Last week we experienced a bit of a January thaw. It was short lived but enough to warm things up, melt the snow, and stir some of our nocturnal mammals. All waking with an appetite.
The first night there was a pair of Raccoons just over the back fence, dumpster diving at the Chinese take out place. Unfortunately some of the kitchen workers also discovered the masked bandits and started screaming at them and banging items to scare them away. I watched the animals run along the fence and go up to a garage roof to get away from these crazy angry people.
I was topping up bird feeders at the time and as always keeping watch of what may be lurking around in the darkness. It was then I saw the next mammal species pop up... an Opossum.
He had found the half eaten apple I left out and was looking for anything else. I noticed the frostbite on his right ear. I snapped some pictures and noticed his tail tip and some toes are also frostbitten.
Opossums originate from further south. Word has it they wound up here, stowing away on produce shipments. Our winters can be tough on them with their hairless ears, tail and toes. Plus they don't know a thing about hibernating, or as I call it "semi-hibernating" like the Raccoon and Skunk. I wonder if somehow they will adapt? During the coldest nights I don't see them though. I see no signs of them either. We were blessed some years ago by one who came out every day around 3 pm to feed under the bird feeders in February. It was like clockwork for that one.
I *accidentally* spilled some nuts and seeds which he found after I went back inside.
I was hoping for a hat-trick by getting to see a Skunk as well. I did not while I was out but ended smelling one just before bed. Close enough I suppose.
The next night I am outside and keeping watch for that Opossum. One shows up but it's not him. As you can see, no frostbite on the right ear. Plus, from what I could see, the rest of his exposed body parts were free of it too. Miraculous!
Then a Raccoon ran past me with a large bone in it's mouth. What kind of bone and where he got it, I have no idea.
The smell of Skunk later filled the night air once again.
As the work week was coming to an end, we got some long steady rain. Friday morning it was +13 celcius. I look outside just before 9 am and to my surprise there is a Skunk digging through the last snow piles looking for something to eat.
I am not certain if it was one of the Toppers because there was striping on the hips and thin lines that ran to it's shoulders. The Skunk ran off to the back, hiding under our shed after this photo was taken. He came back out again about 20 minutes later but I did not chase him around for any more photos. He was hungry and didn't need me stressing him out. He too had the great fortune of finding a spill of peanuts and sunflower seed. Man, I am so clumsy these days!
It was great to see all these animals in the middle of January. The weather has turned quite cold again after last Friday morning and the sightings are no more. I've spotted Opossum tracks one other night and my apple cores disappear almost nightly.
A few more months and these encounters should become almost nightly once again. I can't wait.