Photos and text copyright Romping and Rolling in the Rockies 2009-2017.

All photographs and text within this blog are copyrighted.

You may not copy or repost any photos or text without specific permission from the author of this blog. When in doubt, please ask.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Caturday: Deer fawn and mountain lion kittens

It's the season of fawns and kittens. The fawn showed her sweet face first. I believe that she was very very young based on her odd posture and crazy leg motions when running.

This was the first view of her, with her mother nowhere in sight.

In the next view of her, her mother's tail is barely visible further down the trail. That fawn looks scared!
Seeing that seemingly helpless fawn made me cheer for her to survive. Then, the fiercest animals in the forest arrived just a few hours later.

First, just the mama mountain lion was in front of the camera.

Then, one of her kittens emerged from the pine trees beside her. She had two kittens with her but one was lagging a bit.
My first reaction to seeing these animals on my trail cam in this sequence was "Oh no, I hope that the lions didn't get the fawn...".

But then I thought a little harder about it. The mother mountain lion has been nurturing these kittens for about a year. In other views of this family, the mother looks very thin. Indeed, she is thinner than her kittens and thinner than most mountain lions. Life is very tough for our top predator, and there are about a hundred deer fawns for every mountain lion kitten... So, I resolved not to root for anyone.

For either of these single parent families to survive, other families are going to have tragic losses. The mountain lions need food so they might kill the fawn or her mother.  If the doe and fawn escape predation, the mountain lion family will be hungrier and a few thousand calories closer to not surviving.

The natural world is cruel because it is not possible for everyone to win.

My cams captured some more footage of the mother mountain lion a week later and a few miles away. She had lost her kittens, probably only temporarily, but she was calling for them incessantly using high-pitched and piercing chirps. I can't show you that in a photo but it's in my video.

I believed that I heard the same chirping as I checked a cam today. It might have been my imagination. Maybe it was a bird or a rodent... but I thought that a mountain lion was nearby. I stayed calm and departed the area. I may never know if I was correct (unless the next check of the cam shows a mountain lion just behind me - that happened once a few years ago).

Here's the short video. You can watch it here or on Youtube.

Every piece of our ecosystem is precious.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Wildflower Friday!

Wildflowers are having their summer party! They all seem to bloom almost simultaneously so it's hard to appreciate each one.

One of my favorite sights every summer is Shyla galloping through a meadow of wildflowers with snow-capped mountains on the horizon. Shyla gives me the impression that she loves it too.

I enjoy both the big view of the whole meadow and the macro view of individual flowers in the riotous meadow. In some meadows, the yellow wildflowers are still dominating.

However, if you look in the understory below the yellow, some other colors are present. This is a Shooting Star wildflower was going wild in wet areas until recently. It has an odd shape that makes it look like an exploding star if you have a good imagination. This one had a beetle resting on it.

As soon as I get down low to peer underneath the yellow, I realize that the wet ground is almost covered in these brilliant flowers. They are a favorite of mine.

On the edges of meadows, chokecherry bushes recently blossomed. The tiny flowers are arranged in a cone that reaches up toward the sky. I love the sight of these flowers against the blue sky. When you get close to a chokecherry bush, the buzz of bees is loud! The bees seem to adore these flowers. I hope that the bees are doing a good job of pollinating them because the chokecherry fruit is a staple of our bears as they fatten up for the winter.

Another tiny gem as beautiful as each chokecherry flower is the hummingbird. They are so full of life at this time of year. They join me for breakfast each morning, and I alternate between sipping my coffee and snapping photos of them. I know that it is truly summer when the hummers and I have breakfast on the deck together!

I bet that you know what this shadow is! 
Thanks to the Gang at LLB for hosting Flower Friday.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Gratitude for our Mountain Beauty

Once a week, I do a "long" mountain bike ride to get ready for adventures high in the mountains later in the summer. Today was my long ride day.

My gratitude for living in a place that many people consider "vacation-worthy" is strongest on my long ride days. I see so much beauty that I don't get bored, even on the weeks when I do the ride alone.

