Tag Archives: Wildlife

Mouse hunting

My thoughts are with the local coyotes as they are in the regional news this weekend.

That was when they came on the coyotes, two females hunting in the open. They were a mile or so from the hollow that fed Bitter creek, not a place Deanna would have gone looking for them. It was a clearing where fallen trees had opened the canopy, letting the sun onto a patch of forest floor that now grew thick with a red carpet of new blackberry leaves. At first she thought they were dogs, they were so big: thick-furred behind the ears like huskies, and much stockier than the scrawny specimen she’d seen in the zoo or any western coyote she’d seen in photographs. These two appeared golden in the sunlight, arching their backs and hopping through the foot-deep foliage, one and then the other, like a pair of dolphins alternately rolling above the waves. They were on the trail of something small and quick beneath the leaves and grass. Probably a vole or a mouse. They paid no attention to the pair of humans who stood with their boots frozen in the shadows. Focused entirely on their pursuit, their ears twitched forward like mechanical things, tracking imperceptible sounds. Like two parts of a single animal they moved to surround and corner their prey against a limestone bank, tunnelling after it with their long noses. Deanna watched, spellbound. She could see how efficiently this pair might work a field edge, pursuing the mice and voles they seemed to prefer. No wonder farmers saw them often and feared for their livestock; if only they knew that they had nothing to lose but their mice. It occurred to her as she watched them that this manner of hunting might actually be helpful to ground-nesting birds like the bobwhite, because of the many passages it would open through the tight clumps of fescue.

~Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer, p 196-7

Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer - book cover from www.kingsolver.com

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Duet

This morning serenaded by two owls calling back and forth with each other. Has gone on for some time and continues now. Coming from the direction of the park where the owl took up residence this past summer. Never heard anything like this before.

Magpie youth

Baby magpie grounded

This week baby magpies left the nest in the neighbourhood. So cute with their little tails, concentrating hard on short, inexperienced flights.

This morning I saw something I’ve never seen before – young magpies with light grey markings* where normally they are blue-black. They look so different I wouldn’t have thought they were the same kind of bird, but they were behaving like other young magpies, making the same calls with other magpies, and seemed to be part of a family of normally marked magpies. Possible!?

(*Not pictured here – didn’t have my camera with me!) 

Owl

A pale owl flapped to the top of a spruce tree in the park this morning, and sat there, stone still. Very rare sighting.

Eleven crows flying northward, chatting. (close attention to their silhouettes this time, plus it’s lighter now for morning walks – yay (solar) spring! – definitely blunt-tailed, smooth ruffed crows, not V-tailed craggy ravens.)

> It’s somewhat warmer today, after a week of chill-you-to-the-bone, and lots of deep snow remains everywhere.

This morning all the neighbourhood squirrels are out industriously clipping and dropping long green spruce cones from the trees, creating a steady “plunk” throughout the alleys.

Our resident squirrel – a yearling who has set up shop under our garden shed – is nimbly flowing out to the slender branch tips of the bur oak in his quest for the last remnants of acorns, occasionally slipping in the insubstantial branches and hanging precariously with a squeak! of alarm.

Squirrel in oak tree

Where’s Waldo!

Although no other squirrel is after his treasure mine, he must contend with a curious blue jay who stops by from time to time.