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Winter Moose February 6, 2018

Snacking in the snow.

We have resident moose here at the ranch on a year round basis, and it’s not uncommon to see them striding past the kitchen window.  You would think that, with such long legs and oddly proportioned head and body, they would look ungainly, but they most definitely do not.  They have a grace that makes their long legged pace look almost relaxed and easy and they cover distance at a remarkably fast rate.  Their long legs lift them up above the snow, and they don’t find it the obstacle that deer do.  So, while the deer and elk leave our high mountain ranch in the winter time, the moose are content to move from one drainage to another, crossing over the ridge that our home and bison ranch sits on, and striding down the other side.  While they eat substantial amounts of aquatic vegetation in the summer months, spending long hours in willow thickets and streams, their winter diet is more accessible on the mountain slopes and south exposures where aspen, fivewillow and chokecherry, snowberry, snowbrush and other shrubby offerings stick up above the snow.    This fella is using his front hooves to paw through the snow to reach vegetation hiding away there.

 

“Just a bunch of Crows looking for a bunch of Sage Grouse” April 17, 2015

Okay, time for another “I Love My Life” segment.  I’ve had a blast these last couple of weeks looking for sage grouse leks on the Crow Reservation (Apsaalooke Nation) with some really fun people.   And it’s hard for me to look for anything wildlife without trying to do my amateur best to catch it on film.  I don’t have great equipment, but it’s good enough to balance on the edge of my car door and capture some of the awe inspiring wildlife behavior that I see in the world around me (and since youtube has that “we can fix your shakiness”, the grouse aren’t shaking around too much – just the words :)!.  And since we’re looking for (and finding) Greater Sage Grouse leks, that’s what I was able to film (thanks to the patience of the fellas I was with – one of which gave me this great quote that I used for the title).

 

Helicopter Eagle Nest survey – how we do it. June 8, 2014

For those who are curious, here’s how we try to determine the number of golden eagle nests in an area (for those concerned about tax dollars, these aren’t.  This is money from oil and gas leases, which is fitting since they are some of the issues causing the problems.)

Golden eagles need either cliffs or very large trees to nest in (Bald eagles nest primarily in really big trees near water).  So to find Golden Eagles (the primary target of this study) here’s what we do:

We cruise cliffs along rivers..

We fly above rivers looking in the trees (and watching out for powerlines!), check out cliffs along rivers and up drainages,

and cliffs in the mountains

and cliffs in the mountains

Golden Eagles usually nest on cliffs

Typical Golden Eagle nest with 2 chicks

Bald Eagle nest

Bald Eagle nest with adult and chick in a cottonwood tree on the river.

 

Commuting to work. A Bison Quest “I love my life!” post June 7, 2014

Commuting to work Monday morning.

Commuting to work Monday morning.

Get up in the morning, grab a bite to eat, and run out to the pasture to catch a helicopter to work.  We’re doing Golden Eagle surveys this week :)!

 

 

 

And then comes the cautious coyote… February 21, 2013

While some critters come right in to the camera, others make really sure that it’s okay first. This series shows the cautious canid starting in, then going back out, coming in again and then going back out, over and over.  It took two nights before he finally actually ate at the bones.  Even then, he would eat, then back off, then carefully come back in.  This is how a little 20 lb canid lives in a hostile world.

Cautious coyote checks it out

Cautious coyote checks it out

Moves in...

Moves in…

Moves back out

Moves back out

Moves in again with a little more confidence

Moves in again with a little more confidence

and finally, eats.

and finally, eats.

 

As we continue to get bigger critters – add a golden eagle! February 4, 2013

Another young ‘un, this immature golden is happy to find such a handy snack!  First, he checks it over….

SUNP0245 (640x501)

Then he grabs a bite.  What a deal!

Then he takes a bite.  What a deal for a growing youngster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Magpies, then Ravens and – a Goshawk on carrion! February 1, 2013

While carrion isn’t the usual for Goshawks, they’re certainly not above taking advantage of fresh goodies.  And when you’re a young of the year, now on your own, you are happy to take what you can get!

Immature Goshawk taking advantage of what's availalbe.

Immature Goshawk taking advantage of what’s availalbe.

 

Enter the Ravens. Getting bigger. January 30, 2013

ravens

Ravens replace the magpies at the “food” pile.

While the magpies are often the ones to find the goodies, the ravens are no slouches and are good at spotting food from above.  And if they see a flock of magpies poring over something on the ground, then they know there’s food around.

 

 

Snow stories December 7, 2012

Filed under: ecology,Musings,wildlife — bisonquest @ 10:26 am
Tags: , , ,

After hauling firewood into the house, making fires in each of our outbuildings, plowing roads, slogging through snow to feed the buffs, and sliding across the driveway on ice, some days I have a hard time finding the upside of a snowstorm.  So I take a walk through the meadow covered with a white blanket of snow, watch the white flakes drift to the ground, wrap myself in the hushed silence of a snow filled world, and let the peace of my seemingly empty world envelope me.  Such a peaceful world.

But tracks are all around me – unfolding tales of curiosity and survival, the hunter and the hunted.  They tell of coyotes looking for food, ermine following mice, squirrels scampering from tree to tree, a cottontail scurrying from haystack to chicken house (they know where the food is), dusky grouse nibbling the doug fir buds, even the flight of the great horned owl as her wings sweep the snow.  Activity everywhere I look.  Snow stories.  Reminding me that this isn’t really a peaceful world at all.

One of our resident cottontails who lives by the chicken house.  Safe from coyotes.  Bunnies aren't dumb.

One of our resident cottontails who lives by the chicken house. Safe from coyotes. Bunnies aren’t dumb.

 

We’re wasting electricity – turn on the dishwasher! April 8, 2010

Deer and solar panels

Deer and solar panels

It’s a sunny, breezy day here on the ranch, and Craig just came running into the house yelling, “Turn on the dishwasher – wash some clothes – turn on the lights!  We’re wasting electricity.”  Is this an odd sentence to you?  If it is, then it’s obvious that you don’t have solar panels or a wind generator hooked up to your house.  We have both and on sunny, windy days we make TOO much electricity and, if we don’t use it, it has to just be dissipated.  We aren’t hooked up to “the grid” so we can’t “sell” the power back to the power company – we have to just let it go. We’re looking into getting an electric vehicle of some sort so we can use this extra electricity.  Days like today, we just look at each other and say, “why doesn’t everyone do this?”  I guess it just makes too much sense in a country where everyone is used to relying on big corporations to take care of them.

 

 
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