Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Death by moonlight, dinner by day

People travel from all over the world to places like the Serengeti to watch grazing animals get torn apart and eaten by big cats and other predators. This winter Nature-ripe-with-tooth-and-claw-and-beak came to our own back yard.
First it was the accipitors who find our cute little sparrows that come to our feeder so irresistible.
Turkey vulture, carcass and tracks.
Then two nights ago something, a coyote perhaps, broke into the deer pen at the bottom of our hill and routed the deer sheltered there. Perhaps half-a-dozen fled uphill. All but one got away. By mid-day, the turkey vultures had discovered the remains and dined al fresco all afternoon. This morning, the crows are taking their turn.
Turkey vultures on the deerkill.
The deer was young, perhaps a yearling. It bogged down in the deep, crushed snow, its thin hooves breaking through over a foot-and-a-half, reducing its panicked run to a crawl, while the coyote danced about it, its paws sinking in no more than an inch.
Deer tracks to right, deep and dragged.  Coyote's to left, barely breaking the surface of the snow.
The chase ranged back-and-forth over an area half the size of a football field before the victim slipped and stumbled once too often. All this story was easy to see in the bright sunshine of Monday.
The scene of battle with remains of the loser.
I hope that what little is left will be carted way by foxes before all this snow finally melts.

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