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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Black Dog Sunday

I love when our Black Dog can come out to play with me and Shyla at sunrise. I think that Shyla adores having him with us too!

The sunrise light is glorious at this time of year. It starts out reddish and then turns golden. It shimmers off of R's black coat and makes his eye glow with deep brown.

He's adapting really well to his loss of sight. He can still see with his remaining eye although we're not certain how good his vision is. We are seeing signs that it may be starting downhill (but, then again, we are paranoid about his vision now). We are trying to emulate R by focusing on these happy days for the Duo.

Our Black Dog wishes you a good week. He says to have fun and don't stress out about the upcoming holidays!
Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Caturday: A Bobcat Mesmerized by Mountain Lion Scent

At one of the longest-term cat scent posts, a mountain lion marked back in early November. As he kicked back with each hind paw, he also left drops of urine.

His hind paw kicks were so storng that he left a big pile of pine needles when he was done. That pile is still obvious and could last well into 2019. It provides a visual landmark for where he marked so that we can understand what other animals are investigating.

A bobcat came through about three weeks later. He made a dramatic entrance that highlighted his tail.

Then, he sauntered toward the pine needle pile left by the mountain lion a few weeks earlier. I cropped the next photo exactly how I cropped the mountain lion photos so that we could compare their sizes.
It's a pretty dramatic size difference, isn't it? The mountain lion probably weighs five times as much as the bobcat. Yet, the bobcat calmly sniffed the lion scent and examined the whole area without signs of fear.

I made a brief video of the visits by both of these cats to this scent marking area. You can see the mountain lion mark and then the bobcat investigate the area almost three weeks later.

Happy Caturday!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Nature: Our Pack in the Desert

While we were in the Utah desert, we discovered an area of slickrock where we adored walking in the evenings.

One of my favorite things about it was that it got full sunlight at about sunset time. As the Runner walked in front of me at almost exactly sunset, I realized that it was an opportunity to make a couple of fun photos. In this one, I captured the setting sun perfectly placed for a sun star. If you look hard, you can see R to the left of the Runner.

And here are the two of them standing together with the sun setting next to them.

One of the afternoons that we were on those slickrock hills, we saw an incredible sunset. This is one extra photo that I didn't show you previously. It truly was one of the most awe-inspiring sunsets that I've ever seen.

As dusk fell, we hiked quickly back to K's Rock, where the sky was still glowing!

Based on that cloud cover, I predicted that we wouldn't see the stars that night. However, I set up my camera before going to sleep, just in case I was wrong. And I was very wrong. The clouds cleared out just after 10PM, and the sky stayed clear all night.

Please forgive me - I am still learning how to make time lapse videos, and I'm guessing that you're getting tired of them. If you do feel like watching, here is a night of the Milky Way compressed into 30 seconds. I figured out how to incorporate an effect that makes it seem like the camera was moving. I am wondering if you noticed or liked that effect? Here is the video.

Thank you to our friends at LLB for hosting the Nature Blog Hop.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Thankful for the Start to the Day

Yesterday promised to be cloudy, cold, and blah. I saw the forecast and was not feeling enthusiastic.

Then, as I ate my breakfast, I saw a glimmer of pink on the eastern horizon. I started getting ready to fly because my guess was that lots of clouds might mean a beautiful sunrise.

It was! This was my first photo toward the east.

A little bit later, the pink clouds were turning orange.

Then, the sun started to peak over the horizon.

It turned out that the sun shined only for 5 minutes after it came over the horizon. I snapped a quick photo of sweet Shyla in the sunshine.
 And then endless clouds blocked it for the rest of the day. However, having seen such a glorious sunrise and having had a brief time in the sun with Shyla kept me smiling even on a blah day. I am thankful.

I made a short video of a 360 degree view of the skies during our sunrise.

Thank you to our friends at Brian's Place for hosting the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

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.