Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Eyes that were Watching Us!

This has been a fairly quiet winter in terms of wildlife spotting.  With all the hiking we did, we never saw anything more than a few deer, some birds, and eagles.  However on Sunday afternoon... all that changed!

There were two pairs of eyes in the forest watching my husband as he hiked our property.  He says he felt a presence, and then noted some movement, and saw a baby moose calf rising up off the ground as he was hiking along.  He stopped, and began looking for Momma.  Sure enough, she got to her feet as well, right beside the baby.  As he stood there and watched them, the Momma eyed him for several minutes.  Finally she lifted her head and began to munch on a fir tree close by, while keeping one eye on my husband.  My husband called me, and I quickly came over to watch them.

The above picture was the best shot that we got, and it was taken from my husband's phone.  By the time I got there, the pair had moved further into the deep brush, and it was difficult to get a clear shot of them, without getting too close.  At one point, my husband said he must have gotten a little too close, and she pinned her ears back at him, and he just backed up, and then she went back to eating the fir tree. 

After a while, Momma must have had her fill of the fir, and laid down close to baby.

But she kept a close eye on us all the while.

Even through the dense brush covering in the little clearing she was in, she watched us closely, but didn't really seem to be too bothered about our presence.

I snapped quite a few pictures, but as you can see, the dense brush that she and baby were hidden in, precluded me from getting a clear picture of them.

Once again, I was amazed at how big moose are.  It is really hard to tell in this picture, but they are a very impressively huge animal!

We had hiked around her in a big circle trying to get a better view, and she knew where we were, and looked straight at me most of the time.

But, even so, she wasn't too concerned, because she continued to lie down, and just watch us.

 She and the baby were lying on the snow here with the fir trees around them, so they appeared pretty content.

Another shot from my husband's phone camera of the two of them lying in the snow. 

So, that was pretty exciting for us to see the momma and her baby, and that they let us kind of watch them from a far distance too.  We had plans to climb a tree, or back off quickly if she decided that we were a threat.  Apparently though, she felt that we were not a threat, and let us stand there, and watch them. What a treat to be that close to Momma Moose and her baby. We watched her lick the baby too, and it didn't appear to be very old.  We wondered if perhaps baby had just been born there.

And that wasn't the end to our exciting moose sightings.  The next day, our daughter had taken the dogs out to the woods behind our house for a short hike.  It happened to also be her 18th birthday!  As they were hiking through the woods, she was having fun using her new camera that she had gotten for her birthday.

The dogs were thrilled, as always, to be out in the woods exploring on such a beautiful day.

The snow is melting quick, and the trail through the woods was starting to show signs of spring!

You can see the trees starting to put on new green leaves.  It certainly is an exciting thing to see the signs of spring all around!

The dogs were busy looking in every nook and cranny for new sights and smells to investigate.... when all of a sudden, Annie began to bark furiously.  When our daughter realized what it was, she froze.  Annie was not sure what to do about that big creature standing there looking at her!

Yes, a bull moose right in our backyard!  Annie kept her distance, and my daughter hollered for her to be quiet, and to come.  However, Annie refused to come, but stood her ground, and just stood there watching the moose.

Annie stayed between the moose and our daughter, as if to say, "I will protect you from whatever this is! I've got it covered!"

The moose watched them carefully, and then like the momma moose we had seen, went back to the business of eating the fir trees.

Annie was not sure what to do about this creature, so she just stood there and watched too.

Finally, our daughter decided her luck had lasted long enough, and she backed slowly away, while the moose just watched.  Annie followed her, and yet, stayed behind, and kept watching as they hiked back out of the woods.

When our daughter got back to the house, and told us, it was an incredible moment for all of us. What a treat for her, on her 18th birthday, to get this close to this magnificent creature, and be able to have so many great pictures of it.

But that wasn't the end of the excitement.

Apparently a few hours later, Mr.  Moose decided he wanted more than fir trees to eat.  So, he wandered next door to our neighbors place where they have horses, and lots of hay.  Apparently, he was intent on getting some of the hay, and was meandering around their yard eating whatever he could find.

The neighbors were first aware that there was a moose on the loose when the horses became very disturbed, running around, and making a big fuss.  When they went out to see what the problem was, this is what they saw standing in the woods just outside the horse pen.  They called us to let us know they had a moose sighting.  Of course... my daughter headed straight over to see if it was the one she saw earlier.

And it was.  Mr. Moose was making steady progress towards the horse pen, chowing down on a few trees as he got closer.

