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Friday, April 25, 2014

Life with Lions

I have a particular area in our forest where I like to take photos of the dogs. It's a high point, where the horizons are visible to the east and west, including the mountains. The area catches the first sun rays in the morning and the last ones in the evening - making for wonderful photography light.

Unfortunately, it has been gray and cloudy almost every evening that I've hiked to that area with the Duo. The evening is my prime time with R, and I'm looking forward to some sunshine! Despite the gray skies, he looked magnificent last evening.
It's also the area where I go with Shyla in the mornings, to enjoy the early morning sunlight.
To the west of the plateau, a pine forest filters the sunlight. Big patches of snow still linger under the pine canopy. Shyla loves to lie on the cold snow after running for a while at this time of year.
Over the past several days, Shyla has been obsessed with the scents in that particular pine forest. I keep a very close eye on her so she doesn't follow her strong instinct to sneak into the forest, following the scent.
Today, I decided to let her follow her nose and to shadow her. She led me to a fresh deer leg that was very near a trail camera. I put the deer leg out of her reach (I hung it in a tree), and then I checked the camera. Here was the last photo on the memory card.
This mountain lion was watching something. I captured a whole series of photos of his antics next to this huge Ponderosa Pine tree, which included rolling around on the ground. I'll share them soon.

However, this photo really gave me pause because the dogs and I spend a lot of time near this spot - and we were probably nearby when this photo was taken. As I mulled it over, I decided to engage the reasonable part of my brain, and I realized that this lion had been near us but had avoided us, like almost all lions will do, if given a choice. Moreover, I've had a trail camera in this spot for about 4 months, and this is only the second series of mountain lion photos that I've captured. I know, based on tracks, that more lions have walked through this general area. However, no one saw them - as they've stayed hidden from human eyes.

It's amazing how having fierce predators above me in the food chain changes my thinking about the forest. I love having them present, because it gives us humans the humility that we so often lack. It changes my attitude immensely to know that there's an animal in the forest that is capable of killing me. That fact makes my senses more alive, as I vigilantly search for signs of big cats.

It also teaches me to "listen to my dog". Shyla knows much more about what's going on in our forest than I ever will, due to her amazing nose. I should have checked this area on the very first day that she showed a keen interest in it. The strength of a dog's sense of smell is incomprehensible to me.

Happy Friday to all of you. I hope you have a leaping good weekend!

20 comments:

  1. i am glad she alerted you and you noticed - even if you didn't check the area right away. she's a good signal.

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  2. Such an amazing world you live in. Can't wait to see the big cat video.

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  3. Shyla does seem to be aware of everythig. A certain look on her face-- shows she soo interested,, in something.
    love
    tweedles

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  4. Love that last picture! I'd be nervous hiking in your area, especially with Nola (even if she were on leash). I'm so used to snakes, gators, and marine life here it doesn't bother me in the slightest, but the thought of what creatures live where you do gives me chills!
    DM

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  5. I am most happy they stay out of sight of humans . . .as beautiful as they are, I wouldn't care to be up close and personal with one!

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo

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  6. Lovely photos! I agree that it's good to have that distance between those that you share your world with. So many could learn from that respect and humility that you feel.

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  7. Always love your photos! I can't believe how young R looks. That is one big lion KB! I've seen our friend Val, Gracie and Schatzie too as well as some Monk Seals. Hope you are feeling better.

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  8. A huge leap of faith, as you both walk through the "lion's den" so to speak. Beautiful dawn and dusk photos, and the lion, so crystal clear. Take care,I am reminded of the song by Burl Ives, "if you walk the lines and not the squares", hugs from Jean.

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  9. Wow, that's an amazing photo of the mountain lion. Nice color in his coat. It's really cool to think of all the animals out there that we rarely see.

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  10. Three pictures didn't show up here, including the one of R. It was still and amazing post! I love the one of Shyla smelling --- and the one of the lion. What a gorgeous fellow. (I also saw the first one, of Shyla.)

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  11. Wow, that looks like a big lion! Beautiful coat, too.

    I think I would pay extra attention to Shyla when she is air-sniffing like that. Good thing you have her as a 4-legged alarm system! She makes a great hiking companion.

    Behr' mom :)

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  12. You take the most amazing photos, KB!

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

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  13. Such terrific photos and I sure wouldn't be what that lion was watching!

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  14. Gee, the only excitement we've had are the birds and bunnies who come in for seeds because there's still snow covering their regular food. We would get VERY excited to smell what Shyla's smelling :-)

    (We sneak eat bird seed so I can't imagine how much fun we'd have with a deer leg.)

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  15. What a great Picture of the lion. Yes our dogs smell much befor us. I Think the lion is not dangerous to you.
    Great wildlife you have.

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  16. Gosh, that color is amazing, KB.
    I wonder what the lion will think when it finds it's deer leg in a tree! Hope it doesn't think you stole it and stashed it away for your own personal use.

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  17. We appreciate nature at a much greater distance! Like your blog, we feel safe that far BOL!

    Your pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

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  18. The nose knows......

    Sounds like the mountain lion is getting enough to eat and is wary of people. We hope it stays that way.

    XXXOOO Bella & Roxy

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  19. What a beautiful lion. We know it would rather not have contact with you if it can help it. Let's just hope people don't get all freaked out and want it killed.

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