I started off this morning with Shyla, enjoying her company for an hour or so. Her enthusiasm is contagious!

She insisted on one photo with her favorite pose before we headed for home.

Then, I dropped her at home and set out on a tour of the many trails near us. This is one that I rode on pictured a few weeks ago. Ah, it is so beautiful!
Believe it or not, I am still discovering new trails after all these years.  A friend showed me a new loop that doesn't appear on any map, and I managed to reproduce it today! If you knew my navigational skills, you'd realize that that was a minor miracle!

Now I am home and pleasantly tired. We were planning a full moon picnic this evening but thunderstorms are surrounding us.  I suspect that I won't get a gorgeous view of the rising full moon like I did last month!
Ah, I love where we live! Thanks to our friends at Brian's Home for hosting Thankful Thursday.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Almost Wordless Wednesday - Sunset near the Solstice

Around the solstice, we spend lots of evenings playing, hiking, and picnicking in the forest around our house. I adore this time of year when the evening light seems endless... These are a couple of recent photos from our evening time in the forest.

Best Friends do a Recall Together

A sunset that looked like abstract art during our solstice picnic

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

More games to help with Shyla's confidence

Many of you have been along for my whole journey with Shyla since I met her six years ago as a shaking and terrified young dog. Back then, I was beside myself with worry that I wouldn't be able to help such a fearful dog. 

She and I have come a long way together. Most days, I think that she doesn't feel too much fear. Indeed, yesterday, we got caught in a terrible thunder storm with ferocious hail during our bike ride. I managed to convince her to trust me. We hid under a pine tree until the hail ended and managed to sprint home before the lightning got too scary. I would have never predicted that she could handle that way back when I met her.

Despite her comfort with most aspects of our low key day-to-day life, I still search for ways to increase her confidence. If only she could always be as confident as in this photo!

Alas, I am not one to simply accept where Shyla is now. I would love for her to learn to cope with novel things and social situations more comfortably.

To increase her overall confidence, we are continuing on a program that challenges her to learn to explore novel things that seem scary. This week, I set up a challenge that asked her to rummage through a pile of metal cookware to find treats hidden in the pile. At the very bottom, there was a bowl with treats in it. This was a game suggested in a course that we're taking at Fenzi.

As she rummaged, she starting pawing at the baking containers to make noise with them because I've rewarded her in the past for doing that. I responded by rewarding her this time too! She looked so proud of herself for doing it!

Here is a short video of her doing this game.
I love seeing her take on this challenge with such pride!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Tiny the Black Bear Hanging out with Sow(s)

Black Bear mating season is in absolute full swing. Every single video clip that I get of Tiny, our biggest black bear, shows him with a sow.

Tiny is a bear who you cannot mistaken for anyone else. He is truly gigantic. My guess is that his weight is north of 300 lbs.

His size really scares people who see him. I've had to soothe the fears few neighbors who reacted to seeing him by wanting to call the wildlife authorities on him. However, if you observe the role that Tiny plays in our bear population, it becomes clear that he really just wants to be a bear. He doesn't want to be near people, except when bear crops fail so he's too hungry to resist the garbage and bird feeders that people carelessly leave out. Every year, I hope with all my heart that he'll survive the dangers of humans to rule our bear world again.
For the second year in a row, he's having issues with his hind leg fur. Last year, it made sense because he had injured the leg. This year, I don't know why he's lost a patch of fur.

It's not slowing him down with the ladies. The two photos above were from the only couple of hours that I've seen him without a sow this month.

His massive stature and handsomeness don't mean that the sows just worship him. In fact, one of the smaller sows decided that he was being too forward, and she rebuffed him. He approached her with a laser focus while grunting at her. She bared her teeth and pushed him with her two front paws. She surprised him with her feistiness! This was the instant when she pushed him away.

I made a short video of Tiny's travels with the sows over a few days earlier this month. Be sure to listen to the audio as you watch the video. Bears often vocalize when they're with other bears. You can watch here or at Youtube.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Black Dog Sunday

We've gone through a little bit of a rough patch in terms of veterinary issues. Both dogs had GI tract problems. Then, Shyla got an ear infection, and R cracked the enamel off a tooth. Plus, R was a bit "lethargic" compared to his usual insane self. So, I worried...

