Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A mile from home

Last week Stella and I were taking one of our regular walks at Ellington Agricultural Center. The landscape looks as if it's been dipped in squash blossoms and Thanksgiving dinner this time of year. Aside from the police horses that live there, an occasional turtle, and one small fox, we've not had as many wildlife encounters there as one might imagine. If we had, I expect the dead cat would've been more of a tip-off.

It had been there for a good long time. Stella's nose was clearly off-duty when we walked up on it and praise Jesus, I was able to steer her away from it before they met. We crossed paths with the coyote shortly thereafter.

I saw it in the distance and thought it was a fox. Stella saw it too. Pretty color, I thought. It matched the tall sandy grass and then it turned in our direction and moving at a steady clip, it began to get a lot bigger. I ordered Stella to stop and sit. Her immediate response confirmed my suspicion that it wasn't a fox at all. When it saw us, it froze. Me and Stella were already frozen.

When the coyote decided to turn back I was relieved and we headed for the big field at the bottom of the hill. The coyote did too but we were paying close attention now and when we walked into the field it stepped out of the tall grass (about 150' feet away) and sized us up again. This time, it was Stella and I that turned back.

I hope that makes us even.

Today we went back again and although we walked with a renewed perspective, the only wild critter we ran upon - used to be a possum. Much like the kitty, it had been professionally killed. Surely there's a hawk or a big owl cutting in on that coyote's gravy train, it's doubtful the coyote would've left enough of the carcass to identify.

To be honest, I hadn't planned on writing about the coyote encounter at all. The idea for this post started with the (profound) observation that Stella was so excited when she got out of the car this afternoon that her butt was moving faster than her head, but I guess I can write that one anytime.


Susan Rose said...

I'm glad your encounter wasn't too close. Stella is such a good girl for obeying your command.

Do you know if coyotes will attack adult humans?

This makes me think of my impending move to California where mountain lions live, hunt and EAT. State parks post signs of what to do in case of an encounter: 1) Look as big as possible. 2) Don't turn your back or bend over. 3) Keep your children close. 4) Stay with your group.

Now what's a girl to do if she's independent and likes to strike out on her own when the photography mood hits? (There's nothing worse than having "chatty Cathy" along on a photo safari.) Maybe I could buy some cougar repellant. I'm open for suggestions.

susan said...

Thanks Susan, I don't think coyotes typically attack humans although there was a recent report of it in Nova Scotia. I'd say the cougar rules could be transferable. It sounds nutty but if I were out shooting in cougar country alone, I'd consider wearing a poncho or a cape. When are you moving?

Susan Rose said...

Hi, Susan. I plan to be moved within six months. I don't want to miss watching my granddaughter grow up. It's difficult to only see her twice a year.

Beverly said...

I love living where the wild things are, but they can surely wreak some havok...Your landscape shot is just gorgeous. It's very seldom that I see a fall foliage shot that captures the aura of the day. You did so good! xo to you and Stella.

Beth W. said...

Line I wish I had written: . . ."landscape looks as if it's been dipped in squash blossoms and Thanksgiving dinner." Most fantastic.

Re coyotes, I think you & Stella together are fine, but when the coyotes are moving into the 'burbs and learning that kitties & puppies are so sweet and tender, one hopes they don't move on up the food chain. I don't begrudge them dinner, I just don't want to be it. In our woods here, because of some closer than comfortable recent woman/coyote encounters, I have taken to carrying my Lady Smith along with my camera. Not with intent to kill or wound, but to make a big noise and scare away. Also carry my cell phone. There could be 2-legged deer poachers in the woods, too.

susan said...

Thanks Beverly, Beth- the big noise sounds like great advice to me.