My daughter Kelly and I were returning from Livingston when we came across a strange scenario in Gardiner Canyon. A late season ewe had tucked herself into a hole on a high ledge. Half a dozen rams lounged about hoping for a chance but none could get her out of her sanctuary.
Time passed and I was about to move on when a big ram suddenly appeared from high above. He seemed to be roughly the same size as a ram that was camped just below the ewe and seemed to have first dibs.
This could be a good fight!
I readied camera and waited. The ram rose to meet the new comer, then the unexpected happened. He merely walked out as the new ram moved in. Their sides brushing against each other as they passed.
One of the smaller rams thought he’d give this new fella a try and he did take one head butt before he was literally pushed off the ledge.
Now the ram made a try for the ewe, but there wasn’t enough room on the ledge and he fell back. Undeterred he circled above and tried a different approach. This time he reached in and gave her a kick. Up she got and he followed her to the ledge below.
Up he rose to mount her and down she went in a sitting position to stop him.
The big fella realized he had been a bit too forward, so preceded to nuzzle and rub his head against hers. After a bit he tried to mount and again she abruptly sat down.
After a bit they scratched out beds and lay down. It would seem a long engagement was in order, so we moved on.
It must be a good year for pygmy owls, because I spotted one east of Phantom Lake today.