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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Transition toward winter, including wildlife

I am still immersing myself in the golden hue of some aspen groves that still have leaves, even though the temperature was about freezing this morning on our ride and the mountains are getting new snow almost every night. I won't admit that winter is here until all the golden leaves are on the ground.
Every year, I have this feeling that Mother Nature is teasing us during autumn, showing us some of her most brilliant beauty before the hammer of winter slams down. Winter is pretty too, but the harshness of the environment makes it less idyllic.
I had the Labraduo out in the forest with me this morning, enjoying the early morning light on their fur and on the golden leaves.
It's rare treat that I get to mountain bike with both dogs. But, I've had the opportunity to do so for the past couple of days.  I've found that R is an awesome example for my teenaged Shyla. R is an almost perfect trail companion, staying within a small radius around me without much direction from me.

During her solo rides with me, Shyla has been struggling with this concept - wanting to explore rather than stay close. I have to give her lots and lots of supervision. It's been fun over the past few days seeing her copy R's good behavior. I hope it continues when she's solo with me again!

Our wildlife is also starting to show that winter is just about here - with elk and moose appearing in our neck of the woods. Elk fascinate Shyla - so they will be an added distraction for her (as if we need that right now!)

A young bull elk visited a trail cam very close to our usual mountain biking route the other day.
And, we saw a big bull elk in a nearby meadow recently. You can barely see him to the left of the pond in the next photo. Soon, the whole herd of elk, at least a hundred of them, will be living in our neck of the woods for the winter.
I had one other rare sighting by my trail cameras the other day. A young bull moose! He is, by far, the tallest animal ever to pass my camera. There's a bear marking tree behind his butt, and his hips are as tall as the tree! That means that the moose's hips are as tall as a bear standing on his hind legs!
I caught his photo again, a few minutes later, as the world started to get dark. He was heading up a gully often used by mountain lions. This is the spot where I captured the photos of the mountain lion kitten recently. I wonder if a mountain lion would prey on a moose? I'm not sure of the answer.
Moose numbers are growing exponentially in Colorado. They are living among us, often in plain sight near mountain homes. Most mountain people are comfortable with our wildlife but moose are fairly new to us. They were introduced in western Colorado a few decades ago. As they've multiplied, they've crossed the Continental Divide to our side, and they're gradually moving down to lower elevations. I bet that the young bull moose is searching for suitable new territory to live in for his adult life.

I'm thrilled to have moose but I have to admit that I feel more trepidation about meeting a moose in the forest (especially if I have my dogs with me) than other wildlife, mainly because I don't have much experience with moose. I have the feeling that I'm going to be learning about this very soon!

Do any of you have moose experience that you can share with me? Thanks!


  1. some leggy animals, there! stay safe w/ the pups!

  2. Amazing, again! Your photos always make us feel like we are right there!

  3. Oh my gosh, your wildlife photos are beautiful! I can't imagine seeing that big guy up close. And of course, your labraduo are as gorgeous as ever!

  4. So incredible! It's just insane to me that you're having freezing weather and it's still in the upper 80s and very humid here.

  5. I've never seen a moose or elk other than here at your blog. They are bigger than i realized, per your description.
    I bet it's fun to ride with both dogs.
    R is so dang handsome. Shyla is so sweet.

    xo Cinnamon and Linda

  6. No moose around here but we do have elk. Love the photographs.

  7. Lots of moose here, and I've been fairly close to them when I used to work in the woods. They ARE big! It was so funny the first time I saw an area that had been browsed by moose, because instead of everything mowed off at knee level (by deer), it was more like chest-height, and it took me a second to realize what that meant!
    The only time I think of moose as a possible threat is during rutting season, or of course getting too close to a cow and calf. When I was out doing forest inventory on permanent plots, working pretty quietly on one site for sometimes a couple of hours before hiking on to the next, I always kept an eye open for moose (and bear, and everything else, really). Moose were often around me, unseen. Sometimes first thing in the AM I'd come across a moose bed (like a deer bed, only bigger!) and the moose droppings would still be wet. One day I walked out of the woods back onto a trail and found that while I was on the plot, a moose had walked right in my footsteps through the snow - I broke trail for a moose!

    Of course, I didn't have a dog with me when I was working in the woods, and that would have been much more of a concern. I don't know what a moose would make of Ms. Piper, and I really hope I never find out! When we walk in an area where I see moose sign, I keep Piper on lead and deliberately make noise. I've never seen a moose RUN from anything, but I have seen them glide quietly away. It really is amazing how fluidly such an awkward-looking animal moves in heavy forest!

  8. Good gracious, sorry for the novel-length comment, KB!

  9. We don't have a moose,,,
    And we still do not have a golden world like you do- not yet.

  10. Superb trail cam photos, and the words in RED, I hope everyone who has stolen anything will take notice. Stay safe, we have gale winds, snow in the south, and about 2 hours North of us, a day off trees and firewood,Hooray!!! Hugs to all, Jean.

  11. The aspen trees really make R and Shyla 'pop!' But I know what you mean about the winter--Having lived in Alaska for 10 years, we experienced the same thing. As far as moose, we had a lot of contact with them in Anchorage. My advice is just do what you know to do, don't let the dogs get too close, they can kick and really hurt a dog and (usually) only charge when they feel threatened. Unless they are in rut they typically are docile and shy enough. I miss seeing them.

  12. Awesome pictures of the duo. Love the yellow if the Aspen and the sun shining on their beautiful shiny coats. Gave only seen one Moose near our cabin. Looked like a young one. Those long kegs took him easily over a fence.
    Barb Ernie and the furkids

  13. Gorgeous wildlife shots!! We have Roosevelt elf over here on the North Coast, and they are humungous...and I love them...I can't even imagine what it would be like to see a moose!

  14. I've seen a lot of elk, but not a single moose around here. I would be cautious, too. Elk usually run away so they're no problem.

  15. You certainly do live in the best spot in the entire world, KB! Absolutely gorgeous shots!

  16. We are getting a taste of the cold of winter this morning. Not terribly bad but a definite wakeup call that winter is not too far away. Of course, the two youngsters love the colder temps and are really enjoying their outside time.

    Love seeing the moose but also understand your concern. But knowing you, you will be up to speed in no time in how to live with them too.

  17. I love watching the moose when we are in Wyoming. Those guys are pretty mellow unless it's a mom and babies, or the rut is on. Cool shots again today.

  18. We really enjoy the way you capture the pups expressions. Each of your pictures really tell a story
    Lily & Edward

  19. It is World Smile Day and your blog always makes me smile. Thank you.

    Anne and Sasha

  20. OMD! How can you get anything done other than seeing what those trail cameras catch?? Wonderful!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley


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