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Monday, October 31, 2011


Fun with K in the sun and snow!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bear and Coyote

We had a lethargic black bear come visit our clearing a few nights ago, just after the big snow storm. This is the bear who I've dubbed "Tiny" in the past, based on his humongous stature. Based on the fact that he's not in hibernation yet, I'm assuming that Tiny is a male. Look at his size!
He arrived in our clearing, knocked over our bear-proof garbage cans, and then walked to the base of our bear-proof birdfeeding station. The pole in the photos is very tall with branches coming off the top that hold birdfeeders.

Tiny obviously remembered that he couldn't get to the birdfeeders. He did something that no bear has ever done before. He arrived under the feeders and lay down in the snow. He stayed for almost an hour, lackadaisically scratching at the snow and licking up a few fallen seeds.

Every now and then, Tiny would look up at the birdfeeders, perhaps wishing that he could crack the code to get to them.
He even grabbed the pole once, but as you'll see in the video embedded below, he quickly forgot that he was trying to get to the birdfeeders and started scratching himself instead. That's just one example of how lackadaisical he seemed during this visit.
You can sort of see that he's scratching his chin with his hind paw in this still photo.
By coincidence, I'd just received a new camera in the mail, and I had quickly tied it to the tree near the birdfeeders that afternoon. That's where I put any new camera that I'm "trying out" before I decide whether I want to keep it (my favorite trail camera shop,, has an awesome return policy if anyone doesn't like a camera).

For that reason, two cameras were taking photos and videos of Tiny during his long visit. Here's one from my new inexpensive camera.
Based on the video recorded by the new camera, I know that Tiny got scared away from the base of the birdfeeding station at least twice by a coyote that weighs a small fraction of Tiny's weight! You can barely see the coyote head in the far right of the photo below.
After each of his quick runaways, Tiny returned and postured in the direction of the coyote, walking with stiff legs in the coyote's direction.
After one of his runaways, he stared hard at the cams, perhaps getting tired of being photographed!
After Tiny finally departed around 12:20 AM, the coyote moved under the birdfeeders to make a statement.
Then, the coyote followed exactly in Tiny's tracks out of our clearing and through our forest. It was an amazing energy-saving strategy by the coyote because he didn't have to break his own trail through our fresh deep snow.

I suspect that the coyote wanted to see what food Tiny might unearth and leave unfinished. If, for example, Tiny had opened our garbage cans, there might have been some scraps left behind that the coyote could have eaten. My friend who used to have a chicken coop said that a bear would break in and eat the food that she'd given her chickens but would leave the chickens alive. The coyotes would follow behind and eat the chickens themselves. So, coyotes are smart, taking advantage of the brawn of bears to get food to eat.

As Tiny departed our clearing, he stood up on his hind legs and marked two large Ponderosa Pine trees. The story was clear from his tracks in the snow and the bark pieces scattered atop the new snow. That discovery was incredibly exciting for me because now I have two "bear trees" identified on my own property. You can bet that there will be trail cameras pointed at them next spring. I honestly don't expect to see Tiny again this year - he seemed lazy and sleepy. I suspect that he'll be drifting toward hibernation in the near future.
The next morning, R decided to leave his own message over top of the coyote and bear scent. I always check out the locations that where my dogs choose to pee because they often are leaving messages for the wildlife. Compare R's photo to the coyote photo above!
I spliced together snippets from Tiny's visit into a video which you can watch below or here. Most of it is "true video" because my new camera records nighttime videos. You can see the coyote scaring Tiny a couple of times in the video. Astounding!

Friday, October 28, 2011


K and I rode out the door before sunrise this morning onto frozen trails and into the frigid air. I love this time of day, the dawning of a new day, full of promise and plans. The eastern horizon was pink and the forest was light but the sun hadn't peeked over the rocky ridge yet.
I kept K in a tight heel for the start of our snowbike ride. The wildlife love dawn as much as I do.

Soon, the sun appeared on the horizon, lighting the snow gold.
When K looked toward the sunrise, it was reflected in her eye. Can you see it?
K's chocolate fur lit up in that rich rusty hue that only sunrise and sunset can paint.
A wonderful moment. I never regret being outside for the dawn of a new day. The world feels so clean and new, like a freshly erased whiteboard waiting for a drawing.
K was full of energy and mischief. I've given her a break from her muzzle since it snowed. Unfortunately, based on her behavior, I think that she was digging dried old mushrooms out of the snow today. In small quantities, the mushrooms that the squirrels hide and K finds are no big deal. However, I think that the muzzle may return tomorrow.

