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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Snowy hike and bobcat hunting

Yesterday evening, we tried to hike in boots through the dwindling snow storm. As is apparent in the photo below, the deep snow made hiking very difficult but the dogs bounded through it with exuberance.
This morning, the skies still loomed dark and foreboding as K and I set out for a snowshoe hike. I hoped to find some tracks to lead us into the forest but nary an animal had moved all night long. Over our entire hike, we saw only squirrel, shrew, chipmunk, and vole tracks.

So, I wandered, criss-crossing our meadows and forest, watching for animals and enjoying utter silence. The pillows of snow covering the tree boughs, boulders, and ground muffled all sound. Even the birds were silent. No squawking, warbling, woodpecker drumming, or squirrel chirps competed with the soft whoomph of each snowshoe step.
While I felt mellow and a little sad about the sudden disappearance of spring, K bursted with happy energy. She loves snow regardless of the season. She responded maniacally, bounding through powder, when I called her.
And, after an effort like that, the only kind of treat that she's allowed is a special prescription lowfat and low protein kibble due to her pancreatitis problems. She deserved a better reward than that!

Finding no animal signs down lower, we tromped up to a ridge where the boulders looked like perfectly scooped ice cream.
I couldn't help myself - I called K again so I could have an infusion of her high voltage energy. Her enthusiasm was contagious!
K's happiness began to permeate my glumness. I'd started the hike feeling unhappy that it was winter again - wanting to ride my bike, watch fluttering birds, have butterflies chase me along the trail, and smell the wildflowers. But, K never questions what a day brings - she just seizes it and lives to the fullest. By the time we clambered over boulders to the top of the ridge, I was smiling too!

And, the gray storm clouds began to lift, showing a mirage of a mountain.
Mile upon mile of snowy pine trees surrounded us, with mountains in the distance. As I scanned this view, I thought of how many nooks and crannies I still want to explore!
And, K surveyed from a boulder cliff, looking up the sky, perhaps searching for the sun.
The sunshine has arrived since our morning hike. The day has been marked by the loud thundering of snow avalanches off our metal roof. In the spring, the roofalanches are huge and heavy and make the dogs jump up barking in alarm. The roads are drying in the sunshine so I bet that I'll be able to ride my bike outside tomorrow. Yipee!

Finally, I checked my new 'covert' infrared wildlife camera posted by a boulder that bobcats frequent. The boulder boasts a rabbit den underneath it - and my camera has shown rabbits milling around the boulder most nights in April. It surprises me that the rabbits stay in this spot because the boulder also hosts a bobcat scent post. Over the years, the bobcats have left a big pile of scraped pine needles and bobcat scat on the doorstep of the rabbit den. Why do the rabbits continue to use that den? I'm not sure why.

My camera showed that the bobcat stayed near the rabbit den entrance, almost completely still, waiting to ambush a rabbit for close to 3 hours. Since I've had wildlife cameras posted at this site, this event was about 180 times longer than any other bobcat visit. I wonder if my other cameras, even the infrared ones, scared off the bobcats and prevented them from staying to hunt at this site. Perhaps, my new 'covert' camera, whose flash is barely visible as a glowing red dot, doesn't bother the bobcat like my other cameras. Its photos are not as good as the ones from the other cameras but if I get to witness more 'natural' behavior with the covert camera, it's a good thing!

Finally, my camera lost the bobcat for a critical 30 minute period just before he departed. He may have been just out of range of the camera. Because the rabbit hasn't reappeared in a photo since the bobcat hunting visit, I wonder if the bobcat caught him. After the snow melts a little, I plan to go look for signs to figure out what happened. I expect that I'll find some rabbit parts if the bobcat did eat him.

In video, notice that the bobcat can remain completely motionless for inconceivably long time periods. Then, every once in a while, he moves to stretch. My muscles would be spasming if I had to hold still for so long!


  1. More great pics!

    Fantastic as always!

    Of course, the bobcat video is awesome!

  2. We are behind by a couple of posts and are amazed at your snowfall. We heard about all the snow in Colorad but it is different when you actually see it. What great fun for K!!! Loved the bobcat video too.

  3. I was smiling with K too! She looked like she was having such a fun time. I like the sequence photos you took of her recalls.

    The shot looking at all the snow capped trees is overwhelming. You could certainly spend a lifetime exploring just a piece of your forest.

  4. K almost made me wish for some snow here! Almost! Her enthusiasm is definitely contagious.

    I am convinced that rabbits have a death wish. They like to sit right by the turn out pen here at our house. Nothing screams step right up to the buffet line like that!

  5. I love the look of K on top of the boulders - she is definitely Queen of thee Mountain! I see you have new snow,too - same here. I was a couch potato today, though I did xski yesterday.

  6. I love those recall photos. I'd been wondering what kinds of high-value treats you can use for K, now with her pancreas issues.

  7. A friend had to put down his 13-year-old dachsund this week, which made both of us sad. And it made we wonder why we put ourselves through such grief with dogs? Silly question. It's because of the lessons we learn, like the one you stated of enjoying each day for what it is, and not getting caught up in what we had "planned" or desired for it to be. Also there is the lesson of unconditional love and the sheer joy their antics bring into our lives.

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