Finally, he came out of the woods, and came walking down the driveway, and through their yard, as if he owned it all.

Hi, Mr. Moose... King of the Woods! Glad you stopped by for a visit!

You can see how big these animals are... taller than most of the cars.  As he got closer to the neighbors outbuildings, and house, he must have decided that the cars and house didn't have anything interesting for him, and so he turned, and headed back towards the woodpile.

The girls watched him as he meandered around the yard for a while, and then finally made his way back to the woods behind their house.  This appears to be the same fellow that our daughter saw earlier today.

This has been quite exciting to have all these moose sightings recently.  Now, whenever I'm out in the yard, or woods, I'm looking at every tree, branch, and shrub just a little differently! You never know when one of them might just be a moose in hiding... spying on you! Their dark fur covering helps them blend in perfectly with the trees and leaves right now, making it very hard to tell if it is a moose or not, until it moves! Until spring really arrives, and everything begins to turn green, it is going to be hard to spot Mr. Moose until he moves, or one of the animals spots him first.  But you can bet, we'll be looking for him!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Enjoy Winter While You Can!

We have had a showdown between winter and spring the past week or so.  On Monday, it was all out winter. We got more snow on Monday at one time than we probably got at any one time this winter. Then, on Wednesday a warm front moved in, pushing out all the cold air, and everything began to melt. Last week, I was able to get out and hike three different times.  Which was a very good thing, because this week has not been the best week for hiking at all!  I've learned you've got to make the most of each day while you can.  So, I am going to combine about three different hikes that we took last week in this one post.

I took these pictures on a hike that I took last week.  The weather was overcast but the snow that was just resting on the trees called out to me to come and see... so we did!

Annie was more than ready to go too.

Sometimes when I hike, the snow has already melted off the trees.  I love it when I hike, and the snow is still blanketing these beautiful trees.

As I walked, I had to be very careful.  There was a heavy layer of ice below the thin layer of snow.

You can see here what I mean.  As you would take a step, your foot would keep going and slide underneath you.  I actually slipped and fell several times, and I noticed the dogs scooting across the snow too as we hiked.  The thin layer of snow made it rather treacherous, and slow walking, because of the ice underneath.

That didn't stop the dogs from having fun together, doing their usual wrestling, pouncing, and teasing.

I love this picture of the tree-lined trail covered in thick snow.

When I hike with Annie, I know she is always on super-alert for anything going on around us as we hike.  Hiking gives her a chance to run off some of her built-up pent-up energy.

She was watching Cosmo as he was running through the woods here.  She is very intent on her work of making sure everyone is safe and happy around her.

I was playing with the camera a bit, and turned so the angle of the camera would show a different view of the trail.  It was just gorgeous.

After we left the wooded trail, we stopped by to see Sunny.  She was still eating snow!

She was happy to see me, but kept her eye on the dogs.

She enjoyed being petted as the dogs scuffled around behind me, and she kept a close eye on them.

I don't think Sunny likes getting her picture taken.  She would look at me, and let me pet her if I put the camera down. Such a shy pretty girl!

Because it was so nice to be outside, the dogs and I continued on our walk through the woods behind our home.  Cosmo immediately got excited, and began digging furiously at something under the snow.

Whatever it was, he never found.  But he sure had fun trying!

A few days later, the sun had come out, and the dogs and I set off again to enjoy the brilliant blue skies, bright sunshine, and sparkling snow.

The sun was so bright, and warm, it felt like a heat wave!

Oh, when the sun shines, how beautiful the world becomes!

Annie as usual on her nose-sniffing business...

Snow-capped mountains in the distance...

Eating snow is a favorite thing for dogs to do it seems!

Off to another detective assignment!

A snow covered stump made more beautiful with its snow covering, I think!

Annie on high-alert...

Having too much fun, Annie is now worn out, with her tongue hanging out...

I wish I had her energy!

A few days later I went on another hike with my dear friend SL.  The snow was beautiful, the sun was shining, and it was just another wonderful day to be outside hiking.

The snow had bent this poor tree all the way over our path.  Even though we broke it loose from the snow, it still remained bent over.

The dogs doing their usual nose-to-the ground work...

All three dogs had a wonderful time together running through the woods and sharing their finds with each other.

We had a rather uneventful hike together, but got lots of great exercise as we climbed up and down some hills, and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine.  It was great that we got out and enjoyed the day when we did, because as we returned back to the house, the clouds had begun to roll in, and soon, the sunshine was replaced with overcast skies.  Such is the weather here... you just can never count on it to stay the same for very long, so you must enjoy it while you can!