also the place where we see incredible sunsets on a regular basis. It's an easy hike from our house, and we just sit and watch as the sun colors the clouds orange.

At this time of year, we sit and watch until late because the sunset isn't finished its show until close to 9PM.
I've had to spend time in towns and cities a bit recently. When the insane pace of city life and the petty worries start to get to me, I find myself going to Hug Hill in my mind. It brings me so much peace.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Bolstering Shyla's Confidence

When I see these photos of a happy Shyla, even I can't quite believe that the world can be so scary for her.
This photo was from when our meadows were briefly filled with my favorite yellow and orange flowers. They didn't last long so I'm glad that I took a zillion photos in a couple of days.

She's come a huge way over these years with us. Shyla can now (sometimes) pass people on a trail without being freaked out.
Under the right circumstances, she can charm people with her affection. She can even visit quiet parts of town and appear to handle it just fine.

But, often, she'll appear to be fine to untrained eyes but then come home and get sick from the stress of being out in the world. For example, just last week, she got an upset GI tract after we got home from a vet visit. During that appointment, people commented on how much fun she seemed to be having. This is a recurring theme... that she appears to be fine but she isn't.

She is actually fine when running through a field of flowers!

So, I keep searching for ways to bolster her confidence. We are continuing to play everyday, and I have no doubt that it helps her. We had a puppy visit the other day, and Shyla was more outgoing than ever before with a puppy. It was as if she was trying out the play moves that she does with me on the puppy!

We are also taking a class designed to "empower" Shyla. The idea is that she learns to embrace things that are a little scary, like the sound of pans clanging against each other. One game involves her stepping on things (like metal pans) that make sounds...

... which brings us to the short video that I'd like to share with you. I put out odd items for Shyla to step on, and I rewarded her whenever she authoritatively stepped on one of the weird items.

Be sure to watch to the end. I was so pleased when it appeared that Shyla totally "got it" - she banged a pan with her paws in such a powerful way and she didn't flinch at all! You can watch it here or over at Youtube.

I have accepted that Shyla will always have some fears but I also will continue to try to make some parts of life easier for her handle - especially when the games that we play to help her are so much fun!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Wildlife Monday - A Mama Moose and her Playful New Calf

This is the first spring that I have had a trail camera on a pond. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, and the first photo that I looked at on the cam was this.
Intriguing! A cow moose sprinting out of the water so fast that she made a big wave. I immediately wondered what could possibly make a moose run so fast!

The video that followed showed her running around maniacally - and even adding a backward kick to her running at one point. I've seen a moose run so fast under only one circumstance - when a mama moose was trying to warn me to stay away from her and her calf. I wondered if there might be an invisible calf nearby.

Footage from the next day showed that this cow moose did indeed have a very young calf with her.

Over the course of two days, the footage showed me that this calf was incredibly energetic.

The Mama Moose tried to keep up with the calf... but to no avail.

At one point, the Mama Moose finally corralled her calf, after the calf had sprinted around and in the ponds seemingly endlessly. You can see how riled up the calf was based on the body language and open mouth!

I have a fun short video for you of this pair as the calf sprinted like a gazelle and then even tried to nurse (which provoked heart-rending moans from Mama Moose). The video ended when the pair moved on to someplace else but I really hope that they come back!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunset from Hug Hill

On a recent evening, we'd planned to go out to dinner but the fire danger made us reluctant to leave the dogs alone. So, we decided to have a picnic atop Hug Hill instead!

We hiked up, and arrived just before the sun dipped below the mountains. So, I had to take some some photos of Shyla in the sunset light.

I adore that light!

Then, as we ate our dinner, the clouds lit up as the sun fell below the horizon.

The colors gradually got darker.

Just before dusk, only a shimmer remained on the edge of a cloud.
It was a relaxing way to spend an evening, with us humans together with our Labraduo! It was so nice that Mother Nature put on such a gorgeous sunset for us!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Caturday: Bobcat and mountain lion rolling in bear scent

Wild cats seem enamored with bear scent. In fact, one of my very first video clips from a trail camera years ago was of a bear marking a tree and then a bobcat rolling at the base of the tree.

A similar scenario played out recently except that a mountain lion was involved too.

First, a female bear walked past a marking tree. She sniffed but didn't mark which is typical.

The sow's mate trailed her by about 15 seconds. Her mate gave the tree a thorough marking. As male bears rub their backs on trees, they urinate at the same time, leaving strong scent on the ground below the tree. Also, the male bear also marks the ground with his paw pads, which you can see when he walks away from the tree in an odd manner called a "cowboy walk".

Consequently, after a bear passes a tree, the ground near the tree is covered in bear scent. For some reason, wild cats seem to love that scent. Bobcats roll in it. When people see an image like this, they think that I might have put a scent on the ground to cause the cats to act crazy. I didn't - it's all the bear scent!

Lions sniff it and sometimes roll in it. In this case, he sniffed.

At a nearby marking tree, a similar situation played out. A male bear marked the tree doing an intense dance!

Then, a mountain lion rolled in the scent that the bear left on the ground.

Thus, a bear marking tree becomes an important spot for all sorts of carnivores to mark with their own scent or to try to cover themselves in bear scent. This is a big part of why I like to point my cameras at bear marking trees. I get footage of all sorts of carnivores!

