Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Local Wildlife

Early this morning, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of something in the backyard that I don't expect to see during daylight hours.  I ran to get my camera and saw it rounding the corner, heading for the front yard.

I headed out the front door and caught a glimpse of my target - can you see him?

Maybe this helps?

He turned to face me when he reached the driveway

And he chose to stand his ground and stare me down as I got closer


It's unusual to see a raccoon foraging after daybreak.  Juveniles are more likely to break the daytime curfew but this appeared to be an adult.  His gait also seemed a bit unsteady.  After our stare-down in the driveway and my retreat, he rambled away, walking down the street.  Perhaps last night's rain delayed his foraging.  Or perhaps, he was intrigued by the water I'd collected off the roof during 2 brief downpours.  Raccoons love water.

I filled a bucket and a small trash bin with water sheeting off the roof - we got only 1/10th of an inch (0.254 cm) of rain in total but an amazing amount of rain comes off the roof when the rain comes down hard


Other recent wildlife sightings include:

Sparrows of some kind (possibly Zonotricia atricapilla, the golden-crowned sparrow), enjoying the backyard fountain

A roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)!  Sighted in San Clemente when we had dinner with family on Sunday

Felis catus - this one answers to the name of Pipig and enjoys long naps in well-padded surroundings


That's it for my local wildlife report.  Although there are literally zillions of Western Fence Lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis) about, they move faster than I do so I have no good photos to offer.  What's flitting, running, or rummaging about in your garden at present?


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

42 comments:

  1. Good shots of the gold-crowns. That's a great fountain. I envy you. I would sit looking at it all morning during spring migration. Yes, lots of lizards. They're so cute when they are tiny. The wildlife in my backyard right now, besides the birds and lizards, is butterflies, so many of them, and so early this year. The lantana never went into its ugly winter dormant period this year and is blooming like crazy and attracting so many butterflies. I love watching them.

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    1. We inherited the fountain with the house. The birds absolutely love it, although it also seems to attract the raccoons. The first indication of a raccoon visit is the "rearrangement" of the shells in the top tier of the fountain - they even carry off shells, usually dropping them somewhere in the yard.

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  2. I'm glad you got some rain, even if it wasn't much...! Your fountain is wonderful; I need to add some water for the birds - other than the horse buckets, which I would prefer NOT to see used as bird fountains! Most of our local sparrows (other than House Sparrows) are the White-Crowned variety (Zonotrichia leucophrys). They love to forage underneath the pomegranate. And we have a friendly Curve-Billed Thrasher, a species said to nest almost exclusively in cholla cactus. I guess this is a good neighborhood for them... ;-)

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    1. I've really come to enjoy watching the birds since we moved here. They LOVE the fountain. The top tier is full of seashells, which gives them a comfortable foundation to move about.

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  3. That first picture--what a pretty photo of your garden and path!

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    1. Thanks Emily! I found it funny that the raccoon used the path too!

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  4. Raccoons are beautiful, not just destructive and evil. Chased a couple of rabbits out of the garden yesterday. They hide in my garden then go eat the neighbor's lawns.

    Your kitty looks as ambitious as my dogs, (not very). I got a couple of tubs of rainwater also. I think we got about .15'. I was expecting zero, so a nice treat.

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    1. I'm working at accepting my regular raccoon visits as a fact-of-life. I just wish they'd stop digging plants up and flinging them about.

      The cat is active for a few hours each day - unfortunately, that period usually begins somewhere between 4 and 5am. I let her out under loose supervision for 5-10 minutes every morning. She stalks the lizards and, most recently, tried to sneak up on a squirrel, but she's not much of a huntress.

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  5. You were very restrained in the circumstances. That raccoon has a guilty look in its eye.

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    1. He did some digging but didn't do as much damage as on many earlier occasions. I was surprised to see him after daylight but perhaps the rain, brief as it was, delayed his foraging. I think he was surprised that I addressed him and took his photo.

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  6. Your garden looks amazing; I'm pleased that you got some rain! That racoon looks like it was definitely not happy being given the paparazzi treatment! It's a great capture of the roadrunner. I've only ever seen them in photos, so would love to be able to see one wild!

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    1. I would have missed the roadrunner if our host hadn't called my attention to it. It has a distinctive cry and they're used to seeing them in their backyard. He really did move about by running rather than flying.

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  7. I've seen a raccoon in my back yard in daylight before too. I've heard they will forage in daytime if they're hungry enough. They do love water! Right now, all I'm seeing is my neighbor's cats and lots of birds. I watched a big fat robin having a very enthusiastic wash in the stream the other day.

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    1. Our local coyotes have been seen during daylight hours too so perhaps our drought is having a serious impact on all the critters' food supplies. Birds do enjoy their baths! That was what caught my eye with the sparrows - they were having a grand old time.

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  8. Be careful with raccoons during the daytime! It often means that they are sick and may have rabies. When my youngest son was a baby, I was gardening and saw a raccoon hobbling through the yard. He headed straight for our garden shed and never came out. When I called the animal officer, they came right over and caught him, saying that raccoons out during the day are the most dangerous. To make a long story short, he had an abcess on his head that drained all over my yard, so I was told to treat that area of the grass with bleach and to not let the kids outside for three days. The animal was put down and tested for rabies, which came back negative. He was simply a very sick animal looking for a place to die.

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    1. Thanks for your concern. It occurred to me that he might not be well - I mentioned that his gait seemed off. However, we've seen coyotes and even skunks, also nocturnal animals, during the daytime hours so I suspect that Alison's assumption may be correct - they're struggling to feed themselves. Our drought is in its 4th year so that has to be taking a toll.

