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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Water Art

The patterns of water droplets as a happy dog shakes mesmerize me.

Here's to more water adventures this summer!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Mama bear and her huge cub visit water holes!

The mother and cub pair have appeared in front of my trail cams multiple times. Her territory seems to be in the heart of the area that I monitor.

First, they appeared a water hole that I've known about for many years. It's one with awful smelling water that appears to leave the bears more muddy than anything! A cool thing about this water hole is that there's an active bear-marking tree within about 15 yards of it.

As usually happens, the pair are not constantly in extremely close contact anymore. They travel together but the cub is more independent than earlier in the year. When they arrived at the muddy water hole, mom went straight into the water.

Meanwhile, the cub explored the bear marking tree. The cub sniffed it and then grabbed a branch to rub it over his/her head. That helps leave this cub's scent on the tree. It's amazing to see a cub's instinct to mark kick in at about this age.

Soon thereafter, the cub ran into the water with a confidence that is new to this cub. And s/he is huge! It's mind-boggling how fast cubs grow, even in lean times like we've had recently.

About a week later, the pair visited a water hole that I discovered only a few weeks ago! It's in a gully where I noticed that bears seemed to get wet. The main water hole there had dried up so I knew that there had to be another one that they were visiting. I spent some time clambering through the gully. I don't know how many of you have tried to clamber up a deep forest gully but it's really hard! There are tons of fallen trees and other obstacles. I finally found a water hole that is still full of water even this late in the year!!!!

The cub cutely took the first bath. As the cub moved through the water, s/he had some trouble going over a tree that fell in the water hole, getting stuck for a cute moment. This is the frame where the cub was stuck.

Then it was mom's turn. She took a more extensive bath. Near the end, she sat up like a human in a bath and her hind paws even stuck up out of the water!
I'm so glad that I found that water hole! In retrospect, I wish that I'd thought to search for it years ago!

Here's the video. As usual, you can watch it here or at Youtube.
I'm excited to say that I have still more fun bear and moose footage to share. In the footage, the bear is digging up anthills and eating their eggs. In the moose footage, a big bull is foraging by a water hole. I'll show you those in future posts!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Silly Saturday - The Black Dog Edition

Our black dog can be as intense about catching treats as Shyla!

Look at his eye!
Due to my bad toss, he missed!

Happy Silliness on Saturday!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Summer - please don't go!

We are planning to get up high so that we can see more wildflowers before the season ends. This is a favorite of mine... only seen up above treeline.

Ah, and these yellow flowers that all point toward the east!

The rain has helped keep the flowers going. I'm thankful for that!

But the light is starting to change. I can feel it in the mornings and evenings, as the sun slants at a lower angle than at mid-summer.
I love the low angle light but I am not ready for summer to end!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Fun Times with the Labraduo

I love when I get outdoor time with both halves of the Labraduo!

I practice recalls with them a lot. The flowers were tall so the Duo had to gallop high to get through them.

Shyla wasn't afraid to compete with her brother, unlike some other times recently.
I love seeing that kind of intensity for a recall!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Silly tree marking by bears!

I've shown you lots of examples of bears marking trees. They usually go up on their hind legs and rub their backs on the trees.

This was a young female bear named "Dot" who marked this tree many times. She's using the classic technique of rubbing her back on it in this photo. Sadly, she was killed by a car soon after this photo was taken. I still miss her. I look at the bear fur on the little tree, and I know that some of it is hers.

This summer, one tree has been receiving some very odd marking behavior. Some bears just rub their butt on it. One bear rubbed his forehead on it so hard that I thought that the poor tree was going to break.

You might find this video interesting because it shows the oddball ways that bears have been marking one poor tree.

The forehead marking by that huge male made me laugh. He seems to have simply passed through our area on his way someplace else. I bet that he smelled Milton and Tiny, our resident huge bears, and decided to move on. You can also watch the video on Youtube if you prefer.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Bear Selfie!

I love it when animals interact with my trail cameras, even though it sometimes results in severe damage to the camera!

A black bear passing through our neck of the woods (not a long term resident bear) was examining a bear marking area when he noticed my camera. When watching the video, be sure that your audio is on so that you can hear him breathing and panting.

