Bear sightings have long since ceased to be a treat. I fixed the screen on the "potty shed," then splashed some paint on some of the trim where paint had flaked off. Whenever something gets broken or damaged I always try to make it better than it had been before the incident.
There'll be no more bear bottoms in this potty shed. Late this afternoon I put up cattle panel fencing on top of the screen.
And also added a screen guard over the area the bear had exited from.
It was really depressing to get to CMO and see so much damage. If it had rained and everything was lush and green and birdy, it wouldn't have been so bad. That would have been cheering. No Lucifers showed up today so I assume they're gone for four months. Don't know if they left sooner because of the lack of feeders or not. BEAR tore down one I had left for the Lucifers and I still can't find all the pieces to it. Don't have a clue what he did with them. Then he bent the pole on the thistle feeder and rearranged all the rocks in the area.
He took down a feeder back by the water feature that had been hung real high in a tree. He had to have climbed the tree to get to it. And he broke two screens on my Potty Shed and tore everything inside apart. There was nothing edible in there so I thought he'd stay out. He pulled down most of the clean stored feeders looking for sugar water apparently. I believe he went in through this window.
And out through this screen.
Here is how he left it.
And here it is after I spent a couple of hours cleaning it.
I'll repair the exit screen opening tomorrow. I started off puny this morning and totally wore myself out pruning broken limbs, removing this guttering he tore up, and other stuff too numerous to mention.
He repeatedly smashes my lovely stand of Horsetails.
Here's just one of many broken limbs on the Live Oaks. He tore them up again and I figured out why. Some of the acorns weren't ripe so he left them. There are still some green ones on the trees. And some ripening ones. I knocked down what I could find but you can be sure he'll be back looking for ripe ones. Woe is me!
He left this souvenir.
It has been suggested to me that I contact Texas Parks and Wildlife and ask them to come remove the bear. But that isn't feasible. They could come here and wait day and night for two days without seeing him and then after they leave he may return ...or not. I'm sure they won't camp out here that long for a non-aggressive bear. I have to be realistic. If I see him again, I could throw rocks at him. Doubt it'll help. At best, he'd return in the night when I wasn't there, and at worst, he'd attack me.
I was hoping he would soon hibernate, but have been disabused of that notion. He may be holed up near here and come around periodically looking for food. For more info on the subject: https://www.nps.gov/bibe/learn/nature/bears.htm
"Black bears do not enter true hibernation in Big Bend. Due to the area's mild climate and the availability of food, black bears are dormant for only three to four months (January–March) each year. When their metabolism slows during the winter months, they spend time resting in dens or surface beds. However, they are awake much of the time, and may periodically emerge to forage.
I picked all the tomatoes and we brought in the Bougainvillea. Alpine got a hard freeze last night. Our phone and internet were down all day yesterday and today, so didn't blog. Apparently an AT&T line was cut between Monahans and Ft. Stockton.
I've been real puny lately, and have a red inflamed eye, besides my usual shoulder and back pain. Winter depresses me anyway, but I'm trying to stay upbeat. Here are the tomatoes before I picked them yesterday.
As the green ones ripen indoors we should still be able to enjoy garden tomatoes for the next month or so.
The big bad bear was there to greet me when I went down this morning. Before he left he pulled down the feeder hanging high on a rope near this seed feeder. Broke the hanger on it.
Also broke another branch on that first Chinkapin Oak tree he had pulled down around him the other day. I'm sure there were no acorns left on it. He was just making sure, I guess.
I raised the canopy feeders even higher, since they had been the height of that rope feeder. There are still 2 feeders in the open hummingbird area that I know he can get to if he wants to, but the Lucifers need them. Haven't seen one hummer at the canopy feeders yet. I saw two male Lucifers fighting over their favorite feeder this AM. One was this juvenile.
And the other this adult male. These will undoubtedly be the last Lucifer shots for the year.
Got to CMO to devastation. But I'm winning. The bear had pulled down and broken 5 of the 8 feeders I had up. Most problems I can fix, like a broken hanger. I make wire ones.
