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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.


  1. that is amazing to see such a wonder of mother nature with your own eyes...

  2. Hari OM
    Such grace and stillness in their movement! What a joy. YAM xx

  3. How fun to be able to watch them like that. I've seen horses nurse on the mom, when they have a foal nursing on them. I think it's a comfort, contact, kind of a thing.

  4. Those calves look so big. It's a bit surprising to see them still nursing when they are almost as big as their mothers. Thanks again for another amazing glimpse into the nature around you.

  5. Comfort and safety in large numbers, one large family that stays together. I have heard that animals and birds can sense an earthquake before it happens or arrives. Your Dad, hope his progress goes well, and a new normal can be in his life again. Scary for him and for you too, after Hugh's heart attack and stent surgery, he took life quietly for some weeks, then slowly eased back into normal daily things. One thing he was told, to NEVER push a vehicle if it has stalled or stopped!!! Among a lot of other trivia at a rehab clinic visit. ( Useless trivia I thought)!!! PT for your back, hope that is helping you as well.

  6. Love seeing the elk. We hope the calves don't have to face the world without their mothers, too.

  7. So sorry to hear about your father, KB. There is always something, isn't there? My son and his family live right beside the elk preserve in Evergreen. We often see a herd walking down their street or grazing in their yard. In your photos, the elk look like they're already molting. Keep your spine happy!

  8. Bet the three Sibes here would be encouraged about snow if they could see some elk moving on through:)

    Sorry to hear about the bumpy road - seems like there are always those ups and downs. Hope the coming days bring lots of UPS. Take care of you too.

  9. Thank you for the fascinating photos Prayers for your Dad

  10. Beautiful photos. It sad to think that that some may get shot,, Very sad.
    I hope your dad continues to improve,,, We keep sending postive thoughts for him..

    I cannot get onto my blog.. I hope this makes it to you

  11. Wonderful photos of the elk. Hope your Dad continues to heal
    Hazel & Mabel

  12. Those are big calves! I love the different color fur on their hineys and tails.
    We are sending lots of healing vibes for your dad.


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