Willapa Bayhouse Animal Stories 09/09


Big Daddy buck deer lying in the middle of the field. Mom doe and two tiny fawns emerge from brush on the right. Mom chooses a route that will take them past, but not too near, the buck. She eases by. One fawn stays close to Mom. The other veers off, a timid step at a time, until hes right next to the buck. He leans in and at the same time the buck, without rising, leans out. They touch noses. Mom stops, looks back, and the fawn scampers to join her.


Mama bear strolls into the field with two cubs roughhousing and rolling along behind. She finds an old drift log and begins tearing into it for grubs. In the process, the log bounces up and down like a teeter totter. The cubs take turns climbing out to the end and getting bounced off. They all stop and stand tall to better see whos making noises up at the house. Wary, mom walks off into the brush. After awhile the cubs fall off the log and follow.


Huge water spout out in the Bay. A gray whale has left the annual March migration north and is feasting on shrimp. Five days in a row he shows up at 1 pm and eats til dark. One day we take the kayak out and hang with him. His fins are longer than the boat. We cant see him below because of the chop. But he knows were there, as he always comes up about 20 feet away. When he blows it sounds like a very low note on a very large pipe organ.


At low tide Mom deer takes her two new fawns out to an exposed island 100 feet or so out from shore. Immediately she comes back, leaving one fawn lying in the reeds on the island. The tide comes in. Soon fawn is in water up to his knees. On the mainland, Mom shows up, turns the other way, then stops and looks back at him for several minutes. The fawn takes his first swim to rejoin the family.


Funny noise out back late one night. Turn the porch light on and open the sliding door. A huge black bear is 10 feet away, holding a hummingbird feeder in one paw and slurping nectar. We watch each other. Finally I duck in to get the camera, quickly back out. Bears gone, empty feeder swinging in the breeze. Just for an idea of scale, I have to stretch to reach the feeder. He slurped it standing up.


Watching the news on TV after dinner. Look out the window to see a black bear walking across the front lawn. When he gets to the small upper pond, he hunkers down on his front knees and takes a drink. A long one. Gets back up, walks across the little footbridge over the stream and disappears into the woods. There are no marks in the grass, in the dirt, or on the bridge. No sign he was even there. Well, a small sign on the lawn the next morning.


Look up to see a huge brown young eagle on a low branch in a tree out my office window. We watch each other as I feed the fish and pull some weeds. An hour later hes still there. Suddenly, out of thick woods, mom and dad eagle swoop in, maybe 15 feet off the ground. At the same instant they rotate one wing straight up, the other straight down, to fly between two trees past the young-un. Minutes later he flies off in the same direction.


On my knees placing pebbles just so in the stream bed. A hummingbird zooms in and hovers, less than a foot from my face. Then hes gone. Then hes back. Then hes gone. Then hes back again. This time he lands on a pebble in the water, right next to my hand. He takes a bath. Zooms up and hovers by my face one last time, then flies away. Wait a minute. Here comes another one.