But we are emerging from the other side in decent shape. Both dogs are feeling better but R might lose a canine tooth. We'll find out when we get into have him examined by a veterinary dentist.

I played with him in the wildflowers recently. The Golden Banner flowers and the grass were almost as tall as him!
If you look closely at the photo above, you can see that he'd just engaged in his favorite pastime, digging a very deep hole! The dirt on his snout tells the story.

R had his regular exam with the vet, and he was due for all of his vaccinations. I really did not want him vaccinated because he has tumors on his spleen and adrenal gland (which we're following with regular ultrasounds). Both appear to be benign but vaccinating is a risk when any tumors are present.

Fortunately, titers exist! We had blood tests done for titers to see if his immunity was still high from a lifetime of vaccinations. So far, we've heard that his immunity is great for distemper and parvo - so no vaccines are needed for those. We are still waiting to hear about rabies. We have our fingers crossed that he won't need any vaccinations!
He's such a puppy-like "senior" dog at 10.5 years old. Look at his eyes - they look so spirited and lively!

We savor every day with him. He still runs every day with the Runner, and we regularly get asked if he's a puppy! That helps us to forget that he's actually a "senior" dog.
We love him!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Caturday: A Mother Mountain Lion and Two Kittens

This photo told me that the next batch of trail cam photos would be fascinating. I knew that it was a mountain lion and a kitten! I based the "kitten" assessment on the bars inside the kitten's front leg.

 In contrast, this was mom - note the lack of bars inside the front leg.

It turned out that it was a mother mountain lion and two kittens. For the first days, they hung out at the extreme end of my trail camera network. They went back and forth both at night and early in the morning. Usually, that pattern means that they are feeding on a carcass for most of the night and then walking to a "day bed" for snoozing the day away.

After the first couple of days, they took a long walk, probably looking for more prey. The kittens are big enough to wander on their own. Thus, the kittens would sometimes lag mom by 3 minutes or so!

And then, as they tried to catch up with mom, they'd CHIRP to communicate with her. If there hadn't been a mountain lion very nearby, I would've thought that the sound was a bird!

At one point, mom paused to let the kittens catch up. As she stood still, I was struck by how thin she is. It must be extremely hard to hunt for yourself and TWO very big kittens. I suspect that the kittens are within a few months of when they'll go off on their own. However, they are still probably not good hunters and rely on mom to kill prey to feed them. It's a huge job for a mother mountain lion.

Enjoy the video, including the audio CHIRPS, either here or at Youtube.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Flower Friday - The Joy of a Little Rain!

We finally got some rain, and the flowers rejoiced! This wild rose was just opening, and its color seemed to become more brilliant.

This Blue Flax also was happy, although its flower drooped a bit under the rain.

Thanks to the rain, the Blue Flax flowers kept blooming rather than shriveling so Shyla could play in them.

It is that time of year when the flowers are all blooming simultaneously so it's hard to give them all their due. However, I had to stop and admire this Columbine with Arnica and Wild Roses blooming behind it.
I must say that I adore this time of year. It's as if Mother Nature is having a brilliant flower party, and every part of our world is filled with flowers!

We are joining the LLB Gang for the Flower Friday Blog Hop.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Grateful for Our World

This morning, early, Shyla and I visited Hug Hill. I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude that we have such a glorious spot within 15 minutes of mountain bike pedaling from our house. My gratitude tells me that I am where my spirit belongs.
In the winter, Hug Hill can be a harsh freezing place, with west winds as fast as 75 mph hitting me from the direction of the mountains behind Shyla in the photo. At that time of year, I usually am the only crazy person who wants to go there. At this time of year, it's difficult to remember how harsh it was in January. The flowers are blooming, the hummingbirds are buzzing around, and the sun is warm on my shoulders.

