Friday, April 20, 2018

The quiet ones with whom we share the land: Mule deer and skunks

Accompanying an announcement reminding students a draft was due soon, this image was included with a note about the deer that live nearby. Added here is a collage of one of several skunks who live around the arroyo, too.
mule deer

One of six mule deer that live in and around the Franklin Mountain foothills in an arroyo behind my house. This fellow and the others usually walk up and down the arroyo, munching on leaves that hang over the walls.

Deer usually travel together in groups of threes, although all six have been seen together as far as Snowheights and Westwind. Last week, I spied two females with their juvenile offspring, one each.

A couple of seasons ago, the six, seen earlier down Westwind one evening, were seen later that night walking back into our arroyo (a rain runoff collecting station for the area) behind my house.
collage of American skunk, male
Silently and slowly they walk along the backyard walls that face the arroyo below La Posta. They are nearly invisible unless you see them move. One side glance and they disappear again until you detect their movement. This place was christened Foxes Arroyo as two foxes have lived in the arroyo, too. One night I heard their growly noises at our old cat Buddy, and I saw their ears and faces peeking over the back rock wall. Another night we saw them scamper across Belvidere to get back into the arroyo. Like the deer, they forage beneath the larger house walls across and in the arroyo. Instead of greens they search for small rodents and other small mammals. 

Quietly, too are the skunks and other smaller mammals that dwell in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains. In the winter, a momma skunk and her kits will sometimes keep warm in our garage. We leave its door open about three inches so that animals can get water. If we left out dry cat food, the skunks come in for a nosh, too. But the night I captured this small skunk it was about 10:30 PM. They also make the rounds about 2:00 AM. Here, he is munching some seeds I put out for them. In the morning, all the birds will alight and finish what was there. The bird seed includes sunflower seeds, dried fruit, and nuts.

Along with the skunks, we have Steller's blue jays (migrating), two types of dove, mocking birds, juncos, tiny ladder-back woodpeckers, thrashers, minuscule field mice, ground squirrels, coyotes, owls, raptors, (red tailed hawks and the petite American kestrel) and squirrels. Years ago, a friend in Northeast El Paso said he saw a badgers in his neighborhoods near the Franklin foothills off Magnetic. Deer and skunks are also living there, too.




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