Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mutual of Chapel Hill's Wild Kingdom

Oh my good gravy. I have been wanting to post about these events for the past few days and I finally had to say screw it and take the time to write about it.

It is becoming like wild kingdom around my house. The plethora of deer is nothing new, nor are the masses of turkey, but lately, new faces have been making an appearance, and they deserve to be mentioned.

Saturday morning I woke up early around 7:30am (early for a saturday), and just happened to look out of the back window. To my surprise, there were two 'dogs' lying in the backyard. Well, let me clarify, one was sprawled out on the ground and the other was just kind of sniffing around. They looked like puppies. Actually, they looked like wolf or coyote puppies. Since wolves are not known around my parts, I thought they may have been coyote pups. But they were black in color. I thought that perhaps they are this color when they are born so as to 'blend into the dark of night'. Who knows.. I haven't had time to research and find out for sure. One thing I was sure of, they were wild. The one that was sniffing around, as it turns out, was actually hunting for small things in the grass. As I watched in awe, it would sniff around and then pounce, pull it's head up while chewing on something. The other one would raise it's head up from time to time to see what was going on, but for the most part, it didn't move much.

I wanted to take a closer look, but I knew if I went outside I would scare them away. So I watched some more. As I watched, the 'active' one decided to make a bee line for my chicken coop. Then I suddenly realized why my chickens had previously been disappearing. These little bastards were having a feast at my expense.

After the one was out of sight, I walked outside to check on the one that was still lying there. I walked to within 15 feet of it or so before it popped its head up, saw me, and then jumped to it's feet. We both stood motionless for several seconds staring at each other. I could see the wild in it's eye. It looked just like a coyote, but it was all black with blotches of brown speckled throughout it's coat. Every couple seconds, it would flinch as if it was trying to fake me out, like it was going to make a run for it. I quickly grew bored of this encounter, so I slowly raised my hands and clapped them together. That was all it took for the little guy to make a run for it. He darted into the woods, and when he did, I noticed it was injured. It's hind leg was stiff and it was not putting any weight on it.

Since then I have not seen the little guys, but I did see a full grown coyote in the driveway. That was a first. I had always heard them howling at night, but I had never seen one up close on my property. There must be a lack of food or something, or they think they can get a free meal since I had let the chickens roam free for so long. Since the rash of chicken deaths, I have kept the remaining three (from a total of 21) in the coop behind closed doors.

And that ladies and gentlemen is not the most exciting part of wild kingdom at my house.

On Sunday, I was playing around with my video camera, when I noticed two hawks circling overhead. They were having a dispute over territory, and screeching at each other. I was able to zoom in pretty close with the camera, but they were so far up, I had a tough time keeping the camera steady, even with the anti-shake technology.

Anyway, one hawk finally prevailed and continued to soar around up there for quite some time. I started previewing the video I had just shot of the hawks when I heard the hawk above start to screech again. This time I looked up, but I didn't see it, even though it sounded like it was very close. Then out of the corner of my eye I could see this object falling from the sky. When I focused on it, I realized it was the hawk. It was diving straight down, wings firmly tucked to it's side, beak pointed down. It was focused on something and diving right toward it. I was in so much awe that I didn't even think to turn the camera on to capture this event. It disappeared from view when it reached the tree line, and just as soon as it did, I heard a chorus of turkeys gobbling frantically. At that moment, I realized it was hunting and had caught a turkey. The chorus of gobbling was from many turkeys, but after a few moments, I could only hear one turkey, and its cries dimminished with each passing moment, as if it was crying out its final gobbles.

I was amazed. I had never thought I would witness anything like that from my own backyard. Afterwards, I realized that not only were my chickens probably victims of the coyotes, but they were also probably victims of the hawks.

Until next time ...

1 comment:

  1. did the coy dogs' black with brown patches follow the traditional black&tan pattern or were they more mottled (say perhaps, a al BunnyBread)? I've seen some fairly patchy dogs (without any white) come from a chowish/shepherdish mom & a mystery dad (some heeler blend). the chow/shep hybrid is quite common in downtown Nashville -- especially in the neighborhoods going out towards the fairgrounds. Could be a coy dog of that blend...
    did they look anything like:

    I love spotting those guys. When they start breeding in with the domestics, you get to see some really cool-looking dogs.

    get more chickens, and start photographing the dogs!