Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Digging on the Dogs

Doug and his dog Gordon came up for a short day of digging, and after taping up the collars we hit a nearby farm.

Gordon found first -- a nest of mice in a tree tube!

Mountain was second, locating something in a nice sette at the top of a tall creek bank. Pearl pinged on it too, but neither dog could get to it from either end of the pipe.

We dropped a hole where it appeared they were stuck, and bingo -- there was the pipe and the dog too, but it appeared to be a dead-end of solid earth. This den went nowhere.

The dogs continued to dig, however, and I poked the solid wall looking for a soft spot, but there was none. This was not backfill.

Mountain and Pearl were both quite adamant that it was there, however, and so out come the scrapper and the long-handled trowel. After three inches of scrapping and digging through hard soil, I was pretty sure nothing was there, but I have learned to trust the dogs and after six inches of excavation, I suddenly broke through. Amazing!

I slipped in Pearl and she bayed it up for a while, and then Doug dropped a hole behind the groundhog and I tailed it out, and we quickly dispatched it and repaired the sette. Job done.

We crossed the creek and watched a couple of warring belted kingfishers go at it. I had never heard a kingfisher vocalize before, and neither had Doug who, it must be said, has much better eyes than I do. Three deer ran up off onto another farm, three turkey vultures flew directly over our heads, and at least three red tails and a red shouldered hawk were spotted. This country is thick with wildlife.

The dogs half-pinged on a spot on the other side of the creek, but they did not give a strong mark, and so I suggested we walk up to towards a tree about 200 yard away, as I thought we might find up that way.

Sure enough, we were half-way there when Mountain pinged on another hole. Once again, it became pretty clear that while there was something underground, it was pretty well dug in.

That's the way it is this time of year -- the groundhogs are starting to lay up for the winter, and are closing in their holes and building water barriers inside their pipes so as to make comfortable hibernation possible.

Mountain entered and stayed underground. I boxed her and Doug dropped a hole right on top of her nose. The pipe made a hard and unexpected turn right at this point, and the groundhog had pushed dirt behind him as well.

After clearing a little dirt with the scraper and widening the hole to give Mountain a little more room, she was straight up the pipe and face to face with the groundhog. Nice!

We dropped a second hole right behind the groundhog, and snared it out and dispatched it for Mr. Fox to recycle.

With two down, we decided to call it a day, as Doug had a long drive back down to North Carolina.


Retrieverman said...

I see kingfishers all the time when I'm driving around where I grew up. They hang out on the power lines that follow a stream into town. You can see them sitting there just about every day in the summer.

When I was little, I thought they were kookaburras, but they are belted kingfishers.

It turns out I wasn't entirely stupid for thinking they were kookaburras, because a kookaburra is am Australian kingfisher that has become a generalist.

PBurns said...

At age 50, my eyes are going, and I am starting to lose birds if they are too far away. So many were "LBJs" anyway (little brown jobs) but I can always ID the really iconic ones like a kingfisher, but these were too far away. Doug figured out what they were, but I could not tell until they flew off towards me and gave me a little wing-wag. Maybe I need stronger glasses? I think so!


Doug said...

Patrick, it was another good day in the field, and I always appreciate you taking out a novice to see what we can find.

Thanks again,

PBurns said...

It was a good day; fine weather, shallow digs and good soil. Plus you carried the postie :)

You need to come up sometime when its REALLY cold and windy and we can go foxing.

Think the end of January or first week or two in February.



Always magnificent Pearl and the mountains, is deserved his trust, they have a better view of us when they are underground.

Always trust the faithful auxiliary four-legged.