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Monday, September 20, 2010

Hot winds

Houndstooth asked whether my wildlife cameras had picked up any odd behavior by animals in the recent fires. In fact, I've seen almost no unusual behavior. The one incident of odd behavior happened at almost exactly the time that the helicopters started flying very low over our forest due to a wildfire last Friday.

Usually, when I capture deer on my cameras, they move slowly and deliberately, sniffing and foraging, like the young buck below.
The deer usually examine any other animal's scent post. However, last Friday afternoon with helicopters thumping in the air, two deer rapidly ran past a bobcat scent post and a bear tree without a glance. First, a small deer moved through my camera's field rapidly.
Just behind the young one, a thin and shedding adult deer appeared. She paused more a moment and then began to flee.
That was the only odd wildlife incident that I observed. Besides that, the animals seemed to go about their normal routines. As I thought about it, I realized that smoke in the air isn't unusual around here. Wild animals smell smoke from campfires, intentional slash fires, and chimneys. Usually, nothing bad happens after the smoke so why would they panic about it?

This morning, K and I zipped out of our clearing into a hot and windy day for our mountain bike day. My back had a zinging pain so we took it easy. The stunning autumn beauty kept the pain from making me melancholy.
Wailing winds, like the hot winds we're having today, spook K so it was hard to get any photos where she didn't look upset. However, during a lull in the wind, she looked distinguished for an instant.
I led her down off the peak and out of the wind for a moment, and she looked relieved.
When K was a puppy, she'd actually refuse to go far from our house when the wind howled. She's matured since then but still shows discomfort in the wind. Notice her tongue flick here - according to dog behaviorists, that means that she's nervous.
At the end of my ride, I checked a wildlife camera that had another coyote visit. Yesterday morning, a coyote with a luxurious coat looked alertly toward my camera with his tawny fur glowing in the sunshine and a bucolic scene of yellow aspens behind him.
Then, his posture changed dramatically. He appeared to be scared by something on trail a hundred yards away. Look how similar his body language is to a scared dog's posture. After thinking about it, I realized that it was probably me passing on the trail that scared him.
He fled out of view.
Then, he reappeared at a point where he could catch scent from the nearby trail (far left near middle of photo). I bet he got a snootful of my sunscreen!
It's odd to be able to see how I spooked a wild animal while innocently pedaling along with no dogs by my side. We humans have far more impact than we know.

It was another day, like so many recently, filled with tensions about wildfires as hot winds swept through our forests. Small fires kept breaking out and being doused by firefighters before they took off. Please do rain or snow dances for us!


  1. stunning pictures, capturing interesting stories! such beauty..
    hope the zinging is less...
    i've been snow dancing for a while now!

  2. I wish I could send you our rain!

  3. Oh my!

    The coyote is just so beautiful!

    And K: DITTO!

  4. we want to go hiking when we visit your blog..BOL
    Benny & Lily

  5. We have a lot of wind headed our way this week, but we also will have rain every day- wish we could send you the rain.

    Some beautiful photos again - nature just seems to pop in them.

  6. As always, stunning pictures. Interesting your comment about how we affect nature just by walking through it. Obviously, we love our hikes, but we realize how by just appreciating the beauty, we also impact it.

  7. Well, it's good that the coyotes near you (like the ones near us) maintain that caution about people. I think they get into trouble down in town when they become too accustomed to people.

    I know it's kind of sad to think you caused him concern, but ultimately, I think it's a good thing.

  8. ...rain dancing...

    ...snow dancing...

    Hope those warm winds blow through so you and K can have some peace of mind.

    Those coyote pictures are beautiful!

  9. Oh winds!
    We see 2 cayotes on the fireroad at the end of our street...they also seem quite curious about us... Fascinating body positions caught in your cameras.
    The fall leaf colors are beautiful.

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

  10. A rain dance I can do, but I just can't hope for snow in September! I really hope that the fires die down quickly for you. It must be so stressful living with the possibility in the back of your mind!

    It makes sense that the animals would be used to the smoke. Thanks for answering that!

    I find it hard to belief that Miss K isn't always dignified!

  11. I will do a rain dance for you and our area too.

  12. We get big winds off the prairies quite often and when we do, Stella doesn't like it either. I think its just too much to sniff at one time. Sort of an overkill!

    Autumn pix are really great!

    Stella and Jo

  13. I hope you get rain or snow soon and those winds die down.

    Your fall colors are breath-taking and the coyote pictures so clear and beautiful.

  14. Who pays for these firefighters - the state, the feds or the municipality? It must be exorbitantly costly as well as requiring a special sort of bravery. We'll be wishing for rain ( for you) on our afternoon walk. As for snow there's plenty of time later to think about that.

  15. Your world has turned golden, KB. That Coyote looks healthy and well-fed (unlike the skinny deer). I am with K on the wind. I biked yesterday in a hot, dry wind - I got so parched I could barely swallow!

  16. We're supposed to get 4" of rain in the next couple days. I wish I could magically send it your way. I was wondering if the thinness of the deer is normal. Seems like they'd fatten up for winter but maybe the lack of rain has made food hard to find.

  17. wow. K is hurt? oh man. i'm in pain just thinking about it. Poor K. I can't bare the thought that this could be something permanent. I truly hope that isn't the case, and though I don't know the severity of it, i have a hard time grasping that it will be permanent. it doesn't make sense to me.

    the coyote is beautiful. i'm always amazed at how they can be beautiful or so ugly that they are beautiful. i've seen some really UGLY ones too. the kinds that were likely runts of the pack or something.

    we'll be rain dancing for you! and paw crossing for a full paw recovery...


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