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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Wildlife Filled September

Usually, September is a very slow month for my trail cameras. The mountain lions are usually not around. I always assume that they are up higher, where many deer and elk are still eating the high mountain bounty. The bears are also usually not around, and I assume that they are down lower where bushes and trees are laden with fruit.

This year has been incredibly different. Every time I visit trail cameras, I get wonderful surprises. First, mountain lion activity in our neck of the woods is brisk.

For example, on a recent evening, an adult female, perhaps the mother of the two kittenes we've seen, marked in spot under a large Ponderosa Pine tree. About a decade ago, I noticed that lion scat frequently appeared in this spot. It has continued to be a touchstone location for our lions.
Four days later, a large (probably male) mountain lion walked into the same scene. I was excited to see how precisely he zeroed in on exactly the spot where the female had urinated four days earlier.
He proceeded to add his own scent.
He's an interesting individual. He has ear tags, suggesting that he is part of the same study as the female but somehow removed the ghastly big collar all by himself!
He then departed the clearing with his nose to the ground, as if he was tracking the female.
He followed her path, almost step for step.
Interestingly, I was probably within a quarter mile of him on a local trail when he was being photographed by my trail camera. Mountain lions are stealthy, and we humans rarely know that they're nearby.

Our bears have surprised me too! I have been finding their photos on almost every trail camera. Usually, our forests feel empty in September because the bears have followed the food to lower elevations. Wildlife experts have said that the fruit crops down lower failed this year due to badly timed cold weather, and consequently, bears have been approaching houses down at lower elevations.

Around here, I haven't heard of any bears going near houses. And, I've found a lot of bear scat on their trails. All of it is filled with kinnikinnick berries. They are also known as "Bear Berries" and now I know why! Most years, the bears don't rely so heavily on them.

Here's a bear walking briskly past a bear-marking tree. Because it's not mating season, the bears don't always mark them in autumn.
I thought he was going to zip past but he suddenly paused and started to turn.
It looked like quite an abrupt turn, and I hoped he'd mark the tree.
But, instead, he stared at my camera. It makes very tiny clicking noises when the shutter opens and closes. I think he heard it.
After staring intensely, he continued on his way. I believe this is a bear who has come here early every spring and then again in the fall every year for at least five years. I've called him "Scar Face" in the past. Close-up photos show that he's had his share of fights with other bears.

He was moving fast, and he made it to another bear tree within 15 minutes. He made beeline for the marking tree.
And he examined the scents on it. The scents included the mother bear who has one of her two cubs with her and his own scent - because he marked it just a few days earlier.
He examined it closely, sticking his nose in close to the trunk.
After reading the "bear news", he headed up the trail and out of sight.
I must say that I've been thrilled to have so much wildlife around. Following their activity is one of my favorite things in the world, and they've been very active recently!!! Happy September!


  1. AND we are so happy you have those cameras so we get to enjoy the wildlife too:)

  2. OMD! These pics have made my day!! They are wonderful! I loves to see that we doggies are not the only ones who read peemail! BOL I, too, am overjoyed you have those cameras, so we can all see these gems!!
    Ruby ♥

  3. Your trail cameras give us some amazing pics!
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  4. Wow...great pictures! I love that the male has removed his collar :) I think you should name him Ninja Warrior :) I love the Bear pics, too...he sure looks healthy! Man I miss our old trails...this is one of the best times of year. Stare at the aspen a little extra long for me please :) xo

  5. The wildlife sure do have the most beautiful playground.

  6. WOW! There sure is a lot of activity going on and we enjoy seeing them from a safe distance!

  7. It's very busy indeed! Very interesting to read about them. :)

  8. The mountain lions are gorgeous. The bears are having the same issue with berries here. They all just need to stay out of trouble.

  9. I just love those trail cameras....and all the wildlife they capture!!

  10. It looks like wild kingdom!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley


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