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What was the cutest thing YOU saw this summer?

27 Jul
From Fauna

This little cutie-pie was the cutest thing I’ve seen . . . so far at least!  Oh, and I have to give credit where it is due . . . I did not take this picture.  My husband did.  My camera card was full so he snapped a few amazing cute pics on his camera.  We saw this little guy (gal?) hanging out by the side of the road at Mesa Verde National Park.  So special.

Mammal Lifer – Big Horn Sheep

14 Sep

Big Horn Sheep #2

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to see a Big Horn Sheep in the wild.  When I was a 7th or 8th grader, we lived in the high Sierras.  In nearby Lee Vining Canyon (the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park), Big Horn Sheep were released into the wild to try to re-establish them as wild animals.  Every time we drove through there, I’d pin my nose to the windows, hoping against hope that I’d see one on one of the steep canyon walls.

I never did.

Really, at this point, I’d given up.  I figured they were rare enough and reclusive enough that I wasn’t destined to see one.  Oh well.  Life goes on.

When we were in the Badlands, this summer, I got the thrill of a lifetime.  I was driving as we returned to our campsite after a long day of driving in this amazingly beautiful park.  We came around a corner and I saw out of the corner of my eye, a Big Horn Sheep on a steep canyon wall.

I don’t know how I managed to avoid driving off the road in my excitement.

I stopped, made a u-turn, and we drove back to a vantage point.  We all ended up seeing it although for a few moments, I’m sure my family thought I was nuts.  It was hard to see.

We continued our drive back to the campsite.  I couldn’t stop talking about how excited I was to have seen a Big Horn Sheep.

Imagine my surprise as we came around a corner and I saw another one.  It was lying down, admiring the view in front of it.  (And it was quite a view . . .)

Two in one day.  Way to end a lifelong hunt!

Looking at things through new eyes

23 Aug

Greg and skunk

Skunks are stinky and annoying.  They are mostly seen dead on the road or viewed with great alarm. You don’t want to hear them in our garbage or tangling with your dog in the middle of the night.  Skunks are not my favorite critters.

And, then I met this one.  The color is evidently a naturally occurring mutation that the petting zoo in Oregon (West Coast Wild Game Park) is admittedly breeding for in their skunk population.  And, of course, their skunks are de-scented.  The soft brown coloring and the gentle sweetness . . .  wow.  They are so cute.

No, I don’t want a sweet-smelling skunk as a pet.  I really don’t.  But, I don’t think I’ll be looking at them with quite so much loathing in the future as they stroll across my yard, sure in the knowledge that no one (except Ruby) wants to tangle with them.

Well, look who we’ve got here . . .

9 Jul

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Hello.  I’m a marmot.  It’s very nice to meet you.

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I’m a yellow-bellied marmot to be specific.  Do you see my yellow belly?  Some people think yellow belly means coward.  However, I am not a coward and I don’t want to hear anyone talking that way, you hear?

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I am a watchful and careful creature but I am not a coward.

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I have a family to take care of, after all.  I have a mate and four cute little marmot babies.

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By the way, do you see how beautiful I am?  I have a long fluffy tail.

Yellow-bellied Marmot family

Like any babies, they are cute and cuddly and sometimes annoying.

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When we are outside, we stay under trees and we watch.  We watch carefully and if anything seems off, I give a warning.

Oh, you want to pay attention to my warnings.

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When I give an alert, I get up on my haunches and put my hands on my hips and I chirp.

Loudly.  I chirp really, really loudly.

Ruby exploring

This makes me chirp.  This is a dangerous creature and must be watched and warned to stay away from my babies.

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I have to tell you.  That thing did not listen to my warnings.  That thing kept watching us back.  It kept trying to chase us.  Most annoying.  I chirped really loudly.

The humans tried to keep it away from us but sometimes it would sneak away and chase us anyway.

I spent a lot of time on my haunches with my hands on my hips.  I chirped a lot.