Sunday, June 7, 2015

June 7, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I was playing hide-and-seek with a white-tailed deer;  this time there was a different creature playing peek-a-boo with me.  On a quiet morning in the woods I heard crackling of claws on dry bark, similar to the sound a red squirrel makes when running up and down a tree trying to be conspicuous to drive an intruder from its territory.  But this sounded too loud to be made by such a small critter based on the distance over which it seemed to be traveling.  Converting my radar from acquisition to search-and-track, I tried to geo-locate the source. (ok, so I worked in the world of radar and ECM for too long...)  The noise continued, climbing, slowly, higher up into the trees.  Eventually I was able to discern the target - a medium sized black ball clinging to the side of a white pine.   
A black silhouette in the morning

In the dim light of early morning, all I could make out was a silhouette, but the immediate thought was, uh-oh, a bear cub.  As it moved around the tree, I was looking around for mother and considering the best path to retreat, while still keeping an eye on the little guy.  At one point as it moved from one side of the pine to another, I saw a flash of long, busy tail....  Some data point in the threat-identification file didn't compute.

A clue - a long tail
Doesn't a bear have short, stubby tail?  A quick threat assessment determined this is not something to fear;  the most dangerous beast it might be is a fisher-cat, dangerous to a squirrel or a house cat, but not to me.  With the threat level returned to green it was time to gather some more intelligence to try to identify the target.  Watching closely I could see that once again a wild animal had the curiosity to want to figure out what I was as well.  It started playing peek-a-boo with me, looking out from one side of the tree, then climbing around the back of the tree and peeking from the other side.


I had enough data now to make a positive ID;  the goggle-face was the definitive proof -  it was a raccoon.

Raccoons are some of the most intelligent and wily of our local forest inhabitants - you've probably heard stories of how they can use their dexterous hands to open doors and food containers and raid people's kitchens.  They also have an extremely varied diet, eating almost anything they can secure, including insects, worms, eggs, birds, fish, small mammals, and, especially in the late summer and fall, nuts, fruit, corn - almost anything they find or search out.  (Raccoons may have been the source of the large quantity of clam shells I found back on April 19.)  'Coons are strong swimmers and as seen here, excellent climbers. I went on my way so the nocturnal creature could find a spot to snooze away a warm summer day.

As if the red squirrel knew I was thinking about it when I heard claws on the tree, one decided to join into the game of hide-and-seek.

This one was most annoyed by my presence in its territory, sure I was going to raid its stash of nuts and seeds.

It doesn't need to worry about me, nor the raccoon, but this mother turtle certainly needs to (the raccoon that is, not me).

She was out laying her eggs in the ground a good 50 yards from the lake, hoping to be off the raccoon's lake-side trail, as a raccoon finding a bounty of turtle eggs will enjoy a real treat.

Although there are still a few spring wildflowers around, they are starting to pass the baton over to the summer flowers now.  The humming birds, butterflies, and bees don't mind - like a raccoon, they'll enjoy whatever nectar or pollen is available.

A bumblebee enjoying the beauty of Lupines
The natural beauty will be around for the 'coons, the squirrels - and us! - to enjoy for a long time now.
A Larger Blue Flag (Iris versicolor) adorns the shore of Lake Wicwas

No comments:

Post a Comment