Posts Tagged ‘coyotes’

Cat No. 6 — Happy Fat Cat with Blue Eyes

          Somewhere around 5 a.m. this morning, a nearby pack of coyotes begin to howl.  My canine bed-partner Scamp sat up beside me and listened – and continued in that same position until I finally got up at 6 a.m. to walk him.

          The coyote howls brought back the time I had encounters with coyotes on Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake. I saw one or two often, especially when I visited the island to bird watch in winter.

          Once, when I was researching a story about coyote research at Utah State University, a playful coyote stole my camera bag. I admire the animal’s survivability, despite mankind’s desire to eliminate the species. 

          I live in Tucson, a city of more than half a million people, in a large apartment complex, near the corner of two busy four-lane roads, with banks, grocery stores, a MacDonald’s, two bagel places, a Starbucks, an animal clinic, two pharmacies, an Ace Hardware, a UPS office, several restaurants, and more businesses to the north and east.

          South and west of me is a scattered residential area broken up by desert ridges, washes, and even a dry river bed, to accommodate the area’s occasional monsoons, which recently have been rare.

          If you like having all the conveniences of a city but still a bit of nature in your life, as I do, it’s an ideal place to live.

I’ve seen bobcats in the parking lot, great horned owls raising chicks in large trees I walk by daily, rare North American birds from my third-floor balcony, and once or twice passed by javelinas that came into the complex when someone left a gate open.

          And then there are the coyotes that serenaded me and Scamp this morning. It was a good song, I thought, remembering my recent repair bill because desert packrats got into my car’s engine compartment.

Without coyotes, the desert rodent population might rise to take over Tucson. Just because they are different from us doesn’t make them evil.

          Hmmm! Now that’s a thought that can be expanded on.

          Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.


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 Oh What a Beautiful Morning …

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the faster lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lions wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle … when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

First view of Lake Arrowhead's sunrise -- Photo by Pat Bean

A Howl of a Sunrise

Five minutes later ... Photo by Pat Bean

When Pepper and I stepped out of the RV on our last morning at Lake Arrowhead State Park. It was to a chorus of howling coyotes.

My new canine companion perked her ears up, listened for a couple of seconds and then joined their chorus. What a great traveler she’s going to make, I thought.

Then I stepped around the side of my RV, Pepper’s leash in one hand and a cup of cream-laced African coffee in the other hand, and watched the sun rise.

Every morning should have such a great start.

Bean’s Pat: The Greening of the Great Egret  http://tinyurl.com/br8fhd A great bird decked out in its courting colors.

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“A rare experience of a moment at daybreak, when something in nature seems to reveal all consciousness, cannot be explained at noon. Yet it is part of the day’s unity.” – Charles Ives.

Bird Talk

Greater roadrunner -- Photo by Joanne Kamo http://www.pbase.com/jitams

I bird when I drive. While I can’t identify every bird that comes in view through my windshield, I have learned the tricks to identifying many. A red tail glinting in the sunlight from a large overhead bird is most certainly a red-tailed hawk.

Brown birds with yellow throats that flash white on their tails as they dash away are meadowlarks. Kestrels present a hunched profile as they sit on wires. Northern Harriers have a broad white band on their rumps as they circle above, and mockingbirds flash white on their wings and tails as they swoop from one tree to the next.

Looney Tunes' version of the roadrunner

I saw all these birds and more this week as I drove through Texas’ Hill Country. They’re birds I see on almost every drive I take through the Lone Star State landscape.

What I don’t see often are greater roadrunners, like the pair I saw just outside of the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area on Friday. Since I don’t see them as often, the sight of them thrilled me more than did all the others I saw this day.

It’s sad that the rare bird takes the attention away from the more common, yet just as fantastic bird. It’s human nature – and of course we’re not just talking birds here.

The underdog: Wile E. Coyote as Looney Tunes saw him.

The sight of the roadrunners took me back to my childhood – and the Looney Tunes’ cartoons about Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. The funny looking bird always came out on top, which is probably why I always rooted for the coyote. Back then I felt more in tune with underdogs than winners – most kids do, I think.

Today I root for them both. The roadrunner because I’m passionate about all birds and the coyote because I admire this animal’s will to survive in the face of human development.

The truth is I’ve actually seen more wild coyotes than I have roadrunners. The pair I saw Friday only brings my total sightings of greater roadrunners up to about a dozen. But since more of my birding is taking place in Texas these days, I expect that number will begin increasing.

Wouldn’t that be fun. Beep, beep!

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“Life is too short to sleep on low-thread-count sheets.” – Leah Stussy

Travels With Maggie

I suspected raccoons, of which there are too many here at Lake Walcott, of causing the wee-hour disturbance, but she sheriff's deputy said it was a two-legged night wanderer. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A knock on the door in the wee hours of the morning is never good. But if you’re a campground host at a small Idaho park, as I have been all this summer, at least the first thought that runs through your mind is not “Who died?” ‘

Last night’s 1 a.m. knock on my RV, which wasn’t actually necessary because the headlights pulling into my site already had me hopping down from my over-the-cab bed to check out what was going on, was a sheriff’s deputy informing me that he had gotten a 911 call about some man wandering through the campground. The campers in tent site 27, he said, had made the call.

“Perhaps it was raccoons,” I voiced. “They get into everything at night.”

“Nope. I found the man. He’s parked down by the boat docks, drunk as a skunk and loopy as well. Gave me some story about UFOs,” the officer said. “I ran his license plates and he didn’t have any warrants out on him, so I just left him to sleep it off in his truck. But I thought someone should know.”

I thanked him for the information, and he told me to call 911 immediately if the man gave any more trouble.

I went back to bed, but of course not back to sleep. This was the third time this season that I had been awakened because of my campground host duties.

The first one involved me getting dressed and going down to the tent area to tell some idiot he couldn’t run his generator in the middle of the night to power floodlights around his tent.

“Ah. The generator’s going to run out of gas pretty quick,” he said in a “you gonna make me kind of way.”.

Lake Walcott sunrises are worth rising early to see even if sleep was stingy during the night. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Now,” I said in my sternest mommy voice to the large red-faced guy with the paunchy stomach.

“OK,” he said, this time rather meekly, and wandered over to turn the noisy contraption off.

I love that mommy voice.

The second time I was awakened in the middle of the night here at Lake Walcott, it was a young couple with an infant who had been on the road until after midnight. They had forgotten the combination to the cabin they had reserved. Fortunately I knew it, and was soon back in my comfy bed, but of course not back to sleep

Of the many bits of trivia that floated through my head keeping my brain from shutting down last night was the time I had been the one to pound on a campground host’s door at 4 a.m. I was supposed to meet up with a group to hike to a place where we could see rare red-cockaded woodpeckers emerge from their nests at dawn – and had lost the combination to the gate lock.

I sure hope the bleary-eyed guy who gave it to me had an easier time getting back to sleep than I was having, I thought as I listened to Maggie’s snuffling snores beside me, and the yowling of coyotes off in the distance somewhere. Too bad he couldn’t know I was getting paid back for waking him.

Yup! What goes around comes around. It’s the only thing that makes life somewhat fair.

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