Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Porcupine Visits

I returned from New Roots Farm around 4:30 this afternoon, after my weekly visit to help start seedlings (today it was a dozen trays of rainbow Swiss chard and a couple trays of cilantro), and almost immediately sat down at my computer to catch up on the news of the day. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw Kodi coming around the corner of the house. But he was nearby inside the house.

So, instead of Kodi, it was a large porcupine waddling into view! The view from my window keeps on giving. Last week I spent 5 hours watching a woodcock probe for earthworms in the small patch of woods outside my window. I've watched hawks take songbirds and seen pileated woodpeckers dramatically swoop onto the trunk of the big pine. About once a year I see a fox trot by. A barred owl visited last fall. Just this week I've seen spring migrants arrive -- a phoebe a few days ago and a pine warbler today. This porcupine, though, was a treat.

Here he (or she) is, checking out last year's cattails.

Look at those teeth!

And those claws

Mostly I see porcupine or signs of porcupines in winter when they spend their time feeding on hemlock bark and boughs. Their dens are obvious as their latrine is at their den entrance -- usually in a rock crevice or root of a fallen tree. I rarely see them wandering about during the day, as porcupines are primarily nocturnal. Today though was overcast and it was late afternoon, so I suppose it was almost suppertime for the porcupine.

Porcupines are near-sighted, but have a good sense of smell and hearing. I went outside to get better photos of this one and got within four feet before it turned away from me. There was no danger from the quills as porcupine move slowly and quills only come out if you come in contact with the porcupine. Porcupines do not "throw" quills. That is good because they have upwards of 30,000 quills. And a good thing that I left Kodi inside; he has yet to meet a porcupine.

I got a nice look at the porcupine's foot pad as he headed over to our neighbor's yard. I hope they enjoy the porcupine visit as much as I did.


Winterberry Bird Scat

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