John Harrigan -- Deer, coyotes, ravens: Emerging signs of spring

JOHN HARRIGAN April 19. 2014 7:57PM

Just after daybreak the other morning, I went out to throw two or three logs into the furnace and stopped dead to scrutinize a silhouette standing in the middle of the Canoe Road, maybe 50 yards away. Eye-adjustment proved it to be a deer, pondering me as intently as I was it.

After a few seconds that as always felt like several minutes, I moved, just slightly, and not one but two flags flashed white in the waning dark - the two motherless fawns I've been seeing all winter, I thought, somehow having survived the late-season cold and snow, emerging to find something to eat. They looked healthy, embodying that old phrase, "Hope springs eternal."

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There are coyotes all around me, and I've never considered them a problem or a threat, just a fact of life - part of the scene and at times pretty good company.

Much of my life seems to revolve around the outdoor furnace, and well after one midnight hour last week, I'd just got home from a trip to Nevada and was stepping up to throw some wood in when I was again stopped in my tracks, this time by the singing, yipping and howling of a bunch of coyotes in the hilltop field just across the swamp. You could almost spit on them if the wind was right, making the hair on the back of my neck stand up in a pleasant sort of way.

This time, rather than yipping and yowling back as usual, I just stood still and enjoyed the music. The coyotes live right where the deer live, and both still emerge in the spring. Something to think about.

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On a morning last week, I was doing dishes when a huge bird swooped down from rooftop level and cruised the back barnyard before flapping along over the swamp. It was a raven with two crows hot on its tail, giving it the business. The crows are ready to nest, and the ravens are, too, so it was a territorial spat of the highest order.

Ravens are a steady presence here and a joy to have as neighbors. They are among the few wildlife species that know how to play, and even childless adults will fly high and tumble around just for the fun of it, indulging in mock fights and free-falls almost right to the ground, only to flap back up on high and do it all over again.

After ravens' young fledge from the nest, this play becomes serious business, and the parents will guide their kids high into the sky until they all become specks and instruct them in mock fights and free-falls to hone their skills.

Once in awhile, as I'm slinking about the woods on one mission or another, a raven will flap over at treetop level, only the soft whoosh of its wings giving me a brief heads up on its impending arrival.

The raven, of course, spots me instantly and cocks an eye and gives forth with a croak and a squawk, and I'll croak and squawk back, and often the bird will circle back to investigate, one of the many delights and treats of a soft slink through the woods.

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"Social media" is a catch-all term, but to me the increasingly companion term is "drivel and drool."

Apparently a "dare to jump in" challenge regarding swollen rivers and streams has been circulating around personal websites and emails, prompting Fish and Game, during the latest body search, to issue a warning against it.

We've seen some incredibly stupid things, like teenagers posting their most intensely personal information on websites while apparently clueless that this stuff inevitably spreads all over the universe, but daring each other to jump into deadly frigid waters boggles the mind.

John Harrigan's address: Box 39, Colebrook NH 03576 or

John Harrigan

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