A recent study from the Teton Cougar Project has found multiple mountain lions sharing prey in the Gros Ventre River drainage. According to conventional wisdom, mountain lions are solitary animals, expect when breeding and raising young. These researchers have found multiple females and young sharing elk kills and have also noted a male lion in the same location as a female and her kitten. My own experience with bobcats supports what these researchers have seen. I’ve seen multiple male bobcats interacting with females and kittens outside of the breeding season, which the literature says shouldn’t happen.
Crows are such trouble makers… This one decided to antagonize a pair of American Kestrels by seeing how close it could land and creep up to this one. Other than staring at the crow, the kestrel was smart and didn’t react to the crow’s antics. Frustrated, the crow flew off and tried to land next to the female kestrel, who was perched at the very top of the dead pine. Fortunately for her, there wasn’t room to land. In defeat, the crow decided to land on an adjacent branch. I’m not sure about the kestrels, but I know that I got a good laugh watching the crow try to land on the thin dead branch only to have it break and fall. That was the last straw for the crow, and it flew away in disgust.
The young female bobcat put on quite a show on Saturday at Lake Los Carneros in Goleta. She caught and killed a small rodent just before we first spotted her. This cat must be a firm believer that “practice makes perfect” because she spent the next ten to fifteen minutes batting around and pouncing on her prize. This may seem like play to us but it is important that she practice and improve her hunting skills and reflexes.
“Bobcat Leap” – Click on the above image to view it larger.
At least one of our young local Cooper’s Hawks has been doing something very strange. We saw it flapping around and landing very clumsily while carrying a large round object, and couldn’t figure out what it could be until I looked at the photos back home. In fact, the hawk was carrying an oak gall and appeared to be trying to get at the insect inside. For all the work it was doing, it couldn’t possibly result in a satisfying meal.
Some Snowy Egrets at Coal Oil Point were also getting their food in an interesting way. A group of at least four ventured out to the kelp beds and stood on top of the kelp while attempting to both get a meal and not sink. They would hunt and catch small fish while slowly sinking, and then fly up to a “better” spot and repeat the whole procedure. Even a Great Egret got in on the act. It appeared to be better at finding a suitable floating perch but we didn’t see it catch anything. Maybe it just wanted to cool its feet…
“Cooper’s Gall I” – Lake Los Carneros, Goleta, CA
Each year, at least one or two of these birds shows up locally at Lake Los Carneros. (And I’m sure many other nearby places.) But to see many in one place you need to head out to the desert. And this is the best time of year to do just that. A trio of them put on quite a display for me down in Joshua Tree.
“Male Phainopepla” – Joshua Tree National Park, CA
“Female Phainopepla” – Joshua Tree National Park, CA
“The Chase” – Joshua Tree National Park, CA
“Uninvited Guest” – Joshua Tree National Park, CA