Late Sunday afternoon (after a beautiful mild day), Toby and I went for our end-of-the-day walk down to the Hudson River pump house (the water source for our end of town). It was an uneventful walk, until we reached the dead end. That's when we heard it: the unmistakeable bark of a lone coyote.
Usually we are aware of our local coyotes when they take up voice en masse, yipping and howling in a woodland choral performance. It's a distictive sound, and one sure to either delight or disturb the listener. But every so often the coyotes (and foxes, actually) will vocalize by barking. Like their howls, their barks are easily identified, once you know what they are.
I placed this animal in the wetland just a stone's throw from the pavement where the road deadended by the pump house...a little too close for my comfort. Toby, who normally ignores the howls, was suddenly on alert, and decided that the call of the wild must be answered, so he barked back. What followed was quite the exchange. The coyote would "bark bark bark" and Toby would "bark bark bark." Then the coyote would answer, followed by another response from Toby. This back-and-forth barking went on for some time. I wonder what they were saying to each other.
But, I also have a very active imagination, and while I know that the odds of a wild animal coming out of the woods and pursuing us are slim to none, that part of me that still can freak out in my parents' basement was taking no chances. We commenced our return trip back up the road towards home...rapidly.
After about a quarter mile, as we passed a house along the woods, Toby suddenly stopped and went on alert, facing the woods. Had the coyote followed us, taking a shortcut through the woods? By now the two of them were silent, so I had no way of knowing what had grabbed Toby's attention.
We got home without further incident.
The next morning, as we were wrapping up our morning walk, we had another encounter...sort of. We were headed up the street (just past the church parking lot) and I was waving at a local girl who was just driving off to school, when she suddenly pointed behind me. I turned to see a lovely coyote dash across the road and into the woods, right were Toby and I had passed not 30 seconds before!
My boss, who lives just up the road, says she's seen a pair of coyotes multiple times crossing the street there between the parking lot and the woods. And there have been tracks and scats around the neighborhood. HM...could it be that the sudden increase in feral cats has brought the coyotes in for easy hunting?
When you live smack in the middle of the woods, with wilderness areas all around, you just never know what wildlife might cross your path. I've seen most of the mammals species that call the Adirondacks home (foxes, coyotes, bobcats, fishers, martes, otters, minks, bears, long-tailed weasels, porcupines, beavers, squirrels (red, grey, flying, chipmunk), snowshoe hares, deer, mice, voles, muskrat, lemming). The only one that still alludes me is, you guessed it, the moose.