Night Visitors

Some nights after receiving the game trail camera.

 

The window next to my bed is slightly open. Outside, some sort of creature emits a high-pitched wavering call. Both the cat and I come awake. My heart races and pounds in my chest.  Milo sits up; his orange paws press into my stomach, and he turns his ginger head toward the window. Again the wistful cry.

 

Whatever is making that sound, I know it’s not coming from the donkeys. They are okay. So, I quickly go through every other animal sound I know that might call at night: could it be a great horned owl, barn owl, cat, goose, heron, coyote, or wolf? Yet, none of these animals create a sound like the one I’m hearing now.

 

Milo jumps down, as I slip out from under the covers. We both head for the window overlooking the lower meadow. For now the sound is coming from various locations as though the bird is flying over the land and crying.

 

The night is dark, and though the farm is completely covered in deep reflective snow, the moon is thin, and what light there is casts a bluish wash over the white.

 

The idea of a flying bird stills when I spy huge forms standing below the greenhouse and ringing the broad three-foot high Woods’ Rose hedge.

 

The silhouettes are a group of female elk accompanied by a bull with magnificent branching antlers. Each black point of his crown pierces the eerie light.  The bull’s heavy head swivels as he looks round toward his companions.

 

The females utter the unusual cries. I count seven cows. The melody is strange and flutelike. An enchanting sound drifting from such a large lumbering animal. I expected a slender bird flying and gliding, twisting and banking in the blue-white light.

 

The bull moves past the rose hedge and out of my vision. While a few cows stand stock-still, others take tentative steps –pause– then walk on.  They move stealthily as though concerned by their closeness to the barn.

 

Then I hear a scream, like that of a terrified horse. It comes from the upper prairie where the bull must be now. He’s calling the females and urging them to come. They don’t seem to pass more quickly though, but they are heading in his direction.

 

Tonight’s night visitors have given me a glimpse of what moves on the farm after dark.  We have seen some evidence of elk such as their scat and hoof prints, but they come down from the high lands at night, and I have never spied them during daylight hours.

 

I can see how my Christmas gift, the small camouflaged pail, the game trail camera, will reveal all our night visitors, if we can just find the right places to set the camera up.

 

 

We set the camera up on the west side of the farm along what we think is in an elk path. We got three photos the first night. Wiley coyote.
We set the camera up on the west side of the farm along what we think is in an elk path. We got three photos the first night. Wiley coyote.

 

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21 thoughts on “Night Visitors

    1. =woo hoo= ya gotta love it!!
      Isn’t LiFE wonderFULL?

      Saw our Ms. Gigi yesterday::::::and she’s playing guitar + singing again!!!
      x—x–teri byrne

      Hey Teri — that is good news. Thanks for checking in. I hope to hear Gigi soon.

    1. What a beautiful description of a fascinating night! What a great gift that camera was. Thanks Danelle – it is nice to hear from you. I’m excited to see what the camera reveals this year. Probably will provide some neat stories. Thanks for checking in. 🙂

    1. Nice, Sher. We had coyote prints on our deck this morning. Funny to see them coming right up to the door. Terry – I see the coyote as a true opportunist. They are survivors. Though we have tried to eradicate them, we haven’t been able too, and now I’m seeing articles about coyote living successfully alongside humans in cities. Though, for the most part the people have no idea they are there.

      I think we have a mated alpha pair on the farm. More on this as we get evidence. 🙂

  1. La La LA. her i am! what a cool post. what an amazingly cool gift that night camera is.
    fun fun fun. loved your description of the elk. i can remember that sound vividly.
    thanks for keeping us posted of the goin’s on up there. see you soon.

    1. How exciting to get to see the elk! Lovely, eery feeling to that description. And that’s the flash from the camera on the coyote, right? Mary- the camera does send a flash of some sort. It may be a red light I’m not sure, but it is supposed to not scare the game; yet, it seems the coyote has noticed something and is moving off as though disturbed.

    1. herE i am again. forgot to mention how fat that coyote seems. maybe just his winter coat? Hi Gigi- I think they have a fair amount of food around here — quail – mice–and others. p.s. I wish you knew how much wear my hat is getting. 🙂

  2. Sher, I LOVE that camera and the critters you’ve been able to capture with it! Have you heard the elk bugle in the Fall yet? It’s a pretty eerie sound, and very cool. Thanks for the descriptive and beautiful postings about your new life and surroundings!

    1. Sher, I LOVE that camera and the critters you’ve been able to capture with it! Have you heard the elk bugle in the Fall yet? It’s a pretty eerie sound, and very cool. Thanks for the descriptive and beautiful postings about your new life and surroundings!

      Hi Kathleen– Great to hear from you! I took a hike with the donkeys today and found a badger den at the base of a Ponderosa Pine tree. I am wondering how we can spy on that badger! I have heard bugling elk in Banff (Canada) but never, so far , at our farm. I think bugling happens in the fall. Maybe next year. For some reason these elk here are very shy and don’t show themselves during day light on the farm. p.s. Rod Landis and his family are coming to stay with us this summer. Sher

  3. I’ve never heard elk calling (or bugling?) before, but it must have sounded quite eerie in the dark of night. You’ve woven such a lovely, suspenseful story around this experience, Sher.

    1. I’ve never heard elk calling (or bugling?) before, but it must have sounded quite eerie in the dark of night. You’ve woven such a lovely, suspenseful story around this experience, Sher. Hi Reggie
      I wish i could have inserted a link into the story with an example of the bugling. You might want to do an Internet search for “elk sounds” or “elk bugling”. The sound is unearthly and amazing. Sher

  4. Sher,
    Your house is lovely but I am besotted with the land. I can almost hear all the life breathing through the new growth and trees. I wish you all the happiness life has to offer.
    Elizabeth

    1. Sher,
      Your house is lovely but I am besotted with the land. I can almost hear all the life breathing through the new growth and trees. I wish you all the happiness life has to offer.
      Elizabeth

      Thanks Elizabeth — in Alaska we lived on a small space, because the town was on an island. Out here open spaces are everywhere, so being on a larger piece of land is possible. What I find most pleasurable and exciting about the farm here is the diversity of habitats from prairie to oak savannah to riparian and ridge. All providing different plants and animals to enjoy and study. 🙂

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