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Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Day out in Nature

The day dawned incredibly cold - so cold that the air freezes your nostrils closed. Shyla is adapting to our winter weather. She chose to lie in the snow at sunrise.
Today, she started a new hobby - eating snow whenever she had the chance. With the air temperature in single digits (Fahrenheit), she rapidly built up a serious snow beard and kept trying to lick it off.
She and I wandered far and wide, with her off-leash romping time increasing so that she is now off-leash for the majority of our morning hike. I'm so happy to see her recovering from her leg fracture. For the most part, I've stopped worrying about her while she runs but I do still keep her on leash for part of our hike.
I was looking for animal tracks during our hike but was distracted by the beauty of the snow on the floor of the aspen groves. Just before the snow, I planted a huge number of Columbine seeds in the aspen groves near our house. So, I see Columbine flowers when I look at the snow around the aspen trunks!
One hazard to "wandering" off-trail is that this land has the remnants of barbed wire fences strewn everywhere. The land near our house used to be owned by a rancher who used the fences when he grazed his cattle. Most of the fences have fallen down, leaving dangerous strands of barbed wire on the ground. Fortunately, Shyla seems to have learned where all these hazards are and goes around them.
As we wandered, we spotted mountain lion tracks walking exactly in my snowbike packed track. The lion tracks weren't that clear and didn't photograph well but they were undoubtedly lion based on their size and shape. That observation made me wonder where the elk herd is grazing. In the winter, our mountain lions seem to follow the herd - so seeing lion tracks made me start watching for elk.

Indeed, a little later in the day, I saw the herd nearby while I rode my snowbike. Yes, I know - I'm doing a lot for someone recovering from pneumonia but my spine hurts too much when I try to be sedentary for a long time (like a person really should do when recovering from something like this).
I didn't have my good camera with me when I saw the elk... but they looked well-fed and their fur coats were thick and luxurious. The herd is huge this year - at least 50% bigger than recent years. Only a fraction of the herd is shown in the next photo.
I also saw a Northern Pygmy Owl perched on the tip-top of a pine tree. I really wished for my good camera then. It's such a small owl (less than 7" tall) that I thought that I was photographing a song bird. It wasn't until I saw the photo on my computer screen that I realized that it was an owl!
I love wandering with Shyla, I love riding my snowbike, and I love observing nature. I can't wait until I can combine all three when Shyla is fully healed!
She's getting there, slowly but surely.


  1. Khyra says if Shyla needs it, she'll send some Siberian floooooof!

    Great day out in nature!

    Once again, thanks for sharing!

  2. Shyla's tail is so expressive :–)

  3. Ann.....from....Outer Banks of NC....said .....I just couldn't wait to get here to see everything beautiful and believe me "IT IS" .......and Shyla glowing in the sunlight..... and having fun ..just to observe all the wonderful nature that life has to offer... does the herd seem to mind you being there .....and the owl is so cute on the tip top of the pine..It all fills my heart with joy....wish all could be there with you...HUGS

  4. Amazing photos, even if you didn't have your other camera. I love the owl, I think it is an amazing picture. The one with Shyla licking the snow looks like she is in heaven with her eyes turned up as if to say "Ooooo this is sooooo good."

  5. Lucky you! I would love to see an owl. I think maybe one landed on my deck rail this summer, but it was gone before I could be sure. (A big one whatever it was.) I hope Shyla doesn't get chapped lips from licking like my grandkids do!

  6. Such an amazing day in the Rockies! Shyla looks so beautiful with her snow beard. We are thrilled she is doing so well. And we're glad you are doing a bit better too.

    Thanks for letting us spend a wonderful day with you.

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  7. When BOTH of you are fully healed!
    Fabulous photos this post, KB!!!

  8. Just beautiful, as usual! That owl is too cute!

  9. I love how Shyla seems to glow in the pictures - just beautiful!

    You are lucky to have such a wonderful area in which to hike and ride. Seeing a herd of elk like that would be amazing!

    Thanks for sharing your day.

  10. Wonderful pics, as always. Are the elk close to a farm or roadway, I could see some fences there? Shyla does love the snow, she is a real glowing winter girl, as K was, maybe soome of K's spirit in the mountains was left there for your new girl to absorb.'Greetings from Jean

  11. The bokeh is beautiful in the aspen grove photo! I love the glittering snow. The pygmy owl is really cute, too!

    Kuster really got his first taste of playing in the snow yesterday. He discovered that he's a snow eater, too! Seeing that black nose with snow all over it was so darned cute, but would he be still for pictures? Of course not! Ornery puppy!

    P.S. Your secret is safe with me!

  12. Glad to hear Shyla is doing better and getting more off leash time every day.

    Millie has her head in the snow about half the time she is outside. She loves to dig and then stick her nose in the hole (and below) to see if she can find any vermin under there. She also licks the snow when she is getting a bit thirsty.


  13. Shyla has a silly personality and makes us laugh. She is such a puppy!
    The little owl is so adorable- and looks a little cold.
    We hope you are feeling better real soon, and it won't be long until you are out doing everything you want to do- with your girl!
    Beautiful photos.

  14. Soon. very soon. But for now both you and Shyla must be careful not to overdo...a setback will only lengthen the torment!

  15. We sure are hoping that YOU take time to recover as well!! Shyla looks to be recovering quite well...I am wondering how you are managing with the cold air?? I suffer from asthma and when I had pneumonia, I was just paralyzed when I went was awful!! Sure hope you are doing ok!! Hugs to you all!

  16. The frigid cold doesn't bother you a bit, Shyla! We love your snow beard!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  17. Ahh, so so neat being able to see such wildlife so close to home. Wow.


  18. soon you will both be healed and wandering and wondering in nature that you both crave! great pics! such a beautiful owl...

  19. I love her snow covered mush! I love walking in the cold snow, to me it is just so relaxing although I have been having some issues keeping my hands warm this year! No matter what I try the Raynauds is hindering me!

  20. Gosh! Hate to see if you had your good camera! Beautiful. The barbed wire is a bit scary. Hopefully it's somewhat visible. That snow sure looks tasty
    Benny & Lily

  21. What a wonderful collection of photos! Shyla looks so elegant lying in the snow--so beautiful in the early morning light! The Northern Pygmy Owl shot is amazing, but I love every one of these photos. What a huge herd of elk! Glad Shyla avoided the barbed wire. We run into the same problem here sometimes.

    Susan and Wrigs

  22. Awsome pictures, the elks are great. What a luck to get a owl....
    What a lucky day for you.
    Shyla is great as always

  23. Fabulous photos, especially Shyla's tongue curved over her freezing nose!

    I was talking with a friend just this afternoon about the dangers of barbed wire, both in fences but of course mostly when it is lying around. Last winter, when Violette was in the field next to the house, I had to free her from barbed wire tangles twice.

  24. Does she eat enough snow to make herself throw up? That is my favorite thing to do. Mommy thinks it is bad dog.


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