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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spring Might be Here

Sunshine! It makes me happy! Both Shyla and I love soaking up the morning rays.
After weeks of not being able to ride to Hug Hill, it's possible again. There's still some slippery and melting snow on part of the climb but I gladly walked my bike through that stuff to make it to this special vista.
As I looked around on Hug Hill, I saw new signs of spring. I spotted some beautiful asters that like to grow in rocky areas.
And, I saw some Spring Beauties, tiny gems, in a sunny part of a meadow.
I felt so happy to see signs that spring and even summer will be here someday soon!

Then, I visited a trail camera that sees just a few flurries of activity each year. It's a trail camera site that tests my patience, as I find memory cards full of squirrel photos most of the time. This time, I hit the JACKPOT!

First, I discovered that it was a place where the mountain lion, who killed a deer behind our house on the night of 4/24, visited in between bouts of feeding on the carcass. Here she was, lying in the sunshine. She appeared to be posing for my trail camera. She's such a beauty. I wish she didn't have ear tags and a collar on her.
After a brief rest, she sat up and seemed to listen and sniff in the direction of a human trail. It's likely that someone was on it at that time of day.
Then, she departed toward our house. However, it took her more than 2 hours to get there (3/4 of a mile away). I'm guessing that she did a little unsuccessful hunting before returning to the meager meat left on the kill near our house.
There were more surprises from the trail camera where this lion had laid in the sun. A couple of weeks earlier, an entire family of mountain lions visited that big old Ponderosa Pine tree. I can't wait to tell you more about it. It's rare to get so much trail camera good luck in such a short period of time!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Fun and Games

These are four rapidfire photos each a fraction of a second apart as she flipped a treat off her nose and tried to catch it:

Just so you don't feel sorry for her, she caught the next one.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sunshine and Scavengers

Our day started off pretty well, with some sunshine and fun.
Shyla showed off for the camera by using her favorite combination trick - cross your paws and rest your snout on them!
Then the clouds returned, I took a trip to the physical therapist, and now I am getting a migraine.
The expression on R's face in the last photo reflects how I feel!

I am working on putting together the chronology of scavengers who helped eat the deer carcass. Two coyotes came and went during the day that the carcass lay nearby. One of them had a weird bare patch on her head, as you can see in the next photo. Do you think that's mange or an injury?
The other coyote had no bare patches. In fact, he looked very fuzzy with a wet winter coat. He's a handsome canine!
Hopefully, my head will be well enough for me to look through more of the trail cam photos tomorrow!

Monday, April 27, 2015

April Winter and a Mountain Lion

We are still in the grips of winter weather here in the mountains. 
Today, I used every trick I've learned over the years to lift my spirits. Playing with Shyla is a big one.
Although she hasn't returned to a normal diet yet after her "dietary indiscretion" last week, we feel that she's almost all better.
While we were out in the foggy, gray, and intermittently snowy day, I noticed an amazing little plant that somehow has survived this weather and has popped up through its own hole in the snowpack. That made me smile too!
Last, but certainly not least, seeing the photos of the mountain lion who killed and ate a deer right behind our house thrilled me.
You might remember that I just recently realized that the cameras near our house had captured the first photos ever of a mountain lion right by our house. I expected that the same lion had killed the doe on Friday night. I was wrong.

You can see that Friday night's mountain lion wore a GPS collar while the lion who came through our land on 4/13 did not have a collar.
The most recent mountain lion had eaten most of the meat from a small doe on Friday night. On Saturday night (when these photos were taken), her stomach still bulged. However, I also wondered if she's pregnant. This may be the mother mountain lion who separated from her kitten a few months ago and has probably mated since then.
I'll share more photos of the events at the deer carcass in the future. My trail cameras took thousands of photos so I need to sift through them before telling the rest of the story. The mountain lion has abandoned the carcass so the feline story has probably ended.

In the meantime, Shyla and I will keep on playing and training to keep the winter blues away.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Snowy Sunday

Just as the ground started to become visible, another storm arrived.
Shyla looked pretty unhappy about it until I brought out the fetch toy!
I have to remind myself that we will be very thankful for all this snow when the wildflowers bloom and the wildfire danger isn't too extreme this summer!
The snow is pretty, isn't it? Happy Sunday.

P.S. The mountain lion was back at the deer carcass last night. More about that very soon!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Never a Dull Day

Thanks for all the good wishes. I think that Shyla is on the mend. It seems that she ate something outdoors that made her very sick. Based on x-rays, the vet does not think that it will cause a blockage but we are feeding a high volume bland diet to try to push the rest of it through her. She is still not quite herself but she had more energy today, probably because she was hydrated with saline solution yesterday afternoon.
And, my migraine has abated. I think it was caused by not getting much sleep when Shyla was so sick on Thursday night. I feel almost back to normal today.

