Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wile E. Coyote

(With apologies to ol' Carnivorous vulgaris of Loony Tunes fame.)

We were driving back home from lunch last Sunday when we spotted what we first thought to be a stray dog running along beside the road up ahead. As we got closer I slowed, half expecting it to dart across the road in front of us.

When it did turn, though, we got a big surprise. This was not just a stray dog, but a coyote. It took one look at our car and then dashed across the road and into the field beyond. He quickly hid in the knee high grass, with only his head visible as he cautiously watched us slowly pass by.

As soon as we were past, I sped back up and hurried the half mile or so back to the house. While WW and the kids headed inside to clean up and start the afternoon activities, I grabbed my camera and rushed back to the edge of the brush where we last saw him. Unfortunately, other than a few tracks in the mud alongside the bayou, I was unable to find any sign of that wily coyote. He was long gone, likely headed "upstream" in search of better hunting grounds.

Of course, I already had my camera out and had put on a pair of old tennis shoes, so I didn't let the chance go to waste. I got a few decent shots of the only wildlife available: the birds and the bees (plus a butterfly or two).

This Northern Mockingbird was quite interested in my search, but stayed just out of sight of my lens for most of the excursion. We tend to see mockingbirds pretty much year round here along the gulf coast (they are our state bird, you know). But I have yet to get a decent picture of one in flight, showing off that distinctive white wing stripe.

I was surprised at how many pollinators were out and about in the heat of a midsummer Texas afternoon. I found quite a few carpenter bees, among other insects, hovering happily around the flowers that were soaking up the results of our recent rainfalls.

Carpenter bees (Xylocopa virginica, I believe):

I also got close enough to get a few decent shots of this handsome fellow, a Gulf Fritillary.

Although the residential areas around our neighborhood are growing like weeds, there are still quite a few sections of natural growth nearby where we can occasionally spot deer, raccoons, skunks and armadillos — or more often just the tracks and traces (or scents) of them. And we've had a late night visiting possum or two in the back yard. But that coyote was a first for us, and it was an even bigger surprise seeing him on the prowl in broad daylight. I hadn't seen a wild coyote since I was working summers and weekends on the farm back in high school and college. It was exciting to see, and to point it out to the kids, even if I didn't get to capture it on "film."

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