Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Morning drama

Though the sky remains overcast, the clouds broke long enough in the pre-dawn minutes to let me see the setting of the nearly-full moon behind the western mountains. The actual moonset was far prettier than my attempt to photograph it. And even as I was setting up the camera, I suspected that would be the case. The morning was still quite dark, and I kept hoping the moonset would hold on another minute or two so the light would have time to improve, if ever so slightly. That didn’t happen.

But as I was standing outside on my back deck, an interesting non-photographic event unfolded. It started when I heard one of the foxes barking. The fox was close, just up the mountain from my cabin. Fox barks aren’t very loud—they sound a bit like a dog with laryngitis—more effort than vocalization.

I’ve been told that foxes bark to communicate with their mates. The mate may be watching the kids in the den or hunting on her own, and the barks are simply a way of saying, “I’ve over here.” The second fox usually replies to report its own position. Perhaps the hunting fox needs the call to find the den again. Perhaps it’s just a “honey, I’m on my way home” announcement, minus the cell phone. In any event, this morning I never heard a second fox. After the first few barks, I could tell the fox was getting closer and eventually I knew it couldn’t be more than about 30 yards or so up the hill from my cabin.

I stood stock still, scanning the too-dark woods, hoping to catch a glimpse. The fox kept barking but didn’t get any closer. Then several seconds went by without more barking, and several more seconds. And then from near where I expected to see the fox, I saw a dark blob coming down one of the taller oak trees on the hill. Now, red fox aren’t supposed to climb trees and besides, this tall tree went straight up for some feet before branching. But something was coming down that tree.

By now, the moon had set, but the soon-to-be sunrise was brightening the sky from dead black to charcoal. And then I realized what was coming down the tree. It was a raccoon. Likely it was the same one that Baby Dog saw in the bird feeder at 3:14 a.m. (I checked), prompting her howl of outrage, followed by her immediate removal from a place where she could see said raccoon to one where she could not and I could go back to sleep.

Fox and raccoons frequently share the same territory, and they also avoid each other when possible. I think raccoon scurried up the tree to avoid the fox, and perhaps the fox left its barking spot because of the raccoon as well. But one thing I was sure of—when the raccoon came down the tree, the fox was gone for this night.


Cathy said...

I rather like the photo, has dreamy look to it. Too bad you didn't see the fox, maybe you'll catch it other time.

As for today, up here it's nothing but a rainy and now windy day. I really could use some sun!

Carolyn H said...

Cathy: With this weather, it's not just couch potatoes who are vitamin D deprived. i'm feeling that way too right now. I'm not sure i'd be much good living someplace like Seattle.

Carolyn H.

jeannette said...

In the deep of forest the conflict between the fox and the raccoon would be a drama:)Love the pic you took -so mysterious!

Cathy said...

Oh no!!!!I'm seeing snowflakes and hail right now!! I thought spring would end all this nonsense.

Ok back to my book.

Christian said...

That's sounds like a really cool experience. That's one of the things I miss about being in the city is that their aren't any animals (except pigeons, ducks, and gulls) and there aren't any woods. I do miss living in the country. I've got a neat picture like that too. It is neat how the camera adjusts light when it's dark or near dark outside.

Carolyn H said...

Cathy: I saw snowflakes for about 3 seconds, but they didn't last and neither did the rain, so that was a good thing. This storm pretty much missed me, except for a glancing blow.

Carolyn H

Carolyn H said...

Chris: It was pretty cool and unexpected, which is the fun part. I like to visit cities occasionally (OK rarely) but I don't think I could live in one.

Carolyn H.