A journey into the eyes and mind of a naturalist.

Morning Walk: Part II

If you will recall the beginning of my morning walk from yesterdays post (Morning Walk: Part I) I found the roost for 6 Turkey Vultures.  These large scavenging bird often roost near a food source, in this case a dead raccoon out in the woods.

Rewind to dawn.  I slept the night outside under the stars.  Although my eyes are closed my mind is wide awake.  I was listening to the bird language at dawn.  I have been working on identifying the various nuances of different species.  Understanding this bird language is one way to identify what is going on in the forest.  Where are the predators, who here, who’s not, that kind of think.  Just after dawn I heard a Raven calling about 200 yards from where I slept.  It was fairly stationary and was making some really weird calls that i had never heard before.  I didn’t think anything of it but those weird calls indicated something very cool…

Back to the Vultures.   As I neared the end of the trail and approach the narrow logging road that represents the edge of the property, Bosco my friends chocolate lab ran ahead nose to the ground.  As I entered the road I continued to watch the Turkey Vultures take to the skies one by one.  I started walking up the road blissful in my curious state.  Bosco continued up the road working from side to side.  I had made it about 25 feet up the road from the trail when I turned to look down the road…

Head low and eyes locked on Bosco this wolf was slowly walking up the road.  I was wearing clothes that must have blended in with the dirt and grass.  I watched the wolf walk and frantically fiddled with my camera.  (This picture quality really sucks because I had it set for taking picture of the vultures in the trees!).  I slowly moved to the edge of the road, my movement not phasing the wolf.

At this point I needed to get Bosco to sit and stay before he saw his potential playmate walking up the road.  Bosco is an incredible dog and sat and watched the wold get closer.  After taking care of Bosco I crouched to snap these pictures.  The instant that I crouched the Wolf identified me as human and raised its head in surprise (above), and proceeded to switch directions and return to the safety of the woods (below).

This whole encounter lasted maybe 20 seconds but it was a very cool experience.  As the wolf melted into the woods the Ravens called in a tree right above the wolf.  Raven will often follow wolves and have even been rumored to lead wolves to injured or freshly killed deer.  The Ravens need the wolves to open the kill, their beaks are not sharp enough to puncture the skin of even small animals.  The weird calls I heard the Ravens making earlier in the morning were probably do to their proximity to the wolf, and the dead raccoon.

After the wolf entered the wolves I knew he would be comfortable but still curious.  I continued to walk up the road.  I walk for about 1/2 mile and the whole walk I hear the alarm calls of birds and red squirrels about 100 feet off the road to my left.  I had that feeling that I was being watched and those alarm calls were confirming that I was not alone.  The subtle calls of nervous Robins turned to the scolding (freaking out) calls a couple of times.

I turned around and headed back towards the trail.  I didn’t hear the alarms on the way back.  I returned to the cabin and told my story.  About 5 minutes later someone went to the cars on the road and told me that he saw a wolf coming down the road toward the trail, the opposite direction from where I saw it.

This confirms my suspicions that this wolf was following me through the woods, keeping an eye on me to see what I was up to.  Wolves are amazing animals and I am honored to have shared this experience with it in the woods.

I returned to the Raccoon kill later in the day and found it had been carried away, wolf tracks was all that was left.

Up Next:  Tracking Test!

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