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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sunset, snowbike, and a coyote hunts

Yesterday's evening walk was a bit crazed because the dogs were so hyped about all the wildlife activity. Within 50 yards of the house, we found the remains of a Flicker, a beautiful woodpecker, who I suspect was killed and eaten by a raptor. In another quarter mile, we spotted a pack of coyotes huddled in an aspen grove in the middle of our meadow.

As you might guess, I decided that the dogs would remain leashed or under very tight control for the hike. I unhitched K briefly for a photo with the moon rising behind her.
And, when we turned to the west, we witnessed a gorgeous sunset, complete with coyotes yipping in the distance.
Although the dogs enjoy hikes when they can romp off-leash the very best, sometimes we have to make concessions to Mother Nature to keep the wildlife and the dogs safe. That was the story yesterday evening.

This morning, I decided to make an attempt at riding my snowbike on our trails. It was moderately successful. K and I found about 1.5 miles of trail that we'd packed down with snowshoes to be passable.

The wind howled like a jet engine off the Continental Divide, whipping K's ears and the pogies on my handlebars with each gust. K didn't like the flapping of my pogies and gave my bike the evil eye.
In one sun-soaked spot, I glimpsed purple as I rode by. It was one of our Pasqueflowers who had survived the 15" of wet and heavy snow. It looked a bit bedraggled but I was filled with wonder at the the resilience of these mountain flowers.
All too soon, I dropped K off at home, and I headed out on the roads to spin away my back spasms. As I departed, I noticed icicles under our deck inexorably melting, one drop at a time.
As I flew down a gulch with the formidable wind at my back, I saw that a small pond had melted and formed a beautiful reflecting pool.
Later in my ride, as I pedaled past an expansive meadow, I spotted four coyotes all trotting toward a pond of open water. They moved in parallel, like a four-pronged attack, although at great distances from each other.

One of them stopped in his tracks, dug into the snow, and then stuck his head underground. Sorry about the lack of zoom - I had only my tiny point-and-shoot camera with me.
As he pulled his head out of the snow, he tossed a rodent into the air. It landed on the snow and began to scurry away from him. You can see it as a dark dot in front of his snout in the photo below.
The coyote calmly grabbed the rodent again. He tossed it into the air, it did several flips and landed behind him. Now it scurried in the opposite direction.
Finally, the game was over, and the coyote delivered the killing shake. He walked slowly, carrying the rodent in his jaws. Then, in one great gulp, the rodent disappeared down his gullet.
I'm not sure why coyotes play with their prey before killing them but I've seen it many times. Perhaps they're celebrating and giving thanks for the meal before eating it. It does seem like it gives their prey a chance to escape... but maybe that's a rare occurrence.

While making the video of the elk jumping the fence the other day, I discovered that the new version of iMovie that came with my upgraded computer is much easier to use than the old version. So, I made videos from a couple of the rapidfire series of still photos that I've captured of mountain lions in the past couple of months. For today, here's the most recent mountain lion photo series in the form of a very short video. You can also watch it here if you have trouble with the embedded video. I hope that you enjoy it.

17 comments:

  1. How lucky for you (and your readers) that you came upon the coyote and its prey. The mountain lion video is great.

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  2. Amazing photos - the of K with the moon is just breathtaking! You have so much wonderful wildlife there! Each and every day must be so exciting and wonderful to watch who came by to visit!

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  3. We made an iMovie for today's post too. It is pretty easy to use. Yours of the mountain lion came out good. K with the moon is lovely too. Have a great weekend!!

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  4. Beautiful as always. The mountain lion - so huge!! Don't know if you're into it, but we awardified you. It's on our blog. We hardly ever miss one of your posts!!

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  5. Hi Y'all,

    I just love the picture of K with the moon...the best ever...or perhaps it's the romance in my heart.

    Barn cats play with prey the same as the coyote...only for much longer. Wonder if it has something to do with the age of the coyote or how hungry he is?

    Thanks for putting the photos together in the iMovie.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

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  6. Oh the dilemma!

    The khytty or the khoyote -

    We can't choose!

    We have a pair of Flickers here - I can't get any pics for they are always just far enough out in the middle of the yard I can't capture them - and as soon as I open the door to go out, they take off for next door -

    They are so cool to watch as they patrol the lawn pecking and poking!

    I'm glad you enjoyed the shots of Spring in the East!

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  7. I can't get over how beautiful that first picture of K is! Wow! What a great capture!

    I always have to smile over those flowers that tough it out through the brutal early Spring weather.

    That short video feels like watching the lion from some secret peephole! What a cool thing to see!

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  8. That top photo with the moon behind is outstanding.

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  9. Love the captures of the coyote. We had our own little encounter with nature on yesterday's hike (and today's blog post).

    Love that first picture of K and the moon.

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  10. Like the moon shot. It was stormy here all day yesterday but when I went out on the porch around 9 the big, bright moon was breaking throught the clouds.

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  11. What a awesome video! It is like a flip book! As for the coyote, poor rodent...

    Thanks for sharing!

    Licks,
    Ruthie

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  12. Love the pond...funny how I'm always drawn to water. Hope you have a chance to see the ocean again in the not to distant future...since you enjoyed it so much years ago!

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  13. I'm enjoying your photos of the Pasque, which I've decided is my new favorite early-season wildflower. So delicate but a survivor! The photo of K with the Moon is special. I liked seeing the coyote set of photos, too. I've witnessed foxes doing this type of hunting behavior. (Almost like cat and mouse).

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  14. Awesome scenery and pupper pictures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    We are starting to cool down here but are still having wonderful sunny days where I spend my time lazing in sunpuddles on the living room floor!

    Koda

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  15. I love visiting and seeing all your great pics- I'm never disappointed! Those coyote pics in action are pretty amazing - makes you wonder why they "play" with their food in this way.
    Mountain lion rapid fire are awesome!

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  16. Wow! That video left me speechless! Makes me want to set up a camera in our yard to capture out visitors, but I bet I'd never get anything even a tiny fraction of quality and quantity you consistently get! Thanks for sharing that!

    I love the moonrise behind K, and that sunset photo is so beautiful. The pasqueflower and melting ice, too!

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