Posts Tagged ‘unusual predator’

The heat is on at the Falls of the Ohio.  It is looking like this will be a summer to remember.  In the Louisville area, we have already set all time record highs for the month of June.  Yesterday, it was 105 degrees here or around 40 degrees Celsius in the rest of the world.  Coupled with the heat is a lack of rain.  So, when it’s this miserable outside…who in their right mind would be walking around under this crazy sun?  That would be me!  I’m here at the river’s edge and imagining that I’m one of the dozens of herons I can see fishing from their spots by the fossil rocks.  I take my shoes off and cool my feet in the river.  This provides some respite.  It occurs to me that perhaps these herons aren’t fishing after all, but have discovered that they can beat the heat by wading in the water?

All the coal flake designs from the last post are gone.  In places, I can see how someone has dragged their foot deliberately across the patterns to erase them.  Why a person would feel compelled to do this is beyond me?  I’m nearly numb to the idea by now.  I am actually more surprised when any of my projects manages to survive for any time at all.  I have the images and that will have to do.  I do have this other coal project going out here.  It really isn’t any thing special.  Just coal defining the perimeter around a patch of grass I noticed growing next to a piece of driftwood.  I imagine that the wood provides some measure of protection from the wind or catches more dew and that is why this very small area of grass is growing.  The coal ring is meant to call attention to this.  So far, it has managed to survive being stepped upon, but if it doesn’t rain soon…I’m afraid my small patch of grass is a goner.

After cooking in the sun for a bit, I returned to my Styro-studio under the shade of the willow trees.  There is a trade-off.  Although I’m not under the direct scrutiny of the sun, I do however, become a tempting meal for mosquitoes and biting flies.  Looking around, I can see that I have had visitors because the Styro-figure I had stashed here has been destroyed and someone has attempted to create another figure from its remains.  An old pair of sun glasses I had previously found was just barely hanging on to the new figure’s eye-less head.  I do like it when people play along and imagine other possibilities.  I was looking through  my  larder of polystyrene chunks and wondering what to make next when I spotted some movement in the near distance.  Grabbing my camera I carefully stalked behind the trees and caught another member of the Falls’ distinctive fauna unawares.  Here is my informal portfolio of the River Cat.

Hiding behind a log I saw the River Cat hunting.  Among its habits…it is an ambush predator that conceals itself along the trails used by its prey which includes other small mammals and birds.

Once it was a common small predator found throughout the Midwest of the continent, but was persecuted and destroyed because it unfortunately developed a taste for chickens and other small livestock.  It was poisoned and trapped and extirpated from the majority of its former range.  Small remnant populations have clung on enjoying the protection they have found in state and national parks.

I watched this River Cat for several minutes before it discovered me!  It wasn’t  sure what I was and it jumped up onto a large log for a better look.  At this point, I wasn’t sure what it was going to do…but I kept on taking pictures.  Here is a close up of its head which illustrates one peculiarity about this beast.

River Cats have mismatched eyes.  There is an old pioneer wives’ tale that the secret to this cat’s hunting success lies in locking its gaze with that of its prey’s.  In effect, it momentarily hypnotizes its quarry before coming in to make the kill.  Whether or not there is any paralyzing effect at all has never been formally proven.

Once this unusual cat discovered that I was neither food nor threat it moved on.  I tagged behind at a respectful distance.  I followed it near the river before it gave me the slip.  Knowing that it was probably hungry, the thought crossed my mind that it might try to ambush one of the wading birds I saw earlier.  Picking up my collecting bag and walking stick I headed back down to the river.  Unfortunately, my luck didn’t hold out and I wasn’t treated to a real life moment where hunter meets prey.  I never saw the River Cat again, but I do have a few photos to prove it was here.

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