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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Moony Wednesday

I am writing this on Tuesday afternoon. We will have a total lunar eclipse tomorrow before dawn. I am hoping that the clouds clear out so that we can see it. Our last one was on 9/27/16, and the clouds parted at the last instant to let us see it.

My fingers are crossed for Wednesday - it will be a super moon, a blue moon, and a total lunar eclipse. The moon will be over the western horizon, where our high mountains sit. This was a photo of a super moon setting over those mountains last November.

R is also hopeful - he'll certainly be present for our early morning outing to see it. His eyes are as beautiful as a pair of moons, in my opinion!
R is enthusiastic no matter what - so he'll have fun even if it's cloudy!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Wishes Come True

Yesterday, I saw a silhouette photo of Shyla that I'd taken exactly a year ago. I thought to myself, "I just wish for one semi-normal day when I could take the Labraduo for a sunset walk, and we'd actually see a beautiful sunset". That wish was based on the fact that we've rarely been home at sunset recently, and when we have been, the world has been a drab gray.

Much to my delight,  I got exactly what I'd wished for last evening. I took a ton of photos but I'll share just one today.
In the bigger picture, my dad is recovering from his heart attack (another wish come true - a much more important one!). I'm hoping that the overwhelming fatigue that I've felt over the past week will dissipate as the stress decreases. I hope to catch up with all of you very soon.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Dangers for a Coyote of Taking on a Mountain Lion

You may remember that I told you the story of a mountain lion who killed an elk. He was feasting on it but pesky coyotes would not leave him alone (part 1 and part 2). Based on the audio recording, it sounded as if coyotes were extremely close to him, circling him while barking in frustration.

My cams captured one near confrontation when the lion ran away as a coyote approached. In fact, every time I watched that section of the video, I thought that it looked as if the mountain lion was pouncing toward something rather than simply fleeing. I wondered if there was a coyote just outside the field of view of the camera who the lion was going after. (this clip is in today's video too).

Now, I am even more curious about that question because this coyote showed up nearby just after the chase. Note that he is not weighting his right hind leg at all. He headed for a birdfeeder and began eating birdseed off the ground.

Here's a Youtube video of the mountain lion and coyote interactions that I captured on camera plus the injured coyote at a nearby site shortly thereafter.

It's a hard life for the wildlife. I suspect that, unless the hind-limb healed miraculously fast, the injured coyote might not have make it, especially in the cold of winter. Moreover, the mountain lion risked his life to take down such a huge prey animal and then did not get all the nutrition from it as he could have due to the coyotes.

However, one key fact that always helps me to deal with the sadness that a prey animal was killed is that every last scrap of that elk was eaten by the lion or a scavenger. During the days, the carcass was covered in ravens, magpies, and Stellar's jays. By night, the coyotes kept working on the nearly bare skeleton even when it looked like it was stripped clean.

It's the cycle of life unfolding before our eyes. It's not always easy to watch but it's how the world works.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sunrise Sunday

One recent morning, I awakened early, hoping for beautiful sunrise light for photographing Shyla. I had a quick change in plans when I gazed eastward and saw clouds lighting up in dramatic colors. From our house, I can barely see the colors filtered through the trees, which is why my drone is so wonderful for sunrises.

As soon as it got above our trees, I knew that it would be a stupendous sunrise.

I surveyed the different directions, and the colors awed me in all directions.

The Continental Divide...
In the winter, I usually get a "strong wind warning" at about this point so I stop taking footage and land. On this morning, the air was completely calm so I could go up a little higher to take in more views.

To the east... you can see the bright spot where the sun will rise.

More northeast...

The Continental Divide... our constant guardian and source of the usual winds.

Then, the sun crested the distant horizon, and it was time to land. I know that the wind usually starts blowing right after sunrise. It's not worth the risk of staying aloft.
If you feel like seeing more footage, I made a one minute video (Youtube link) surveying the world around us early and late in the sunrise.
Happy Sunrise Sunday!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Recent Snow Memories on Saturday

As I've mentioned, I'm doing the Dogwood weekly photo challenge. This week was "creative" and the cue was "peaceful". With all that happened, I'm afraid that I didn't have time to get terribly creative. However, it is a common peaceful pose that Shyla likes, with her chin resting on the soft snow while she gazes at the world.

That was one of our most beautiful winter days yet - the day after the snowstorm. It was super cold so Shyla kept getting a frosty muzzle.

I love when the boulders all have pillows of snow on them.

The snow also stuck to all the trees, creating a true winter wonderland.
My heart loves winter more when it's held out on us for so long. I hope that this storm is the start of a whole series of them that bring us lots of snow.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Elk Herd on the Move

Leading up to the snow storm last weekend, the elk did their usual "migration" that tells me that it's really going to snow. They predict the weather better than any human meteorologist! They started heading east and downhill. Lucky for us, we're on their route. They like to stop and graze near us in the midst of their long walk.

