Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Back Five Surprise!

Prairiewolf and I took the two young, energetic canine idiots on a walk this evening through our back five acres, enjoying the last of the warm air before the cold front comes through tonight. About 10 days ago, during the last warm spell, I heard a meadowlark pair beginning their territorial songs out there. They were there again tonight. I've seen a cotton rat, too, as well as occasional coyote scat, and I'm sure there are voles and other small rodents by the score there.

But tonight I saw something that truly astonished me - a jackrabbit. We flushed him as we walked by, and I immediately knew this wasn't any cottontail. He was big, with black on his tail and black tips on his ears. Not surprisingly, the only view we got was of his hind end as he skedaddled out of there. For as long as we could see him, he was still running.

I'm hoping he's scoping out the area as a permanent residence. That would be an astonishing success, in my eyes, for the habitat in that back five acres was horribly degraded by years of overgrazing and, despite our allowing it to lie fallow this year, it is still covered mainly with weedy, low food- and cover-value species such as prairie three-awn grass. Watching the changes that occur is already proving to be fascinating.

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