Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tracking Mountain Lions in Beverly Hills

December 16th, 2008

Location: Franklin Canyon Park, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

The rain left an earthy smell all over the trails as Naturalist Ian and I embarked on our tracking adventure for the Mountain Lions of Beverly Hills. The overcast after the rain made my eyes squint. The mud was slippery as we walked the trails with naturalist precision. 

Many of our fine-feathered friends came out of their shelters to feed and fly about after the rain. The Acorn woodpecker was pecking. Raven, was croaking and clucking in the tree tops as we entered a trail that we had never taken before. The little hummingbirds came out of torpor to find food for their little bellies. 

As we continued our hike we found lots of Mule deer scat. We tracked the scat up the mountain and came across a clearing where we spotted a neighbor's barbeque just above us. The urban edge was closer then we thought. While descending we came across our first discovery, a condominium of Wood rat nests. The nests were built with exquisite carpenter skills. Near the nests were branches with a good quantity of Wood rat scat. I found it amusing that they conducted their business outside of their precious homes. 

The greenery surrounded us. Brand new blades of grass emerged from the earth. The scenery was mesmerizing. Then Naturalist Ian turned around with such excitement and screamed, "Discovery!" He reached for a white and brown object resting on top of the earth's soil. It was an animal skull. Half of the skull was cleared to the bone and the other half still had the skin intact and bits of fur. 

Naturalist Ian Griffith and a Front View of the Coyote Skull.
-Picture taken by Naturalist Lauren Tingco

Naturalist Ian Griffith and the skin side Profile view of the Coyote Skull.
-Picture taken by Lauren Tingco

Naturalist Ian Griffith and the bone side Profile view of the Coyote skull.
-Picture taken by Naturalist Lauren Tingco

 Ian, delighted by the discovery, determined the skull must belong to a coyote. We stood there for a moment and speculated on this coyote's last moments of life. What was the cause of death? I don't think we will ever know, but we like to think that we came across the feeding grounds of the Mountain Lions of Beverly Hills. 

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