My Dec. 16, 2011, trip to the Ridgefield NWR brought some great action in the Ash tree forest. I approached another car already parked on the right side of the road and stopped about 50 feet behind them. I observed that they were watching a confrontation in the making between a coyote and three raccoons. Two of the masked animals had already scampered up a tree, one of which was at least 35 feet up. But one raccoon was left on the ground either by fate or maybe because he just had to gallantly fight for the family.
There was a mossy, downed snag lying on the forest floor nearby, which protruded out over the water about 10 feet. At first, I spotted this brave raccoon at the water’s edge with the coyote just feet from him/her. The coyote was very serious about challenging the raccoon and the coon wasn’t going to make it easy. At one point the raccoon arched its back then stood up on its hind feet in an attempt to show the coyote that he/she was a pretty big opponent to try to tackle.
Now– as this is happening, I’m in low light with gray skies and trees and brush between me and the action which is 50 to 60 feet in front of me. In fact, two or three times during this skirmish, I started my truck engine and moved forward and back to attempt to get a better view. But few of my shots came out completely free of grass or some other obstruction between me and the animals.
As the two animals growled and snarled at each other and jockeyed for position, I was trying to get the best view I could (while staying in my truck). Soon, the raccoon ends up on the downed, mossy, snag with its back toward the water and the coyote at the opposite end of the snag. The two were about eight feet apart, staring at each other. The raccoon must have figured it was at a disadvantage with its back against the water. So the raccoon made the only move he could and jumped at the coyote, startling the canine hunter so much that it leaped off the log and trotted toward the road, very close to my truck. Unfortunately, I had not been in position long enough to capture the raccoon’s pounce. After the coyote left, the raccoons came down from the tree and acted as if nothing had happened.
Nature always amazes me. For 24 hours, 7 days a week, wild critters start each day with two primary objectives: 1) find enough to eat and drink to stay alive and, 2) don’t become some other critter’s meal. Both objectives must be met every single day for these animals. And I thought I had it tough!
I hope you enjoyed my tale of this encounter and the accompanying photos (below). It’s not that often I see confrontations like this but I feel fortunate to have been presented this real-life fight for survival.
Soon I’ll be posting more Dec. 16 refuge photos to The Blog. Thanks for tuning in!
[Remember to click on the photos to see them in large view!]
Here, the coyote is wondering if this is the smartest thing to be doing. “Maybe this isn’t the best of ideas?”
The raccoon gets into fighting stance!
One of the onlooking coons that had climbed up into a nearby tree.
This is where the coyote gave up after the raccoon lunged at it. I couldn’t even get the whole animal in the frame.
Another shot of a treed raccoon.
This is the second treed raccoon which must have been 35 feet up. He was playing it real safe!
The shot below could have been a nice shot if it weren’t for the blurred out grass areas on the coon.
“Glad that‘s over with!”
Taking a breather after the other raccoons came down from the tree.
Another day of survival!