Shyla adores playing on Hug Hill. Somehow, she's managed to get past the fact that a bad person hit her in this spot about a year ago. Thank goodness that we can still love this place despite that awful event.

It's also the place where we see incredible sunsets on a regular basis. It's an easy hike from our house, and we just sit and watch as the sun colors the clouds orange.

At this time of year, we sit and watch until late because the sunset isn't finished its show until close to 9PM.
I've had to spend time in towns and cities a bit recently. When the insane pace of city life and the petty worries start to get to me, I find myself going to Hug Hill in my mind. It brings me so much peace.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Bolstering Shyla's Confidence

When I see these photos of a happy Shyla, even I can't quite believe that the world can be so scary for her.
This photo was from when our meadows were briefly filled with my favorite yellow and orange flowers. They didn't last long so I'm glad that I took a zillion photos in a couple of days.

She's come a huge way over these years with us. Shyla can now (sometimes) pass people on a trail without being freaked out.
Under the right circumstances, she can charm people with her affection. She can even visit quiet parts of town and appear to handle it just fine.

But, often, she'll appear to be fine to untrained eyes but then come home and get sick from the stress of being out in the world. For example, just last week, she got an upset GI tract after we got home from a vet visit. During that appointment, people commented on how much fun she seemed to be having. This is a recurring theme... that she appears to be fine but she isn't.

She is actually fine when running through a field of flowers!

So, I keep searching for ways to bolster her confidence. We are continuing to play everyday, and I have no doubt that it helps her. We had a puppy visit the other day, and Shyla was more outgoing than ever before with a puppy. It was as if she was trying out the play moves that she does with me on the puppy!

We are also taking a class designed to "empower" Shyla. The idea is that she learns to embrace things that are a little scary, like the sound of pans clanging against each other. One game involves her stepping on things (like metal pans) that make sounds...

... which brings us to the short video that I'd like to share with you. I put out odd items for Shyla to step on, and I rewarded her whenever she authoritatively stepped on one of the weird items.

Be sure to watch to the end. I was so pleased when it appeared that Shyla totally "got it" - she banged a pan with her paws in such a powerful way and she didn't flinch at all! You can watch it here or over at Youtube.

I have accepted that Shyla will always have some fears but I also will continue to try to make some parts of life easier for her handle - especially when the games that we play to help her are so much fun!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Wildlife Monday - A Mama Moose and her Playful New Calf

This is the first spring that I have had a trail camera on a pond. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, and the first photo that I looked at on the cam was this.
Intriguing! A cow moose sprinting out of the water so fast that she made a big wave. I immediately wondered what could possibly make a moose run so fast!

The video that followed showed her running around maniacally - and even adding a backward kick to her running at one point. I've seen a moose run so fast under only one circumstance - when a mama moose was trying to warn me to stay away from her and her calf. I wondered if there might be an invisible calf nearby.

Footage from the next day showed that this cow moose did indeed have a very young calf with her.

Over the course of two days, the footage showed me that this calf was incredibly energetic.

The Mama Moose tried to keep up with the calf... but to no avail.

At one point, the Mama Moose finally corralled her calf, after the calf had sprinted around and in the ponds seemingly endlessly. You can see how riled up the calf was based on the body language and open mouth!

I have a fun short video for you of this pair as the calf sprinted like a gazelle and then even tried to nurse (which provoked heart-rending moans from Mama Moose). The video ended when the pair moved on to someplace else but I really hope that they come back!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunset from Hug Hill

On a recent evening, we'd planned to go out to dinner but the fire danger made us reluctant to leave the dogs alone. So, we decided to have a picnic atop Hug Hill instead!

We hiked up, and arrived just before the sun dipped below the mountains. So, I had to take some some photos of Shyla in the sunset light.

I adore that light!

Then, as we ate our dinner, the clouds lit up as the sun fell below the horizon.

The colors gradually got darker.

Just before dusk, only a shimmer remained on the edge of a cloud.
It was a relaxing way to spend an evening, with us humans together with our Labraduo! It was so nice that Mother Nature put on such a gorgeous sunset for us!