Cavalcade of Critters

I was sitting in the shade of the little copse of oaks behind the cabin, watching a little black phoebe down the hill.

It would perch on a little bush, then flit around in a little pattern, catch an insect and flit back to the perch for a minute, then dart out and catch another insect and return, and so on, for several minutes.

A few days ago, while I was wandering around taking stock of work that needed to be done on the land, this adorable little thing suddenly sprang from under a tree and froze a few feet away from me.

chipmunk

If you said “That’s a typical long-eared chipmunk” you’d be right.

There are also a couple of does who forage around the bottom of the hill every evening and no end of bunny and jack rabbit sightings in the last week or two.

And vultures.

vulture

Nature is rocking it.

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Mr. Johnson

Eric arrived towards sundown a couple days ago, bringing a couple of filets and a really good bottle of booze.

A deft hand at the barbecue, a quick, erudite wit across a whiskey bottle, an interest in the local plants and beasts, and a good set of knees for ambling about the land make him an excellent guest.

eric2

Yesterday the weather was very fine so we broke out the frisbees and spent a couple hours enjoying the 6 hole course we set up here a few years ago.

Along the way we encountered a skink.

skink

And then, like the perfect guest he is, Eric cooked an awesome breakfast before he drove back home.

Just another fucked up day in heaven here on the hill. Eh?

Tresspasser!

A few Christmases ago, Peggy gave me a trail cam which I have set up from time to time around the place to see what kind of critter action occurs.

Mostly, the cam captures video of the wind blowing branches or deer. The most interesting thing I’ve seen so far is a bob cat stepping around at the base of the hill below the cabin.

Last visit, I set the camera up to keep an eye on the driveway while I was gone.

When I got back up here a few days ago, I retrieved the camera and downloaded the videos, expecting to see a bunch of nothing, or a bunch of deer.

Instead, I was surprised to see I’d had a visitor while I was gone. The video showed a white pickup go up the driveway, then come back down three minutes later.

It was probably someone from PG&E checking out the power lines crossing the property, but still: brr!

Gates and padlocks on the driveways just went up to number 1 on the old priority list.

New Family in the Neighborhood

buck2It’s the last day of the visit, so brother Nick went down the hill smoking his cig to retrieve the shovel from his burn down there. After all the rain yesterday and last night, the ashes and embers from the burns of the last week are cold and dead.

As he was coming hurriedly back up the hill, I looked out the window and saw he was making antic gestures. I went outside to see what he was about and saw the new family on the side of the hill in the (formerly) foaming pines.

A four pointer and his bride were contentedly and boldly strolling around munching on the verge.

A sad fact of the work we are doing up here to clear out brush and fallen dead wood and what not to make the place more fire-ready, is that fuel reduction is habitat destruction.

It’s nice to see that the local deer at least are not severely discommoded.

It’s also just plain nice to see the local deer.

Bones and Bits

deer2When I first arrived up here a few hours before the others, I took the opportunity to wander around to check up on the place after an extended absence.

Down towards the end of the driveway, I was angling through a little copse of young oaks and pines when I saw the remains of a fawn.

The four little legs were separated by a few yards as if the fawn had exploded, flinging arms and legs to the compass points, leaving nothing else but half a lower jaw and a couple other nondescript bone shards.

On almost every visit, I encounter tufts of lamb’s wool and cracked bones with traces of marrow, the torn apart pieces of a bird killed and consumed in mid flight, piles of downy feathers at the base of a raptor’s tree, and this poor little fawn.

A gentle reminder that while I clear brush and grill burgers, the other local carnivores are busy making their living as well.

Our four legged and two winged friends play for keeps.