The season is a'changing. I know that winter is on the way when my shadow becomes a tall and skinny caricature of me and K looks like a lion sitting next to me.
Last fall, for reasons that I'd prefer to forget, I didn't have wildlife cameras on the main animal routes. Because I am fascinated by learning where our wildlife go as the seasons change, losing that chunk of data was disappointing. This year is different because I've strategically staked out the animal routes to keep collecting photos. I'm learning that the bears have started moving around like ants in a colony. They're following their mating season routes - but their goal now is to eat as much as possible before hibernation.
Lots of people around here think that we have 1-2 bears in the area. My cameras have told me that, so far this year, at least 19 individual bears have been in our forest. I'm being very conservative in that count - never counting a bear as a new individual unless I am absolutely sure. Moreover, I feel sure that shy bears are lurking in the forest, avoiding my cameras - so the actual census is probably higher.
On a recent evening, I captured photos of our third sow with cub(s). Based on my first photo of her huge head, I would have guessed that she was a male.
A day later, a big fat bear with a black glossy coat who I think that we've seen before passed a bear whammy tree. He headed directly for the base of it.
Early the next morning, Socks returned!!!!!! You might remember Socks from mating season, when we saw many appearances by him just after his mother had paired up with a suitor, and consequently, her yearling cubs had to leave her.
The first photo showed his black socks most obviously. He was sniffing the overhanging branches that the huge bear had rubbed his arched back on just a few hours earlier.
I hope that we get more glimpses into this ursine world!