Sunday, March 6, 2011

Moving Fur And Feathers

Beat-up Bob/Ma & Pa Quacker

I did a morning walk today. Haven't been able to get up early enough for a while.

There's a converted railway line here which goes south almost from my front door, and intersects with a working railway about four miles south. That's where I turn around, so walking this route is a decent way to start the day.

Today I was smart enough to take a camera.

Little guy sitting in a field and looking confused.

There was a small raccoon sitting in a big field. Sitting there like a cat, looking down at the grass. Raccoons don't do that.

Surprisingly it didn't run off while I fumbled to get my camera out. It sat. Then it started licking its under-parts the way a cat does, and sat some more before finally moving off slowly.

Limping off using only the two right legs.

That's when I found out.

It wasn't well.

It kept both of its left feet in the air, putting weight only on its right two. I've never seen an animal do this before. The poor guy had obviously gotten beat up. Maybe chewed on.

These two looked a lot happier.

The second photo seems to show him putting weight on his left rear foot, but he wasn't. The foot may have briefly touched ground for balance, but that was it. The left front foot didn't even get near the ground.

The day was still dark then, and my camera must have boosted the ISO up to the max, so the photos are grainy and soft, and the color is odd. And although I'm not too familiar with raccoons, and it may be only a natural pattern in the fur, it looks almost like there is a bald patch on this guy's shoulder.

Maybe not, but he was really hurting. I hope he recovers.

And inseparable.

On my way back, about an hour later, two ducks were in a trailside ditch. Any place that's wet, there they are. I kind of herded them south, letting them swam away from me, gave them time to turn around, and then followed them back north a bit, before easing away and finishing my walk.

The light was much better by then, so the photos are better. It's surprising to see how bright and smooth the male's colors are. He almost looks like a floating abstract painting.

For a couple of years there was a resident pair of ducks at another point in the trail. They would stand on the pavement and watch me go by every morning. I usually quacked at them as I passed but I think they could tell I wasn't a relative.

A small ditch, but big enough for two.

Sometimes one of them would be sitting and the other standing on one foot.

I think they were pretty sure I was a harmless fool because I'd come within about six feet and generally they hardly bothered to give me a close look. When they do that you know they have you figured out.

No rain today. Yet.