Monday, May 18, 2009

Lucky Day

The weather here has been crappy for a few days, temperatures just above freezing, windy, and some snow yesterday and today. Obviously this kind of dissuades a person from wanting to spend a lot of time working or playing outside. Luckily I did not realize quite how chilly it was outside until I had actually gotten to the farm yesterday. I say luckily because this meant I ended up getting to have a great couple of hours.

I did not stay at the farm long as I just couldn't bring myself to get into working outside in the cold. Instead I headed over to our summer pasture, the half section of land I have mentioned once in awhile before. I wanted to see how the forest canopy was growing this spring after so much of it was eaten off by some kind of caterpillar last spring. It turns out that, so far at least, most of the leaf cover is growing back in this year, tho there are patches which seem to be dead or in some kind of low activity state where there are only a few new branches growing and budding on an old tree.

Shortly before taking these pictures, and just after I had walked down to the lake's edge, I had been startled by an even more startled deer which had been down drinking and not expecting my sudden appearance. I didn't get a picture at the time but I am pretty sure I caught up with he and his friends a bit later on, and I did get a couple that time. It looks like the dugout down by the "lake" (apostrophized because...

...there is not much to the lake itself anymore, I want to have it dredged out) has been something of a party place this spring too. I don't ever remember finding antlers like this before, but my parents said they do.

The cool just kept coming too, no pun intended. The next thing I noticed was an odd looking pair of ducks in the dugout. When I got home, I did some research and learned that this was a very rare species of duck in North America, the Bufflehead. This isn't so terribly surprising I guess, given last year's drought and the fact that the forest on this land has quite a few woodpeckers, whose abandoned nests the tree loving Buffleheads like to use. I was too keen on picture taking and scared the little things off but I hope they return and nest.

As if this hadn't all been blessing enough, as I was leaving I noticed two things, pretty much simultaneously.

Yep, that is a pair of coyotes who are running away from a cow moose laying in the edge of trees. The coyotes are a couple of hundred feet to the right in the picture of the moose. I thought it was a bit odd that a cow moose was laying down there at around 5 pm, until it dawned on me that she was likely a new mother...which was likely also what had drawn the coyotes so close to a full grown cow moose. They'd smelled newborn moose and gone to see if an easy feast could be hand. Realizing she probably had or was having her calf drew the curious and stupid side of me out and I moved upwind and started to sneak back toward her. When I was finally within glimpse of her again, I immediately realized that I was doing no sneaking whatsoever...she was looking right at me and probably had been the whole time.

I was still not quite stupidly close yet but I regained my sense and decided to get no closer. Wanting her to know that I was no harm, however, I stepped out of the trees somewhat. This inspired her to stand up, which made me feel bad and kinda scared me at the same time. Suddenly I remembered just how big a full grown cow moose is. Thankfully I was already moving away from her tho, and she simply stepped a few steps deeper into the tree cover, and watched me. Then from where she had been laying, up stood a very awkward little brown smudge (I had not gotten close enough that I could really see) who tottered back after her. Sure enough, she had a brand new calf with her. So I got the heck out of there, already feeling guilty for my curiosity but happy I had not riled her further.

It turns out that modern technology would have saved me the effort anyway. While I could only zoom in so far with my digital camera, I found that I was able to crop the image afterward on my computer. This allowed a bit of extra zoom which actually resulted in the best glimpse of all. The little tuft of brown at the cow moose's feet, in the following picture, is her new calf.

Stunning I tell you. I am so thankful to have access to this portion of semi-wild land.

Oh, and if you remember the deer I mentioned earlier, that I had startled off from the lake edge...well I think this is him and a buddy later on. There is a third one around but it wouldn't come into frame. Shy I guess.

I have to admit, I don't ALWAYS feel like rushing to share this place with others. Can you blame me?


linda said...

I don't blame you at all! I felt like I was reading Thoreau during this post! Thanks so much for sharing. Delightful! Keep it coming if you are so inclined to share!

Amber said...

What a wonderful day for wildlife!

Theresa said...

Wow, you must have been just bursting with wonder! Thanks for sharing the pictures with us. :)

MoonRaven said...

What an amazing assortment of adventures--deer and ducks and coyotes and moose. Thank you for sharing it all with us. (The pictures of the antler collection are fabulous. Some 'party'!)

Anonymous said...

make sure you don't do more harm than good if you consider dredging.

Thanks for sharing your wildlife!

SoapBoxTech said...

Thanks for the comments everyone, it really was an amazing couple of hours.

EJ, I agree. I think the process might look nasty for a short time but, if carefully planned, making the spot into a lake again could be beneficial to the area for a long time. The biggest question is whether it was a solely glacial lake or whether there are springs feeding it from below. If it was solely glacial then it may not get done at all, or on a much smaller scale and would have to include laying clay down in the bottom to help retain water.