I started my evening hike yesterday evening with both halves of the Labraduo. We did some training on the trails, with the Duo switching between down, sit, and stand.
A little later and further from home, R and I saw the sun set with a storm still looming on the horizon.
Yet, despite that sunset, I was still surprised to see SNOW flying out the sky this morning. K and I meandered through snow-laden yellow aspen trees.
It wasn’t until R and I headed out for a short and slippery mountain bike ride that I began to get an inkling that something had happened in our forest overnight. R led the way, with his usual verve.
At one intersection, he started veering off into the forest with his nose held high. Uh oh, I thought, that’s the exact spot where he and K abandoned me last year to check out a mountain lion’s freshly killed deer. Today, R didn’t immediately respond to my call and continued to drift uphill with his nose in the air, further alerting me that something was up. However, soon he did return to my side, and we finished our ride without incident.
I left him at home and headed out on my bike to check my wildlife cameras. Woo, it was a big night! Two mountain lions passed my most popular camera that the bobcat visited the other night. Notice in the series of photos below that the time appears in the top bar of the photo. Also, the camera took a rapid series of ten photos, and the number of the photo appears too.
First, one lion appeared near the middle of the scene.
Then, he appeared in the far right of the scene as the second lion, following directly behind him, passed behind the tree.
The first lion's body showed in the far right of the scene.
Then, the second lion's head and glowing eye emerged from behind the tree.
The second lion's body...
Finally, the second lion exited with only his hind end showing in the far right of the frame.
Mountain lions are normally solitary except when they have a kitten or when they're courting. I did photograph and mother with her kitten in May. At that time, the kitten was almost as big as his/her mother. In the series of photos above, the two lions look almost the same size. That means that they are either a mother and kitten who is about 18 months old and just about to leave his mother OR a pair of courting mountain lions. Mountain lions breed and have kittens all year around so the possibility of a breeding pair is real. However, a breeding pair stays together for only a few days... so the odds that I captured them together seem low.
Also, notice that despite the effort to radio-collar all the lions in our area, both of these lions appeared to have naked necks! I like that. They're truly wild and free animals.
Nearby, after it snowed this morning, a doe and her fawn passed the spot that I've been staking out to get mountain lion photos - about a mile away from where the lions actually walked last night. First the doe appeared.
Her fawn, who has lost his spots, wandered onto the scene next. In the photo below, he's walking to the left of a Douglas Fir Tree with a lion's ambush spot underneath it. I've tracked lions to this spot on more than one occasion. I think that they lie under the low boughs of the fir tree waiting for naive deer to pass by. The spot that they use is scraped bare of pine needles and cones so I know that it's used regularly.
All in all, it was an exciting night in our forest. I need to be extra careful for the next few days for I fear that the lion pair has a mule deer carcass cached near a trail that I mountain bike regularly.
Whenever I see our mountain lions on my wildlife cameras, I realize that we humans move safely through our forest due to the grace of the lions. They choose to let us pass unscathed, thank goodness.
I might be without a computer for the next few days as mine needs some work done on it. So, don't worry if my blog goes silent for a little while!