Posts Tagged ‘raccoon’

Resident Racoon

A new animal set up residence in our backyard recently … a raccoon.

There are enough places for the coon to hide, especially under the barn.

The raccoon must be mostly nocturnal or have other small places to hide. The animals — foxes, raccoons, ground hogs take turns living there.

It stays close to barn where it can easily hide.

I wonder what it’s watching? Is it worried about another animal wanting a new “home?”

Our two-acre yard offers many places for wildlife to set up residence.

 

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A Yard Possibility

I get excited over the some of the strangest things. Here’s a good example.

Buffy and I took the kitchen scraps to the compost pile this morning.

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I walked up to this first. It was completely dry, which was odd because it rained all day yesterday and until almost 10 p.m. last night.

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A second “bundle” was next. It contained fibers, hair, synthetic batting and other “stuff.”

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And the third contained more of the same. Then I noticed Buffy smelling along the side of the barn that’s above the ground.

We went in, and I started studying in my Mammals of Illinois book. To shorten the story:

Our habitat isn’t right for raccoons.

 It’s too early for groundhogs. They don’t breed until late February or in March. I only saw a fox in the yard twice last year. A groundhog lived under the barn for 2 months, at least. It would stick its head out in the evening and watch me working in my flower gardens.

This leaves foxes. They are monestrous — meaning they have only a single estrous cycle per year. They breed late January and February. Gestation lasts about 51 days. So the young are born late March or in April here in southern Illinois. Today is January 12.

I figured the hair and fibers etc. in the pictures were remnants of when the groundhog was under the barn, and a fox removed them.

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Here’s two pictures of when they had their den under the barn in 2012. There were 4 kits.

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So, now I wait and hope they’re going to raise their young under the barn again.

Unexpected Visitor

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The last thing I expected to see roaming around my backyard was a young raccoon. Mainly because I don’t remember ever seeing one in the yard.

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I took the first few pictures through the window.

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Then it moved around to where I could sneak out to the front corner of the barn for closer pictures.

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It took its time feeding  around the area and then disappeared behind the barn.

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!

Persimmon Smorgasbord

Our volunteer persimmon tree kind of gets lost in the tangle of plants and trees that border the lower part of our yard. The hill in the background is on our neighbor’s and is the end of an old strip pit.

I always forget about the persimmon tree. Then I realized it was the reason why Buffy kept disappearing when we were out. It’s the tall spindly tree near middle of the picture.

From what I’ve heard, the persimmon trees have out-done themselves with fruit this summer. The tree grows against our side of the neighbor’s fence. He’s let the area behind us grow up like our shrub border.

I followed Buffy in the thick of things to check things out. It’s denser than it looks in the picture. Then I found an abundance of poison ivy. I even had problems finding an easy way out.

 Buffy had eaten all the persimmons that had fallen. They don’t drop until they’re ripe.

I do hope some animals come and dine on the smorgasbord of fruit. Online research listed coyote, fox, raccoon, squirrel, possum, deer, quail and wild turkey as eating persimmons.

As for dogs eating persimmons, ones under 60 pounds aren’t supposed to eat them because of the size of the seeds.

I do hope other animals help eat the fallen persimmons. Buffy doesn’t need so many. I’m supposed to get her down to 90 pounds, and the persimmons aren’t helping one bit.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jacket nest entrance -- Where?

Can you find the opening to a yellow jackets’ underground nest? It’s not the small hole in the middle of the picture near the stick. I obviously wouldn’t have found it either if I hadn’t been stooped there taking flower pictures. I kept on taking pictures and then had to hunt to find the tunnel opening to photograph it. I didn’t find it until the yellow jacket came back out of the nest.

Entrance to nest, with yellow jacket coming out

The arrow in the picture (left) shows the head of the yellow jacket coming out of the nest. Today’s Tuesday, April 17. This blows my mind. On Monday, April 9th, Buffy and I were hiking here at my rural property too. We were walking up the trail in woods toward the barrens, when a yellow jacket flew in, landed and went into the hole to its nest. In all the years I’ve hiked, going back over 30 years to when my kids were young, I only saw 1 yellow jacket nest. The yellow jacket flew from its nest. There I was, and it stung me right below the elbow. That was when I found out I was allergic to them.

This other picture is one I took several winters ago when I found a nest that had been dug out by either a skunk or raccoon. Bears will dig them out too, but we don’t have them here in southern Illinois.

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Yellow jackets are 1/2 to 5/8 inch long. They live in meadows and edges of forested land, where they usually nest in the ground or at ground level in stumps and fallen logs. Adults eat nectar. Larvae are fed insects pre-chewed by adults.

Yellow jackets overwinter as fertilized queens. The queens become active in the spring, when they gather nesting materials and start a small nest. After she makes a few hexagonal cells and a covering around them, she lays an egg in each cell. The eggs hatch in a week, and the queen feeds the larvae small bits of prey for 10-12 days.

The larvae then pupate in their cells for another 12 days. The adults emerge as sterile females and start working for the queen. Late in the summer, the queen lays eggs that develop into males and fertile females. These mate. The fertilized females overwinter, and the cycle begins again.

I do hope my luck goes back to not seeing yellow jackets going in or coming out of their nest.