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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Almost Wordless Wednesday

One of the things that I love about photography in the desert is the lack of background "clutter". It is easy to find places where there is only the sky or a canyon wall behind the Duo, which I like a lot.

P.S. - Our internet server is broken, at least until Friday, so my posts and visits will likely be minimal until it is fixed. Sorry! It is very frustrating...

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Wildlife reactions to scent of a mountain lion

Mountain lions have regularly scent marked spot under some pine trees for years. They kick back with each hind paw, creating furrows in the pine needles. They kick up dirt and pine needles that pile up at the back of the furrows. That mound is what catches my eye and tells me that a mountain lion has visited.

Here is a mountain lion marking the spot, kicking back with his left hind paw...

... and then with his right hind paw.
 He repeated this sequence ten times!!! He may have urinated in the furrows.

Many mountain lions have marked this spot over the years. It must have an overwhelming scent to wildlife and domestic dogs, all of whom check this spot and often mark it themselves.

A few recent visitors to the spot caught my eye. First, a bull elk sniffed it extensively during the rut. He must have recently attacked a pine tree as crazed bulls tend to do and was wearing one of its boughs over his neck.

Next, a feisty bobcat came along... He sniffed the scrape and then had the courage to leave his own mark over top of it. He is so much smaller than a mountain lion, making this act of defiance hard to believe!

Next up, a small group of coyotes visited. One sniffed the lion scrape.

He immediately started leaving his own scent mark. He's the one in the background of the next photo.

When the coyote trio was assembled, they appeared to look around to see if the lion was nearby.
Not everyone agrees with me but I think that coyotes are gorgeous creatures.

I compiled the footage into video of these visitors which I hope that you enjoy.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Silhouette Sunday - Desert Style

I love sunsets in the desert. It feels as if we can see so very far with no mountains in view. We saw an amazing one during a hike on slickrock slopes. We'd gone there with the hope of getting photos of our runners in the sunset light. Alas, there was no sunlight at sunset due to a sky full of clouds. However, those clouds painted an incredible picture when the sun went down.

The clouds began to glow faintly in the perfectly silent world. Then, within a couple of minutes, the entire sky turned brilliant orange.

The peacefulness of that sunset reflected our whole trip - the desert was completely serene and silent.

Here, the sunset was turning red. Shyla was so patient with me, standing perfectly still with the sunset going wild behind her.

Soon, it was beginning to fade but was still gorgeous.
We had such clear and sunny weather during most of trip that we saw only this one colorful sunset. It sure was a glorious one!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Caturday: A Mountain Lion Mother Herding her Kittens

I was stunned when I visited a trail camera recently. As I looked at the tiny LCD viewfinder, I saw a thin mountain lion come into view.

Then, I saw movement around her feet and heard a high pitched whistle.

 Finally, I realized that three kittens were walking under her paws.

I didn't realize that the mother mountain lion had a serious looking wound on her left hind limb until I looked at the footage on my computer screen (you can barely see the wound in the second photo above and it is clear in the video). That made me so very sad. I hope that she makes it. Her kittens certainly won't make it if she is unable to hunt. On the bright side, she didn't appear to be limping.

The video made me realize how hard "herding cats" is. This mother was trying very hard to herd her kittens and keep them together. Her high pitched vocalizations help her with that tough job.

For comparison, here is another mountain lion walking in exactly the same spot days later. This lion has a normal amount of bulk.

The timing is about right for the "amorous mountain lion pair" who we observed back in June to be the parents of these kittens. You might remember this pair at a water hole together, and the female telling the male to back off while she had a drink.

Gestation is about 3 months. The kittens are born in a den and stay there for the first 6 weeks of their lives. After that, their mother takes them out into the world... and I suspect that the kittens in the video haven't been out of the den for very long. If you're interested, there's a great article about mountain lion kittens.

Here is the video. It starts with a quick flashback to late June when the parents were together and then quickly fast-forwards to the kittens. Be sure to have your volume turned on.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Desert Beauty: Autumn Leaves, Rock Sculptures, and the Milky Way

We are joining the LLB Gang for Nature Friday. We thank them for hosting the blog hop.

After R's surgery a few weeks ago, we headed into the desert for some relaxation time. It was a good time for us to be off by ourselves while R was healing. Plus, we caught a glimpse of the desert autumn. Cottonwood trees flourish in wet areas like washes, and they were golden when we were there.

I love the intricate rock formations sculpted by wind and water.

I love watching our Duo romp in an alien environment.

One spot where we love to camp is in the middle of a wide valley with rock cliffs surrounding it. It gives me an expansive view of the sky.

