Entries tagged with “deer”.


Last week I reported that a Guatemalan wife and mother of two, Cristina Siekavizza (at right), disappeared July 7.

Authorities suspect she was murdered by her husband, Roberto Barreda de León, and that he has probably fled to the United States, taking the couple’s two children, Roberto Jose, 7, and María Mercedes, 4, with him.

As I wrote, I became interested in the case because my former wife Ana Carolina Monterroso is a friend of Cristina’s relatives. She and Cristina’s brother Pablo have notified me that roughly 25,000 people are currently using social media to track down Roberto.

I believe it. Last week’s posting drew a record 1,217 visitors in the first three days after it went online. Some 432 of those were in Guatemala. Readers have posted links to this blog on their Facebook pages and on other websites. Truly social media in action.

An international warrant for the English-speaking husband’s arrest has been issued. If people spot him, they should notify local law enforcement or the FBI. Please note that the email address in Guatemala for reporting his whereabouts is incorrect on the wanted poster. It should be busquedacristina@gmail.com.

Point Reyes Station — Mitchell cabin with its red roof is near the center of the photo.

Around Mitchell cabin two foxes are making themselves more and more at home with every passing week. Lynn and I can hand feed them slices of bread although one is more skittish than the other. The first sits around the kitchen door waiting for me to hand it dinner. Usually we have to throw the slices to its partner.

For a year or more we had been feeding our foxes and raccoons honey-roasted peanuts along with bread, but that became fairly expensive.

Our problem was solved by Gayanne Enquist of Inverness.

She recommended we forget about peanuts and feed our critters dog kibble. It was a brilliant idea.

Once we determined through experimentation which brand they prefer — Kibble and Bits — we could eliminate peanuts and most bread from their dinners.

However, the kibble is so popular that we might as well be feeding two large dogs.

Along with the foxes, we get five or six raccoons every night.

One raccoon is a solitary male. The others belong to two families that don’t like each other, so we have to put out two trays of kibble on the deck and keep refilling them.

That adds up to about 40 pounds of kibble per week.

The foxes wait their turn for the kibble until the raccoons leave although the raccoons are also a bit wary of the foxes.

Of course, we’re not always Johnny on the spot in setting out their dinners, and here a fox waits patiently while a raccoon approaches cautiously.

We also feed a variety of birds, including towhees, sparrows, doves, and scores of redwing blackbirds. They have a set feeding time, somewhere between 4:30 and 5 p.m. However, the birds aren’t the only beneficiaries of the birdseed. Roof rats, those cute little rodents, show up almost as soon as the blackbirds leave.

Blacktail deer are ubiquitous around Mitchell cabin. This year I’ve seen as many as 14 at one time. Here a fawn sleeps right outside our kitchen window while two does graze nearby.

The deer are so comfortable around us that I can often approach them within a few feet.

Although we’re in the middle of winter, these are great days to relax. Just keep your eyes out for a murder suspect fleeing Guatemala.

Hosting our wildlife neighbors — My girlfriend Lynn Axelrod is a reporter for The West Marin Citizen, which for the past two weeks has been publishing its annual pet issues. She and I don’t have any pets ourselves because they would drive away birds and four-footed wildlife, but in recent years I too have sometimes published an animal issue at the beginning of the new year.

Among the most common wildlife around Mitchell cabin these days are wild turkeys, and last weekend, they began showing up on the railing around our deck. Here one marches past our dining-room window.

Wild turkeys can be aggressive, and a decade or more ago, they began chasing and otherwise terrorizing school children in Tomales. This young deer, however, was not at all intimidated when it found itself grazing among a flock of turkeys between Mitchell cabin and neighbors Dan and Mary Huntsman’s home last Sunday.

A turkey stares at me from behind a lamp hanging over our dining-room table.

A mother raccoon (at rear) introduces her four kits to our kitchen.

A bobcat hunting just uphill from the cabin.

A gray fox on our deck.

This possum didn’t mind being petted as long as I gave it something to eat.

A coyote in the field below Mitchell cabin two weeks ago.

A mother badger and her cub as seen from my field.

One of my favorite wildlife photos, which I’ve published before, is of a buckeye butterfly on a chrysanthemum. The plant was growing in a pot on my deck.

 

Two close friends from Los Angeles, Janine Warner, who reported for The Point Reyes Light when I owned the newspaper, and her husband Dave LaFontaine, have been staying here for the Christmas holidays.

On Christmas Day itself, however, some even more exotic guests showed up.

Around noon Janine went out on the deck to enjoy the sunny Christmas Day and soon spotted a coyote in my field. Here it heads into some eponymous coyote brush.

Immediately I hurried inside and grabbed my camera. Before long, the coyote reemerged next to my parking area. It could hear us chattering on the deck and began staring at me while I took its picture.

The creature then looked down my driveway to make sure all was clear. Coyotes can be fierce, but they’re not foolhardy.

When it finally decided to leave, it started off at a brisk walk. Whether walking or running, coyotes are amazingly graceful.

Coyotes have a walking speed that sometimes tops 20 mph while their running speed can easily top 30 mph. This coyote, however, was just meandering. It took him almost half a minute to travel 0.2 miles to the bottom end of the driveway, where he then sat down to survey the area. Before long, he had disappeared without a trace.

Less than five minutes later — as if on cue — two bucks showed up outside our kitchen window. Both were good looking animals, but the buck in the foreground had an especially regal bearing.

Accompanying the bucks were two does. Like the bucks, the does were not particularly nervous — even when I went out the back door to get a clear photo of them.

Of course, these were not the only wild animals to visit Mitchell cabin on Christmas Day. Our familiar raccoon families showed up in the evening. We fed them slices of bread, but — to save money — we’re now supplementing that with dog kibble instead of honey-roasted peanuts.

Also showing up were our usual pair of gray foxes. One is comfortable enough around us to take slices of bread from our hands. The other, however, is sufficiently skittish that most of the time we have to throw slices to him.

Having a peaceful relationship with the animals around us is key to our having a decent existence, as most religions agree. “Life is dear to the mute creature as it is to a man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not to die, so do other creatures,” wrote the XIV Dalai Lama in 1967.

“There is not an animal on the earth, nor a flying creature on two wings, but they are people like unto you,” proclaims the Qur’an. “Animals, as part of God’s creation, have rights which must be respected,” Dr. Donald Coggan, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, observed. “It behooves us always to be sensitive to their needs and to the reality of their pain.”