Last night was Gary’s last opportunity to view the baby raccoons. For the next two nights he will work the late shift and then Tuesday morning we leave on vacation. At least that’s the way I had it all figured out. However, as we’ve learned in the past, Mrs. Maurer often doesn’t know a thing about anything, especially not about critters!
First of all, I was a little concerned because the mom hadn’t come to eat on Friday night. For a week she has been coming between 8:00-8:30pm to eat dinner, so I wondered, as I always do, if she had become road kill. My daughter called me Saturday morning and as we chatted I strolled over to the sliding glass door and looked out at the pond. Then I noticed movement as the mama raccoon came into view and ambled across the patio and checked out the leavings at one of my bird feeders. She proceeded to make her way to her usual feeding station and ate a hearty breakfast before returning to the woods. At least that was a relief.
Last night she showed up at 8:15, sans babies. I was disappointed for Gary, but thankful she was unharmed. I’ve grown fond of the little varmint! Interesting side note: I glanced out later and noticed that the opossum was waiting patiently a mere three feet away, for her to finish eating. She didn’t seem to pay him any attention and as soon as she finished and returned to the woods, the opossum ate whatever she had overlooked, got a drink, and went off to the pasture as well.
Well, I awoke at 3:45, restless and a little annoyed that once again I’d been unable to sleep until at least five. I started coffee and as I went to the laundry room to feed Babe, I glanced out at the yard. I saw the opossum at the water tub again and silently congratulated myself on that idea. Even the squirrels use it! Anyway, I noticed some movement across the lawn and I had to really focus for a minute before I realized what was coming out of the long grass at the edge of the fence- the mama raccoon and six, count them, 1-2-3-4-5-6-BABIES!!!
I debated for all of 30 seconds before I woke Gary up and grabbed the camera! I’m so very grateful that he is a light sleeper and a nature fan! He gladly gave up a few minutes of sleep to watch the show, and it turned into a grand performance! This morning I so longed for better lighting, better skill, and a video camera!
First of all there was the usual running and tumbling and playfulness. Then mom and the kids seemed to “graze” along the lawn for several minutes like cows. I couldn’t figure out what they were doing at first and then I remembered my own walk across there last night. I think they were eating baby grasshoppers! I noticed literally hundreds of them last night as I walked around and I was worried about my garden.
Then the opossum decided to investigate and the babies apparently don’t have the same tolerance for him that mom does, because they made a mad dash for the security light pole! Up they all went, as high as possible, while mom stood guard at the bottom for a few minutes. All of a sudden she noticed ME and I realized that for once I was clearly visible in the light of the laundry room. I don’t turn it on at night when I plan to take pictures. She froze for a minute and then got distracted by the opossum, who ambled over to the fence and squeezed through to check out a watermelon rind I had left for him. She left her post to check out the nearest bird feeder and the babies came down and resumed playing. They formed a tight group and moved as a group, closer and closer to the window. Just as I was changing the focus on the camera and trying to figure out a better setting, mom rushed up from around the corner of the house and stood up right in front of me!! I was completely startled and she did it four times before I got a clear shot of her. I don’t know if she was curious, saying thanks for the food, or giving me the evil eye for bothering them, but it was just too funny! I felt like I was in the zoo on the wrong side of the fence! LOL
After a minute more of posing and gawking, she gathered her babies and went home. I managed to get a shot of her leaving, although I had to Photoshop a strange light setting in order to see it.
I realize that most of these photos are very bad, but it was 4am! And I am not that skilled at night photography. I simply wanted you to get an idea of what went on at the Maurer Wildlife Sanctuary this morning. Never a dull moment around here!!
Have an eventful day!
P.S. Now I understand why mom doesn’t bring her babies for dinner every night. Poor critter needs a break from them now and then! I’m going to put out extra food for her tonight!