Repaired one on the right
But when he breaks off the perches, there's nothing I can do. I try to glue the loose ends back on but it usually doesn't last long.
Broken one on the right
I decided to hang feeders from the canopy that I know he can't reach. The birds don't like them there as much, but better than nothing. This time of year it doesn't matter that the canopy feeders are vulnerable to rain, wind, and sun. Not much wind or sun, and no rain. I'll probably take them down when I'm sure he's gone.
Of the 3 feeders that he didn't get (of the 8) one was in the back east wooded area that I had suspended from a rope high between two trees, and one at the west wooded area that I had hung high in a cypress tree way out on a limb that wasn't strong enough to support him. Then one in the hummingbird garden area that was an inch higher than one he did get down. Either he was saving it for later (he doesn't get them all at one time, even though he could), or he couldn't quite reach it. It had lots of wasps on it, so he probably managed to swing it. I raised it another inch.
The reduction in feeders caused half my hummers to leave. The 3 Anna's are still around. One at each woods feeder and one in the courtyard at the house. But I had at least 3 Lucifers when I left here, and now I only saw one. And the Rufous I didn't see today either. The Anna's dominate their chosen feeders, so the Lucifers were relegated to the 5 feeders that were pulled down. The one Lucifer I did see today was doing his best to dodge the wasps on that high feeder left to him.
He climbed and broke a limb on one of the oak trees that I had flailed. I'm sure I had probably missed an acorn or two. And he totally trashed the back seed feeder. Two years ago he (or one like him) made the front one unusable. I think I can still use this back one.
I had a lid on the inserted can of seed, then over that a bigger heavier yellow lid. On that I had a big rock. Here's the inside lid. He pretty much turned it into a taco shell.
Gonna try leaving it off and just going with the big heavy lid and a bigger rock. Or not feed until he leaves.
Here's a Mexican Agapema (Agapema anona)silkmoth that my friend Tripp Davenport ID'd for me. My sister took the photo on her window screen a week or so ago. Wish I had seen and photographed it. Very beautiful. Would be a lifer for me.
I spent several hours at the oasis this morning before heading to town. Sometime between when I was there at dusk last night and this morning he had ravaged one of the Live Oaks. It was one that was too big for me to make much headway in flailing the acorns, and by the time I got to it, I was exhausted. He climbed up high in that oak and broke a lot of limbs. I pruned as best I could but was unable to get high enough in the tree for one broken limb, so it's still dangling there. The two smaller oak trees that I knocked most of the acorns off, he left alone. But I came to town late morning. Not sure he won't be back, but I hope not. Another feeder had been broken too.
I cleaned and repaired the feeders, then hung some more. Hoping he won't be back, or if he is, he'll not pull them all down. My hummers depend on the feeders. Here's a video I took of him eating acorns off the ground yesterday after I flailed down what I could.
Back in town we had a Gray Fox in the street eating scraps my husband had thrown out.
Still in recovery mode. Gonna take a long soaking bath tonight.
It has been a weird crazy day. If someone would have told me I'd be watering trees this afternoon while a bear was roaming all over the place, I wouldn't have believed them. But after he left this morning I flailed as many of the acorns from the Live Oak trees as I was able. He (confirmed male, big male) returned around 5 PM, got a drink of water, then started foraging on the acorns on the ground. Since I only got about a third of them, or less, it remains to be seen whether he'll climb the trees.
I was beary nervous and truly saw a bear behind every tree, whether he was there or not. These photos make him look little, even cuddly, but he was huge.
As with any natural disaster, damage reports began trickling in. I found a thistle feeder ripped down that I had forgotten to remove. And a hummingbird feeder pulled down.
The feeder was all muddy with dirt and saliva. When I was washing it I noticed this tooth mark in it.
Here's how it would normally look.
I dread what I'll find when I get down there in the morning. Here's the Chinkapin Oak after I finally was able to clean it up. That's a huge Live Oak in the background. It didn't make acorns this year, thankfully.
