Before letting your cats roam, it's always best to make sure they're wearing their ID collars.
Because you just never know where they might pop up. :)
Such as in this little grove of high-meadow aspens in the eastern Sierra Nevada:
Where I had set my trusty and fast Reconyx:
Reconyx in aspen grove at edge of sub-alpine meadow
The first collared kitty to the scene arrived on July 21st, at 4:49am:
Mountain lion slinking into small clearing in aspens
Nice looking collar
Pausing for a little log sniffing and marking
And off to the next episode
Being a Reconyx trail camera, the quality is obviously not great. But... it is amazingly fast - taking photos once per second - which can make for fun flipbook-style videos:
Full 30 shots caught of b&w collared cat as it checked out the clearing and log
8 days later, at 6:43pm, another cougar strutted in from the meadow. At first, seeing the collar, I thought it was the same lion. But, the faces and collars are quite different.
Collared cougar #2 comes into the clearing - note the torn up nose and right ear
Sniffing the scent marks left by previous visitors, such as b&w cat
The collar is reversed from b&w cat, which has the bulkier battery pack (?) on the right of the flatter, square box (holding electronics/antenna?)
Them some serious shoulders
That collar is looking a little beat. Is that a USB connector?
And off color cat goes...
Day kitty didn't hang about for as many frames, but here's the flipbook vid of its pass through:
12 still flipbook vid of the collared color cat exploring scene
Come to find out, the collars are likely part of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Recovery Program, being managed by Cal Fish & Game. Limiting predation while the herds are trying to get established is typically an important part of these kinds of re-population programs.
In fact, I've heard from local biologists that it'll be surprising if I get many pumas w/o collars. That sounds like a challenge... :)
Also, 2 kitties 8 days apart on the same spot is generally no coincidence, of course. Cougars don't casually cross each others ranges, so we can speculate that it's likely these 2 are related, such as sisters, or one is a female and one is a male, and this is a territory overlap.
My gut leans towards the latter - with the stocky, split-nose color cat being the male.