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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Canines abound

Overnight, our wildlife camera caught a coyote visiting our territory for about 20 minutes. Throughout his visit, about every five minutes, his body language screamed anxiety and worry as he stared into the forest with a wary posture.
He relaxed briefly after that photo but then, about five minutes later, he adopted almost the same posture, although his body is even lower to the ground. He fled and didn't return after this photo. Notice the classic canine signs of fear. The most obvious one is that he's leaning his bodyweight backward, ready to flee, so that his front paws seem to extend out in front of his body. I wonder what animal scared him so much. My best guess is a feline, a bobcat or lion.
Then, today, while K and I were mountain biking through a pine forest, I caught a glimpse of something white down in a gully below us.
I left my bike behind to check it out. I came upon a boneyard, containing mostly elk and deer bones but one distinctive skull.
It's shape and size immediately led me to suspect that it was a coyote skull. The dentition fits, with 3 molars, 3 premolars, a single canine, and 3 incisors on each side. A few incisors are missing but I could see their sockets. This dentition differs from a dog's. Moreover, a closeup comparison of the details of the skull to a picture in a mammalogy book showed me that every detail corresponds to a coyote skull.

After checking it out, K and I rolled on, visiting a favorite peak where she looked like the radiant Queen of the Mountain.
After fleeing the wind on the peak, we rolled back into the gloomier forest, emerging on a small slope with a great view. For years, K and I have stopped to enjoy this spot but, over the past couple of weeks, she's been acting as if something behind us, up the slope and the forest, is worrying her when I linger here. You can see the worry in her face and her pinned back ears.
I took her cue and didn't stay in that spot for long. We rolled through some more dense forest before emerging on a rocky hill. Alas, on the hill, the swirling and tenacious wind upset K, producing another worried look.We fled to a more sheltered meadow, enjoying the contrast between the golden grass and rocky hills.
But the mountains sung with clouds puffing from every snowy peak.We ended our day with a sunset hike. Wow.


  1. Khyra is right, WOW!

    Oh, and K *IS* the radiant Queen of the Mountain. Though, in that picture atop the hill in the wind, she doesn't look like she wants to be!

    Your trails are always full of surprises. It seems like you discover something new every day.

  2. That sunset is glorious, KB! One of the best I've seen. It was once again cloudy and rain/sleet/snowing most of the day but cleared enough so I could do a quick hour's hike on the back trail before dark. I was a little spooked since reading your Mountain lion posts - kept looking over my shoulder! I have never encountered bones in forest. This morning a male fox came through the yard while I was working in the loft - he was very skittish. All summer they have been almost too relaxed around people but in the last few weeks something has changed.

  3. What a beautiful sunset picture. I love when nature shares such beauty with us.

  4. Hey there KB
    Ok, so you bombed all other potential comments out with that incredible sunset!!! WOW!!!
    Your ride today was awesome too and the coyote on camera amazing! Thank you for sharing it all. We always feel that we too have had a workout on these rides. What, however, is the fear about? Is it simply the wild animals? (I know when I was riding, it was a fear of being stranded)
    Anyway, lovely post and have a happy day!
    Lots of licks
    MAX & CO IN SA


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