Lizard on my screen, in silhouette, seen from inside

Leapin' lizards

And other wildlife Chez Paul

Lordy! There are suddenly lots of lizards around the patio. I espied one yesterday hanging on the screen over the window next to the patio door. The good news is that I was carrying a still-sealed container of yogurt (not Dannon) and not a cup of hot coffee.

When I looked out onto the patio there was a second one, equally large, out for a stroll in plain sight. By the time I had returned with my camera — and made a trip back to the den to fetch the SmartMedia disk for it — the one on the floor was gone, but Leroy was still hanging from the screen.

lizard on my screen, seen from the outside

He/she/it stayed there long enough for me to snap the picture above and then go around and come out the door in the bedroom to take the picture at left from the outside.

I thought to train the webcam on old Leroy, since he didn't seem to be going anywhere, but as soon as I took my eye off him to sight through the webcam viewfinder, he leaped to the floor, landed with a thud, and scurried off into the bushes below the ficus tree. I didn't do an exact count, but I'm willing to venture that I have at least three more gray hairs than before Leroy did his little acrobatic trick.

lizard on hedge. Click picture to enlarge another lizard on the hedge, sunning himself

I have seen lizards often, usually atop the hedge, sunning themselves and doing pushups. (What's that all about, anyway?) Until today, I had always assumed it was the same lizard. Now I realize there are at least three, since I saw a third, smaller one inside the hedge.

rabbit in front of the house

There is other wildlife besides the lizards. There's TJ, the neighbor's black cat, of course. There's also a family of rabbits that live under the bushes in front of the house. Their cousins live under other bushes at various locations around the property and can be seen often out taking a leisurely breakfast or supper.

Big, black citrus rats also lived in the neighborhood, but Jim, two houses down, traps them, and I haven't seen one in quite a while.

Wily Coyote

The wildlife that I'm most eager to see is Wily Coyote. All winter long I kept hearing coyotes, sometimes sounding as if they were right outside my door. At first I didn't know what the sounds were, but I found some recordings on the web, and it was definitely coyotes that I heard. hear coyote

picture of coyote

I assumed that the coyotes sounded so near because of some acoustical property of desert air. I have since learned that the reason they sounded as if they were right outside my door is because they probably were! The new owners of the unit next door have been spending their weekends here, and because they have no furniture in the house, spend most of their time outside on the patio. Two weekends ago they reported that they had seen a coyote standing on the steps straight across the lawn from my patio. "No, it wasn't just a dog," claimed Ralph and Esme insistently. Peter, another neighbor, says he has seen coyotes several times in the early morning. Wanda, too, reports that she has seen coyotes peering through her patio gate eyeing TJ the black cat. (Aha! an ally!)

Then I remembered that on two different occasions I had found animal scat on the mat outside the patio door. Not that I go about studying these things, but it was unlike any other that I had ever seen: cylindrical, about an inch in diameter, and with a high concentration of grayish fur and hair. A quick Google search (coyote scat) turned up numerous descriptions that perfectly described what I had seen. Apparently I've had closer encounters of the coyote kind than I realized! From all that grayish fur, I'd say that some rabbits have had the same experience.

Naturally I set up my cameras to capture any interloping coyotes, and I personally tried to stake out the patio for several nights running. Both were unsuccessful. I mean, what are the chances the coyote will visit and once again pose on the lighted steps across the yard? As for my own vigil, that's futile: Put me in a comfortable chair in the dark, and I'm counting sheep, not coyotes.