Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rocky Raccoon

"Well somewhere in them Black Mountain Hills of Dakota there
lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon..."
The Beatles, The White Album, one of my favorite all time albums and songs. Regardless of that, this is an animal that has fascinated me since childhood.
In the Boy scouts, to be in the Raccoon Patrol, meant you were Cool!
Today,this masked bandit is common on a few of the Norwalk Islands.
It is an extremely adaptable animal, that is as just at home with humans as it is comfortable in the wild. Whether you are a city or country dweller, I'm sure you have had an experience or two with these rascals.
The Norwalk Islands make a comfortable home for them, and they actually survive the harsh winters quite well out there. With there ability to forage and eat just about anything, they find plenty of food year round.
They don't truly hibernate, but rather sleep off the coldest and harshest of winter times. It only takes a sunny day in the thirties to get these bandito's off to the shoreline, panning for whatever gold the tides may have brought in.
One of their other favorite times to search for food is at low tide, why you ask? They love clams and crabs, low tide makes these food sources most accessible to them.
We also think of raccoons as being nocturnal, and have been taught that if you were to find a raccoon out in the daylight, it is rabid, out here this is not quite the case, on these islands where there are two low tides per day, with at least one being in the daylight, raccoons become diurnal, feeding along the inter-tidal zone, if there are some easy fixings in the middle of the daytime, and the temperature is right, they just step right on up to the table and snack away.
In the winter they are always fun to see, they may be as loners or there may be a family of a half dozen or so, either way on a warm winters day, they are always a treasure to watch.
These winter cuties are not so highly thought of in the spring and summer, as the islands become an oasis for nesting birds and turtles with their highly prized eggs.

More on this in the bird nesting season. For now enjoy the photos below!

Scouring the high tide line.

Is this a raccoon smile?

Chomping down on a clam

A family picnic on Chimmons Is.

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