Monday, December 29, 2008

Who goes there?


The same night I took the tree photo I took this shot of our front walk. Something(s) had been there, but I couldn't figure out who or what, because I couldn't make out a pattern to the prints. The next day, in sunlight, I saw they were definitely mammal tracks, most likely one of our red foxes. But there was something else mysterious about them--one paw has six toes. Do you think this looks like one fox who came back the other way? Or maybe two foxes walking side by side? I still can't make out the actual walking pattern, can you?

27 comments:

Nancy P said...

You'll have to take my word for this, but it wasn't a cat, and probably not a dog, because we just don't have stray dogs. The prints have a central pad and then the five--(six)--toes radiating out from it in a neat semi-circle. We do have raccoons, but these didn't look like raccoon prints. Also, not a marmot. :)

And this, early or not, is the Tuesday morning post!

FARfetched said...

If you had a close-up of one of the prints? Are all the prints six toes, or just one foot?

Interesting. I wouldn't think foxes would walk up that close to your house. Raccoons, yeah, possums, definitely.

boran2 said...

It was probably just a adolescent yeti. Don't be too concerned. Yet.

katiebird said...

I love this series, Nancy. FAR, foxes walk right up to the houses around here all the time. A few years ago a family of red foxes lived under the deck of the house right across the street from us for a while.

Nancy P said...

Only one foot had six toes.

Yeti. Snort!

Yeah, and our neighbor puts out dog food for them, so. . .(I know, I know, but they were really thin and starving-looking last winter and she couldn't bear it.)

Prints were too big for possum, I think.

AndiF said...

I can't tell from the picture but the next time you're writing at the library, Nancy, you could bring home a book on animal tracks and see if you can identify them.

We had a meet up with a coyote Sunday. I was walking up a hill and looked up and Giddy and Bebo were nose-to-nose with it. There was no snarling, growling, showing of teeth and the coyote just turned and trotted off. And Bebo and Giddy trotted off after. Sad to say, I have no picture because the camera was put away and I was too startled to react in time.

Even after they followed it, there was no barking and howling like there is when they chase something and I only had to call for a few minutes before they came back. Definitely not what I was expecting for our first dog-coyote encounter. I think it was probably a good thing that Sniff was off elsewhere because I think he would have been a lot less friendly.

Morning all.

Lisa M said...

Nancy the naturalist and wildlife photographer.
Wish we had foxes to watch.
Feeding wild animals/feral animals--I have mixed emotions.
Bird seed is as far as I go.
Neighbors feed feral cats. Result is more feral cats which provide meals for coyotes. The natural cycle of life.
Five toes doesn't look like fox.
animal tracks

Andi--interesting the dogs did so well. Animals never cease to amaze me.

Terrific Tuesday to All.

Maria Lima said...

Could be the tracks were made by the ghost of Christmas just past? Or perhaps a partially changed shapeshifter...

Good morning, all!

I am finally feeling much better and the cough is abating. w00t!! Off to the mimes today for another fun-filled day of catch up (because many of my clients are on vacation).

Happy Tuesday!

AndiF said...

Yeah Lisa, I was really surprised -- makes me think that they've met up with coyotes before, which wouldn't be that surprising since we hear them all the time at night.

Nancy, I download the picture so I could look at the tracks blown up. Since that made them rather indistinct it wasn't that easy to compare them to what is in my animal tracks book but the tracks they look most like are skunk tracks. There were also some members of the weasel family that had a similar foot shape.

Beth said...

Sitting in the Portland, ME bus station, where the only tracks are from snow boots. I miss living in the woods, where we had critter visitors all the time. My dogs got very skittish when they heard coyotes, though.

Had a great visit with my writer friends. Gleaned lots of tidbits from Janet, and enjoyed talking writing and life with Cindy.

Hope everyone's week is going well, and you're finishing up your 2008 tasks. Can you believe we're 40-ish hours from 2009?

Nancy P said...

Wow, Andi, what an experience for all the mammals! I'm so surprised there was no growling, etc.

How did the coyote compare in size to the dogs?

Nancy P said...

Sheesh, Lisa, it didn't look like any of those,except maybe the badger, only without the imprint of the nails. I can't look at the prints now, cause they, er, melted, but if I could I'd check closer for toenails/claws.

FARfetched said...

Good thing it wasn't a possum. My buddy in SC woke up one morning to find an adolescent possum in bed with him! Skunks can be fairly brave, and I've heard stories about groundhogs tearing through screen doors to get into (occupied) houses.

KB, interesting about foxes. We have some around, but they don’t get close to the house. 'Course, we have dogs. I remember one night at the old place, we heard our dog having a heated argument with a fox.

