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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Fog, Lions, Mice, and Bats

It was a foggy "pea soup" morning, a fairly rare condition around here. Shyla and I headed out into the fog for our mountain bike ride. Soon, we stopped for a quick game of fetch. I threw the toy very gingerly for her, remembering what happened to my spine during our last game of fetch.
One of you asked if there was something special about purple toys for Shyla. The only special thing is that they are bright and cheery. I tend to grab bright toys to take on our ride when the world looks drab to me.

At this time of year, "drab" is about the last adjective that I use after I'm actually out in the world. Yes, it was foggy but the wildflowers shined like flaming torches. And, Shyla loved the cool air so she was feeling rambunctious.
Even when the fog really descended onto us, the yellow flowers still glowed.
As we rode, I had this niggling feeling that a mountain lion had been nearby recently. I probably caught a glimpse of a lion scrape or scat but didn't fully realize it. In addition, the mountain lion activity around here has been extraordinary all spring. I have been capturing as many mountain lion photos as bear photos this spring, which is not normal.

So, after I left Shyla at home to relax, I checked a couple of trail cameras. My niggling intuition had been right. This is in the heart of our little trail system.
The trail camera is pointed at a spot where I found a mountain lion scrape a couple of years ago. It's at an intersection of two animal trails. This mountain lion was intensely interested in the scent at that spot.
He looks so strong and agile.
And then, he rolled over the spot.
I've never read about mountain lions displaying this rolling behavior but I see it fairly frequently in the lions around here. It tends to be the smaller, perhaps younger, lions who do it. The big dominant male lions tend to scrape with their hind paws rather than roll.

Here are a few other mountain lion photos that I haven't shown you yet. The first two are from last Saturday. This lion spotted the camera's soft red glow right away.
And, he walked over to check it out before departing. This looks like a youngish lion or a female to me.
Here's another lion in the same spot in mid-May. This guy sniffed the scrape left by a previous lion, and then he scraped over top of it.
Going backward in time, this was at peak mid-morning hiking time on a beautiful sunny Saturday in May, and this mountain lion was about 30 yards from a "popular" trail (a few people per day travel on it). The lion is looking toward the human trail. I wonder if a person was on the trail?
I have even more mountain lion photos that I haven't shown you yet... but I'll stop there for today. It gives you the idea that there have been many mountain lions nearby this spring.

Just a funny little note for you - I truly don't get scared as I check these trail cameras in places that mountain lions frequent. But, the other night, a bat suddenly started flying around our bedroom, for the first time ever. I completely freaked out - I was terrified of the bat. The Runner had to try to calm me down (and get me out of the room) before he could work on getting the bat outside.

I'm similarly afraid of mice. One time, we were driving on bumpy dirt road while on vacation, and a mouse fell out from under the LabMobile's dashboard onto the floor by my feet. I screamed, and the Runner stopped the LabMobile... but the mouse had already hidden up under the dashboard again. I worried about that mouse appearing again for the rest of our vacation. I had trouble sleeping because I was watching and listening for that mouse.

So, I'm terrified of small animals in tight spaces... but I can calmly see photos of a mountain lion who was recently next to my trail camera without freaking out at all. In fact, today, I took a macro photo of a flower next to a trail camera that had mountain lion photos on its memory card.
My irrational phobias help me to understand Shyla's fears a little better. The animals that I fear are not likely to hurt me, yet I can be completely paralyzed by their presence, just like Shyla gets paralyzed with fear by things that seem innocuous to me.


  1. I just love that first photo of "Flyin' Shyla". MOM says there is something special about a walk in the woods in the fog.

  2. love the wildflowers. and beautiful cats, too! wow!

    i grew up in an old farmhouse and bats would come into our bedrooms from the attic trapdoor at least a couple of times each summer. ugh! :)

  3. I'm paranoid about bats because rabies scares the heck out of me (I read a book about rabies once, and I never recovered, lol!) One flew into my house one night, then landed and crawled under the refrigerator. I had to trap it under there, then call the county health department to send someone out to get it :(

  4. Generally not afraid of mice, I would also freak out if I knew one was somewhere in the place I slept. I do love the lions and must admit that I would be hesitant to go near the areas, just me and the dog. But I know you are correct. They are not interested in you.

  5. I always think you are so brave, out there where the lions stroll, but mice and rats, I am terrified, either live or dead!!! Love the girl in golden flowers and foggy air. Cheers,Jean.

  6. LOL! I get it. I have no fear of the alligators here, but a roach makes me crawl onto the countertop and scream like a little girl. :p

  7. Do the lions and bears ever cross paths? Or are your cameras set up in different areas and they respect the other animal? We were just wondering.

    XXXOOO Bella Roxy & Dui

  8. I love a foggy day for pictures, and with the flowers you have, it's amazing!

    Your fear of small animals is a great analogy to Shyla's fears! A bat is something we all react too. Their movement is so erratic, and unfortunately they are a big rabies vector.

  9. Thanks for the lion photos. Interesting about the rolling and scratching because dogs do that too. I wonder if it's a carnivora trait in general? As for the bat and mouse, well we know wild lions and bears really don't want to share our space (as the lion alerting to the popular trail shows) but the bat and mouse were IN your space so no wonder it was scary!

  10. Shyla looks so beautiful running in the wild flowers!

    I'd be screaming if there was a bat in my room too! Eck!!

  11. Well bats and mice are just creepy, so I don't blame you. Once when we lived in NYC, we got mice in the apt and hubby was away so i HAD to deal with them, or the thought of them crawling on me when I slept. I handled it :)

  12. We just LOVE that third picture from the top!
    When we lived on post at Ft. Riley, KS, it was very common for bats to get into the older sets of quarters - the two sets we lived in during our two tours there were built in 1889 and 190...4, I think. We got used to it after a while. That being said, I could NOT sleep if I knew a bat had gotten in and had to catch it!

  13. Ugh, I'm with you on the mouse thing. We get them in the trailer sometimes. Al is the trap setter.

  14. How far are the cameras (lions and bears) from your house? Our mom does NOT like mice or bats but would rather face them head on that a bear or lion!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  15. I love being able to see the lions your trail cameras capture.

  16. Our mom can't stand bats either, especially when they're flying around in our house! We just love that first picture of you, Shyla and mom gasped when she saw the last picture. Your photos are just stunning, KB!

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

  17. Hi Y'all!

    My Human understands your fears...a bat invaded her bedroom when she was a child and she's freaks out over touching bugs, even or especially dead ones.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  18. Very true about how "irrational" our genuine reactions can be, and also how realizing that can make understanding (other) animals' reactions easier.

  19. Maybe we see some kittens soon...great pictures


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