Our Animal Kingdom

JUNE 23, 2019
(See the home page for the Holy Cows! blog post)

DECEMBER 4, 2015
2009-Coyote-Yosemite.jpgFor over a week, we had a VERY large coyote camping in our back yard. The pic at right is borrowed but our visitor looked just like that. It spent most of its time sleeping or furiously scratching and remained within a small, open area despite the below freezing nights and frost covering its makeshift bed.

It didn't seem to be a threat, but we couldn't be sure. Naturally we were concerned about our doggies as well as our beloved deer family.  It was so solidly built, we thought it might be a wolf and requested that a Fish & Wildlife agent check it out. The conclusion was that it was sick and would eventually go back into the wooded preserve beyond our property, but if it came closer to the house, we had the option of calling the environmental police, who would come out and shoot it. We didn't welcome its presence but we also couldn't order its execution. So we decided to leave it alone and avoid the back yard for a while.

Then the most peculiar thing happened. The mama deer came out of the nearby copse of trees and scouted all around where the coyote was lying. At first she watched him from a distance. The coyote lifted its head but that was all and the mama deer soon went away. About an hour later, the whole deer family came out of hiding. Not only did they have no fear, the young ones were dancing and leaping all around the coyote. Again coyote showed little interest. But shortly after the deer all returned to their copse, the coyote slowly got to its feet and followed them into the brush...and hasn't been seen since. Marilyn insists it looked as though the deer family invited coyote to come in out of the cold and finish out his days in peace.

JULY 24, 2015

Incredible but true! While sitting on the screened-in portico, having a glass of wine with our friend Ryan, we spotted a large, golden-brown animal at the edge of the fire pit in the field (you can see the area in the first deer picture below). With binoculars, we were able to confirm that it was a COUGAR/mountain lion. Unfortunately, before we could grab a camera, it got spooked by a noise and gracefully turned it's big body around and returned to the forest. (The photo at left is "borrowed.") Although the wildlife commission insists this animal no longer exists in New England, conversations with long-time locals, like Ryan, plus a little internet investigation clearly contradicts that edict although everyone agrees such a sighting is very rare and fraught with mysticism.

Needless to say, witnessing the great feline in our back yard was incredible, but what followed confirmed the mystical angle. Seconds after the cougar was out of sight, a huge white cloud formed into the shape of a spaceship and a brilliant rainbow shot downward to where the cougar had been standing. Marilyn checked her Native American animal totem book and learned that when cougar visits, one should be prepared to swiftly leap at an opportunity. The rainbow was both an exclamation and a suggestion that the rare visit could be the sign of something quite wonderful and surprising coming our way...maybe even a pot of gold will be involved. We're definitely ready and keeping our antennae up! 


White-tailed Deer Mom & Pop had 3 fawns since this pic
Much to our delight, our new home came with an exciting bonus -- the back yard is the denizen of all sorts of wild creatures and we have a very large picture window (and binoculars) through which to see them. Yeah, yeah, we hear you laughing at us. We moved to wooded acreage in the country so what did we expect?  Well, maybe we expected a few critters but not how breathtaking it would be to see some that we'd only previously seen in zoos.

Since our pic was so tiny, we borrowed this one.

Needless to say, once the dogs realized there were 4-legged animals outside, they were on guard during all daylight hours. In fact,
Sweetie is the one who saw the bobcat first and alerted us to it. Some of the photos we were able to take ourselves, but occasionally, when the animal was too fast, we had to resort to borrowing a picture.

Besides the larger birds shown below, we've spotted ravens, woodpeckers, robins, nuthatches, doves, cardinals, blue jays, mockingbirds, wrens, yellow finches, and geese galore, just to name a few. The snakes are a bit more shy but we've seen enough to know there is a wide variety slithering in the grasses and hiding beneath discarded tarps and garbage cans (most of which we managed to clean up before winter set in). And of course, there's the very ordinary array of squirrels, mice & rabbits.

Sox, our resident Red Fox showed up once it snowed

Red Fox borrowed photo

(Wood)Chuck loves the bird seed that
falls from the feeder
Bob(cat), although the black stripes on the forelegs suggested
lynx despite wrong locale
Coyote knows a chicken lives next door
Wild Turkey Harem outside Jo's office window
Ring-necked Pheasant
Our pic of the ring-necked pheasant, tho we swear, we could see it clearly
Local flock of geese lives in UMA pond but flies over our property daily

Between the branches is Baron, our
resident Red-Tailed Hawk

Baron sees his prey & swoops

Here's Baron keeping an eye on Joie from atop Herter Hall, UMass

Mustn't forget our Halloween worm!
October 24, 2016: The field was brush-hog mowed today, making the small creatures easy prey for the coyotes and birds of prey...like the beautiful osprey that paused for a moment so close to the house that Marilyn could see it clearly without binoculars. She has previously caught sight of it in flight or perched atop the radio tower. Wing span, approximate 5 feet! (This pic is borrowed, but not for lack of trying on her part.)

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