I stalked them with my long lens. Initially, a few of the lead females were worried about me.

Soon, they ignored me. This bull and cow appeared to be deep in conversation. They stayed like this the whole time, looking at each other as they lay in the grass.

I heard some loud "mewing" as a calf searched for her mother. When they were reunited, the calf began nursing. The calf pushed upward so hard on her mother's udder that the mother's hind feet appeared to lift off the ground!

As the calf nursed, the herd was drifting eastward. The mother broke off the nursing to follow the herd. The calf still tried to cling to her mother.

Then, another explosion of calf mewing caught my attention. Another calf sprinted to her mom and began nursing.

After that calf finished a long leisurely round of nursing, the mother began grooming her calf by licking the her ears. The mother continued the ear cleaning for about five minutes.
I've heard it said that the timing of hunting season means that the calves can survive without their slain mothers.  Looking at these photos, perhaps a calf can survive without a mother, but they definitely prefer having a mother around.

Soon the herd was moving again. They needed to beat the storm by moving to lower elevation pretty quickly. The clouds were closing in around us.

They created my favorite kind of traffic jam as they crossed the road.

The herd disappeared to lower elevations for the snowstorm. I saw their tracks in the snow on their return journey a couple of days after the snowfall.
I love watching the elk herd during the months that they make our neck of the woods their home!

On the home front, it's been a bit of a bumpy road with my father but I expect that he'll be moving out of the regular hospital soon. He'll need to spend a bit of time at a rehab center. I'm having a lot of trouble keeping my spine happy (going to my PT appts) in the midst of it all. However, I still am primarily grateful that he's here and seems like he'll be able to return to his normal life fairly soon.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Boundless Thankful Thursday

I have so much to be thankful for this week. It's been a jarringly stressful week, after getting that phone call saying "Dad had a heart attack". I'll skip the details but I am very aware that we are lucky that he is alive.

Even though we live a fair distance from the hospital, we came home each evening to be with our dogs and then spend time with them out in our winter wonderland each evening. And, when my spine couldn't handle even one more trip into the big city, the Runner uncomplainingly covered for me, leaving me to rest at home. I am lucky.
Our furry Labraduo is so comforting. Thank goodness for having the time to sit in a warm sun puddle and bury my face in Shyla's fur.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Snowy Days in Photos

During the insanity of the past few days, we had a snow storm. Although it made the driving slippery, our world was thankful. It was a big storm by the standards of this paltry snow year. It made Shyla very happy.

Whee! She flew!

It's been cold and finally time to have fires in the fireplace insert. I love the reflections in the glass.
Yesterday was our rest day from family stuff. We are truly exhausted.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A mating pair of mountain lions relaxes together

I had this post almost ready to publish before my dad's heart attack. So, I wanted to share it now. Thank you so much for all of your well wishes for him. He's getting stronger each day.

Last week, one of my trail cameras recorded remarkable footage of a pair of adult mountain lions together. I've had trail cameras in mountain lion territory for almost a decade, and I've never seen this kind of footage before now.

They almost certainly are a mating pair because one behaved like a male, vigorously marking the spot where lions always mark near this camera. The second lion to arrive was less bulky and did not mark the ground at all.

Here was the arrival of the male, near noon, not too far from a trail occasionally used by humans. He sniffed the spot where all the male lions mark by scraping the dirt with their hind paws and then urinating. With all the marking activity this year, there's a big mound of pine needles in the marking spot.

Soon after arriving, he got down to the business of marking. I've read that females almost never mark this way.

 Then, he turned to look in the direction of his mate who was approaching.

She arrived...

... and she sniffed the marking spot.

They walked together toward the edge of the small clearing, and they looked in the direction of the human trail. I wonder if someone was passing by. You can see the pile of pine needles where the lions have been relentlessly marking in the foreground.

Then, the male walked out of view of the camera, and the female lay down for a 20 minute nap! The trail camera turned itself off as she lay down. Then, she didn't move for 20 minutes so the camera didn't trigger (it is motion-activated) and recorded nothing. When she awakened, she moved a little, and the trail cam resumed recording. She's lying on her back, and you can see her left front paw in the air in the next photo.

When she truly woke up, she looked around for the male and then she vocalized!!!!! I cannot believe that we have a recording of her calling. It's a high pitched chirping noise. It is not the noise that you'd expect such a large animal to make!

In the video, she makes three chirping calls, starting at time 2:51 in the video. Then, as she departed, she stretched, like a "downward dog" in yoga.

I hope that you enjoy this video as much as I did! It's available here or at Youtube.

If you enjoy my videos, I'd be very grateful if you'd click on the Youtube link for this video and hit the big red button that says "subscribe" just below the video.  Your subscription will help my channel keep perks that only highly subscribed channels get. Thank you to all of you who have already subscribed!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Precious and Fragile Life

Hi Everyone. There will be no real post from me today. My father had a heart attack yesterday. Fortunately, he got fast and good treatment. Consequently, he's stable and in good spirits.

