January 25, 2002
The waiting game
Last week I mentioned how you can read stories written across the page of snow. Well this week I found the drama of how a predator had captured a hen pheasant as she came over the crest of a hill.
I also found where the remains of the hen had been cached. This is a sure sign that things are going well for the predator... if it was struggling it would not have left anything behind. Today I waited in hopes that that the coyote would return and I would get photos.
Prey species are generally much easier to pattern than preditors. They have smaller ranges and their feeding habits are often tied to sources that are not moving. Preditors on the other hand move around a lot and are quite unpredicatable. They generally live on a variety of prey (or they might wipe out the prey) and spend a fair amount of time moving from one area to another.
All of which means that it is much less likely that I can successfully wait for a preditor to show up than a prey animal. So when I find a cache site I try to stake it out, but the mere fact that the coyote is prosperous enough to cache also means that it is less likely to show back up any time soon.
This type of waiting game is tough. I have to be on alert, but not make motions or sounds that will tip off the preditor from a distance. And frequently there is not enough going on to stop me from fidgiting.
By now I'm sure you've figured out that all of this is to say that I didn't see the coyote. Yet.