And, when there's no moon like on this visit, we can see the Milky Way in all of its glory.

I left my camera out to capture the Milky Way as it rotated through the sky. I put together 6 hours of still photos to make a 40 second time lapse video of it. I hope that you enjoy it.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Gratitude for Our Black Dog's Speedy Recovery

We are so thankful for how easily our Black Dog is recovering from having his eye removed. About ten days after his surgery, we were on a getaway to the desert. R was running as if he had no pain whatsoever.
As you can see in the photo, the swelling and bruising is gone. The shape of his face is symmetrical. He is working on growing back his fur.

A few of you have asked whether he has a prosthetic eye. He doesn't have one that can be seen from the outside. However, he has a space-filling prosthesis under his closed left eyelid to preserve the shape of his face. I have taken photos of him daily since the surgery, and I'll put them all together into a "recovery timeline" when he is completely recovered, including growing back his fur.

We think that he seems happier since having his painful eye removed. Moreover, we've seen, over and over again, that he still has his exuberant spirit. In fact, as I took him and Shyla up to a mesa that we've dubbed "Shyla's Mesa" to take these photos, he was leaping in the air and barking with excitement.

The Duo was filled with happy energy that day. They chased each other across the mesa around sunset.
I think that it's never easy to decide to permanently remove an eye or any body part from a beloved animal. I struggled with guilt leading up to the surgery and immediately thereafter. I worried that I could have prevented his eye from getting so bad if I'd somehow discerned what was happening sooner. I've put that thinking behind me as I see how joyfully R is living now.

For those who are wondering, his remaining eye seems to be responding to the glaucoma medicines. Its intraocular pressure is still normal. We hope that, for once, we can beat the averages and help him to keep the vision in that eye for a long time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Bear Fun in Autumn

In autumn, bears are heading toward dens. The sows who mated this year retreat to dens first. Then, the rest of the sows go to dens. The final bears to head into dens are the males.

Most years, Tiny, our biggest male bear, is up and about into late November or early December. Due to his injury, I think that he's already resting in a den this year.

We still have bears who are awake but they are lethargic. They don't dance very energetically while marking trees or go for swims. Their goal is to go into a den as fat as possible. One bear definitively wins the contest for the fattest bear. He's not very tall but he has a lot of fat reserves.

He was marking trees in early October.

Our rambunctious female yearling cub who had a distinctive blond stripe down her back was marking trees a little later in October, just after a snow storm. She then disappeared, likely snuggling into a den for the winter.

Another bear visited a pond on a snowy day and decided not to swim. She nibbled on grass and slurped some water before heading off.

I made a short video of the bears' fun in late September and early October. I am enjoying every instant of observing them because they will all be in dens before too long. I really miss them in the winter - unless one decides to use the den where I have a cam - and then we get to watch them all winter!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Treat Snarfing

From this past autumn - Shyla shouts "I've got it", and then snarfs the treat. I somehow missed this photo until now!
Her eyes are so expressive!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Silhouette Sunday

When I see a sky like this one, I know that it's silhouette time!

Shyla and  I have a number of boulders where she poses for silhouettes. We run around until we find the one that lets her silhouette appear in front of the brilliant clouds.

It worked!

Standing tall!
Happy Sunday! (R will be back with Black Dog Sundays before too long - he's doing well).

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Saturday Sunset

We recently had a spectacular sunset. When I looked toward the west, I saw this.

And when I looked toward the east, my jaw dropped even further.

And Shyla made an incredible silhouette!
Beauty is all around us!

Friday, November 9, 2018

See Beautiful on Friday

With the flowers long gone, I look to the sky and the mountains for color and beauty. Sunrise rarely disappoints me. Do you see the reflection in the little pond? I love it!

After sunrise, I get to head out for a mountain bike ride with Shyla. There is nothing that love more than playing with her atop Hug Hill with the snowy mountains in the background.
When I stop and notice it, our world is breathtakingly beautiful!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Even More Playful Shyla

I am so thankful that Shyla and I have learned to play!

I thought that I'd share a bit more of what we like to do in terms of play . Here's another example of us playing last summer.

Does your dog or cat play naturally? Shyla didn't. I had to teach her to play. At first, she just stared at me as I was crazy when I tried to get her to play. I learned how to "invite" her to play better, and then she gradually learned to let go and have fun.

We are still having fun! Her favorite game now is doubtless chasing me. I have to toss a cookie to distract her so that I get a head start. Then, I find an obstacle to hide behind. I have as much fun as she does!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018