Andi, we have coyotes here too. Much noise 'most every night, from them and our dogs. Interesting that there was no argument there… maybe it was a she-yote? BTW, if I was putting money on this, mine would be on your guess of skunk/weasel.

Yay, Maria, cough going away!

Work beckons. A little, anyway. I did a pretty good job of clearing the important items off my to-do list before staycation, so I'm trying to decide what's the most of the least important stuff… later!

Nancy P said...

My buddy in SC woke up one morning to find an adolescent possum in bed with him!

Omg, far! What happened next?

I'll have to wait to read the rest of the story, 'cause I'm off to my cubicle in the library.

GhostFolk.com said...

My buddy in SC woke up one morning to find an adolescent possum in bed with him!

Omg, far! What happened next?>>

A. He made up a really good story to tell his wife. B. Quit drinking for an entire week.

Nicola Slade said...

Years ago, when my husband was working abroad I often used to wake up to find the dog asleep next to me - snoring, hairy chest, no wonder I was confused!

Here in rural suburbia in the Deep South of England the largest mammal we get is the roe deer, which roam wild and tend to hang out in the nature reserve at the bottom of our garden. It can be disconcerting sometimes as their little heads look rather like kangaroos!

Beth said...

Ha, Ghostie! I would think that would scare you away from drinking for longer than a week...

Nancy, I just got a Google alert for your new book...but Barnes and Noble says it's out of print, and I can't order it just yet. :-)

Kelly McCullough said...

Makes me wish I'd taken a picture of our front walk last week. We had two sets of prints, the mailman, and a deer.

GhostFolk.com said...

>> last week. We had two sets of prints, the mailman, and a deer.>>

Reindeer, Kelly?

Nicola, I hope the dog was one of yours?

That's the thing about possoms, you never know if they're one of yours or not. Kind of like when your kids are in junior high.

Oh, Beth, a week of not drinking is a very long time for the truly devout.

Nicola Slade said...

GhostFolk - 'I hope the dog was one of yours...' (I'd do a smiley if I knew how!) Indeed she was, and it was the smell that usually alerted me that it wasn't my nearest and dearest. Dog lived to be well over 16 and we used to say she was older than the Queen Mother but that we trusted that the QM didn't smell so awful!

AndiF said...

Nancy, the coyote was a lot smaller than Giddy (the malamutt who weighs about 80 lbs) and a good bit bigger than Bebo (who is a skinny, skinny, skinny). I'm guessing it was maybe 50 lbs.

Farf, when did the coyotes return to your area? They've been back here for about 15 years but they've been getting really common in the last 5-6.

Today I went to visit with my only two friends I've kept since high school (in part because we also went to the same university). We've known each other since 1965 and I'm sometimes unnerved by the idea that we could have been friends for such a long time (how did that much time pass!?!). Yet it's a lovely feeling -- having a friendship that is as easy to put on and comfy as one of Mr. Rogers' sweaters.

FARfetched said...

OK, possum story: my friend (who's single, btw) was sleeping in his own bed, minding his own business, when he turned over and felt something squirm out from under him. That, as you might expect, woke him up rather quickly. He turned on the light and saw the possum on the floor, looking up at him, apparently trying to decide whether it was safe to climb back in. He told the possum to scat, and it ambled down the hall and disappeared down the dryer vent. I think he blocked the hole before going back to sleep.

Andi, the coyotes were eradicated back in the 1960s, but wild dogs quickly filled the abandoned niche — actually worse than the coyotes, because the latter almost never attack people. The state DNR re-introduced them in the early 1980s, and they either absorbed or interbred with the wild dogs. They took up residence around FAR Manor shortly after some timber people took out our beetle-infested pine trees — they left a couple massive brush piles in the woods nearby which we suspect became coyote dens. Since they're in the woods & we've been in a drought since 2006, we can't burn 'em in place. I would like to have a patio out back with a firepit; I'd burn the pine in that, but not in our insert.

Lisa M said...

Nancy, possibility of skunk or weasle isn't near as fun sounding as Maria's shapeshifter.

Boy, you guys and your possums-in-bed stories make me grateful for my cats and occasional dog.
Nancy, keep that door closed tight.

Beth, so glad you had good time with writer buddies.

Andi, comfortable old friends are wonderful. I miss mine a great deal.

Thanks to all for so many laughs today.

Maria Lima said...

I think I prefer the shapeshifter, too - to possums in bed and/or skunks!

My parents got rid of the cat door on their enclosed porch due to strays and other critters discovering they could come inside and not only partake of the cat food, but roam the house.

Their cat is still very huffy that he can't let himself out in the yard.

Nancy P said...

It occurs to me that the next post is a shapeshifter.

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