So, after all that excitement, you'd think we might have had a dull day today, right? Well, no. But the story is still evolving.

When we arrived home from the vet last night, we took a quick sunset hike. It was a pretty sunset, as the clouds from incoming storms hovered over the Divide.
Then, we walked home from the lookout point, with both dogs on leash. We passed a trail camera just behind our house at about 8 PM. Then, at 8:22 PM, a doe that was in the last minutes of her life passed the same camera.
When Shyla and I headed out this morning, we found that the doe had been killed by a mountain lion near the camera where that photo was taken. It was a classic scene - the lion had first removed the intestines and the rumen. Then he'd removed most of the deer's body fur. After those steps, he ate a lot of meat but there was still a fair bit left this morning.

I immediately went to the trail cameras near our house, none of which I'd checked in a while. The lion did not appear on them last night. I'm guessing that he hunted from above the doe, which is also above our house and cameras.

But, I did discover that a mountain lion went past them on 4/13. That makes sense because the elk herd was near our house from about 4/12-4/14. I've had trail cams near our house for at least 6 years, with no photos of lions passing them. Consequently, seeing a photo of a lion so close to our house shocked me.

Here he is, approaching our clearing on 4/13.
And, then he walked within about 15 yards of our house. We were asleep so all the lights were out.
Seeing that photo made my heart beat a little faster. Because I've never documented a lion in our clearing, I tend to feel a little safer there. Not anymore.

This morning, I pointed a trail camera at the deer carcass, hoping to get photos of the lion. I do know that the carcass was dragged about 15 yards between when I first saw it and when I put up a trail camera near it a little later. That makes me think that this lion isn't far away.

I'm very glad that our dogs were on leash last night. We always leash them when the world gets dusky. I'm thankful for that habit because there is little doubt that the lion was hunting near us during our hike last evening.

It's yet another example of how lions are very focused on their normal prey - deer and elk. Thank goodness for that!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Under the weather Friday

We are a little under the weather here. Shyla has a stomach problem, and I was up many times last night with her. So, I am fighting a migraine. We are off the vet, hoping that Shyla's upset stomach isn't anything too serious.

Her eyes are certainly still bright!
I hope that you are having a better Friday than we are.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Feline Surprise

On the day before the snow started, my superstar scenting dog led me to something stinky and sad. Here's the scenting dog looking far more serene than when she smells something interesting.
I'll spare you a gory photo - she found an elk carcass, with what looked like a gunshot wound to the head. All that remained was the ribcage, head, and one hind limb.

The next day, the carcass had been moved a long distance and was sitting in the middle of a path that we often mountain bike. It was a spot where I could put a trail camera to document the scavengers that fed upon it.

This was the first photo after I placed the camera there. The usual Corvids, including magpies and ravens, were feeding on it.
Then, about 10 minutes later, the top predator arrived.
Given how quickly he arrived after I departed the site, I suspect that he was very nearby when I placed the camera. He may have even watched me.
He stood still for a little bit, perhaps listening for other scavengers.
He sneaked a peek over his right shoulder before taking action.
Then, he leaned down, grasping the carcass with his teeth.
Sadly for us, he pulled the carcass out of the view of the camera.
I suspect that he didn't stay with the carcass for too long because a coyote came by a few hours later. Coyotes avoid mountain lions whenever they can. A lion can easily kill one who is competing for food.
That night, we got a few feet of deep sloppy snow so Shyla and I didn't go near that spot all week. In retrospect, I'm glad we didn't. I don't want Shyla messing with a carcass that a mountain lion has claimed.
I hiked to the camera by myself today and found those surprising mountain lion photos. Now, I can't wait until I can check other cameras in the area to see if we captured more images of him. I'll never cease to be thrilled by getting photos of our top predator!!!!

I know, from my cameras, that mountain lions are in our midst far more often than we think that they are. Yet, they leave us alone, focusing their energy on eating deer and elk. I'm glad that most people have accepted mountain lions as a critical part of our ecosystem and are willing to accommodate them within our world.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Few Words Wednesday

Snow has dominated our past week.

It's made moving around in the forest almost impossible for anyone less athletic than Shyla.

The winter stormy weather has made me look forward to another trip to the desert both for the warm temperatures and the beauty. Here were the star trails that I photographed at K's Rock in Utah almost a month ago. After 18 minutes of the Earth spinning...
After 36 minutes...
Finally, after almost 2 hours.
I hope that we're back there before too long! Happy Wednesday!