When I bird with Penny in our woods at home I never have her on leash and her wildlife encounters are usually with red squirrels or chipmunks – she tends to ignore deer. We have encountered a few Black Bears, which either I have spotted first or at least grab her, one moose chase years ago, and a couple of coyotes/coydogs that she deigned to chase.
In the South/Southwest, I tend to keep her leashed – often because of park rules but also for her safety. Yesterday morning was a good example: we were birding a scrubland looking for desert birds and had seen a Harris’s Hawk, several Verdin, even a Greater Roadrunner. No one was around as we trudged down a long truck trail and I had her leash looped through my belt and we were getting tangled every so often.
I was about to let her loose for a bit when up ahead, a black object stood in the path. A javelina, no three, no even more. Penny hadn’t seen them as I took a picture of these two watching us.
They scooted across, melting into the brush, then this one ambled over. You can see how black they are against the clay trail.
By now, Penny had them spotted and one last one tore across the opening. We move down the road and her nose was at full alert. I could hear a little rustling on both sides so I clapped my hands, told them to get lost, and we continued on. These porkers had some young ones but unle the big feral hogs in other parts of Texas, these guys are wary of us. Or at least that’s my story.
It’s interesting that just two nights ago, I suggested to Mary that we not but pork until we get back to Vermont. Antibiotics, feedlots, gestation crates – it’s the only type of pork you can get in most of the country. These guys, while free of that stuff, would probably be like eating a leather belt. Hard to fatten up on sagebrush, tumbleweed, and cactus.
The best bird of the morning was a Green-tailed Towhee which I heard, and glimpsed. I’m at 127 species for this county and hope to hit 140 before we leave. We hiked about five miles today – no hills but lots of soft clay – and Penny has started her 12th year with a good workout.