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Bison Quest Christmas Carols continue – A Hay in a Stranger December 21, 2013

A Hay In a Stranger

A Hay In a Stranger

 

Lions and coyotes and wolves, oh my! December 16, 2013

Wolf tracks - note oval with large claws.  Big, too!

Wolf tracks – note oval shape with large claws. Big, too!

Ok, the other day I shared a mountain lion track and talked about what makes a cat track distinctive.  Well, a few days later we found a very excited herd of bison when we went to feed.  They were snorting and bucking and kicking up their heels, quite literally.  That happens with them, and sometimes for no particular reason except that they feel good, but this time was a little different.  Like they were proud of themselves or something.  It wasn’t until my walk that I found out what had gotten them riled.  Wolf tracks crossing through our aspen drainage.   I followed the tracks and found that, while the wolf pretty much made a straight shot across the ranch, all the other ranch inhabitants certainly didn’t ignore him.  I found where a deer had bounded across the wolf tracks and the buffs had milled around behind the wolf and completely obliterated the his tracks in other places.  It didn’t look like the buffs chased the wolf, and he certainly hadn’t chased them, it was more like the buffs wound around behind the wolf and kept him on the move.  I also found a set of coyote tracks that came up to the wolf tracks.  Stopped (probably sniffed them), then began to follow the wolf tracks – the opposite direction the wolf was going!  That coyote’s mom didn’t raise no dummy!!  So very cool!

Coyote track - wolf track

Coyote track, wolf track. I’ll leave you to guess which is which!

 

Guess who’s coming to dinner – a bull elk invites himself! December 9, 2013

I really LOVE game cameras – they are just so darn much fun.  It’s sort of like getting a Christmas morning every time you go check them :).  We knew someone was eating the hay (ok, we knew what was eating it too – elk tracks are pretty hard to mistake ) but we didn’t know it was this big fella.

Do I hear a camera click?

Do I hear a camera click?

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

 

When it comes to tracks, mountain lions are just a cat. But bigger. December 7, 2013

Just a big kitty track.

Just a big kitty track.

 

As many of you know, I love snow tracking (ok, when one lives at 6000′ in the mountains of Montana, one better figure out ways to enjoy snow!).  And while there are always tracks to follow in the snow, there’s something exciting about seeing big cat tracks just a few hours after they’ve been made here on the ranch.  (Makes one look up at the trees and over one’s shoulder as well :).  And these tracks were just perfect for seeing exactly what identifies these as cat tracks.  Round and round.  Round toes, round print, no claws.  My little housecats have tracks that look just like these.  Only lots, lots smaller.  I’ll compare these to some canid tracks in the next blog.

 

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.

 

Knock 3 Times – and you get buffalo! February 16, 2013

Feeding our bison in the winter is just a matter of driving out to where we last saw them and throwing out hay.  Usually they’re there.  Sometimes they aren’t.  And that’s when that old song by Toni Orlando and Dawn (yes, VERY old song) starts running through my head, “Knock 3 times on the ceiling if you want me, ….  Because I honk the horn three times, over and over until…. HERE THEY COME!  http://youtu.be/3K61YvfxbXA

Knock 3 Times on the ceiling if you want me....

Knock 3 Times on the ceiling if you want me….

 

 

 

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.

 

 

What animal is next? Fun with a game camera. January 15, 2013

Filed under: ecology,wildlife — bisonquest @ 4:28 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

We LOVE game cameras!  Every couple of days we sneak in, swap SD cards and eagerly load the pics onto the computer.  It’s like Christmas – you never know what you’re going to get :)!  So here’s a series of one of our game cameras.  First, it’s the little guys.  Magpies are almost always the first to find the goodies.

Magpies are almost always the first to find the goodies.

Magpies are almost always the first to find the goodies

and they're happy to share with their friends.

and they’re happy to share with their friends.

 

 
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