LITTLE BLUFF JOURNAL - OCTOBER 2021 (previous months)
Little Bluff cabin cam October 19 - If you are on social media much you’ve no doubt seen a gazillion photos about all of the white mushrooms popping up everywhere. Not only are they brilliant WHITE, but they are HUGE, and open up completely flat on top quickly - looking like a white frisbee on a stick - dozens of them (and since white is the first color we notice - even far away - it’s so easy to spot these). Yesterday while out on an afternoon ramble though the woods near the gallery I came upon a tiny red mushroom that was just beginning to peak out of the earth. I got down on my hands and knees for a better look, then had to lay flat on the ground in order to see his little face beneath a brown leaf he seemed to be hiding under. Seems like a lot of everyday life is like that more and more these days - so much vanilla FLASH happening all around us screaming for attention. Yet often the more interesting and beautiful parts of the world are almost silent, hidden away, and all we have to do is slow down and look into the shadows, under the leaves, perhaps right at our feet.
On the other hand, as we were hiking west away from the cabin towards the gallery early this morning the entire forest took on an eerie orange glow - this was before sunrise. I stopped and looked around to see the eastern sky catching FIRE! So I ran back to the edge of the woods and took a snapshot to share with you - it’s quite BRIGHT outside this morning - HAPPY DAY TO YOU!
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(*note that we did not publish an engagement calendar for 2022)
10/01/21 Took a short roadtrip overnight to New Mexico and this is what I found when I got back to camp - NAP TIME!
One of the pup's trails...
10/6/21 (I'm still in Colorado) It was a dark, gloomy, chilly early morning as I set out for my daily hike to the top - spitting rain and high winds took the wind chill down quite a bit, and I had to hike as fast as I could to stay warm (I don’t wear much since I know hiking UPhill will heat me up quickly - unless the wind is blowing too much, then I have to hike really fast). As I rounded a switchback near the top of my route a COLD BLAST of really strong wind hit me in the face, forcing me to turn away to keep from freezing my nose off! When I opened my eyes I saw THIS scene - it was going to be another terrific hike after all!
A little while later as I huddled in the front seat of my cold camper van sipping a frozen spinach smoothie, I watched as two coyotes made their way across the meadow below. At first they looked like young pups, but when I looked closer and saw familiar colorful markings, I realized they were actually really big coyotes that I’d seen before.
Several days ago on a warm sunny afternoon the meadow was filled with a dozen or more fat cows quietly fattening up for the winter. I bet the young calves that arrived back in June are now five times bigger and almost as large as their cow moms! Then I splash of sunshine started to move out of a deep shadow over there at the base of the giant rock. I didn’t need the binocs to know it was a giant coyote - a really big one, and he was walking directly at me!
What a beautiful lush and colorful coat he was wearing - oh my! Most times you see a coyote they are either running away or crossing in front of you - almost never coming directly at you like this guy was. But he didn’t make it too far into the meadow - soon he stopped and walked around in a circle or two (just like our pups do before they plop down for a nap in the weeds), then he too plopped down and basically disappeared into the tall weeds. I grabbed the binocs and was able to find him with the magnification, but no way I could see him without. He seemed to have a smile on his face and was a happy camper.
Then another BIG coyote entered the sunlit part of the meadow and he too headed right towards me at first, then found himself a warm sunny spot in the weed to plop down and disappear. I watched both carefully for a little while - they weren’t napping, but rather scanning their surroundings slowly, always alert. With the binocs I could see their beautiful fur with rich tones of brown and red and gray. The cows just went right on grazing and never gave the coyotes a second thought, and I don’t think the coyotes paid much attention to the cows either - not on their menu I guess.
Whenever I moved the binocs down - even though I knew exactly where each coyote was laying - I could not SEE either one of them. My eyesight is quite good, but these masters of meadow remained hidden. And that got me to thinking. If I could not see them even when I knew exactly where they where, how in the world would I ever spot one while leisurely hiking through the forest or meadow? While I’m sure there have been countless coyotes and other critters just sit there and laugh as I walked right on by never seeing them, I wondered if that night be an issue - me not knowing if they were within quick striking distance and me never able to see them?
So since this was a controlled environment (I knew exactly where both coyotes were) I decided to do an little experiment. I put my boots on and went for a hike - right out into the middle of the meadow. I wanted to see what the coyotes would do - slink down and try to hide, just sit there and watch me, or get up and run. The first two options would not be a good sign, so I was hoping for option #3.
They saw me immediately of course, and then I felt kind of odd having two pair of giant coyote eyes drilling right through me. But I hadn’t gone five steps into the meadow before both vanished in the wink of an eye! I mean, they didn’t even twitch - it was all one instant motion - from being totally motionless in the weeds to flat out gallop and out of sight. While I’ll continue to scan my surroundings all the time, at least I feel a little bit better that most wild critters are going to flee long before I ever see them. Except, of course, for the really hungry ones...
