Tag Archives: coyotes

Bob the Cat

Bob the bobcat lives south of Tuscon, Arizona, where the skies shimmer with summer heat. He hangs out near the creek, partly for its coolness and a drink of water, but also because his potential lunch victims have the same idea.

Too late, the rabbit identifies those deadly black stripes on Bob’s legs, his bobbed tail, and the tufts of hair on his ears.

Bob loves a little rabbit lunch. On a lucky day (lucky for the rabbit), he will get away and Bob has to settle for one of the many other creatures that live in the desert.

Did you think the desert was just sand and cactus? Think again.  Small animals like lizards, snakes,  rabbits and hares,  chipmunks, quail, doves, and many more birds, mammals, rodents, reptiles, and insects live there.

Plenty of food for a bobcat. It should be an ideal life, but there are cactus spines to pull out of sore paws, and some insects to beware of. And did I mention rattlesnakes? Or ticks?

One of the local animals that gives bobcats trouble is the coyote. If there are trees around, Bob is probably safe. All he has to do is leap up into a tree and wait until the coyotes get tired.

However,  trees are not always handy. Coyotes often travel in small groups and are one of the bobcat’s main enemies.

Like the coyote, Bob has adapted to humans and doesn’t mind lurking at the edge of urban areas.  You might not think this pretty creature is dangerous, but if you are a small dog or cat, look out.

Doesn’t Bob look pettable? I’d be tempted to reach out to stroke his soft fur, but I know  he is not wanting my attentions. I’m guessing he has sharp claws and teeth.

Still … I would love to have a few tame moments with Bob purring and cuddling up close to me to be petted. Ah, well … that’s not going to happen — not in the real world.

Permission to use these photos has been kindly granted by Trisha Tubbs who took the photos near Quail Creek, Arizona.

Storm at Coulee City

Approaching Coulee City, Washington, I was impressed that the highway seemed to be what was holding back a huge piece of water that once was part of the Columbia River system.

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To the north, Grand Coulee Dam has diverted some of the river’s water to form Roosevelt Lake to the east (not shown here) and, to the south, Banks Lake (seen here, and named for the construction supervisor at Grand Coulee Dam). At the south end of Banks Lake is the small town  of Coulee City.

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The land to the south of the highway is nearly dry, with small amounts released to form a trickle of water over what is called the Dry Falls. Banks Lake is used for irrigation of areas close by.

Way at the other end of this causeway, where Coulee City begins, is the town RV park. Just turn left at the end of the road that is holding the lake back, and you’re in the community park.

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It was a breezy day but I didn’t worry about it too much because I remembered it being quite windy in this area when we came through here last year. However, the coots that had rafted up at the far corner of the lake knew that bad weather was coming. They made sure to be in the lee of the wind, and out of reach of the coyotes that would start yipping as soon as darkness set in.

DSCN4039I remember thinking how pretty it was, parked under the branches of the Russian olive tree, right by the beach. I looked out the window in the gathering darkness and admired glimpses of the moon reflecting on the water.

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But the gusts grew stronger and the trailer shook ever more vigorously as the evening wore on and the wind rose until it was howling like a speeding freight train. Lying in bed, I wondered if we were in an earthquake.

The  Russian olive tree that I had admired earlier was now a bony fingered skeleton tapping on our trailer walls. When we ignored the tapping some of its fingers broke off and skittered across the roof. Then whole arms of the whipping tree beat on the roof and the captain said, “I’m just waiting for the wind to get into a crack and rip the skin right off the trailer. I think we should move. It might be more sheltered over by the shower buildings.”

My ego isn’t big and I can admit now that I didn’t believe there was any place to get away from this near hurricane, but I have to give credit to the captain. He stepped outside as I called from the bed, “Hold onto the door so it doesn’t rip off.” As an afterthought I added, “And don’t … get blown … away….”

