Watching wildlife is one of the pleasures of living in Tehachapi, especially the outlying regions. Observing animals and birds as they go about their daily lives is interesting, informative and entertaining.
Watching animal behavior is rewarding, and it also tends to be an area in which the average person can have experiences that elude even dedicated researchers. A biologist can study mountain lions and tell you what they eat, how much they weigh, how long they live, etc., but they may never see a mother mountain lion playing in a lawn sprinkler with her kittens, or see a mule deer doe chase a mountain lion up a tree, as a couple of different Bear Valley Springs residents have.
These kinds of rich experiences are one of the reasons that I started the Natural Sightings feature in the Tehachapi News more than 10 years ago. I have heard countless stories of fascinating encounters with local wildlife, and since the advent of digital cameras means that more and more people have good cameras handy to record some of these chance meetings, I want to create a place to share these images.
And I haven't been disappointed! Thanks to our readers who have shared their photos and stories, we've all had the opportunity to see and hear more about the other living things that share the Tehachapi Mountains with us.
This week I was sent some interesting photos by Karen Jackson. She and her husband, Dick, live in Stallion Springs, and Dick saw what they at first thought was two of their cats interacting. I'll let Karen explain:
"Our cat Annie I named from Orphan Annie because we took her in over the winter, she was homeless. At first we thought she was playing with our gray cat Petie, who is 22 pounds, one big boy. After I saw it was a fox, I ran and got the camera. Our little Foxie Loxie is hanging around here; I’m pretty sure she’s up in the trees during the day. I wouldn’t be surprised if Annie woke her up out of the tree.
"The fox kept coming back for more and they were chasing each other. The fox would go over the fence and then come back — unbelievable. After their play time Foxie Loxie decided to go over the fence and probably find her resting point since they are nocturnal. This morning I was looking out front and sure enough there was the fox sitting on one of our rocks. I grabbed the camera and when I went out she was gone, but lo and behold, a young deer pokes her head up at me. What a wonderful place we live in! I wouldn’t trade it for anything."
Gray Foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and house cats are small enough that they occupy a space in the animal hierarchy where they are both predator and prey — they hunt things like mice, gophers, voles, small birds and lizards, but they in turn are vulnerable to attacks from larger predators like bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions, owls, etc.
The fact that they took a break in order to simply play, pretty much as equals, was a fairly rare and certainly entertaining sight for Karen and Dick to get to witness. And then share with us. Thank you to everyone who has contributed photos over the years. Keep 'em coming, they are enjoyed and appreciated.
Have a good week.
Jon Hammond has written for Tehachapi News for more than 30 years. Send email to email@example.com.