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!