Yesterday, I posted photos and videos of a beautiful sunrise. If you haven't checked out that post, please do. I am appreciating each moment of life as much as I can. I know that I'm lucky that I get to live to see another sunrise with my Dad on this Earth.
Life is precious and fragile. Let's all make the most of this day.

As you may imagine, I'm not sure what each day will bring as we move forward from what happened yesterday. Please don't worry if I go silent for a little while.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Spirit-Lifting Sunrise!

Yesterday morning, I saw that wonderful orange glow to the east out our windows, and I knew that it would be a good sunrise. My mood really needed a lift, and the sunrise did it for me.

Before the sun fully rose, I spun my drone around to view the Continental Divide. I will never tire of this view.

I kept the drone high aloft until the sun peeked over the eastern horizon.

I compiled a video with views from from different times within the sunrise. You can watch it here or at Youtube.

If you enjoy my videos, I'd be incredibly grateful if you'd click on the Youtube link for this video and hit the big red button that says "subscribe" just below the video.  Your subscription will help my channel keep perks that only highly subscribed channels get. Thank you!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Grayer Parts of Life even on Sunny Days

It's been a bad luck health week. First, I had a day of feeling blue and very lethargic. I should've known that feeling - it means that a migraine is coming on. However, I always try to pretend that it's not happening - as if ignoring the signs will ward it off. That strategy never works, and it didn't this week.

Then, just hours later, my lumbar spine seized up incredibly painfully. I had this exact pattern of pain in my left lower back and down my legs in late September. It eased a fair bit with my first PT treatments but it took about six weeks before I was back to my "normal". With roughly a third of my spine surgically fused, my "normal" is not the same as most people's normal but I've become used to it. This time, my PT wants me to make an appointment with my spine doctors, including the surgeon. Dang - I didn't like hearing that.

My motto in these bad phases is to keep moving - even if it hurts to move. My doctors used to prescribe "bed rest". It took me a while to realize that lying still all day was about the worst thing that I could do. Moving gently and carefully is a much better strategy.

So, I was out this morning with Shyla, taking special happiness in watch her gallop without pain.

She simply loves to run and does it with such grace and ease! This one was from a recent snowy day. Shyla was maneuvering through a rock and shrub filled part of a meadow. She took a low posture, snaking through the obstacles.

For me, photography is an activity that utterly absorbs me. I forget everything else (except for very bad stabs of pain). I love it. It's also wonderful to have a model who I love so much.
By the way, you may be noticing how fast Shyla is going gray. She's only 6 years old. She started going gray when she was less than a year old. The first places to go gray were where she had puncture wounds on her face when she joined our family (from an attack by another dog, we were told). Then, the gray fur started spreading fast. Our vet told us that a large study showed that fearful dogs tend to go gray much earlier than more confident dogs. She prepared me for Shyla to be more gray than chocolate before too long. So far, Shyla's paws are almost completely white, her chest is streaked with gray, her muzzle is completely gray, and her face is speckled with gray.

It seems that strangers and even a few friends can't help but blurt out a comment about how fast Shyla is going gray. It hurts to hear it every time even though I am fully aware of it. However, I barely see it in my everyday interactions with Shyla. Shyla is beautiful to me, no matter what.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Moose Meeting

Today, we met a trio of moose. A mother moose, a young male calf, and a youngish adult male with asymmetrical antlers. He disappeared into the forest fast so I didn't get a photo of him.

The mother and her male calf didn't disappear so fast. We came up pretty close before I saw them. I hopped off my bike and started backing away. Fortunately, Shyla has trained herself to be amazing around moose, She stayed behind me, backing up in tandem with me.

When we'd gotten far enough away, the mother moose stopped giving me her stern and angry look so I lingered to watch for a bit. The mother resumed eating aspen twigs so I pulled out my point-and-shoot (that has 40X zoom) to take a few photos. It doesn't take great quality photos but it's perfect for when I see animals from far away on bike rides.

She's a beautiful animal with her typical moose goofiness.

She reached up high to chomp on some aspen twigs.

Then she brought her head back down to chew them.

Twigs must be tough to eat because she chewed for a long time. It is so hard for me to imagine that a huge animal like a moose can survive by eating tree bark and twigs all winter long. Yet, that's all that I see them eat.

Then her calf emerged from behind the brush. You can see his antler bud above his eye. He was obsessed with chewing on one spot on his side.

He then mimicked mom by eating the lower aspen twigs.

Then, he and his mom walked into the denser forest with nary a look in our direction. Shyla and I still respectfully made a large detour around where they'd gone before continuing on our way.
Even though I tend to think that it wasn't wise for our state to introduce moose to the area, I still enjoy every sighting. They are cool animals when they're feeling docile!

After that great luck, I ran into bad luck with my health later in the day. I'm heading to bed to nurse a migraine and a seized back.