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Friday, May 31, 2013

Springtime: Flowers and Bears!

Since we arrived home from the desert, springtime has taken over. Shyla and I have been spending time in the pine forests to stay cool on the warmer days, with her paws padding softly over damp pine needles. When I stop to look at things like flowers, she relaxes next to me.
After a hiatus last year due to drought, one of my favorite forest flowers is popping up in large numbers - the Fairy Slipper (Calypso bulbosa). These flowers are tiny, rare, and delicate orchids who love pine forests.
They amaze me with their resilience despite how delicate they look. When I find a patch of these gems, I tiptoe around them, being very very careful not to hurt them.
In addition to flowers blooming, the bears have started moving too. It's been a slow start to bear mating season, compared to previous warmer years. However, some favorite bear-marking trees are seeing visitors.

This is a bear marking tree that a bobcat was very interested in. It had already seen a couple of ursine visitors before the bobcat.
Shortly after the bobcat, a young bear visited. This the bear who I am guessing was shot in a nearby town a couple of weeks later based on his distinctive markings.

Then, there was a break in the bear action for a while, as some winter weather took over. More than 10 days later, there was another visitor. This bear didn't do a full back rub on the tree but brushed hard against it while standing on four legs.

The very next day, another bear visited the tree. This is definitely a young bear, and I think that we might have seen her around here last year. As you'll see in a minute, I think that she might be "Socks".

She did the young bear version of sniffing and/or marking the tree while facing it. This is quite different from the big male version of marking a tree.

I captured another photo of this young bear a distance from this tree, and in the forest light, it looks like this bear might be Socks! Socks is a young female who broke away from her mother two summers ago. I thought that she might have bred last summer (although that would have been somewhat early in her life for breeding) but I haven't seen cubs with her this summer. If we have a good season with lots of bear food available, she may have cubs next summer!
Two days later, the parade continued. I'm not sure which bear this is. It's definitely a large adult but I don't know whether it's a male or female. First, sniffing...

Then walking away while rubbing his/her side against the tree.
There was a hiatus at bear marking trees for a while... and then today I found some of the best photos yet. I am monitoring a new bear marking tree, and it seems to be popular. The other night, a bear sniffed the tree, never showing his/her face to the camera. You can see the small tree has its top broken off. That happened in the last couple of weeks (almost surely as a bear marked it).
Then, the next day, a male did a full marking of this tree. He arrived on the scene with wet fur, making a beeline for the tree.
Within 2 seconds, he went up on his hind legs and started rubbing his back against it.
 He rubbed his scent on the tree with great vigor, hoping to attract some sows!
In this photo, you get some idea how bears break the tops off of their marking trees. He raised his paws to grab branches of the tree as he leaned his full weight against the lower part of the tree.
He didn't stay at the tree for long... but I bet that the parade of dancing bears has really begun now. I hope so! It's one of my favorite wildlife events of the year!

To close, here is one more photo of sweet Shyla in the desert (I still have a few photos that I haven't posted here). I love the red desert sunsets!


  1. Your last photo is surely one of the best yet. Bears, bobcats and markings, lots of fun for those fellows and gals in the trees. Greetings from Jean

  2. wonderful bear parade!!

  3. Wow, I never knew there will still so many bears in the wild! Every once in a while we hear of one in our area, but it's rare. Thanks again for sharing these wonderful wildlife pictures!

  4. We love seeing all the bear photos. We sure do hope Socks will be so kind as to bring us some baby cubs:)

    Great pics of Miss Shyla - of course!

  5. beautiful calypso photos, i love them too ~

    awesome bear photos, thank you so much for sharing them with us!

    lovely weekend to you ~

  6. Your wildlife photos are so fascinating, and I've learned a lot from your explanations of the various animals' actions. Thanks so much! I particularly love the bear photos, and that last big male certainly thinks he's something else, doesn't he? :)

  7. The photo of Shyla is really stunning with the light playing on her fur.

    And all those bears. I imagine watching them is quite fascinating.

  8. Very interesting to see the trial camera Pictures of the bear. You can really learn from then how the bears are. You are lucky to have that nearby.
    Shyla is Always a Lovely model, a beauty

  9. Bears leave pee-mail, too!

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  10. She looks perfect in the red sun!


  11. I find myself holding my breath when you post bear photos--They are amazing, and I can only imagine how thrilling it is to actually see them. When we lived in Alaska, our sightings of them were very, very rare, but I didn't look for them, and only hoped I wouldn't! :-)

  12. Your photos are just amazing! The sweet little flower, and the big bears and bobcat and of course Shyla!
    So beautiful!

  13. We love the close-ups of the gorgeous Fairy Slipper but that last photo is truly the best! What a beauty!

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

  14. Hi Y'all!

    Shyla has such wonderful expressions. I've haven't commented much, but have followed y'all through the desert, Utah mountains and back to the desert. Every picture of her beautiful eyes and face say so much.

    She wouldn't make a good poker player!

    Y'all come back now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  15. Really enjoyed the pictures. That is some variety of wildlife and was captured so well!!

  16. God, I love those cinnamon bears!!!


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