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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Springtime Animals

Prior to today, the wildlife was starting to act like it was springtime. The Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrels near our house came out of hibernation. And, as you can see in this photo, they started eating right away. His cheeks are filled to the brim.

At first, he just peeked at me.

After I stayed still for a while, he became bolder.
From what I've read, these ground squirrels go into a deep state of torpor for the winter - not eating, drinking, or even moving very much. When they come out of hibernation, they immediately start preparing for babies. At our elevation, that gives the young ground squirrels a decent amount of time to grow strong before the next winter.

Another clear sign that winter is departing is that we had another mountain lion visit. Someone asked where the mountain lions go in the winter after a recent post when I wrote that their visits are less frequent in the winter than during any other season. I don't know the answer except that I think that they probably follow their prey: deer and elk. Both of those species go to lower elevation to find food when our snowpack is too deep. My guess is that the lions follow.

A couple of nights ago, a mountain lion passed the same camera as a couple of weeks ago.

I think it may be the same lion as a few weeks ago but I'm not certain. He's about the same size but doesn't have obvious distinguishing marks.

He followed the same route, heading toward a meadow frequented by deer, elk, and moose. I don't think he made a kill there because Shyla didn't indicate that there was a fresh carcass around.

It's amazing how relaxed I've become about having these predators in our midst. After years of knowing from my trail cams that mountain lions pass very close to humans on a regular basis, I feel confident that they don't think that we are prey. They are wary of us and always seem to hide when humans come along.

I am far more afraid of moose, who kill and injure more humans than any other mammal in North America. In a neighborhood forum, I got pilloried for expressing my caution about moose. At least one mountain person thinks that they are docile and safe creatures - and called me a "wildlife hater" for urging people to be cautious around moose (that was an ironic comment if you know me at all!).

In fact, Shyla and I rode this morning in extremely thick fog with wild sheets of "snain" falling on us. A hiker saw our forms in the distance, and she said that she panicked because she thought that we were a mama moose and calf until we got closer. So, I'm not the only one who has a healthy respect for the tempers of moose.

I took just one photo of Shyla this morning before the mix of rain and snow got too cold for us. It gives you an idea of how limited our visibility was. I was only 10 feet from Shyla but my camera had trouble auto-focusing on her due to the fog.
We've been indoors ever since then but it's about time to get moving. R's list of exercises and walks grew longer yesterday. The vet was a little bit disappointed in his gait and how swollen his elbow is. We are dedicating ourselves to rehab even more after hearing that. He needs a full-time physical therapist. Any applicants out there? We pay in milk bones!


  1. Such amazing critters! Oh R, we are sending purrs your way and hope the PT gets you where you need to be handsome.

  2. We hope you keep all those fat-cheeked squirrels right there with you - they drive the pups nuts here:)

    We hope this week shows more improvement for "R".

  3. I hope you weren't too bruised by the absurd judgement of a person who isn't letting ignorance get in the way of their mouth. And I hope that person will come to understand that moose are big animals with their own lives to live, and there's a lot of room between "dangerous" and "docile."

    (By the way, does your moose statistic include collisions with vehicles? We have a sad frequency of those in New England, but most often it's the moose that dies horribly after having it's legs broken, and the driver who walks away unharmed.)

    I hope R's swelling goes down soon. Maybe it's taking longer because the surgery was more complicated than it usually is? Was it the surgeon's opinion or your own vet?

    By the way, does R mind the icepack after his exercise? I wondered about it when you mentioned it's part of his therapy, because I used to find icing painful and could take it for only a couple of minutes at most. The last time a PT advised me to do it, I finally tried putting a worn-out towel between my skin and the icepack, and found I could not only tolerate it but could really benefit from 20- or 30-minute sessions! Now I use ice nearly as often as heat. Like the PTs have been telling me to do for years. I wish I had thought of a buffer sooner!

    Jeez Louise, I'm writing a novel here. Sorry, KB! :)

  4. Oh wow! Look at the big kitty! I would assume they go where the food is, too!

    That's a cute shot of Shyla jumping over her log! I need some jumping photography lessons from you! :D

    I'm sorry about R's progress and I really hope the swelling goes down soon!

  5. Well you know how I feel about moose, and that I am so excited you are getting more in your area, but whoever called you a wildlife hater is a NUT.

    There is not a better advocate for our wildlife than you. You are wise, careful, and you educate yourself in every way to make the interaction between yourself and "Nature" a safe and beautiful thing.

    And then you SHARE with others what you have learned and gleaned from your experiences.

    You are a true advocate for Nature........and I thank you

  6. A wildlife hater? They certainly don't know you at all!
    Happy Mother's Day, KB☺

  7. oh how cute that squirrel looks :o) I hope so much that the snow-rain-mix disappears and you can enjoy some warm sunny days. Hugs to R we hope so much that the swelling disappears and that his vet will like the result next time when you see him. Happy Mothers Day to you :o)

  8. I love the photo of Shyla. Shyla and R, don't forget to be extra good today for its Mother's Day and we have to be extra loving to our moms. Happy Mother's Day.

    Aroo to you,

  9. That squirrel is adorable. I hope R starts feeling better. I'm sure you guys will give him all the rehab he needs to mend well.

  10. So glad you are finally getting spring! We are having a dusting of snow today . . . sigh!

  11. That first squirrel picture is just too cute! I love those cheeks.

    I'm sorry you had such a negative response about the moose--I think with any animal it's better to use caution, and with the knowledge you have about them, I don't think warning people to be cautious is unreasonable at all! I'm a relatively new reader of your blog, but a wildlife hater is the last thing that would come to my mind!

  12. We have a ground squirrel destroying our property. Not a fan! I think your caution around moose is more than justified!

  13. Yep! That's what I always say: "Oh, there's another post from that Wildlife Hater, KB!" BOL!! Weirdo.

    Happy dog-mom day!

  14. You got moose. You got squirrel. You need to get moose and squirrel together. Then you would have something.

  15. That squirrel with full cheeks reminded us of our mom but don't tell her we said that BOL! Yes, moose should cause some fear!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  16. Surely the bears are starting to roam, too. I always enjoy seeing the secretive animals on your trail cameras. I hope R continues to improve day by day.

  17. Ohhhh, people are weird about wildlife. I love seeing moose, but I much prefer doing it from a safe distance!

  18. The little squirrels are soooo cute!!!
    Were rooting for R,, to improve! We know he will!

  19. Laughing at Foley Monster's comment! The squirrel is adorable, the photo of Shyla is different and sweet because of the fog, but you wildlife hater, KB, should be ashamed! :P

  20. I have only seen a Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel once, it was high elevation. Beautiful. But maybe they are as much of an annoyance as the ground squirrels in our yards, corals and more. I went flying twice last year as i stepped in ground squirrel holes while running, not as in jogging, just running across a lawn. Sore ankles both times.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on mountain lions and moose. loved seeing your photos.


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