Sunday, June 23, 2013

Road Runner, Lizards, Coyote, Pronghorn Antelope, Super Moon and Strange Furry Thing

It's been awhile since I posted so of course I have plenty to talk about! The neighborhood road runner stopped by yesterday and strolled around the yard, pausing on occasion so I could take his picture.

He's definitely a male and I think he's young, perhaps looking for a female, but when he visits my house we all know he's looking for food. I have a large shrub in the backyard and he occasionally squats inside the shrub pretending to be part of the branches, as if the little birds can't see his big ol' tail and beak sticking out. He's not as sneaky as he thinks he is, but we still love him.

My young friend who lives down the street brought me another gift last night. The first time I met my neighbor he was walking down the street with a friend. They were both carrying buckets and I knew what that meant--they were catching lizards! They stopped to show me their collection and I told them I was going to miss the lizards when I move back to Colorado and always wished I could take some back for my grandchildren. A few minutes later the boys showed up at my door with two lizards in cups. I kept them in a fish tank for a few weeks then opened the lid and one escaped out the back door, but the other seemed content to grow fat on hand-fed crickets inside the tank. I finally picked it up and placed it on a plant outside so it could get some fresh air and it disappeared inside the plant. 

In my neighborhood we have home-delivered lizards in a cup! (They really are handsome young men, but I thought it was best not to show their faces without asking permission from their parents.) 

So, last night I stopped to chat while I was walking my dog, Holly, and his cousin is visiting so we introduced ourselves. During the conversation we learned we have a lot in common--we all love lizards, watch Treehouse Masters, and want to live in a treehouse! I don't just want a treehouse in my backyard, I want a treehouse for my home! Shortly after I returned home the boys knocked on the door. They had a gift for me, a lizard they caught behind my house. It was cute. I handled him for a bit then set him free. 

The boys told me they do the same thing--watch the lizards, learn from them, then set them free. It's important to wash up well after handling lizards, though, because they can carry salmonella, but they're generally gentle creatures that will sit on your hand or arm for awhile so you can get a closer look before they slowly stroll down your fingertips and climb onto a nearby tree branch. I always stand near the shrub, a tree, or the brick wall so they don't climb onto the ground where one of my dogs might get them. 

I visited Colorado and returned last week, which is why I haven't posted in awhile. The entire drive there and back there were signs on the sides of the road and above the highways to watch for wildlife. This is because Colorado and New Mexico are both suffering from severe drought and wildfires are burning furiously in both states. I did actually see quite a few animals, though. As I was driving on Raton Pass the smoke was so thick that cars and trucks were pulling over to the side of the road. I pulled over, stopped, the smoke began to clear, and I suddenly realized I was only five inches away from a huge elk who was standing in front of my truck. I almost hit this beautiful creature! I couldn't see her and she couldn't see me because of the smoke! Thankfully, she ran off into the forest instead of onto the highway. 

Elk grazing in Loveland, Colorado near my daughter's home.

Shortly after I drove through Trinidad I had to pull over again due to a severe rainstorm. When the rain stopped I started up my truck, looked to the left for cars and saw a beautiful coyote strolling through the grass on the opposite side of the highway.

When I see these animals I am always filled with gratitude that they managed to escape the inferno and find safety, but I also pray that they also manage to stay off the highways and roads so they don't get hit by cars. I think sometimes people forget that it is not just humans who are affected by wildfires. Thousands of animals die in these fires and just as many lose their homes. 

As I continued down the highway I noticed a small herd of antelope grazing near the highway fence. The females often run off when I stop to take pictures, but the male of the herd watches carefully to see what I intend to do.  

Of course, all I did was stand beside my truck and take pictures, but I admire him for his calm demeanor. When the male realizes I am only taking photographs he will round up the females and young back into a herd, keeping them together. This one didn't seem to be in too much of a hurry to round up his family. He clearly did not feel threatened by my presence and even looks a bit bored. 

It didn't take long to bring the family together again. They didn't go far. In fact, one of the females continued to stand near the fence the entire time I took photographs. 

There are two herds that I often see on my drive to Colorado. They are both between Las Vegas and Raton, New Mexico and on the west side of the highway. They are small herds, but beautiful, and fun to watch.

Last night was the night of the Super Moon when the moon appeared larger than it has for years. I managed to take some great photographs as the sun was setting and pink clouds floated across the sky. As I was taking pictures, my husband noticed a small, furry creature creeping across the top of our brick wall fence. He did not recognize the animal, which is interesting because we have encountered everything you can imagine while living in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, from marmots and raccoon to o'possum and ringtail cats. He said he had no idea what this creature could be, though. Perhaps it was the light of the moon that made the furry animal seem so mysterious, or perhaps it was the super moon that brought him out of his home to explore. Either way, it was exciting. A bit of a mystery!