He seemed to look for food near the camera, and then he noticed the camera. He sniffed it, showed it his teeth, and then gave it a look. We got a closeup of his face and then his eye in the process!

After that, he headed over to the marking tree and left his "I was here" message.

It's just a simple little observation of a black bear living his life - but I love it!

You can watch the short video either here or at Youtube. I've made a pact with myself not to let any fun wildlife videos languish in my archives this year (unlike previous years). I hope that you enjoy them like I do!

I adore our bears. Their quirky personalities make me laugh regularly!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Summer wildflowers on Friday

Summer in Colorado is the best - flowers and mountains. What else could we want? Dogs!

Most places, the yellow flowers still dominate but a few purples are invading them. This purple and yellow aster is one of our last wildflowers of the summer so I don't want to see too many of them yet.

Despite the fact that they are a sign of impending autumn, I still love them.

Up high, I saw one of my absolute favorite colored Indian Paintbrushes. I adore its brilliance.

As summer wears onward, Shyla and I seek out the patches of remaining flowers for our playgrounds. I adore wildflowers and summer!
Happy Flower Friday!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Alpine Edition

Can you tell how much I love our days way up high in the sky?

Days to treasure.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sheer exhaustion

We've really done it this time. I am exhausted beyond words from some big events in our lives. I really will be sporadic in posting for a little while. I could barely keep my eyes open to write this very short post today.

I wish that I had Shyla's energy!

Part of my exhaustion is my very own fault. I try to do too much in life because so many things fascinate me. It means that I don't miss out on much but I crash with exhaustion sometimes. At least I don't crash from high altitude!

If only I had the energy of our Shyla! Hmm, I already said that, didn't I?
I love that last photo of her. It might need to be a banner photo for a little while so that I can see it every day!

Don't worry about my sporadic posting in the near future. I promise that it will get back to normal after some rest.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Young Black Bear Takes a Long Soak

Over the years, I've learned that water sources attract bears especially when we are having hot and dry weather. I regularly explore the land around us in hope of finding new water holes.

About two years ago, I found a hidden water hole in a gully. It solved a puzzling mystery of why so many bears climbed into that gully every summer. It also explained why my cams saw so many bears looking partially soaked near that gully.

During this mating season, we saw a youngish male bear lose the "battle" for a sow to Tiny, our biggest male bear who must weigh close to 300 lbs. The "battle" consisted of Tiny marking a tree and stomping toward the young male while clacking his teeth. The young bear knew not to try to fight Tiny and disappeared into the forest. Young male bears must live "under the radar" of the big male bears so that they live long enough to become the kings of forest. This one seems smart enough to live for a long time.

That kerfuffle between Tiny and the younger male happened very close to the water hole in the gully. It turned out that the young male didn't go very far away after Tiny threatened him. The next day, the young bear took a long soak in the water hole.

When you watch the video, notice that he rarely let down his guard. He startled once and sprinted about 10 yards uphill before realizing that everything was fine. Then, during his bath, he sniffed the air many times, checking for the scents of other bears or other animals (e.g., humans) who might hurt him. Black bears tend to be very timid and cautious, contrary to the way the media likes to portray them.

For me, this is the fun of trail cameras. We have the opportunity to see how bears behave when they are going about their daily lives without humans present and influencing their behavior. Seeing and hearing this young bear take a bath made me smile ear-to-ear.

I hope that you enjoy it like I did. You can watch the video here or at Youtube.

In a future wildlife video, I'll show you how I solved another mystery. The water hole in this video went dry in early July this year but the bears kept marching through it and further up the gully. I bet that you know why! Another water hole sat well above this one, and I discovered it in early July of this year. That higher water hole seems to stay full until at least late summer. Our local mother bear and her cub visited it recently!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Serene Sunday

 I love starting the day with the Duo snuggled in a sun puddle.

And then, later in the day, I got a lesson in aerial photography. Look at the lake perched on the hillside above a dirt road. It was my first photo from the sky, ever.

And then, sunset from a very high point of view. Do you see the lake nestled at the base of the mountains? The beauty here blows my mind.
Yesterday was a good day in a million ways - many good friends, mountain views, and, of course, our Labraduo.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Crazy Escapades of a Bear Cub

My trail camera captured a fun clip of the cub who you've seen in many of my recent videos.

