Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nature Encounters at Falcon

The first afternoon at Falcon State Park, I was reading in the shade (it was 85 degrees) with Penny lying next to me. Suddenly, she exploded into barking and lunging on her leash, startling me. I looked at across the road and a mama wild pig and six piglets were trotting through the underbrush, driving our Vizsla nuts.

We’ve seen feral pigs down here before and seen the amazing damage they cause with their rooting and trampling. They are a major nuisance in much of Texas and some, with their nasty tusks, are pretty mean-looking critters.

The first night here, the coyotes started yowling just after dark -- that eerie sound that make you glad you’re not sleeping out in the open.

This park is looped with nature trails that provide a wide variety of flora and fauna. You never quite know what you are going to meet around the corner. We’ve seen a number of rabbits that drive her crazy -- forcing me to put a harness on her instead of just a collar.

Yesterday, after spotting several deer, we came upon a roadrunner who, in “beep-beep” fashion, kept running up ahead to where the trail turned, waiting and running again. Penny was going nuts and I was trying to hold her, and the camera -- this going on for a bit. I dropped the leash and stepped on it while taking the photo, but must have missed it for Penny was off like a flash, as was the roadrunner. I’m sure it flew for she came back shortly, panting, and we continued our walk.

Last night, we took a walk late on the roads and it was black. I had a small flashlight but remembered, about half way around the loop, of the pictures of puma-like cat that has been spotted around here recently. I thought, if I see two glowing eyes up ahead, I’m out of here. The walk turned out to be uneventful although the night sky was spectacular.

Today, we rounded a bend on the trail and came upon an armadillo. Penny saw one in Louisiana last year but this one was right in front of her, waddling away. She lunged as I shot the picture but never got loose.
Tonight, she is “hunting” inside the Airstream -- fixated at an opening under the stove where I suspect a mouse is residing. It may have ridden from Vermont or joined up here in Texas. If it reads the forecast for the weather ahead (nothing like the north or northeast but still below freezing), it is looking for a warm abode.

The other “nature” factor here is the small thorns that are everywhere you walk. I usually ride the bike so that Penny can run on the greenery beside the road. I noticed that she stopped running and was limping and checked her pads, finding many of the little thorns. They hurt just brushing them off. I’ve been wearing sandals and they wedge into the space beneath my feet, and smart. It’s just part of the exercising in the Southwest.

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