A Little Too Close?

On the Prowl for Breakfast

On the Prowl for Breakfast

A pair of coyotes have now been hanging around our field for several days now. We see them early in the morning, hunting for mice and voles in the fields. They have been having a good go of it. I have watched them catch several. They walk quietly across the snow, listening. When one hears something under the snow, it leaps up pounces through the surface with its front paws, and then jams its snouts right down in it. Sometimes they come up with a small mammal in their jaws.

Success in Finding a Vole

Success in Finding a Vole

They have been getting a little too close, however. They are beautiful creatures, no doubt. Watching them, even knowing they are there, is comforting. I like to know we still have predators about. But when they walk right next to the house I wonder if we might have a conflict at some point. I have walked out and made some noise now a couple of times. That scares them off, at least for now.

Walking past the house

Walking past the house

They may den in the woods nearby this spring. This time of year is when they typically start seeking out sites for that, so we may be seeing them for a while. Then again, this may just be a good place to find a few meals for a while. I suppose we will find out over the next few weeks.

Natural Hierarchy

We have lots of tree sparrows at our house. They come for the food. Under the feeder this morning we had a few pecking away at seeds that had fallen to the snow.

American tree sparrows

American tree sparrows

But then some bigger birds came along and shooed the sparrows away. Whatever. The sparrows will be back. But hey, cardinals! A pair of them! Sweet!

Male and female cardinal

Male and female cardinal

Then the mammals came out. A gray squirrel came along and scared off the cardinals. Too bad. But hey, squirrels are cute.

Gray squirrel takes over the seed zone

Gray squirrel takes over the seed zone

The squirrel, however, decided to leave. The new kid came along and, even though it was not interested in seeds from the feeder, intimidated the little furry-tailed guy a bit too much.

Coyote hunting for mice (or squirrels)

Coyote hunting for mice (or squirrels)

I can hardly wait to see what comes next.

 

Blood and Urine

I ran a bunch of errands this afternoon. I finally picked the screws for my sander. I had lost one screw and had to special order a set. I could only get them from one place–Burlington Tool Repair in Essex (not sure why Burlington Tool Supply is in Essex)–so I drove up there and paid $1.82 to get the tool running again. It was cheaper than a new sander. Even on Craig’s List.

I also stopped at Gardner’s Supply and picked up some Liquid Fence to spray on my garden. The stuff is supposed to keep away critters of the mammalian variety who find things like lettuce and cilantro to their liking. Just for the record, this product stinks. I mean it literally stinks. It contains urea from predators, like coyote, that is supposed to scare away the thieving rascals. Once it dries, so the directions tell me, I won’t smell it but the bunnies will.

I had to wash my hands twice and I made sure to store it in the basement, where it is cool, and not in the garage that got to over 100 degrees this afternoon.

Our lettuce is getting nibbled to nubs and one bed of carrots is pretty much toast, so I hope it works. Ah, the adventure of gardening. Those long-eared little hoppers have me spraying canine whiz next to my lettuce. I sound desperate, eh? I want my lettuce.

Damn bunnies.

Critters, No Pics

Yesterday afternoon I was out for a run. On my way towards home, on a narrow stretch of class IV road (dirt, minimally maintained, for those of you with only pavement around you), I was startled by a loud blast of noise. It was a fluttering, blustery, croaking flapping.  It was a turkey. Some think turkeys can’t fly, but that ain’t so. This turkey flew from the field next to the road up into a maple tree. It sat there hiding, as if I couldn’t see it, although I clearly could. People are called turkeys for nothing.

Out where it came from in the field there was… something. That something was a coyote. Its head was poking out of the tall grass, ears pointing up and listening. It looked at me. I looked at it. It had flushed the turkey, the one that got away. The thing is, there was another turkey there. It was meandering through the grass slowly, just its head above the grass, a short distance from the coyote. The coyote eyed it, followed it a little, but the jig was up. There was a human in the picture, and the turkey still on the ground knew it was being pursued. So the canine turned around and headed into the woods on the field’s far side.

I have to admit I was a little elated to see such an event. Nothing happened, but still, these charismatic fauna were playing out the ancient game of predator and prey.  One doesn’t see that every day, and I certainly wasn’t expecting it on one of my usual runs. But there it was. I watched it. I’ll take it.

Afraid of Coyotes?

I shouldn’t be. I mean, I’m a grown man and they are more afraid of me than I am of them. But a couple of weeks ago a woman in Canada was killed by coyotes while hiking.  I hear them howling in the night and find their signs in the road and sometimes right in the driveway. I have seen them only a couple of times around here. They are shy. They run away. Nonetheless, I keep thinking about this weird attack. Why would they attack someone? Coyotes just don’t do that. Well, almost never, but not never, obviously.

This morning it was dark again as I ran, and I ran down Leavensworth Road, which passes through a bower of trees at one point. I could run without a light for a good deal of my run, but in that shaded tunnel I had to turn on my headlamp. I couldn’t see what was in front of me well enough to run without a light. And I’m thinking that I have seen coyotes on that road. And I’m thinking of this tragic story. And I’m thinking of the coyotes I heard howling in the night, seemingly right outside the house. And I’m finding myself watching the woods, or what I can see of the woods. And I’m feeling not scared, exactly, but watchful.

This is silly, of course. I should more afraid of some nut job who wants to take me down and drag me off to some far off barn to torment me. I should be more afraid of getting plucked off by a speeding motor vehicle. I should be more afraid of a heart attack for Chuck’s sake. But the human brain does not work in such a rational manner in the dark when running, which, anthropologically, is something humans did in days of yore when being chased by wild beasts such as large canines. So I have a tinge of what you might call concern, even though my rational thinking is just to be happy. Not that I’m not happy. I just don’t want my abdomen ripped open by teeth designed for such business so some poor carnivorous creature can have a bloody meal.

I am not afraid of coyotes. If there were wolves around here, well, then I would be, at least at times, f***ing terrified. But coyotes? They eat bunnies and mice. OK, they eat deer, too, which are large mammals that can run a hell of lot faster than my puttering middle age upright mass of humanity. But they run away from people. They don’t eat people. I guess the coyotes up in the great white north didn’t get the memo. I makes me wonder if the ones around here have been paying enough attention. So a public note to them.

Hello, Canis Latrans, listen up: I am not breakfast and my sweaty, gristley body will not be all that tasty, even if you are just looking to survive and don’t care about gustatory satisfaction, I’m telling you you will want to eat something more to your liking, like a deer, or a bunny or two, or a nice mice plate laid out with some fruit, and maybe a little jus dipping sauce; just don’t eat me because I will punch you in the nose anyway or poke your eyes out with my opposable thumbs and use my superior brain to outwit you by hiding in a tree and I know you can’t climb trees like foxes can sometimes and just forget about me, will you, because we have guns and can kick your asses all over the place.

I am an animal lover but I wouldn’t take any coyote attack lying down, if you know what I mean. I even imagined carrying a knife with me when I was running this morning. Sheesh. Even if I might taste like it, I’m no chicken. If you see any coyotes around here, tell them that for me, will you?