First the mama bear appeared, running across the field of view in front of a bear marking tree. Then, the cub appeared. The cub was very curious about the marking tree but couldn't reach high enough to smell the top part that the big bears can reach.

So the cub climbed a big aspen behind the marking tree and then jumped onto the flimsy upper branches of the marking tree. After sniffing and marking, the cub fell out of the tree. She was fine but then sprinted over to examine my trail camera very closely. Be sure to have your audio on so that you can hear her activity.

Here's the video, which you can watch here or at Youtube.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Flowers and storm excitement!

The flowers and grass, being fed by daily deluges, are growing tall.

Shyla is so funny - she feels the need to leap over the flowers rather than go around them. I like it because she doesn't trample them!

Despite her wise gray fur, she still has hops! She levitates above the Bee Balm!

And lands with grace.

... finishing with a sprint to me.

You can see that her fur is wet. That's because the grass and flowers were still soaked from the previous evening's rain.

Indeed, it's getting a little old that it rains almost every afternoon and evening. Yesterday, we got a break, and two friends and I did a long singletrack bike ride, exploring old and new trails. It sprinkled on us a few times and a few rumbles emanated from the west. However, it waited until I was home to rain.

Today was different. At the point in my ride where I turned to head toward home, I saw that a big storm was building close to my house. It was almost dark outside as the storm built but the flowers glowed.

I rode as hard as I could but I ended up huddled under the canopy of pine trees with first hail and then a downpour battering me. Since I had nothing else to do while I waited for the "flash-booms" and torrential rain to slow, I rearranged my gear to keep stuff dry. I took a selfie by accident as I did it.

Ah, the glamorous life of a Colorado mountain biker - huddled under small trees for protection from a thunder storm!
I survived. As soon as the storm seemed to let up a bit, I sprinted home. Then I saw the lightning ground strike map for the storm, with hits circling my neck of the woods. It was scary to see.

I'm looking forward to a break from this weather. I wanted rain to reduce our fire danger but not this much rain!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thankful Thursday - Grateful to all of you

On this Thankful Thursday, I am most thankful for this incredible community of bloggers and others on social media who take the time to write their thoughts about issues that are weighing me down.

For some reason, Shyla has had a tougher time with her fears lately, and I've had a tougher time accepting them than I usually do. I guess that I want her to actually be as carefree as she appears when galloping in the mountains!
After writing about our "bad" morning when we had to hide in the forest from a big goofy Golden, we had another incident the next day. A pair were riding their horses with a dog running loose next to them. Their dog was very gregarious. However, his interest in Shyla led her to freeze in place, completely unable to move. 

While trying to give Shyla support, I had a shouted conversation with the horseback riders who were watching their dog from a good distance away. I had shout the explanation that we could not move until they got their dog away from Shyla because Shyla was paralyzed with fear. Eventually, they did come and take their dog away from Shyla but not without a loud sigh and some unhappy muttering.

I'm sure that they thought that I was insane but I will stand up for Shyla even if people don't understand me or her.

After that, I came home to all of your thoughtful comments about living with a fearful dog. You bolstered my spirits immensely. You made me realize that, although each of these incidents feels huge, it's part of a much bigger life that is happy and loving. And, having empathy fatigue every now and then is normal!

Thank you, Blogville!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - An Alpine Edition

From our day at 13,000' above sea level!

A high altitude dog smooch!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Life with a Fearful Dog

I know that some of you have fearful dogs in your lives. Shyla is my first. I have formed an incredible bond with her but I've found myself feeling upset when I see how many things still scare her.

When Shyla is just with our family, she's happy and relaxed. She's so affectionate. During our training yesterday, she suddenly was overcome with the need to leap into my arms and shower me with kisses! I feel so lucky that she has chosen to trust and love me.
But then, something will happen to remind me that Shyla will never be "normal", like previous Labs in our lives.

This morning, it was pouring rain, and I suddenly had a change of plans. I had to be at the dentist quite early for a "surprise visit" (never a good thing!). I decided to squeeze in a quick bike ride for the sake of my spine before going to the appointment.

