Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Warm Fuzzies - Notes from the meadows

Dusk is a magical time up here in the mountains. The temperature drops with the disappearing Sun; a light sweater is welcome when I sit out on the deck with a glass of wine to watch the early evening activity in the meadows and on the pond.

I notice movement in the tree line to the west.  Through binoculars I follow a group of around 50 elk cows moving rapidly into the open grassland. Calves, the size of Great Danes, skip along behind mom. One cow breaks from the herd and heads back to the trees - a lone calf straggles into the clearing - mom races to the little one and they nuzzle.  A wildlife biologist told me that when the cows calve - they leave the calf and stand off at a distance watching - apparently some primitive defense mechanism to lure predators away from the new born. It explains why people frequently report finding 'abandoned' new born. Not so. The mother almost always returns.

On the deck I'm dive-bombed by the aggressive Rufus Hummingbirds who come in to "tank-up" before nightfall.  The dogs move under chairs, out of the way.

 Families of Canada Geese hustle to the water leaving ripples as they cruise in formation across the silver dappled pond  for the safety of the island where they stay overnight - safe from foxes and mountain lions.  Most of the little fuzzball goslings have lost the fluffy feathers and are now pale grey.  A lone Great Blue Heron is up to its "knees" in shallow water fishing. There's great debate around the meadow as to whether or not the supposedly sterile grass carp introduced a couple of years ago to control weeds have spawned. Something breaks the water in - trout? That's the really burning question amongst the guys - "Have the Rainbows survived?"

On the deck with me, Hamish and the "cousin" dog who is staying with us, Rana, follow every movement on the pond. They look at me hoping I'll open the gate and let them go and and play. I don't allow them out off leash at this hour, nor after dark,  too many predators.

I'm never lonely up here - there is always something in nature to keep me company. Last night as I pulled my sweater around me and contemplated moving inside, a Great Horned Owl called to his mate who responded. They have three fledglings this year.

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