I went across to the vacant lot/new bush, to see what's happening in January. It was as expected, soggy underfoot, treacherous with trailing, leafless blackberry canes and rusting wires, bleak under its coat of dead grasses and bare trees. But there was life there, and I followed the trails, bending to watch things swimming under the ice of the puddles, or chase a beetle until he scuttled under a mass of rotting weeds.
I rounded the base of a rise near the back of the lot, and there, almost spitting distance in front of me was a coyote. A big adult, looking healthy and alert; well fed.
He saw me at the same time. By the time I'd focused the camera, he was racing off into the bush along the creek.
But I got a photo. Not a good one.
|Just the top of his back visible. The orange thing is a piece of trash caught in the branches. His head is behind that.|
I retraced my footsteps, and went around the hill to enter the creek bed from the far side, hoping to maybe catch another glimpse of him. But he was long gone. What I did find was his scat.
|Coyote scat. A nicer word than poop, but the same thing. By the feather remains, I gather that he's been eating birds.|
Looking up coyote scat id for confirmation, I learned a few things.
- Recognize the shape of coyote scat. Coyotes produce scat that is about the diameter of a cigar and is tapered at one end. (ehow.com)
Check. The taper isn't too obvious in the photo, as it's at the far end and tangled in the grass.
- Droppings will also be frequently located at strategic locations such as cross roads and along trails as coyotes use their droppings to mark territory. (ICWDM)
Check. This was a well-travelled trail I was following.
- Coyote scat often does not have much of a scent. (Wilderness College)
Check. I didn't notice any scent. A dog's droppings, fed as he would be with processed dog food, has a strong, offensive smell.
- In one Missouri study of coyote scat, local coyotes were found to have consumed 47 different animal species and 28 different plants.* Thus, don’t be surprised if your coyote scat contains fur/hair, berries, nuts, garden crops, bone bits, grass, leaves or dozens of other appetizing tidbits. (Nature Skills)
This guy has been eating meat. Birds at least, probably rabbits; I've seen several in the undergrowth along this creek. I wonder if he'd also tackle young raccoons? Several raccoons that I've seen have been maimed in some way; one has no tail, another has lost an eye. In a fight with a coyote?
(More on the vacant lot goodies tomorrow.)