I contemplated whether to bring Shyla. I didn't have much time to deal gently with her fears. However, it was pouring rain so I figured that no one else would be out to scare her.

Lo and behold, someone else was out, including a rambunctious golden retriever. He bounded toward us, having run at least 100 yards from his family to greet us. He's big, goofy, and benign. Shyla turned and fled the other way. So, I grabbed my bike, turned it around, and went to find my terrified dog. She was lurking in the forest a short distance away. So, the two of us hid in the forest until the "danger" had passed. You have no idea how many times we've done that!

I keep thinking that there will be a day when Shyla will be more rational. For example, she's seen the rambunctious dog from this morning at least 100 times in her life. He's nice, albeit a little overwhelming. I know that I'm being unreasonable but, for some reason, my mind expects that someday Shyla will stop being afraid of dogs and people who we see regularly and have never hurt her.

I feel bad even writing that. I usually have lots of empathy for her fears but sometimes, like this morning, I have "empathy fatigue".
A spider web with raindrops in it this morning
I wonder if others who have fearful dogs have felt this way? I'd love to hear your stories. They might help me to stop beating myself up over my moments of wishing that Shyla would just act normal. That's not a realistic wish, and I know it.

I must end by saying that I love Shyla no matter what, and I'll keep working to bolster her confidence. I just have moments of weakness.
That's my girl.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Tiny the Black Bear during Mating Season!

At the end of May, Tiny the Black Bear met a young female bear. The behavior that my trail cams captured enthralled me.

Tiny is one of our biggest male bears, and he stamps his authority over our area by marking trees and stomping around the territory.

Earlier this summer, he met a young female bear during mating season. A problem was that a young male bear was hanging around on the periphery. My trail camera picked up footage of how a huge bear like Tiny handles this type of situation. There was no need to fight - Tiny simply scared the smaller bear away with his behavior.

To do this, Tiny repeatedly marked one tree and then marched stiff-legged toward the interloper. He also vocalized, making grunting noises, and he clacked his teeth together. Teeth clacking is a universal bear behavior of anger or aggression. After that display, the younger bear was gone!

I never thought that I'd capture such cool bear behavior with my trail cameras. I was thrilled to see and hear these videos!

A little later, we see Tiny reunited with the young female with whom he'd been traveling. It was the height of mating season so I suspect that the female will be having Tiny's cubs when she's tucked away in her den this winter!

Here's the video, which you can watch here or at Youtube!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Slice of High Altitude Heaven

Shyla and I grabbed the opportunity for a day high above the trees, almost in the clouds, last week. For this mountain dweller who is used to seeing no one on the trails that we use daily, the start of the hike was a bit of a shock. My favorite high mountain trail has been *discovered*. I passed so many people that the simple act of saying hello had fallen out of favor.

Fortunately, we have a secret technique. We start late, on a day when the chance of storms is almost nil. So, we see people who are coming down from their high hikes as we head upward.

We had a glorious day after we finally left the crowds behind. We had the alpine area completely to ourselves.

Indeed, I could see way down the valley that we'd driven up, and I thought it looked like it was raining down there. It turns out that it was, and it was beautiful up high!

We crossed a high mountain pass...

... and continued onward to a lake that is fed by snow fields that last all summer long. Despite the freezing water, Shyla was glad to swim!

She shook after each dip even more crazily than usual.

Look at her crazy eyes in this one!

All too soon, it was time to head downward, wistful about the ending to one of summer's priceless gifts. We stopped for one selfie - my kind of selfie that has me and Shyla in it! I have similar ones of me and Angel K in my archives. These mountain summer days are to be treasured and remembered.

Neither one of us really wanted the day to end so we kept stopping to play on our way down. Staying out into the evening is one of summer's luxuries.

We stopped to gaze at the flowers when we descended back below treeline. The bees were nestled into every yellow flower that we saw. I wonder if they spend the night that way, drinking the pollen from the flowers throughout the night.
Now, I am paying the "price". In the past, I've had major spine surgeries. They helped my pain and nerve-related weakness immensely but they didn't bring back my spine's ability to withstand the jarring forces of downhill hiking. So, my back hurts today, as I knew it would.

It's a small price to pay.