In the photo below, I'd just called her away from a digging enterprise. The flick of her tongue gave her away. She flicks her tongue when she's nervous, like when I catch her digging up mushrooms.
Soon, the day became clear and bright. Some hoar frost had formed overnight on the few remaining leaves on the rose bushes. The world still glittered like yesterday.
Today, I knew that I had a long and difficult day ahead of me. What a joy to start it with a snowbike ride and K at sunrise!

The other night, we had two surprise visitors to our clearing in the woods. Here was the first one: Tiny the Black Bear. He had a coyote shadow throughout his long visit to our clearing. I'll tell you more about the fascinating interactions between the two of them in an upcoming post.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

No regrets

My blog and all my Google privileges were "disabled" today. The problem seems to be fixed but I'd suggest that all of us remember to change our passwords frequently so no one hijacks our accounts.

Today in my backyard...
As I rode my snowbike with K by my side this morning, the fresh snow glittered all around me. I felt like I was riding through the tunnel of life. I wanted to reach out and grasp each glitter, to keep time suspended right at that instant. But, if I stopped moving, the glittering stopped.
Life is that way too. I'd love to grab time and hold it still, to stop life from hurtling by at warp speed. Alas, it's not possible. Each instant is precious. It arrives and then it's gone. Did I live that one instant of my life to the fullest? As my legs churned in circles today with my chocolate K cantering along side me, I pondered how to live a vibrant life with no regrets. There are no do-overs when it comes to the one wild and precious life that we're given.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Wildlife and Winter's Onslaught

Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard in the Colorado Desert

Red Fox in my backyard

Curious Coyote in my backyard

Agile Coyote in my backyard

Big Bull Elk in my backyard

Doe and male fawn with antler "buttons" in my backyard

Yesterday in my backyard

Today in my backyard

Today in my backyard

Superbike, Fatty, comes out of hibernation in my backyard

My Backyard

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A bear in the desert

Winter is here, at least for the moment. The desert trip from last weekend seems like a distant memory.
"They" say that we'll have 10-20" of white stuff on the ground by tomorrow evening.

I'll ignore the snow for a moment and, instead, I'll remember the warm sun on my bare arms and legs as I relaxed in the desert.

The area where we visited has a maze of beautiful singletrack trails that wend among cliffs and canyons. It was gratifying to see how much K has improved since we visited this desert oasis last May. On that visit, her paw was still weak from the toe amputation, and her activity was severely limited. Not this time. She ran each day, and even played wildly with a young pup named Bubba who we met.
K got a serious case of the zoomies as she, R, and Bubba chased each other in the desert grass at sunset. Even after that wild flurry of play, K's paw didn't get sore. Yahoo!
Some of my bike rides were too long for a dog to come along. On one, I started before anyone else had been on the trails. The trails consisted of firm sand, perfect for tracking. I immediately dropped my bike and started cataloging the animals, including lizards, kangaroo rats, coyotes, snakes, a bobcat, and a BEAR!
When I spotted the bear tracks, I immediately swerved to avoid messing them up with my tire tracks, and stopped to check that they were truly bear tracks. Bears don't usually hang out in the desert. And, this particular slice of desert was penned in by the Colorado River on one side and Interstate 70 on the other side. It seemed like a very unlikely place for a bear to be ambling on the trails.

You can see three bear tracks in the photo below. One is near the very bottom of the photo, one is in the middle, and another is near the top.
The bear tracks were fairly large.The Gu container in the photo below was 4.25" long, and the hind foot track was about twice that. That makes me think that it was a fairly big bear. He was heading toward the Colorado River. Swimming the river would have landed him in suitable bear territory. I wonder if that's what he did? It looked like a tough swim to me.
At first, I thought that he might be eating acorns from the scrub oak that grew in the washes of the desert. The oak had gorgeous red leaves but the acorns were gone.
After a quarter mile or so, the bear headed straight up a rock cliff so I stopped tracking him and headed out toward the river. I followed a beautifully constructed trail that paralleled the contours of the cliffs above the river.
You can see the green and yellow trees lining the river in the distance in the photo below. The trail followed a much less direct route than the river, winding along curvy cliffs.
As I rode, my eyes constantly sought the beauty of the river and the autumn colors along side it. Can you visualize a bear swimming across that wide but calm river? I'm told that a bear probably can do it but I find it hard to visualize.
The beauty of our world never stops astounding me.