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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Winter's Return and Our Tough Wild Cats

We've had the return of winter after a major melt over last weekend. Yesterday, it snowed feathery light flakes all over our world. Shyla and I were out snow biking when the snow fell the hardest.
This morning dawned very cold but clear and still. As we started our morning fat bike ride, I felt as if we were riding out into a winter painting, with a bluebird sky and snow covering every pine bough and boulder.
It was so cold that my fingers hurt almost instantly when I tried to use my camera. Shyla just kept running around with frost forming on her whiskers and her paws kicking up the powdery snow.
 When it warmed a tiny bit, she sampled the snow cones.
The well-below freezing temperatures and new snow have made the trails much harder to navigate on a snow bike or on foot. So, I'm very glad that I seized that day last weekend to visit some faraway trail cameras that had been snowed in for almost 6 weeks.

Over the 6 weeks of human absence, the animal activity was subdued, mainly due to deep snow. But, the rabbits and the cats endured the snow and continued using the area. At one camera, a mountain lion walked past, sinking into the snow with each paw. I believe this is the same mountain lion whose photos I showed you from another (less snowy) site a few days ago.
Despite the snow, she took long determined steps. I think that she is the mother mountain lion who we followed last summer and autumn. Her kitten was almost as big as her when we last saw him so I won't be surprised if he has now struck out on his own.
Then, two nights later, a bobcat followed, literally in her footsteps. The big indents in the snow are where the mountain lion put down her paws two nights earlier.
But, this comparatively tiny cat took about twice as many steps to pass the trail camera as the mountain lion.
If you look at the photos closely, you can see that this bobcat made sure to use each of the lion's pawprints, since they were packed down by the lion's weight. However, the bobcat had to take extra steps in between the lion's tracks because his legs are so much shorter.

I find it so fascinating to get these glimpses into what goes on in our big forest when humans are not around. I think it'll be a little while before I can visit those cameras again so it'll be interesting to see the wildlife traffic over the coming weeks/months.

I am awed by these animals and their ability to survive such harsh conditions. The area where these photos were taken is usually substantially colder (5-10°F colder) than anyplace else in our neck of the woods. Yet, the cats, with their thick coats, still patrol the area in the depth of winter.


  1. The animals share the same beautiful world with you and all the other animals.. That is a smart bobcat using the mountain lion tracks to step into! But yes,, short little legs.
    The snow is soo deep, and beautiful!

  2. smart and cautious. and beautiful.

  3. Crikey ..... that first pic of Shyla. So beautiful!! All the photos are beautiful!! AND how wonderful to know that those big cats are out there. I like to chase cats ...... I don't think I'd like to chase THOSE cats, aye??

  4. That is just awesome. I love how the bobcat was smart like that. Doesn't Shyla freeze, she doesn't have much fur.

  5. It is amazing that they not only survive in such a harsh environment but thrive!

    Your Pals,


  6. Just looking at Shyla in the snow makes me cold. I hope she got under the blankets when you got home>
    The cats are so resilient to the climate but smart enough to walk in another's footsteps.
    xo Cinnamon

  7. It is amazing how the animals survive the cold and snow. Love the snowy Shyla.

  8. I love how the bobcat used the "pre-made" steps. I love these glimpses into the mountain life!

  9. So cool to see the cats!
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  10. Awe!! Snowy Shyla is so cute!! <3 I love seeing the cats from your wildlife cams, too!! The bobcat using the mountain lion tracks is really interesting!

  11. Just thinking the same thing--that those cats can survive in the cold temperatures. So interesting to see the two and compare.

  12. Yes, it's like a glimpse into another that we humans must preserve.

  13. As always, totally in awe! Just love that first image. Loving your posts.

  14. Smart bobcat! We love your snowy pictures, Shyla ♥

  15. I'm always amazed by their survival ability - even here in AZ during the summer. Animals are really amazing.

    Monty and Harlow

  16. It's wonderful to see the strategies the animals use for survival. The shred of energy saved each time the bobcat steps in the lion's footprint seems so insignificant, but perhaps adds up over a winter to the difference between survival and death by starvation. I can't thank you enough for these intriguing shots.

  17. My cousin, with whom I'm as close as a sister, lives in a cabin, high up in the Sierras. I wonder if we set up a camera we would see much of the same. It's a wonderful look into a world much broader than our own. Thank you for opening our eyes to it.

  18. Wow - so much snow! Love that the cat was smart enough to find the path of least resistance by using the other's footprints!

  19. I love these behind the scenes peaks at these wonderful animals. Those cats are quite brave and fierce to endure the cold and snow.

    P.S.: We are having a little contest to celebrate our 500th post today. Hope you will stop by.

  20. that cam picks up the most amazing is so beautiful out there.
    stella rose

  21. Wow! Those are some big beautiful kitty kats
    Lily & Edward

  22. Shyla looks like she is having lots of fun! We agree, it is amazing how wild animals adapt and thrive.

  23. I see it's cold and snowy there as it is here in Breckenridge. I skied this AM and, luckily, the sun came out to warm us though the temp remained low. The cat photos are wonderful - I love seeing animal tracks in the snow and trying to identify them.

  24. How wonderful to see the difference in size between a bobcat and mountain lion!

    Shyla looks cute with muzzle frost!!

  25. Shyla, you look cold sweetie. Those big cats sure are impressive!

  26. I saw this post, without the end and without images, at

    That website has been reposting other content without authorization.

  27. I can't believe the instinct to follow already imprinted tracks is animal kingdom wide! Fascinating. Despite the super cold, that fluffy, frozen snow is always my favorite!

  28. wonderful to see the cats
    here the lion would be sinking up to it's belly
    quite hard to navigate and i am not finding any of their tracks while out skiing, though i did see large wolf tracks.

    warm here too


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