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.
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.
He was moving fast, and he made it to another bear tree within 15 minutes. He made beeline for the marking tree.