Archive for the ‘raccoon’ Tag

4 Legs   1 comment

Sandhill Crane vs. Raccoon   Leave a comment

In the battle between raccoon and sandhill crane, it appears we have a winner.

 

Camera Trap 01

Camera Trap 02

A raccoon attempts to snag an easy meal at one of the feeders set up to supply the Mississippi sandhills with extra calories during the nesting season at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. The two adult cranes decide that this will not happen on their watch and begin to display defensive behavior — the raccoon rethinks his strategy and decides to find lunch elsewhere! A juvenile crane (the drab colored individual) watches and learns in the background.

(Photo USFWS Camera Trap). Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 7/25/14.

Beware The Mini-Bears   3 comments

Little Girl had been after me for years to go camping again. It used to be our annual tradition to go to the Sequoia National Park every Memorial Day weekend. We lost the tradition as the kids got older & busier … and now, we hadn’t been camping as a family in far too many years.

A plan was born.

MrsMowry fell out because of her fabulous new job. That was sad because she had never been camping with the family, but work has to come first at least occasionally, right? MrsMowry & her husband will go camping next time.

The rest of the family – including Payton – would go camping over the July 4th weekend. I would go to the Sequoia National Park early to secure a good spot to camp during this holiday weekend. That meant I would get 2 days of solitude with the big trees before the family showed up.

Perhaps you missed that: 2 days of solitude.

What a fabulous thing. I. Could. Not. Wait.

I drove up on Monday and found the campsite in Crystal Springs, right next to Grant’s Grove. Elevation: 6,500′. Distance to the nearest sequoia: 120′. Distance to the nearest human that first night: unknown, as I couldn’t see their tent from my campsite.

Heaven.

I set up my tent, bedding and Velda’s kitchen with 3-burner stove. I stowed all of the food in the bear box quickly … the boys & I had learned how important that was when we visited Philmont a few years ago. There, you learn that bears WILL eat any smellable thing they can find that’s not in a proper bear-proof container. We also learned that mini-bears (AKA ground squirrels) were actually far more common and not at all cute after they got into your food stash. Beware the mini-bears.

No problem; everything went into the bear box.

Bear Box

Critters without fine motor skills and no ability to use a tool can’t open this box of goodies.

Dinner turned out to be a bit of a challenge, because I made a huge mistake. I’ve trained Scouts. I’ve trained my family. And I failed … to pack my own gear. We had a busy weekend leading up to my Monday morning departure, and Velda packed my food and the kitchen supplies. When we packed my car, I grabbed the containers with everything that I “needed” for my 2 days alone, and then grabbed more of the group’s supplies so they wouldn’t have as much to bring north.

Monday night’s dinner, I decided would be soup. I had a nice can of chowder to open … and no pot to cook it in. I made do, and heated the soup in the can on the stove. It didn’t work very well, as you might have guessed, but I had warm soup and I did not starve. And, oh my, the stars that night in my cold camp. Lovely.

(Side note: I found that Velda had snuck in a can of barley soup, which must be an attempt at humor on her part. I haven’t eaten barley without comment since the great barley soup pot of ’97 became a legend in her kitchen. But she still tries to sneak that stuff into my diet. You’ve got to watch her every minute, apparently.)

Tuesday morning dawned, and I took a wonderful hike. Didn’t see a human on the trek. Lovely pictures to follow.

I got back to camp and found that I had some international neighbors across the road (it fascinates me what an international experience it is when visiting our national parks). A German family with 2 teenaged boys were my new neighbors. I didn’t bother them and they didn’t bother me … and we had a quiet afternoon in camp. All good.

Dinner time, I decided, would be a peanut butter sandwich (when I’m cooking in camp, it is a decidedly gourmet selection, you see). I got the bread and peanut butter out of the bear box, and then returned to get the cooler out and pour myself a Diet Coke. Life was good. I was about 15′ away from my picnic table, pouring my soda.

The next thing I knew, there was a smiling AGY (Annoying German Youth) pointing his cellphone behind the bear box … where a raccoon was eating my bread. The AGY apparently thought it more important to capture the moment for posterity than it was to yell, “Hey, Stupid Guy!  That Mini-Bear is eating your food!”

Once I figured out that I was being burgled, I yelled at the ‘coon and ran to get my bread.

At which point I learned that a raccoon carries a package of bread in his mouth and runs faster than I do.

And then my shorts fell down.

Chase over.

My dinner became peanut butter bagels. See, I didn’t starve.

AGY followed the critter at a leisurely pace about 100’ up the hill, watched him eat the bread and scurry away. The AGY then returned the torn, empty bread wrapper to me.

Thoughtful AGY, that one. I’m sure he put my mini-bear adventure on YouTube. Let me know if you find it, and I’ll send the AGY my, uh, regards.

Bread Wrapper

The mini-bear got 4 pieces of bread. I got outsmarted by a quadriped.

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