This video shows you the antics of bears, a bobcat, and a mountain lion by a bear marking tree. It's so cool to see how these elusive wild animals behave when we humans are not around!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Flower Friday - Orange fades and blue shines!

When I wrote about the glorious orange meadow flowers that were finally blooming a few days ago, I was worried that our drought would make their bloom short. I'm sad to say that I was right.

I took this photo yesterday... but, by today, most of the orange flowers were withering. I was grateful that they'd bloomed at all in these harsh conditions.
We still have had almost no rain, and a haze of smoke is hanging over our forest. The smoke is from fires in other parts of Colorado. So far, we've had only small fires nearby. Our firefighters have responded so quickly and skillfully that they've controlled every fire started by the idiot campers.

I'm sorry to be so harsh but many of the nearby campers just do NOT care about whether they destroy our home. Our county and National Forest have a fire and shooting ban in place - yet people are breaking it every single day. We locals have organized patrols of camping areas, and it's been worthwhile given how many unattended fires and crazies shooting rifles we find.

Back to happy things... As our orange flowers are fading, the blues are coming on. Unbelievably, we've had a banner year for Blue Flag Irises. Entire meadows have a bluish shimmer from the bloom of irises.

Shyla loves playing in them, mostly because they bloom in wet places where she can cool off. Do you see that muddy paw?

It is a rare year when both irises and my beloved Columbines are blooming at the same time but it's happened this year! I don't let Shyla go near the Columbines because they are too fragile. Here's one of the gems that has just opened in the past week.
For years, I've been working on my very own Columbine garden, and it's going crazy this year. Every time I step out of our house, I smile when I see all those beautiful Columbines with their petals wide open!

Please keep "no fires" thoughts going for us. It makes my heart break to see the fiery destruction out near Durango. I want to keep enjoying the exquisite beauty of our local forests, meadows, and mountains for a long time!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thankful Thursday - My Sweet and Goofy Shyla

On this Thankful Thursday, I am thanking my lucky stars that I have Shyla in my life.

Most acquaintances who know Shyla would never believe how she behaves when she and I are alone. If I pull out my camera, she starts posing without me even suggesting what she might do.

She usually has a strong opinion about what she wants to do. Today, it was "sit pretty", her current favorite trick. I tend to let her choose rather than try to change her mind.
Her face looks to me like she's laughing! When her face is so relaxed, I laugh along with her.

We recently took a course on play as a therapy for canine fearfulness. We were the slowest team in the class at learning to play. It was really hard and frustrating until, on one random day, we clicked! The course is over but we've kept playing... and it's been good for both of us.
I feel happy that we took the course on play - it taught us to be a goofy girl and her goofy dog. Because we were slow, we really just learned how to play but not how to apply it to her fears. I suspect that we'll take the course again - so that we can work on the fear rehabilitation part of the equation.

In any case, I am thankful for my happy Shyla. She's such a sweet girl who wants nothing more than to make her humans laugh. That's wonderful!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wordless Wednesday - A sunset to remember

Before sunset in tall flowers

Peak sunset

Peak sunset

Pastel ending

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Summer Joy!

Our year has been parched - with very little snow and then a mostly dry spring. I thought that my favorite meadow flowers were not going to bloom this year. They are orange flowers that form a gorgeous carpet on our meadows.

After I had given up on them, they bloomed!!!!  Shyla and I have been joyously playing in them.

I don't know how long they'll last without rain but we'll enjoy them while they're here. You can see a few irises mixed into the meadow as well.

And, a little secret - a moose calf was born nearby. Her mom has been hanging out near my friends' pond where I have a trail camera, and the calf is SO cute, galloping around joyfully
I'll be sharing footage of the moose calf playing sometime soon!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Courting Bears

A flurry of bear activity took place after this sow marked a leaning tree. This is Mohawk, the sow who we saw consorting with a male bear a little while ago.

Soon after Mohawk marked this tree, the giant of our bears arrived, the bear who I've dubbed "Tiny".
At first, I couldn't figure out what Tiny was doing because it was so odd. In fact, he's so tall that he had to sniff and mark the tree from a sitting position.

He also used an odd marking style on a nearby tree - he rammed into it with his forehead! I guess he knew that little Mohawk was nearby and was frustrated by how hard it was to find her!
Within minutes of these two photos of Tiny, he and Mohawk had found each other and were walking the forest paths together.

They walked to a nearby water hole, and Tiny settled into it for a soak. In the middle of his soak, he stuck his tongue way out at the end of a yawn. It is astoundingly long!
Tiny and Mohawk appeared in front of other cams that evening as they walked amicably together. I'm glad to see our last remaining patriarch passing his genes along.

You might have noticed that "Milton", our other patriarchal bear, has not appeared this season. After a decade of being the number one bear in our area, I fear that he is dead. He usually shows up in April and is extremely active marking trees - but he has not appeared this year. I will hold out hope for a bit longer that perhaps he is hurt or ill and will recover. However, my heart says otherwise. This was the last image of him that my cams recorded.
No matter what, I will always remember Milton. I learned about the amazing ways of our bears during his era.

On a less somber note, here is a video from the escapades of Tiny and Mohawk from a couple of days ago when they were courting.