Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Munchy Visitor

I didn't have to be to work until 10 am, so I fully intended on sleeping in. Then my boss sent me a text at 6:15 am with a question that required me to get out of bed and consult my schedule. I planned on going back to bed, but then I heard a quiet "woof"-like sound out the window. I thought maybe it was a young coyote, so I peaked out the window. But rather than a coyote, what I saw surprised me.

Up in the top of a Russian Olive tree was a large porcupine. Then as if to confirm to me it was the one who had made that sound, it did it again while I was looking at it. Very strange little sound. Very strange little animal.

Needless to say I didn't go back to bed. I sat there with my bins watching this little critter munching on the leaves, wondering how it avoided the sharp spines on this particular variety.

The only camera I have at home is my phone with no zoom, and I new I couldn't get a picture of it from where I was. So I just watched. When I wasn't watching the porcupine, my gaze fell upon three young fledgling magpies, and a couple of brightly colored warblers.

After a while, the porcupine slowly made its way down out of the tree, using its tail as an extra limb for support and balance.

When it reached the ground, it disappeared around the back of a large rock. I didn't see it emerge from the other side, so I figured it had hunkered down back there to take a little rest. That's when I decided to finally venture out and take a closer look.

Do you see it on top of the rock wall, near the tree?
I could see it from a distance away, and never having been all that close to a porcupine, I didn't know how close I could get before spooking it. So I cautiously approached, very slowly, not wanting to frighten it, or tick it off.

Still just laying on the rock, as if sunning itself.
Porcupines are mostly nocturnal. So they spend all night munching on leaves and grass, and then look for a quiet, protected place, sometimes in a log, or a tree, or apparently on a rock wall, to rest during the day.

It is totally just lounging around.

Finally caught a whiff of me and is searching the air trying to figure me out.
Porcupines have very poor eyesight. I was only a few feet away from it and the most it got was a slight smell of something curious. It didn't seem to notice me at all visually. So I decided to get a little closer.

Still totally relaxed.

Now its hackles go up slightly.
Once its hackles went up ever so slightly, I decided I was close enough and would leave it alone. So I backed up and decided rather than going all the way back around the wall like I had come, I would go over the wall. When I moved to the wall I apparently crossed directly into the breeze blowing past me and toward the porcupine. It suddenly had a clear smell of me, and immediately jumped up and fully extended every single (up to 30,000) quills on its body. It was a quick, and rather alarming sound to hear that movement and that quill extension. I jumped back from the wall very quickly, afraid the porcupine was going to run at me. But it didn't. It just sat there, quills fully and threateningly extended.

I got the message. I went back around the wall the long way.

Later that morning it had found a new resting place. Up in another nearby tree. The tree with the fledgling magpies. I don't think they appreciated having that prickly house companion. But there is stayed for the rest of the morning. By the time I returned from work, it was gone again. Off looking for another evening meal.


Sybil said...

What a thrill ... and great pictures to show for it.

Oak in the Seed said...

I can't say to have had a similar day at work but love reading about yours!