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My Unseen Friends

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My unseen friends leave me messages, often in the little cemetery on my running route. 

The red-shouldered hawk I sometimes see left me a beautiful tail feather not long ago. I stuck it in a crevice in the trunk of a dying red cedar as a hello to anyone who might see it.

One day when I was lying on the grass under this tree, the red-shoulder landed on a dead branch very close by. She didn't know I was there. The branch broke under her weight and that hawk sprang straight up in the air flapping like mad. I laughed 'til my stomach hurt. It's fun to see such commandeering, graceful, powerful creatures look silly sometimes.

I would love to see the owl who left this whitewash on an old stone. I can only imagine the creatures who people the cemetery at night.

I saw the first tiny fawn prints, along with its mother's tracks, in early July. The pockmarks are raindrops. This photo doesn't look like much, until you see how tiny they are next to my hand.

Yes. That's a fawn the size of Chet Baker, maybe smaller. I imagined it tottering through the mud behind its mama.

One morning I found the most perfect pile of bobcat droppings in the middle of the road, past the cemetery. I was so excited that I ran straight home to get my camera. The droppings were full of turkey feathers--poult feathers, to be exact, and I wanted to document that. 

All the way home I dreamt of the photo I would take of the turkey-stuffed bobcat poo. I climbed in the car with my camera and by the time I got back someone had run over my poo pile. 


I moped for a little while and then decided to get up before light the next morning in hopes the bobcat had come back and pooped there again.

I ran with my camera in my hand the whole way, more than two miles. And when I got there, the angels smiled and there was another perfect turkey-feather-stuffed bobcat ca ca, put right atop the old pile.

And I got my photo.

 So don't go around saying you don't know anyone who gets up early to photograph bobcat crap, because you do. One of the good things about living this far out is you don't really have to worry about anyone seeing you crouching next to a pile of poop, getting the perfect shot.

I wouldn't care if they saw me anyhow. It's probably more interesting than what they're up to, which would be smoking and driving a car. You can see the feather quill in the squashed poo, and then the fresh stuff, put right atop the smashed pile. How kind of the cat. Must've smelt my disappointment when the first pile was run over.

These photos conjure up an image of a beautiful bobcat leaping high into the air to snag a football-sized wild turkey poult. Good eatin'!

Just because I found it online, here is a photo of a melanistic bobcat taken in Scioto County, Ohio, several years ago by a trail camera. I've seen three Ohio bobcats, but none of them have been midnight black. What an unutterably cool animal. I might not recover if I saw something like this.

No, mostly what I get to see is what my unseen friends leave behind. That's where the imagination kicks in.


*chuckles* Just the mere thought of you getting up early to take a picture of bobcat poo has me giggling! Thanks for the laugh!

It sounds and looks lovely where you live!

that's dedication to nature! :-) Interesting.

I always love someone who bends down to photograph scat. I would have gone back to get that shot as well. Haven't seen any bobcat scat here, but plenty of coyote and bear. Always good for a closer look!

Interesting story about the hawk and the branch.

What a crappy post.


Ah, Julie Z, bobcats, hawks and cemeteries along with scat and track...some of my favorite things all on a Sunday morning! Thanks so much!
Kathy in Delray Beach, Fl.

ps Floridacracker :>)

Posted by Anonymous August 14, 2011 at 9:06 AM

WOW. Thanks! You have just answered one of my burning questions- "Whose scat it THAT! We have lots of coyotes, feral hogs, and used to have bobcats before Ike. We are just getting Bobcats back on Anahuac NWR. Isaw the same dark brown on twice last week, both times in the area of our butterfly garden and once in mid-morning and once at 6:30. But now I think the scat in the dry ponds is from the bobcat since it looks like yours.

We also got bob whites back on the refuge, although no one has seen any babies. Many birds are having nest failures due to the drought which is causing the bug populations to crash.

Good Sunday morning from a transplante to SC. I'v been to your part of the countryside many
times.We met last year at the Spacecoast Birding and wildlife feastival in fla.In all my years in WV and OH I never seen any thing but Bobcat Scat and never the Cat. Scat tells the story of the wild that we never see. Rich M.

I salute the great faith that compelled you to carry a camera two miles. Faith should be rewarded.

Bobcat crap. That's my girl and I love you for it.

I, for one, am proud to say--I read Julie Z for just such posts.
Full of imagery, redolent with nature's scent, and utterly inimitable.

Scat...great resource. What are you leaving behind to say "I was here ,too ."

Fun post.

I so enjoy your sharing from your soul/connected place. It is these things that matter, that ground me. Thank you.

Posted by Anonymous August 14, 2011 at 8:38 PM

You are the only person I know who gets upset when someone runs over a poo pile.
Most people would be happy they didn't step in it.

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one to examine every scrap of scat she finds.

"So don't go around saying you don't know anyone who gets up early to photograph bobcat crap, because you do." That may be one of the best sentences I've ever read on the internet.

Is Chet Baker inclined to roll in such stuff? Our lab seems to find all the skunk/squirrel/possum/ poo in the yard. Not sure which. Just know she looks proud when she comes in stinky.

Julie - I am glad to have come across your blog. I have enjoyed your writing, your fresh and enthusiastic approach and the photographs.

maybe since you live up there you know some people to help stop this:

Posted by Anonymous August 18, 2011 at 11:25 AM

So many birds overhead and so many unknown (to me) droppings on the ground that I could get dizzy looking up and down! I too live here in Washington Cy. and love all the wildlife I see here. On July 10 I was thrilled to see a bobcat in my driveway. I was heading to the house for my camera to try to get a shot of the cute baby barnswallows, when I was stunned to actually see it. As soon as it saw me it was gone in a flash. It was about an hour before dark and I was surprised to see it in broad daylight. Did my web searches and found that this is, in fact, where the ODNR says you MAY see a bobcat. Maybe some day I'll see the poo too :)

I called the Conservation Officer in Indiana's Ohio County (812-689-4370). Got a lady who clearly had heard from others. Left a message, though I'm not sure she wrote anything down. Snapping turtles are not toys. Outrageous. They will be stopped. Thank you for alerting me to this insanity.

Wrote letters to all of the county commissioners. Stinkers.

A woman after our own hearts. We LOVE to scat study. We have photos of coyote scat with bones in it. Here in the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee where we live (near the NC border) we see bear scat, coyote and fox scat. We hear bobcats once in a while, and swear we hear cougar, but the Park Service says there are none here. Just discovered your blog, love the subjects, the passion, nature related writing. I hike every Friday with a club of 'elders' of which I am a younger member at 63. We live in a wonderland of Mother Nature's best work. Thanks for your blog.
Mary Anne Rudolph, Cosby TN

Posted by Anonymous August 21, 2011 at 8:57 AM
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