A few minutes later, the captain stuck his head in the door and screamed against the wind, “You stay in bed and I’ll drive us up around the buildings.” Slam! went the door, as the wind caught it.

“Okay … ” I whimpered. I looked down at the dogs on their mats. Two sets of eyes bugging out of  furry faces looked back at me pleadingly.

I got up and cuddled one on each side of me as we bounced along in the trailer while the captain towed us to higher ground a  couple of hundred feet  away from the lake and behind a building.

When the truck engine shut down and the captain came back into the trailer, he said, “That’s better. 40 years of commercial fishing has at least taught me something about where to anchor in a storm.”

Edge Effect

On the prairies, you’ll find a lot of upland game birds like pheasants, sharptail grouse, and Hungarian Partridge. Other birds too, of course, like robins, meadowlarks, blackbirds, pigeons, and all sorts of hawks.  I watched a large hawk circling, swooping, cruising in search of his dinner the other day. I pitied the poor creature who would become a meal for him, but hawks have to eat too. Any pheasant, grouse, or mouse out in the middle of a harvested field would have nowhere to hide from a hawk–for that matter, from any of their predators. Coyotes, too, are very hard on birds and rodents.

I was thankful for the taller growth at the edges of the  wide open fields. Montana farmers are generous in leaving the borders of their fields as natural as possible.Pheasants and grouse hide in this vegetation when they feel vulnerable and then run out into the harvested fields to pick up bits of grain when they feel it is safe, seldom leaving the edges for long.

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Notice the swath of “edge effect” here. This kind of edge between two types of habitat makes a travel corridor possible for many small animals.

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These edges are not only practical for animals to hide in, but they’re pleasing to the eye as well. I know, I know, they’re only some thistle-like prickly flowers gone to seed, but there’s a beauty in that.

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And what is going on with this plant? Is it trying to do a howling coyote impression?

013I would love to know what this plant is, so if anyone has an idea, please speak up in the comments section.

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This spring, and possibly again in mid-summer, somewhere in the high grasses, a hen pheasant chose a spot that she hoped could remain undiscovered for 23 or 24 days, while she laid eggs and sat on her nest.

015It seems she was lucky. After the 23+ days were up, her nest looked like this: another successful hatch.

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The prairies abound in birdlife and much of it is due to local farming practices, the farmers’ awareness of  their surroundings, and their caring attitude towards the upland birds that live there.

Baja Getaway – Part Four

With our newly welded Boler frame holding up well, we followed Mex 1 away from the coast towards the interior of the peninsula. Near Cataviña the flat desert suddenly sprouted a gigantic rock garden. A jumble of huge boulders, some bigger than cars, rose out of nowhere. Strewn about here and there, and in places piled on top of each other, these boulders didn’t seem to belong here. The same cactus-like vegetation grew in the sandy areas between the boulders, but the rocks lay grouped together, like a little town of rock houses. In a flat section surrounded by boulders, as if it were the town square of Rock City, we camped for the night with our traveling companions.


Photo courtesy of Gerald and Buff Corsi at California Academy of Sciences

“Circle the wagons,” one of the veteran campers said. “Everybody have your door facing into the middle of the circle. It’s safer that way.” There wasn’t a soul in sight so we weren’t worried, but we weren’t that far from the highway. It didn’t hurt to take precautions.

The temperature went down to near freezing that night as we were too far from the ocean to benefit from its balmy breezes. A brisk morning hike got our blood circulating again and we marveled at the life in the desert. Coyotes that had yipped and howled that night, slunk out of sight as daylight became stronger. Quail called back and forth, passing word from boulder to boulder, of strangers sighted—intentions unknown. Songbirds flitted here and there as the warming sun rose higher. Lizards of various sorts played hide-and-seek with chipmunks.

I would love to have sat on a boulder and watched the cool night desert come alive with the heat of the day. But we had some distance to go that day and on returning from our walk, we heard our friend call, “Mount up.” We were on our way to the next adventure.