Sun 27 Nov 2011
It’s time for another look at wildlife that have been showing up this fall around Mitchell cabin.
Finally I saw the beast for myself. About 1:30 p.m. Saturday, I looked out the kitchen’s glass door just in time to see a coyote round the corner of the cabin. I grabbed my camera, went out on my deck, and managed to catch this shot of the coyote marking its territory by urinating and scratching the ground.
I get a kick out of seeing coyotes, but, of course, I’m not a sheepman. For 40 years, there were no coyotes in West Marin, but they never disappeared from Northern Sonoma County. After the federal government made ranchers stop poisoning them, coyotes began returning southward. They reached West Marin in 1983 and within the next 15 or so years wiped out a majority of sheep ranches in West Marin and Southern Sonoma County.
Along with sheep, coyotes sometimes hunt deer and not infrequently eat domestic dogs and cats. Among their most-common prey are small mammals, birds, snakes, lizards, and large insects. Traditionally diurnal, coyotes are becoming more nocturnal because of pressure from human development.
Hunting outside my kitchen window.
Last week I posted a couple of photos of a bobcat that had just shown up outside my kitchen window. Here’s a third image that shows it hunting. Bobcats’ favorite prey are rabbits and hares, but they’ll eat anything from insects to rodents to deer.
Gray foxes are omnivorous, eating fruits along with birds and small rodents. They also like cheap, white bread. Gray foxes tend to be nocturnal or crepuscular (active at dawn and twilight).
Along with the Asian raccoon dog, they are the only members of the Canidae family that can climb trees. That’s one way they can raid bird nests — and avoid the coyotes.
After sizing up the situation Saturday night, a gray fox takes a slice of bread from my girlfriend Lynn’s hand.
Also visiting our deck each evening — hoping for slices of bread and honey-roasted peanuts — are two families of raccoons. While the families don’t like each other, they are at ease around us. Here a young raccoon curls up outside our kitchen door to take a nap. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)