Cicada exoskeletons left hanging in the bosque.
We where walking on the levee well after sundown, when we heard a cry that sounded somewhat like a monkey. We looked in the trees, but could not see who was crying. Then we saw a bird jump from branch to branch. Finally a Copper’s Hawk settled on a branch where we had a better view, and I was able to get photos of it through the branches and leaves. It jumped to another branch where it was mostly hidden, but then a much larger bird, flapped it’s wings closer to the Cooper’s Hawk; but it remained hidden behind branches and leaves. The Cooper’s Hawk flew back to another branch where I was able to get another photo of it before it took off into the bosque. A Great Horned Owl (possibly Virginia) flew out from behind the branches and leaves into the bosque a few moments later. I presume the owl was after the Cooper’s Hawk’s chicks and the Cooper’s Hawk was trying to distract the owl with it’s crying. Great horned owls are three to four times larger than Cooper’s Hawks, and could easily make a meal of an adult Cooper’s Hawk, which is probably why the Copper’s Hawk was not attacking the owl.
Everybody wants to get in on the Off Center & Not Even music scene these days. We came across a group of toads (Bufo woodhousii) in the bosque last night that call themselves The Kaleidoscopic Croakers, which is rather obvious from the photo I took of them under the light of our phones. They croaked out a bluegrass-like tune for us that they call A Chorus of Crazy Croaking.
I went for a walk in the bosque at sunset, and caught the pink on the Sandias — there was not a cloud in the sky. I headed north after sunset and ran into two coyotes on the trail. They perked up when they saw me, then high-tailed it in the opposite direction. Then I saw Virginia perched on a branch. It was nice to see Virginia, I hadn’t seen her in months.
We haven’t seen the badgers the last two nights. Either they were foraging farther away from their den, not coming out as early, or they got tired of the attention and moved their den. Their den is roughly 50 feet from the main trail in the bosque that gets a lot of foot, dog, bike and horse traffic. For the couple of times we have seen the badgers they were very cooperative. If you missed the video of the badgers I posted last week, you can watch it at https://wp.me/p1yQyy-4iU.
Leslie, one of our bosque buddies, walked towards me on the ditch bank holding her camera in such a way I knew she got something special. “I got a first for the bosque!” she called out. “A badger” as she showed me a photo of a badger looking over a pile of sand on her camera’s screen. I said “Wow! I didn’t know we had badgers in the bosque.” On Friday afternoon I walked through the bosque and found the badger’s burrow, but the sun was still fairly high, and I didn’t see any badgers.
Last night I went out at sunset, and found a mama badger and two large badger cubs playing and foraging around the entrance to their den. I started shooting video with a 320mm lens. I was about 50 to 75 feet from the badgers. One cub at the entrance of the den saw me and watched me while its sibling romped and tugged at it. I moved to a better position, because the camera kept trying to focus on the foliage in the foreground. While one cub watched me, its sibling hadn’t noticed I was there, and started foraging on the edge of the sandhill. Likewise, mama badger was oblivious while I filmed her and her cubs. The cub playing on the edge of the mound suddenly noticed me, stopped, stared at me for an instance, and then ran to the den and dived in the hole. The mama ran up the the entrance of the den at the cub’s sudden activity, and acting slightly confused, she put her head down toward the hole. All of a sudden she shifted her position and looked at me as if the cubs said “Mama! There’s a paparazzo filming us.” She looked at me for a second, and then dove in the hole herself.
I started calling them and I believe the cub that was looking at me from the beginning, popped its head up and stared at me. I talked to it, told it I was okay. It ducked back into the hole, only to pop it’s head up again a few seconds later. It seemed fascinated by the paparazzo in black talking to it. It started getting dark, so I said my goodbyes and the cub stared at me halfway in the entrance to the den as I walked away.
I wrote and recorded the music accompanying the video this afternoon. The Badgers seemed worthy of their own song.