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Backyard raccoon

Started: 2020-05-23 19:44:20

Submitted: 2020-05-23 23:54:39

Visibility: World-readable

In which the local wildlife makes itself seen in Wallingford

I've seen raccoons around the Seattle neighborhood Wallingford, but today was the first time I've seen one in the day, which gave me a chance to get a good picture.

I looked out my dining room window this morning when I saw a hummingbird harassing a bird two or three times its size, driving it across my driveway and pursuing the larger bird when it dared to stop on the porch. (The larger bird was still quite small, with a body maybe five or six inches tall.) I saw movement in the persimmon tree and when I looked closer I saw a raccoon climbing through the tree and the juniper next door. (The juniper, growing out of the neighbor's yard, is kind of awkwardly falling over into the persimmon tree growing out of my yard; though to be fair the persimmon is growing into the neighbor's air space so perhaps the juniper feels compelled to defend its own territory.)

I summoned the children from the couch to see the raccoon. They nodded appreciatively, then Calvin went back to the couch where he was playing Nintendo Switch online with one of his classmates. (They were probably playing the paintball-themed shooter Splatoon 2, but sometimes they play Minecraft together.)

Backyard raccoon in Wallingford
Backyard raccoon in Wallingford

I couldn't get a good look at the raccoon from the dining room so I searched for a suitable vantage point until I settled on the roof deck. From there I could look down on the raccoon as scrambled down the tree, sauntered along the top of the fence, and hopped down into another yard. (Kiesa says she saw two raccoons in the tree, but I never saw more than one at a time.)

Raccoon walking on suburban fence
Raccoon walking on suburban fence

I grabbed my DSLR (with its real optical zoom lens) but I had neglected to return its memory card after downloading photos so I had to run down two flights of stairs, grab the card, and run back to the roof to play nature photographer in (literally) my own back yard.

Raccoon in a suburban backyard
Raccoon in a suburban backyard

The raccoon scrambled up a tree, where the density of the branches thwarted my autofocus. I lost the raccoon in the tree canopy, then picked up the raccoon again in an adjacent pine tree.

Raccoon climbs a tree
Raccoon climbs a tree

I watched the raccoon climb the tree (switching my camera to manual focus and taking several pictures, none of which showed more than a furry blob) until it reached an obvious nest maybe fifty feet above the ground. The raccoon rummaged around the nest for a minute or two before settling down, presumably to sleep.

Raccoon nest in a pine tree
Raccoon nest in a pine tree

I checked back later in the afternoon and the raccoon was there, as a furry gray blob barely visible in the canopy. If I didn't know what I was looking for I probably wouldn't have been able to identify it. (Kiesa reported that she did not see the raccoon earlier in the day, presumably indicating another foraging mission before it returned.)

Now that I know there's a raccoon living in a tree I'll keep an eye out for it in the future.

The last time I photographed a raccoon in my yard I caught a raccoon eating persimmons from my tree in December, illuminated by my car headlights, photographed with my mobile phone.

Raccoon eating persimmons in Wallingford
Raccoon eating persimmons in Wallingford

Before that, I found a raccoon celebrating Thanksgiving in its own way, by raiding the trash cans in Wallingford. As I approached on the sidewalk it scampered into the driveway to let me pass, watching my carefully to determine how much of a threat I posed.

Raccoon in a driveway in Wallingford
Raccoon in a driveway in Wallingford

The zoo is closed for the COVID-19 pandemic but, apparently, the wildlife will come to visit us.

You will always find those who think they know
what is your duty better than you know it.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"