FIRE ENGINE SIREN BRINGS A RESOUNDING RESPONSE

Yesterday I was snooping around our extended backyard looking for some possible areas where the bobcats might have a den. I was also armed with my telephoto lens in hopes of recording any other activity that might cross my path. The weather was cool and overcast, there wasn’t much activity. The motorized trail bike didn’t help much either but the individual controlling the noisy device was quite pleasant. He stopped and we chatted for awhile. He seemed to have an active appreciation for the nature and wildlife.  He asked me if I had seen any snakes, I told him unfortunately not. He then asked, if I saw one would I take a picture of it? I responded, “Absolutely!” I am still curious about the question and what other answer he thought I might provide.

I did come several unfortunate wildlife victims, a dead Western Fence Lizard frozen in the position at its time of demise. The lizard was on the dirt road but didn’t appear to be the victim of this days bike rider. Further along several crows were agitated at something, and thinking a possible predator, I went to take a closer look. As I approached the area I noticed one of their comrades was lying beneath a power pole. It too was frozen in the position at the time of its demise. The crows were apparently offering final rights and a eulogy to their fallen comrade. They left soon after I arrived. It appears that the crow had been electrocuted on the old power pole that still displayed exposed insulators and wires. This day there didn’t seem to be much active wildlife activity in the extended backyard.

 
Expired Western Fence Lizard and American Crow (Click on photo for larger image)

I was on top of a ridge with wooded canyons on either side when the fire engine raced up Clinton Keith Road with sirens roaring . After slowing its way through the Palomar Street/Clinton Keith Road intersection the sirens increased in volume and were loud and clear as the fire engine passed only a half mile away from where I was standing. It was then that I heard what I thought was a child imitating the siren, then another joined in, and another, and  another. Suddenly a chill went down my spine. The sounds were coming over my left shoulder only 15-20 yards from where I was standing. More individuals joined the chorus in response to the fire engine siren. The chorus finally ended in an explosive crescendo. With the fire engine now far in the distance, I stood there with my mouth wide open as  the sounds over my left-shoulder slowly subsided and quiet returned.

I estimated that there must have been 6-8 pups and 3 or more adult coyotes responding to the fire engine siren as well as trying to scare the hell out of me. They did a pretty good job at both. I cautiously tried to locate where the coyotes might be residing in the small canyon from several different vantage points. I was however unable to detect any trace or movement of the coyotes. The interior live oaks (Quercus wislizeni) that make up the woodland community in this area provide a great cover for wildlife with the foliage dropping all the way to the ground.

Yesterday also conducted my annual “casual”  Birthday Big Day bird count (BBDBC) – rules for BBDBC are still in development after establishing the BBDBC tradition over the past 15 years. So, I spent a lot of time looking at birds in both our backyard and our extended backyard. I didn’t have a particularily great count day (26 species) for the limited time I counted but this will set a mark for future BBDBC at our new location. I did however add 2 new nice birds to this years CA list (both seen in the extended backyard) – Golden Eagle and Phainopepla.

Ah, living on an urban/wildlife interface is proving to be a wonderful experience.

 

Another nice Dudleya shot and sunset closed the day!

Jim, Judy, and VELCRO in Southern California

4 Responses to “FIRE ENGINE SIREN BRINGS A RESOUNDING RESPONSE”

  1. Judy says:

    Jim
    That was a great blog tonight
    Loved the sunset photo
    They are so different everynite
    Judy

  2. Jane says:

    Lovely post. I keep thinking we’re living in the wrong place.

  3. Daniel Cadogan says:

    Love your writings. When you described the coyotes howling, it reminded me of a camping trip I had about 7 years ago in northwestern Illinois. It was in early June, a full moon night and dead calm. Was sleeping in a pop up camper when I got woken up by the howl of a coyote just outside of the campgrounds. Then off in the distance, another responded, then another and another. In the course of 15 or 20 minutes, there must have been a dozen coyotes conversing with each other across the distance of a couple miles or so from where I camped. In one sense it was eerie and spooky. but in another sense almost soothing and relaxing in listening to the sound of their “voices”.

  4. Astrid says:

    Jim, now I know where to get my nature fix over my lunch break. I’ve never seen the back end of a hummingbird in flight! You are quick with the camera, and all of your shots are beautiful. Would love to hear the coyotes howl at the fire engines and see those bob cats! You heard that we have a coyote on the lane?

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