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  9. Raccoons aren't scared of humans much - too many years (centuries?) of living in close proximity took care of that I suppose. At one point we had a cat's food bowl in the garage, and one raccoon in particular kept getting into it whenever the door was open even for a few minutes. When I finally surprised the raccoon in the act - it started down the drive slowly - dragging the bowl behind. When I got closer the raccoon deliberately went over to the grass and dumped the food out there, where it couldn't easily be gathered back up. They are crazy clever and I have to admit to a backwards fascination with them.

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    1. They are indeed clever - and mischievous. One of our local raccoons took the filter our of our fountain and ran off with it. It took me 2 days to find it, dropped some 15 feet from the fountain under Agapanthus foliage. I think they're almost certainly also responsible for thefts of marbles, seashells, and more than one garden glove.

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  10. We rarely see a raccoon here but if I saw one unsteady out in the daylight, I would be calling animal control and reporting possible rabies...but yet it could be he was hungry.

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    1. Well, a skunk showed up this evening right outside the living room window before it was fully dark so I'm leaning toward the theory that they're just very hungry.

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  11. Your Raccoon looks like it might be sick; hope it didn't do any damage while it was visiting you. Your fountain is perfect, I've admired it every time you show it, I've never seen this type of sparrow before. We have masses of lizards and the swallows have arrived which means it is officially spring "2 swallows do not a summer (UK) / spring (Italian) make" common saying.

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    1. The raccoon dug up a few spots but I don't think he was in my garden long. The skunk that visited last night did more digging (but they don't pull out plants like the raccoons).

      Historically, cliff swallows returned to Mission San Juan Capistrano, California (south of us) yearly in time for St. Joseph's Day in March each year. Unfortunately, the number of birds has diminished since the end of the 20th century.

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  12. Such great photos of all your backyard action. Even if they are there for the wrong reason (being sick or hungry) it still must have been fascinating to spot him - raccoons are such beautiful animals! My youngest son and I saw a hawk dive past the dining room window the other week. It landed on the street in a cloud of white feathers. It seems he had snatched a mourning dove on the way down. We were mesmerized! And I LOVE your view! I don't think I'd ever go inside if I could gaze at that all day...

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    1. Anna, you just reminded me that I failed to include the photo of the Cooper's Hawk that rested in our mimosa tree for awhile last week, sending all the smaller birds into hiding. We see hawks soaring over the harbor daily but they seldom land in the garden.

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  13. I don't care to have raccoons in my garden. We had one visit the other evening knocking over and breaking pots. I hope yours was just admiring your beautiful garden. Very destructive or are they just clumsy. I have always loved your little bird bath fountain and how nice to catch the birds bathing.

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    1. The raccoons are single-minded (and destructive) when they're foraging but I've found they're also very curious - they're attracted to seashells, marbles, garden gloves and the like and frequently carry them away, dropping them elsewhere in the garden. They routinely remove seashells from the top tier of the fountain - that's their calling card.

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  14. Nice to see some of the locals Kris - tell the racoon he's more welcome round at your pesky neighbours house :)
    I often get distracted by the birds, I could watch them all day. They are enjoying your water feature aren't they?

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    1. The fountain is the primary entertainment feature in our garden, Angie. I had a bird bath in my old garden but running water makes a huge difference in attracting birds. Birds large (shrub jays) and small (hummingbirds) all come to the fountain.

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  15. What good that you got the rain !!
    Collect the barrels are good, many plants need rain water, we have lots of calcium in our tap water.
    Mariana

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    1. The rain was a delightful surprise - we usually don't get much rain between April and November.

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  16. One sees that he glimpsed behind the flower you circled.
    No welcome guest in the garden.
    Mariana

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    1. I don't mind the raccoons cruising through the garden - I just don't like it when they dig up and destroy plants in their relentless search for grubs. They do eat snails, though, which is good.

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  17. Raccoons are a problem here, too, but I have rarely seen them in the daytime. I know they can be mean and dangerous. You were right to retreat!

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    1. I'd never get too close to one as they can be fierce. Seeing one out during daytime also isn't a good sign - he was likely either desperate or sick.

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  18. Interesting wild life in your garden. I can' t imagine having racoons about the place. Your birds are lovely. I have never seen a Roadrunner before.

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    1. I'd never seen a roadrunner before either, Chloris. This one was about 90 minutes to the south of us, adjacent to a wild area.

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  19. Love the wildlife report! I'm sure the birds love your fountain. Hummingbirds are busy here, at the feeders and at the flowers. Neighbors say there used to be quail -- I'd love it if they came back. Also: lizards, one tree frog(!), and we hear the coyotes almost every night.

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    1. We have coyotes too, Luisa, but not quail or tree frogs!

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  20. Or maybe your raccoon was rabid and wanted to attack you. He looks tiny compared to those we see here, perhaps because in your climate they require less fur. Wildlife in our garden is a couple of frogs, raccoons, an occasional possum, neighborhood cats, and birds.

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    1. The raccoon did look scruffy. I prefer to think he was reaching the end of his natural life rather than sick, though. They don't live long in urban areas - a week probably doesn't go by without my seeing one that's been hit on the road. While I don't like the damage they do to my garden, I don't wish that fate on them.

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  21. Oh wow, a roadrunner! I've seen one, many years ago when our family took a trip out west.

    Have you seen the PBS show about urban raccoons?

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    1. The roadrunner was a chance sighting when we were visiting San Clemente adjacent to a wild area. I saw the PBS feature on urban raccoons - it made me more sympathetic to them.

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