Rhonda's A 'Muse'-ing Rambles

Life and Times of a Busy Woman

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I saw mountain lion tracks?

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on March 3, 2008

Finding myself a little stir crazy today, I decided to take a walk in the woods, which seem to be rapidly disappearing around my area as the urban sprawl encroaches.

Spring is a little funny this year. It’s been so dry the past few months following all the flooding in early summer. I think all the plants and animals are confused. Friday – yes – in February – a young buck decided to work his antlers on a newly planted tree. Here I thought they had already shed their antlers, but I distinctly remember seeing the little 4 point culprit dance through my yard last week. Boy, was my husband upset! I hope the tree survives.

Back to my walk in the woods. It was nice today, not yet raining although a stray drop or two threatened me. I was hoping to see a few spring flowers in the woods and maybe find a shed to bring home for one of my outdoor classes. When I entered the woods, my first destination was towards where the buzzards have been circling frequently the past month. There was a big presence of them and I sat in the grass and counted as many as 19 in the air at one time. I’d rather see them in the sky, playing in the thermals, with their gorgeous tan underwings and black outlines. On the ground they are plug ugly, but beautiful on the wing.

I didn’t see any recent kills in the area, so I just determined they had found a new place to play and maybe roost this spring. They certainly have enough food source with the highway nearby. I continued on my journey heading west towards the bluffs, hoping that near there I may catch a sight of the goat, a fox or some other unusual animal. Not many flowers have popped their heads up, probably due to lack of water, but I did see ONE small wild purple crocus. Next time I’ll be smart and bring my camera. There is no lack of green as the cedar, live oak, cactus and others seem to grace up with color all year. The trees with bare branches are just barely starting to show a dim green glow of new birth. And yes! One little dogwood tree had flowers, not a common sight around here but a familiar one from my childhood in Missouri.

Yes, our ‘cave’ is still there, as is the security fence place ’round it by the contruction workers. A couple of the six caves I have found have disappeared under concrete in recent years, such a sad loss. The bluff is hard to access, but finally I make my way down the first drop and the narrow trail. I don’t see our resident old goat, but his tracks are around. The fox must be doing well this year as I see more than enough rabbits dodging my path to keep him well fed. I have yet to find his den (the fox) but catch sight of him the past two years and actually lost a couple chickens to the varmint. He’s too pretty to shoot, so I just tighten up the security around my pens and make sure the dogs have patrol access.

Thinking the day is going to be a bust for sightings but a relaxing walk, I head back home. Crossing the old wire fence, I look down and see an interesting track in the dirt. Me being who I am, I get down on my hands and knees and look more carefully at the track, measuring up my own paw to it and careful not to disturb it. I just KNOW that it is a mountain lion track. Although I frequently see coyotes (and tracks), wild dogs and feral cats, I have only seen the actual mountain lion briefly I think once last year. I only see one clear track and a few smudged ones, but I am sure it is a mountain lion. There were no claw marks on any of the tracks, the toes were tear drop shaped and the track more wide than the oval shape of a dog. Yep, it’s a mountain lion track. I’ll have to come back tomorrow if I get the opportunity and make a cast and take a picture. Unfortunately, I think it is finally going to rain tonite,  not just rain – but big wind, hail and downpour type weather are predicted. Drat! But for me, I’ve seen the track and know that wonderful animal is still out there. I hope it found a mate, although we know the one in the area last year was female complete with kits. Our rose killing deer population appears to be substantially down for a change this past winter (hooray), so maybe little Lea has found a home. I don’t really want to tell anybody that the lion is still around, so I’ll just keep the enjoyment (and location) to myself so people won’t panic as many did at sitings last year.

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