UPDATE: Just at dusk I went down to the oasis to see the situation. Two feeders that I had hung 7 and 8 foot above the ground were pulled down and apart. I can glue them back together, but this means I have no feeder out of his reach. Hmmm.
A very educational experience too. From the beginning:
Headed for CMO before daylight and nearly hit a deer south of Alpine. I braked and swerved as it darted right in front of my pickup, knowing as I did, that I would still hit it unless it braked. Thankfully, the deer braked and jerked back, barely missing getting hit. Whew!
Daylight was just dawning as I turned off highway 118 onto Terlingua Ranch Road.
At CMO I stopped to unload the ten bags of birdseed I had brought with me. Then I went and filled seed feeders. Normally I go unload the pickup at the house first. But today was cool and I had extra ice in my ice chest, so I tarried at the oasis. I noticed the chair cushions in the back viewing area were tossed around in a way that the wind couldn't do, so must have been a bear. Then I heard crunching across the wildlife pond that I was sure was a bear. I ran to check, and sure enough, a Black Bear was working on my smallest Chinkapin Oak. I figured I'd take photos first real quick and then try to chase it away with mace and maybe save the tree.
After a few minutes photography, and hearing the limbs on the oak tree snapping, I ran for the mace. As I approached the bear, I sprayed lavishly. A cloud of orange mist appeared between me and the bear, and it continued foraging. So I moved closer and sprayed the tree he was casually pulling down around him. Oops! I had walked into the fog of mace and immediately my bronchial tubes began closing. Minutes left to live unless I could save myself. I ran for the pickup, where luckily I hadn't unloaded anything from (at the house) yet. Grabbed my purse for the Albuterol inhaler I keep there and couldn't find it. Knew there had to be one in the little plastic tote that I carry from home to home. It hadn't been unloaded at the house yet either. By then, I couldn't get any air into my lungs. So I couldn't inhale the inhaler when I did locate one. Sprayed it into my mouth and tried the best I could. Frantically, over and over. Simultaneously, I began driving to my sister's house. Nothing she would be able to do, but it seemed like what I should do. Nearly halfway there I was starting to take some wheezy breathes. So I sat there a bit, then turned around and went back to the oasis. Squirted some Futicasone in my nose, plus a dose from my Futicasone inhaler. When I was back to normal breathing I wanted to survey the damage.
It was bad. When I tried to clean up the mess, the mace residue on the leaves again gave me trouble breathing. So I'm forced to wait on trimming the broken limbs.
The bear? After the second spraying of mace he ambled a few feet away, then came back and finished up the acorn feast. A while later, I went to remove the seed feeders so that if he came back he couldn't ravage them, when suddenly he popped up beside me, seemingly out of nowhere. I yelled and waved my arms and he slowly ambled away. Haven't seen him since. He couldn't have enjoyed those mace-covered acorns.
Lessons learned? First, never use mace. Ever. Second, never be without Albuterol. I'm horrified to discover that the one from my purse is missing, as well as the one from the house here. Wonder if I even have one in town. Going to remedy that situation. And the third lesson is not to fear a bear unless maybe it's a mother with cubs. Here are a couple of stills I shot.
Most anything about the Big Bend area is fascinating to me. A year ago this week I visited Ruidosa (post of Oct 16, 2016). Today I came across some photos of the church that are older than the ones I posted then. Since I'm stuck in town today, I do my exploring via the internet. And going back in time is the best! Here's what I came up with. This is the oldest photo I've been able to find of the church. It was built in 1914, so this circa 1918 shot gives one a really good idea of what it originally looked like.
It was still looking good in 1931.
And not too bad in 1963.
But by 1989 it was in serious decline.
I think it was about at its worst when this 2004 photo by Tom Rinard was taken.
Then around 2006, a poorly-funded, short-lived, restoration project took place.
And here's the church as it appears today.
Wish it wasn't so far down there. Would love to go back this week. I hope it gets restored before it's too late.
I have lived in the Christmas Mountains since 1976, and started my oasis in 1996. You may contact me at email@example.com for visiting instructions if you are a birder or naturalist. No minors. Pet rules are the same as for Big Bend National Park.