Saturday, May 26, 2012

A New Tail at The Coyote Brush Highway

Who might this be - this newcomer to The Coyote Brush Highway? 
A new critter visited The Coyote Brush Highway.  Click "Read More" below to see the action caught by a wildlife camera.

At 9:01 pm on a recent May night, all is quiet on The Coyote Brush Highway.  But what triggered the wildlife camera to go off?
At 10:24 pm, a fluffy-tailed visitor triggers the wildlife camera and the resident coyote crawls out of the brush to investigate.
The visitor is a striped skunk with confident tail raised.
The striped skunk approaches the coyote.  Behind the skunk's approaching tail, the coyote's eye flash is blurred - the coyote is moving, but which way - forward or back?
The camera didn't catch what happened in the next minute but the coyote is gone and the striped skunk has turned around.
For the next few minutes, the striped skunk meanders around the edge of the brush with its fluffy tail triggering the camera.

After a 2-hour absence, the skunk heads back down The Coyote Brush Highway at midnight-thirty with tail lowered.
At the time I retrieved these photos, the camera batteries were dead and I didn't screen the photos until I got back to the house.  I need to get back up to The Coyote Brush Highway to refresh the camera batteries and look closely for skunk tracks  and scat.  The bottom of their feet are naked, nails do not retract and therefore usually register along with toe and palm prints, but the heel pad doesn't always register. 

Now I am wondering if this track I photographed near a spring in the upper meadows of the Dipper Ranch in August 2008, might have been from a skunk.
For summer 2011 posts about The Coyote Brush Highway, see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
striped skunk- Mephitis mephitis


  1. The Highway that just keeps on giving!

    It's not every day that you can solve a four year old mystery :o)

    Sadly, I'm of an age where I take it for granted that all skunks have a French accent. Damn that cartoon!

  2. Ah, yes, Pepe Le Pew, the cartoon skunk who wanders Paris with a crush on a cat and a bad accent. I read up on skunks this morning while writing the Tail, and was surprised to find that there are 13 species of skunks all of which occur ony in the Americas except for the Asian stink badger. That Pepe was a fraud. Odd how we serve up such ridiculous interpretations of nature to kids. I kept smelling skunk while I was mowing this afternoon. Weird, I thought, but just in case there was a skunk hiding in the thistle patch, I moved my mowing to another location. Then I noticed 6 vultures perched on the ground in a lower pasture, so I decided this evening's release of last week's rattlesnake would occur there so I could check out the black dot the vultures were pecking at. Turns out it was a striped skunk. Maybe that coyote ambushed that skunk after all. Doesn't look like the coyote or whatever was the original predator did much feeding on the skunk though. I imagine from here on out, I will be calling that the Dead Skunk Meadow. Or maybe Pepe Meadow.


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