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Monday, March 30, 2009

12 and Counting...

I've now tracked 12 dogs for my Tracking Intensive project! Only 88 to go...I think they will have to hold me over and not let me graduate this year. Oh darn, that would be a shame...not.

Here's the list:
  • 2 Chihuahuas
  • 2 Shih Tzus
  • 2 lab mixes
  • 1 Basset Hound
  • 1 Great Pyrenees
  • 1 Boxer mix
  • 1 Groenendal mix
  • 1 English Springer Spaniel
  • 1 Leonberger

It's fun to see how the various breeds move and how their tracks differ...I could spend a lifetime and not get to all 400+ breeds of dog. I have to get busy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Bighorn Tracks For Your Enjoyment

It's been over 2 weeks and I'm
still absolutely astounded that
we had such good tracking conditions...This pair of tracks left in the mud may have been a ewe and her yearling - or it might have been a front (larger) and rear track. It's kind of far off to the side to be the front and rear of the same animal. We did see 9 Bighorns (Ovis canadensis) cross the valley ahead of our group. And it's an area that the animals use all the time. These tracks were not crossing the valley, but were going down the trail in the direction of the bridge and parking lot...others were going up the valley trail.
Bighorns are diurnal, meaning that they are active in the daytime. They typically sleep in beds on the hillside, and so I doubt that they gather in the valley at night when people are less likely to be found there.
The canyon is a big draw to hikers, fly fishermen, rockhounds, and dog walkers. I'm surprised - and blessed -that we saw the animals and found so many tracks.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Almost Like Cheating

The WAS Tracking Intensive class went to eastern
Washington this past weekend and had such an awsome time. On Saturday we tracked mule deer at Frenchman's Coulee, and then moved on to Bighorn sheep along the Yakima River.
The weather was sketchy, but we went hoping to find tracks...and as we pulled into the parking lot, we were greeted by this little band of 9. There are a couple of young rams with this group of ewes and last year's young.
We watched as they ran down the hillside and across the valley we were going to be hiking into! It seemed almost unfair to watch them and then go find the fresh tracks...almost, but not quite. How many times do you get to trail 5-minute old Bighorn tracks?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sex in the Neighborhood

There was a pair of amorous raccoons in the Cedar tree by my bedroom window yesterday.
Clara, my cat, directed my attention out the window...I noticed that she was intent on something - her tail was thumping against the window in irritation.
At first, I only saw the one...and she was not happy that I'd intruded. She's hissing at me...this photo was taken in poor light, so I played with my "fun" options on my Easy Share photo software...I kind of like the cartoon effect, and it seems to fit the situation.
It was a first for me, watching a couple of raccoons go at it in a tree. They were about 25 feet up, and on a precarious-looking limb. Sort of reminiscent of satin sheets on a water bed...
I'm not even going to speculate on what it says about me that I watched...and took pictures. I'm claiming "naturalist curiosity".

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Checkin' In...

Spring is trying to come in, but the cars coming down from the hills were topped with a bit of snow this morning.
Otherwise, the early flowers are popping up, and trees are budidng. The afternoon sunshine warms me nicely as I walk up the hill toward home.
Two Sundays ago, I saw the 11th coyote just down hill from my place. He - given the size of the critter, it had to be a male - was sneaking along the tree line at the back of a line of houses. I don't think the woman who came out dressed for church even saw him at the back of her lot. He saw me. We played a game of hide and seek as we both moved up hill. Neither of us bothered the other, but we were aware.
Then, last Friday evening a co-worker and I watched in fear and amazement as coyote number 12 made a mad dash across 3 lanes of rushhour traffic on eastbound I- 90 near Issaquah. We were on the way to Seattle for an event that didn't happen...and just in the right place at the right time to see the foolishly brave animal make his move. It had to be a male, right?
I've never seen a coyote move so fast. Ears back, hunkered down, racing across the highway...I don't kow how he managed to get to the median. As we passed, we had to laugh at the way he shook off the experience like a dog just out of the bathtub. The expression on his face made me wonder if he'd done it for fun. I guess coyotes get spring fever, too.

My Favorite Fiction Authors and Books

  • Suzanne Arruda- the Jade del Cameron mysteries: "The Mark of the Lion" "Stalking Ivory", "The Serpent's Daughter", "The Leopard's Prey" and "The Golden Cheetah"
  • Ken Goddard - "Balefire" and others
  • Stephen White - the Dr. Alan Gregory books are all great. "Kill Me" is my favorite.
  • Harlan Coben - anything he writes is great
  • Elizabeth Peters - Amelia Peabody mysteries

My Favorite Nonfiction Authors and Books

  • "Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown- 2nd edition coming soon!
  • Gavin De Becker - "The Gift of Fear"
  • "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales- the best survival book I've ever read! Not a how-to, its more of a who does,and why.
  • Candice Millard - "The River of Doubt -Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey"
  • Anything that starts with "Peterson's Field Guide To..."
  • Tom Brown, Jr. - "The Tracker" and others
  • Mark Elbroch - "Mammal Tracks and Sign" and "Animal Skulls"