Today, I checked one of my remote wildlife cameras and found that I'd hit paydirt. A mountain lion stiffly strolled past it yesterday at 8 PM. He's a hulking big cat who dwarfs our dogs in size. I suspect that he's the same lion who my camera monitored as he ate a mule deer in January. Because there was only one lion, I know that this animal wasn't part of the lion family who killed a mule deer nearby a couple of weeks ago.
The most puzzling thing is how stiffly he seemed to walk. Perhaps he's injured or elderly. In all likelihood, he'd just awakened from a long day's sleep and was heading out to hunt when the camera recorded his stroll. I wonder if he was stiff from sleeping?
The spot where this camera sits is on a corridor that many people around here refuse to visit due to the lion presence. I've had a camera on the corridor since March, and this lion is the first who I've recorded.
After seeing the lion's image on my camera, it was hard to go out for a ride rather than coming straight home to closely examine the video. However, my back muscles desperately needed a ride. I seem to have had a string of bad Tuesdays in terms of my back - I don't know why. Thank goodness - the ride did its job of loosening the knots.
The air buzzed with storm energy and the plants drooped under last night's rain droplets as K and I rolled out for our ride.
The stormy ambiance was enhanced by clouds enshrouding the mountain peaks. K looked worried but, then again, K worries a lot.
Due to the dark skies, the birds who usually serenade us at dusk and dawn sang throughout our ride. We passed from one hermit thrush territory to the next, with their mournful warbling songs rising and then fading as we passed.
K loved the cool air and ran like a puppy through the cool wet grass sprouting under the aspen groves.
Toward the end of our ride, we glimpsed the mountains, albeit only briefly before more clouds surrounded them.
After I dropped off K at home, I started by heading to lower elevation and found springtime had zoomed forward in that lower world. Boulder Raspberries, not yet blooming at home, stood out in their favorite rocky habitat.
I saw a group of deer acting oddly. I was in an area where mule deer are hunted yearly so they usually flee when they see people. This buck first stared at me, showing off his velvet antlers...
... and then resumed grazing as if paying attention to me wasn't worth his energy. Maybe these are migrants from a more urban setting where they're not hunted? Or perhaps I don't compare to their year around predator, the mighty mountain lion.
I headed for another likely wildlife corridor, like the one where I've been getting mountain lion and bear footage, I noticed a sapling that a bear had recently used as back-scratching post to leave his scent all over it. I believe that the sapling gets broken when a bear uses his paw to bend the treetop downward for better back scratching like shown in my earlier video. I know that this one was broken recently because fresh spring growth appeared even above the break.
And, I knew that a bear broke it because of the fur embedded in the sap where the bear had rubbed so hard that he broke a branch off the tree.
It's so fun to be learning to read the forest so that I know which animals passed through before me. I had my eye out for bear signs near this tree because it stands next to a lush growth of myriad berry bushes. Indeed, some berry plants bloomed, like this Oregon Grape plant.
When I'm in the forest pedaling my bike, I become so attuned to my surroundings that the clutter that normally fogs my brain vanishes. On good days, I arrive home having forgotten all the silly details of life, and the effect lasts for a long time. I love it!