10/07/21 We’ve been seeing a LOT more deer this year than perhaps in all the previous five years of camping out here combined. Especially fawns, and multiples of fawns. I’ve been trying to keep track of them all but a lot of times I’m never sure if what I’m seeing are the same ones or different groups. But as the landscape morphs from summer to fall (colder weather, turning leaves and lots of them being blown off, green pastures gone to golden, almost NO PEOPLE up here where our campsite is located and where I hike them most), I’m able to get a better handle on the population, I think.
As for the resident deer families (these are all mule deer - no whitetail deer like we have in Arkansas), I count about 10 different does - all with babies except for two. Five sets of twins, one set of triplets, and three just single fawns. Almost no bucks, and they tend to move on through and not hang around, although the one really giant buck I photographed a couple of weeks ago has been here at least three times, the others are much smaller, usually by themselves. Doesn’t seem like the “rut” has started here yet - I’ve never seen a buck chasing a doe. But a cold snap headed our way in a few days will probably change all of that, although with only 2-3 single does in this area (the bucks don’t go after the mommas since they don’t go into heat) I may not see much if any action - the boys will be where the most single does are.
It has been interesting to see the changes in fawns not only with the obvious fading away of spots - in fact none of the fawns I see now have spots any more - but also in their behavior - and of greater interest is how mom’s are treating their fawns. One case in point. Early on - when the fawn were fresh - they would pretty much stick close by mom, mimic her movements, and never stray far. And mom always kept a close eye on each fawn, and when I’d appear she would gather her kids and disappear in a flash - no hanging around to see what I was.
For a time mom would allow her fawns to linger around a while and watch me carefully to see what I was up to, but almost always she would give the signal and all would bound off into the brush.
Now most of the time when I appear the moms not only allow the fawns to stick around and study me, but she will often move towards me with them, or at the very least just have everyone stand still out in the open staring at me while I pass. I generally don’t name wild animals like these, but I do speak to or with them from time to time, and always it’s “hey mom” or “hello fawn.” Sometimes now mom and crew barely give me much more than a glance and then go back to feeding or whatever - but I’m sure mom ALWAYS has me in her sights just in case I get out of line!
Momma with twins - the fawns are now as large as a fullgrown whitetail deer in Arkansas!
Over the summer I’ve also seen the deer families gather in different groups - most often a pair of moms with either twins and a single, or once I saw a group of ten deer with moms, fawns, and one small buck. They don’t seem to hang out with the cows at all though, nor have I ever seen deer in the meadow with a coyote. Most all other furry critters have disappeared (i.e., marmots) - guess it’s already bed time for the winter.
Oh, and it seems that the deer have become much more relaxed around our campsite, and I frequently see them near the camper van in the woods - sometimes they will even get on the camping pad and mill around - once within about 20 feet of me and my computer. They are fun and interesting to watch. Here their diet is mostly grass and rose hips - they love rose hips, and we have a lot of the bright RED hips on our little plot of mountainside for them to graze on. Back home in Arkansas this time of year is when the deer fatten up on acorns and other mast that falls from the sky.
10/10/21 Wilson found a little friend on our morning hike back home in Arkansas this morning. Fumny, but when we returned about ten minutes later this shy tiny turtle had opened up and completely left the area - wee could not find him!
10/12/21 Here's a snapshot of a surprise rainbow that appeard this evening - can you see the "cell phone photographer" and his bride in the shadows?
10/15/21 We were blasted awake at 5am with round after round of thunderboomers and a brilliant flashes. There was so much lightning and they came so often that when I dashed up to the office (to unplug our computers I didn’t bother to take a flashlight - even though it was pitch dark still - the lightning lit up the way through the forest! In fact it was quite a beautiful and - dare I use the word - AWESOME! - experience being out in the middle of the woods with such a magical display of light and sound all around me. But at one point it all stopped and the forest sent dark and silent. I stood still and held my breath. Then a LOUD barred owl let out his call - I think he must have been in the tree next to me yelling down “GET WITH IT MAN, THERE’S A STORM COMING!”
And he was correct - just as I got back to the cabin the heavens unleashed their fury with quite a downpour that the weather channel reported containing 1/2” hail and 50-60mph winds. The four of us huddled in bed through it all (the pups tend to climb on top of us during storms). Everyone survived.
10/16/21 Wilson inspects one of 100 mushrooms in the yard - more WHITE mushrooms than I'd ever seen here before.
10/17/21 While on a loop hike through our woods at dawn a brilliant shaft of new sunshine lit up a part of the forest ahead. The sun had just started to appear on a distant hillside behind me, and a tiny bit of it made the way through the thick woods to light up the base of this tree - it was the very first thing in the forest to see sunshine today! The first few seconds of sunshine are often rich and warm like this, but that color fades within a minute or two, sometimes quicker. This is the very same type of light that can light up a distant mountain peak - often called “Alpen glow” when it is the last rays of sunshine in the evening but it’s the same principle - the sun is at the horizon and beaming through the most atmosphere of the day, and all the stuff in the atmosphere creates the color that we see.
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