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Friday, January 28, 2011

The leap and the bobcat

Spring has arrived in January here in the mountains! I pedaled up to Hug Hill first thing this morning, enjoying the warmth and well-packed trails. The cloudless sky pulled us upward to the peak, a spot that I'll never stop enjoying.
K and I played some games. She jumped a log near the summit. I captured her image in mid-air.
Then, I captured her astounding landing. She was in a full paw stand for an instant!
I had no idea that it was such a dramatic landing until I looked at the photo. I literally cringed, thinking of her "bad" paw when I saw this photo.

She was fine, thank goodness. Her eyes shined, carefree and happy in the morning sun just after her jump.
On our way down the hill toward home, I heard the spring song of a mountain chickadee. I think that he was as tricked by the sun's warmth as I was!
K and I checked a couple of wildlife cameras, and, finally, we had some action at one of them. I moved it yesterday. I had previously placed it on the easiest and levelest path for crossing a ravine - the path that I thought that an off-trail traveler would use. I left it there for a month and captured just one deer photo in all that time. So, I've been scoping out the tracks in the snow to figure out where the animals do cross the ravine. I found a stampede of tracks on the most ridiculous route (from my viewpoint). It goes down a vertical and slippery gully that feeds into the main ravine. It skirts a cliff of boulders. Why would the animals choose that route? My only guess is that it's very well hidden if they are avoiding humans.

Well, within hours of putting a camera on that gully, I had a visitor. A bobcat stuck his head into the frame from the right.

He sauntered to the end of a a rotten tree trunk and began kicking backward with his hind paws. I've captured this behavior on video in the past so I know that he alternately kicks with each foot (left, right, left, right). This creates a "scrape" that he then marks with urine and sometimes scat.
His tail went up and he squatted. He had no idea that he had *no* privacy!

Then, he scanned the area before marching onward. I love the black and white stripes on the backs of his ears.

Finally, he stretched out his legs, taking long strides uphill. I think that he was heading to a rocky escarpment where I've seen his tracks many times. He hunts the rabbits who live under the boulders.

I think that it's intriguing that I've been photographing bobcats in my area for close to two years now, and I've never captured a photo of a mother and kitten bobcat. I wonder why. Perhaps our territory is dominated by an iron-pawed male and the females stay in the shadows, away from my cameras. Male bobcats are a big threat to kittens and will attack them. So, this explanation might make sense.

At about the same time as the bobcat walked up the shady gully, the Duo and I were playing in the sun. I may be repeating myself but we always start with training games, to put the dog pair into the right state of mind to romp with abandon but pay attention to me if I call them.

We started with a sit-stay but neither dog pretended that they were focused on me. They did stay, however.
They focused uphill. Near sunset on a still day, a slight breeze flows downhill as the air cools and sinks. When I did Search and Rescue with my air-scenting dog, we always paid attention to these predictable light breezes so we'd know how to search a hillside most efficiently. In the evening, searching the base would give information about the whole hillside above us.
 R's neck stretched a few inches as he tried to levitate toward the amazing scent.
Whatever so raptly possessed them was forgotten a short time later as they chased each other in circles and played like puppies. R is the master of changing direction on a dime, as he's doing in the photo below.
Later, as the sun sank below the horizon, I leashed the Duo to prevent any wildlife encounters. We watched a soaring, fluttering, and gliding flock of birds slide across the horizon.
Then, the entire sky became suffused with pink. Peace.


  1. Hi KB - A wonderful day here in Breck, too- temps in 30's which actually felt warm. I think I even got a bit of sun on my face while skiing. Your duo look like they can hardly wait to be released from their stay! Lovely, colorful sky shots!

  2. Oh! That last shot is so beautiful! You have a gift for capturing just the right shot!


  3. Wow, that's an amazing leap! Go K!

    Hope that bobcat steers clear of that little bunny from yesterday. I almost missed him in the first shot.

    Your pal, Pip

  4. Spring? Why, don't you mean summer? 70s down here today!

    Love the synchronized sniffing shot. ;)

  5. I may not be able to comment everyday but I do enjoy my daily visits. :) Tank yous again for sharin' your world wif us, it is beootiful. :)

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  6. Yeppers, I kinda cringed on dat landing myself and I didn't even see it da fur reals. I bets your heart kinda sunk fur a moment. Her STRING girl fur sures!

    Heheheheh, is dat kitteh poopin'? Bwhahahahahaha!


  7. worries dearies. They is Ligustrum and not poisonous. Mum sent a leaf and some berries to da vet and he confirmed so I is A okays.
    Mum said I was gonna be da deaths of her...why would her say dat?


  8. I love K's 'pawstand' pic!

    And YES, Khyra loves the 'khytty pikhs'!

    I had to laugh in that the drive home from work was so snow free it was like 'did this morning happen'!?!

    Glad your dad has friends to help in times of snow - Diane's SO Jim's mom was kind of trapped in Chaska MN - his parents would normally do the 50/50 split between AZ and MN but with his dad's health, they didn't make the trek back to AZ - he passed away a few weeks ago (at 95) so now his mom will be able to return to AZ in the near future

  9. I love that picture of K and R looking in the same direction! I am so glad K is fine after the big leap!


  10. Gorgeous photos, as always. I love the jumping ones!

  11. K's big two legged leap gave me the gulps, but she seems to know what she can do these days.

    As always, wonderful pictures!


  12. Wow! Those pictures of K and R sitting together need to be in a calendar somewhere. I think you could publish your own calendar and make a killing with it!

    Are there other predators in the area that might pose a threat to the Bobcat kittens?

    That last picture with the sky is just absolutely amazing! Wow!

    Oh, and Bunny wants you to know that she's leaving the jewels at home on race day. I think she's wearing her hiking collar, which is narrow and made of hemp. ;)

  13. I'm getting tired of saying " THAT is the best photo EVER of K" so I'm not going to do it anymore :)

    Makes my heart smile to see her SO back to where she was before !!!!!!

    Stunning shots, as always !

  14. Wonderful sequence of shots of the bobcat. And, the pictures of K and R tasting the air are really eye-catching. This was another enjoyable trip into the mountains.

  15. Oh to have two well trained dogs who'll sit still for a photo. Either that or a very fast shutter speed ! Great pictures. Again.

  16. Hi Y'all,

    K and R scenting together is one sight my Humans only see in your pictures since I'm a one and "only".

    Y'all come by now...I answered questions Friday and today I showed you what I was lookin' at in that portrait shot earlier in the week. :)

    Hawk aka BrownDog

  17. Wow! Congrats on the bobcat photos. What a gorgeous creature! Hope you all have a nice weekend. I loved all the photos, the chickadee, the sunset, the pups!!

  18. Wow! Love the scenting noses of K & R. Magestic, yet knowing... It is interesting the timing on the camera shots, and where you all were. We did a local walk just shy of early afternoon this past Thursday, and observed quite a large cayote grazing for food in a meadow. We are seeing more cayotes during the we invade 'their' spaces for walks.
    Fantastic photos!

    Sweet hugs,
    Sierra Rose

  19. That sunset pic is breathtaking. I love the duo air scenting, too. My girls will do this, and I'm immediately scanning the area. Their sense of smell is impressive.

  20. That particular wildlife camera must be a nice one - such clear. colorful photos. I love the pink ski in that last photo.


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