Two hawks, one dead squirrel. High drama at the office.

Sure, the office is in a beautiful setting. Almost peaceful with its trees and wildflowers. Within the canopy,  however, different life-and-death dramas play out every day. Here, a red-tailed hawk, harangued by bluejays and mockingbirds, seeks a moment’s respite in a tree with a squirrel he’d caught for lunch.

The rest did not last long. The smaller birds screamed and even bashed him a time or two and he took off for another hiding spot. Alas, that last flight cost him. As he landed, his squirrel slipped from his talons and crashed through the branches.

A a second hawk, who followed the action and withstood an assault by other small birds, cashed in on the lost lunch.

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Hawk No. 1 with his squirrel lunch, which he carried from tree to tree under attack by bluejays and mockingbirds.
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Hawk No. 2, the interloper, withstanding attacks from a pair of mockingbirds who screeched and hit the hawk. The hawk, unusually, was undeterred. Red-tailed hawks tend to be scaredy cats. 
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The interloper, keeping his eyes on the prize, just waiting for a free lunch.
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And the loser, wheeling off sans lunch. 

Coleman Creek

Coleman Creek is  an urban creek, encompassed in parts by the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the neighboring Cooperative Extension Service headquarters. There’s a fairly broad bit of woodlands on either side of the creek at the extension service side. The green areas support small populations of foxes, coyotes, raccoons, red-tailed hawks, kingfishers, various rodentia, stray dogs, bobcats, and at times, camps set up by the homeless.

The creek itself supports fish, turtles, freshwater mussels and crawdads. It is a welcome oasis and a tremendous natural resource right in the middle of town.

Fish in creek
SCHOOLING — Cardinal shiners swirl around in the clear water.
Open shell on stone.
REMAINS OF THE DINNER – Open freshwater mussel shell is all that remains of some raccoon’s dinner.
vertebra, crawdad shell on rock.
LEFT ON THE CREEKSIDE – A vertebra and the bleached shell of a crawfish on a rock in Coleman Creek in Little Rock.

Urban foxtrot

Sat down for yet another lunch at the desk. Just as I unwrapped my sub, there appeared out the window a pair of foxes. The larger one, top photo, was more bold, venturing into the clearing with a wary eye on the parking lot. The other fox hugged the tree line of the greenbelt, disappearing into the undergrowth soon after the second photo was taken.

Bold fox on a lunchtime stroll
Bold fox keeping an eye on the office parking lot. 
Little fox in winter livery
Smaller fox stayed close to the safe haven of the undergrowth.

 

Urban hawk

One of several red-tailed hawks that make the green belt along Coleman Creek in Little Rock’s University District their home. This fellow was probably looking for lunch.

Red-tailed hawk in a tree.
KEEPING WATCH — Red-tailed hawk pauses in a sweet gum tree.
Hawk in tree.
LOOKING DOWN — Hawk checks out possible lunch int he brush below.

Fox on the run

The wooded area behind our office building has a surprising amount of wildlife. Raccoons, tortoises and red-tailed hawks are common. A few years ago a rather thin coyote came trotting through and some months ago, state game officials identified a bit of roadkill on US 67 Business as a bobcat.

A few weeks back, what at first appeared to be a bushy-tailed feral cat emerging from the trees turned out to be a fox. By the time I grabbed the camera, sprinted down the hall and out into the parking lot he was beyond the range of my lens. The fox was probably keen on the sweet fruit that has been falling from the persimmon tree all autumn.

Fox near a parking lot.
FOXY — Fox, spotted, heads back to the safety of the greenbelt.

Rising above

It’s so good to see our campus hawk cruising the thermals during a lunchtime photo safari.

SOARING SPIRIT -- The campus hawk spirals above the parking lot and green spaces on a beautiful, overcast spring day.
SOARING SPIRIT — The campus hawk spirals above the parking lot and green spaces on a beautiful, overcast spring day.

Another redhead in the parking lot*

Theparking lots between the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the Cooperative Extension  Service headquarters are ringed with a mix of old, tall hardwoods and pines that rise to somewhere in the 50-70 foot range. This thin forest is home to an abundance of life including hawks, raccoons and coyotes. There are several types of woodpeckers too; red-bellied, pileated and this fellow, the red-headed woodpecker.

ON HIGH — Red-headed woodpecker enjoys the view from atop a large, leafless pine tree.

(*The earlier redhead in the parking lot was a spectacular red maple)

Dog day afternoon

Our office coyote, now dubbed “Wile E.,” made a return trip today — several in fact — nosing around for anything he or she thought was edible. If this is the same coyote we spotted in March, then he or she has not done well this summer and fall.

LOOKING FOR LUNCH -- Wile E., the local urban office coyote, looks for food, Friday at lunchtime.
WARY -- Wile E. is very wary of the lunchtime foot and car traffic in the parking lot.

All I wanted was breakfast

This young bandit was probably on an early morning raid for dumpster delicacies in the office parking lot and became startled, running for the nearest shelter. His inexperience showed in his choice of a very short tree with very few leaves. The frightened little guy remained treed until just afternoon, climbing slowly down the tree then bolting for cover. He looks like he could’ve used a big hug.

UP A TREE -- This young raccoon became quite the celebrity at the office on Monday, attracting stares, cameras and sympathy from almost everyone who passed.
IT'S A STRETCH -- The young raccoon tries to get comfortable -- or invisible -- in his perch. (Photo courtesy Kerry R.)

Going back through the archives, this photo turned up. Possibly the same scared bandit. This time, he’s making a beeline from the woods to the cover of shrubs planted under the windows.

SCRAMBLING FOR SHELTER -- Impressionistic photo of a young raccoon exploring the grounds between the office and the greenbelt.