A Two-Encounter Outing … Then More

The ice on the driveway finally melted enough I could get out safely.

So, what did Buffy and I do? We headed for a short outing at Stone Face.

“Is that a turkey?” was my repeating thought when I saw something dark in a big corn field. When I see turkeys in that field, there’s usually 15-20 of them.

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As I got closer, I could tell it was a raccoon. I stopped the truck, left the motor running, opened the door and took pictures.

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It kept feeding, totally unaware of me. The cold wind had me slowly in and out of the truck. The raccoon didn’t see me until I put the truck in reverse and backed toward a place where I could turn around. It took off at high speed toward the woods “way back yonder.”

 The final road to Stone Face was shaded and too icy to drive. I backed up to turn around again. As I approached the road where I planned to turn right, the road going up a small incline …. I saw an animal crossing the road. At first glance it looked similar to the partial albino otter I had in the yard last year. I got the truck stopped. The animal — a dingy blond, bushy tail, and its underside all black (not the tail) ….. a skunk! It disappeared into the thick of things before I could get a picture. Its fur was bushy, longish, backlit by the sun, and looked poofed by the wind.

I wish you could see the mental picture I filed in my memory of the encounter!

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This brought up another raccoon memory from way back when. Luckily, I made it out in one piece. I was standing/drawing in the woods, not far from a gravel road. Then I heard movement behind me … 4 young raccoons, walking in a straight line right towards me. Behind them came the mother, who was rooting around for food. None had spotted me. I moved, not wanting the adult to get too close.

She made an alarm noise. The young darted up the nearest young trees. She ran into the tall grasses. The young had no fear of me and were quite curious. They stayed where they were. She called to them. They stayed put. She kept calling, and they finally ran over to  her.

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Two days ago, Buffy and I went on the drive above. We made the same trip today. It was nice to have most of the ice melted. Cloudy weather’s no reason to stay home, especially after so much ice confinement.

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We headed for Stone Face again, this time on the highway and  then through the corn fields on a blacktop road. Geese flew all around. Large flocks were coming our direction from the north and east. They practically blackened the fields in places, and their honking increased.

We’ve had a lack of sunshine for a few days. I do apologize for the quality of all these pictures. I took them from a stopped truck. That it was still running, didn’t help much.

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And then …. and then… 37 “white pillows” off in a cornfield … swans. I was then on more ice than I wanted to be. I made one stop after another trying to get the best view.

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The road was mostly ice because of being shaded by woods along the south side of it. I eased up to turn around on the Stone Face road, and ended up going on up to the creek. Temperature was below freezing, and no sunlight left most of the ground in the woods with more slippery ice than uncovered leaves. Needless to say, we didn’t stay long.

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And then … on the way home … wild turkeys fed in a corn field. There were 20-30 of them. I didn’t count. They were scattered out and not close to the road.

Now you see why we make this drive often. It provides a short outing when I feel the need for one. Buffy’s always willing too.

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Both my sons automatically call me when they see something they know I’d want to see. This morning it was bald eagles. I immediately suited up and was out the door. My first thought (which I’m sure came from them), “Put the petal to the metal.” I stayed within the speed limit. Keith said there were two in the field and one circling to land.

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One eagle was fine with me. The morning was overcast, and the eagle was a ways out in the field. I never shut the engine off in a situation like this, because it usually alerts the subject to my presence and shortens the encounter. I eased the truck up when the eagle was bent over feeding.

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Oh my, what a good 4 days in terms of wildlife. The only thing I missed was a coyote (which I rarely see anyway).

There’s my excuse for another loop drive!

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Ended up I didn’t make another loop drive. This morning Buffy and I were on our way home from an outing, when I heard a distinctive bird call — sandhill cranes!

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They flew in a large formation and were gone in no time. Then behind me, came more calling. Another group headed our way. With their distance and height, I couldn’t see if they were on the camera display or not. I just aimed, tried to focus and took as many pictures as I could.

Now, yes, I’m sure this time …  this is the end of this blog!

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14 responses to this post.

  1. Great photos! What a nice day for you and Buffy 🙂

    Reply

  2. Posted by Therese on February 23, 2014 at 9:31 am

    What a day! I miss hiking so much. Thanks for giving me a vicarious hike!

    Reply

  3. Wonderful encounters–that’s a whole lot of wildlife in a shot time. Thanks for sharing it with us in photos and with words.

    Reply

    • So glad you enjoyed my adventures. It was almost like Christmas with one present after another. I’ll definitely be looking for that skunk every time I’m in that area.

      Reply

  4. After reading this you’d think spring was coming! How great to see so much wildlife in less than a week.

    Reply

  5. Great many encounters, the little raccoons could have put you in a precarious spot, good thing they finally listened to mom . . . my driveway is still covered with ice and it won’t be melting for awhile with expected low temps coming back! Stay warm

    Reply

    • It took our ice way to long to melt. Buffy and are hiking tomorrow before the next Arctic blast. The little raccoons were fascinated with me. They were so cute.
      I have a fossil blog I plan to post soon. Think you’ll like it .. so fascinating.

      Reply

  6. A fantastic loop to venture around when you feel the need for nature and wildlife. What superb sightings! I’ve never seen a sandhill crane, I’m amazed at the flock you captured. Kudos on eagle shots!

    When you mentioned petal to the metal, I LOL’d while envisioning myself today trying to maneuver closer to a huge flock of snow geese on back country roads. I was short on time, and my petal was to the metal. No other cars or ice on the roads thank goodness. Oh and I did find a road and got closer, what a sighting it was!

    Reply

    • Thanks. Sandhill cranes didn’t used to migrate over us (southern Illinois). So I don’t know why the change. I’ve never seen them landing anywhere (which doesn’t meant much). Their loud calling can be heard a long way. They fly HIGH too.

      Reply

  7. What a fun drive, I hope those Sandhill Cranes are heading to their stopover in Tennessee, I’ll be home in a few days and just may take a drive down south and see if they are around..:-)

    Reply

    • I haven’t heard any since those and don’t really know anything about their migrations in the first place. I was camping at my place back in 1989. I birded a lot back then. I heard a weird calling, 12 sandhill cranes flew overhead going north. Their number was a state record for southern Illinois and would’ve been in Opler’s Birds of Illinois book if the book had’nt just gone to the printers. So,

      Reply

    • I talked to my son. He saw sandhills a week and a half ago. I saw the ones in the blog on Feb 15

      Reply

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