Sep 26, 2010

Weekend of survival

Work has been just wearing me out lately and leaving me just blah and not much going on in the outdoors for me so taking advantage of the little opportunities are important.  For instance, this past weekend as I was on my way home from a late breakfast with my wife and daughter I noticed some coyotes on the edge of a field and I just had to stop. Normally when I do so they head right back into the woods but this time was a little different.  Momma coyote was on me immediately upon pulling off the road and I was certain they would be gone before I could shut the truck off, but instead momma went into the brush and the two beautiful blond pups stayed in the field.

The two pups looked my way for a bit and then went about their business of  hunting the field. I couldn't believe it.  I knew momma couldn't far but she was okay with them out in the field alone.  I decided to hunker down with my binoculars and camera and enjoy the show as these two pups worked the field over looking and listening for some small meal.  One of the pups was a non stop hunter while the other liked to take a little time out to enjoy the cool grass.  As I sat there watching their attempts at hunting for food which is a necessity for their survival, I couldn't help but notice that no one was stopping to take in the moment, not even my own wife and daughter who were on their way to pick up some supplies so I could finally close up the pool.  They did call me to ask if those were coyotes in the field so I know they were paying attention.  I can't tell you how many cars drove by, but it was at least a hundred and only 4 people stopped for a quick look - 5 minutes at most.

I sat there on the side of the road just watching and thinking.  Watching the daily survival for sustenance that these pups face, just as we all do all the while being thankful for the opportunity to see such a thing just minutes from my house and place of work.  I kept wondering where their mother went and how long she would leave them out there.  They continued to feed across the field getting farther and farther away from where their mother went back into the woods and then all of a sudden they just start hunting the field back to where I first spotted them.  As they got closer to the edge of the field they perked up and out came momma.  She was big and an incredible gray color.  She knew I was still there and gave me another once over but she settled down and I watched pups interact with her for about 10 minutes before they all got up and started up the field to the back wood line.

I decided it was time to get home so I hopped back int he truck, drove the two minutes to my house and was dumbfounded that my wife and daughter were already home from the store or as I thought maybe they didn't go.  I walked into the house and they asked where I've been and I answered them in way that said "watching the coyotes, where do you think?!" and my wife's reply was all this time.  I looked at the clock and realized I had been watching them for almost an hour and a half when honestly it only felt like minutes.  WOW. 1.5 hours gone from the day and I didn't even know it or even care.  I just smiled, walked outside and started on the pool.

The next morning the dogs had me up just before sunrise as the need for them to go outside and do their business forced me to get up before I was willing to.  As i was outside waiting for them to finish I could here the distinct sounds of ducks on the lake so once they were done I made a cup of coffee and down to the lake I went to watch the sunrise and hopefully learn a little something from the ducks.  Well I did get to enjoy a beautiful sunrise as the fog was drifting across the lake but just as the previous day I got an opportunity to watch the day to day grind of survival of the local wildlife.  I noticed many fish not just rising to the surface but jumping clear out of the water.  This lake is stocked with trout and has a healthy population of bass and soem panfish.  Now I couldn't tell if these fish were feeding themselves, which I'm sure most were but the ones that were coming completely out of the water had me guessing.  Were they feeding, fleeing or even trying to impress the misses for the fall breeding season.  I never did get to determine which it was but it was still fun to watch a fish jump 12 to 14 inches clean out of the water and perform some sort of acrobatic spin and then back in.

While I was enjoying the fish jumping I noticed one of the local Osprey circling above looking for a morning meal and as I was watching him I would catch myself pointing out the tell tale rise of a fish as if I was directing the osprey.  I had to laugh at myself for that one.  It didn't take that osprey long to catch his breakfast and off across the lake he went.   Not long after that I watched a single duck drop it.  I didn't' have my binos with me but it sure looked like a Merganser and soon enough it too was diving under the surface trying to find it's own breakfast.  A few dives later I watched another Merganser drop in and start its drive for survival.  And finally those ducks I heard quaking early which were responsible for me being down at the lake to witness all this started to come across the lake and feed.  An hour later I decided, well I need to head to the hardware store so maybe I should leave now and stop up at the swamp for a short duck scouting mission.

It was about 7:45am when I arrived at the swamp and I wasn't really expecting much seeing the water levels are still scary low but as I sneaked my way down to a spot at the back of the swamp that has a little damn and makes a nice little pond I noticed some ripples in the water which is usually a tell tale sign of ducks.   ofcourse now I had my binoculars and camera so up the binos came and I could see the duck through the brush just working along the edge of the water eating acorns.  I watched it through the binos for a bit and decided to sneak closer and try to get some pictures.  The ground was covered with pine needles, pine cones and even acorns but it was nice and quite and made the sneak that much easier.  My problem was all the brush along the edge of the water so every now ans then you just couldn't see the duck at all but I could still see ripples in the water and make out some splashing noise.  There was an opening that this duck would end up working right into so I decided to lay down on the ground and wait him out to get a good picture of him.  As he as hitting the opening near a branch in the water a frog jumped and splashed. and sent the duck back the other way....ARGHHHHH.  I got up and relocated and continued to watch him feed along the edge and looking for an opening to move close and get some pictures.  It took a while but I was finally able to get closer to the edge of the water where I can finally have a clear opening only to have him on the other side of a dead tree that was laying in the water.  Now growing up I always wanted to be a wildlife cinematographer and here I was just trying to get a simple picture of a duck in it's natural habitat.  Well it took over an hour bit I finally got some pictures even though they were not want I wanted.  I finally backed out and headed out to the hardware store content and happy with my morning.

Sunday evening as I was preparing for the start of another week of the daily grind I couldn't help but reflect back on the weekend of survival that I witnessed and was very thankful for it and I am sure I will be reflecting back on it often as I fight through the day to day survival issues that we all face.


  1. Great pics of the coyote pups.

  2. I went fishing the other day and noticed a small flock of mergs down in the sound already. Last year the Brant made their appearance in the middle of October. Keep tabs on them the October season is only a few weeks away. Great pics too.

  3. Wildlife in its natural state is truly a wonder.