Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Burdock's Big Adventure

Burdock, the juvenile porcupine, was not in his den when I went down to bring him his breakfast yesterday. He has been there pretty regularly for the cold weather of the past couple of weeks. You can read about his last expedition in the post from January 11.

I went out to look for him last night. I expected he would go his usual cherry tree, and would appreciate a safe escort back to his den for supper. Not only was the cherry tree empty, but I found no porcupine tracks between his den and the tree. Tracking conditions were tricky, with an icy surface beneath the conifers, but I expected to see clear track in the powdery pockets. Halfway home I picked up a porcupine trail. With much circling and back and forth I managed to trail it back to Burdock's woods, and then up to the vicinity of the cherry tree. With similar efforts, I found porcupine tracks continued beyond the cherry tree. New territory for Burdock. In a little wetland with soft snow, there was much meandering, and by the time I followed the trail out the other side, I was following two sets of porcupine tracks heading in the same direction. The porcupine(s?) came out on HCM trail, and, having been out for two hours at this point, I head home for provisions, and on my return, meet two trackers who had been following the tracker, Matthew and Ashley. The three of us follow the trail up the hillside to the west, and are soon at the den of the porcupine I visited on Saturday. Ashley peeks in first, and announces that there are, in fact, two porcupines at home.
Here they are:
Two porcupines!
I decide, after some scrutiny, that neither one is Burdock, since I can't see his nice skirt of long white quills. I have only one apple with me. Ashley breaks it in half. We leave the two porcupines to eat in peace.

Today, hopeful of finding Burdock before his trail disappears, Zut and I set out to try to find another set of porcupine tracks.  We end up at Big East's house, where we find fresh tracks leading to his watering hole, but no one in his den.
Tracks to the watering hole.
Big East's den. Nobody home.
The freshest tracks away from the den head up the hill to the east, then cross the road and continue up the hill to the west. The intrepid Zoot took a remarkable slip that sent her half way back down the steep icy mountain, but she bounded right back up again. Good goat.

Zoot on the hillside before her descent.
Big East's tracks (or were they?) led straight to the den site of the big pale porcupine that lives in the den above Walter's house. Who was visiting whom? Is there a porcupine social season? I decide to continue on to the dens to the north, where we visited porcupines last night, since I managed to lose the cleats for one of my boots while there and should go find it.

The two porcupines were still there. The original resident, the larger, paler one, was trying to squeeze his way back into the narrow part of the cave, but his way was blocked by the black visitor, the black visitor who was making a large whining fuss about being pushed out of the way. At last the original occupant (shall we call him Dangerous Dan?) turns back toward me and climbs up onto a secluded ledge. I can now see the face of the whiny interloper. Burdock!
Burdock has a biscuit.

Although he tried to play it cool in front of his new pal, Burdock was soon enjoying a biscuit sitting next to me. And then on my lap. And after a good feed he was ready for a wrestling match, as you have seen above.

Burdock and I spent a very pleasant hour together, then things deteriorated as things do with children. He started to yawn, became whiny and demanding, tried to sit on my head and eat my hair. . . Fortunately, I could pack up my things, call the goat, and leave him to the mercies of his new friend.

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