Tuesday, May 19, 2009

15 May 2009

The day after a rainstorm has always brought me luck, and today is no exception. Because Wednesday was clear I have the timing right: up at 4 am and in the field by 4:45. As usual, the Whip-poor-wills and Nighthawks serenade my night hike.
I arrive in darkness, and plop down where I sat two days prior and wait. Mist forms out over the distant pond, and ebbs back and forth in the field below. I love this time of year. Fog is a filmmaker's friend. It deadens the subject's sense of smell and often they come in closer to try and figure me out.
A monstrous buck ascends the ridge next to me. He looks as though someone smashed two cupcakes on top of his head. He stands on his hind legs to reach leaves in a nearby tree, then begins to follow the game trail towards me. At about 30 feet he knows something isn't right. He looks and looks, stomps his front leg and bobs his head. I sit completely still: even watching him with one eye closed. He snorts a little -- trying to get my scent. Nothing. After some time, he finally decides he doesn't like what he sees, and flicks his tail and walks away. 
Only minutes pass and reinforcements arrive up on the ridge. The cupcake buck is joined by two others: a second buck with tall, bifurcated antlers, and a yearling. All three are still in their winter brown drab. Once again, they move in close to investigate. The tall-antlered male moves in first, while cupcake hangs back with the yearling. Just what is this thing? Moving very slowly, I manage to swing my camera around to get a few shots. It's a repeat performance: head bobbing, snorting, and foot stomping. Reluctantly, they turn and half-heartedly leap through the grass. I still don't think they quite figured me out.
As always the odd turkey shows up to forage in the field. There are so many turkey on the park I've stopped filming them unless they're doing something other than eating.
A pair of Brown thrashers have been dutifully visiting a clump of shrubs all morning. When I go over to investigate, the loud wail of a fire station siren goes off. Wait. There, not more than a half-mile from me is a group of coyote pups howling. It's good to know they're nearby. So aside from all the other city noise, I always welcome the sound of a fire station siren.

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