Sunday, September 24, 2006

Picked Clean

Remember dead Mamma-Bambi from my last posting? Here she is again, after completing a successful weight loss program through Wimberley Weight Loss, Inc. The photo is courtesy of WWL's president, Ima I. Picker. Their slogan is "We guarantee you'll lose so much weight your ribs will show".

I imagine the vultures had the carcass looking like this with a day or two after my last visit. Another demonstration of the amazing system Mother Nature has created that keeps her system in balance. No consolation to this former member of her system, but it meant everything to many a vulture who otherwise might have shared the same fate.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Not Nice Dinner Time Photos

In the midst of the summer drought which seems to hit Wimberley and the entire hill country most years, it's easy to find reminders of the harsh existence many creatures face there. The two photos after this first vulture shot are not for the easily disturbed, and certainly not for Bambi lovers, so be warned. I made the photos small to conceal the nasty details, but they are still gross.

While working near the top of our property this morning, I kept hearing strange noises, sort of grunts, coming from the bottom of the hill. Many vultures were circling low, apparently over the near-dry creekbed, so my sweetheart and I went to investigate. Nearing the creek, an eerie and spectacular sight began coming into view; HUNDREDS of vultures were taking to the air, disturbed by this human intrusion. The grunting noises I had been hearing were sounds they make when they take flight, which are more noticeable when dozens are doing it at the same time. Oddly, they were not in a single place, but scattered along a 100-yard length of the creekbed. I took this vulture photo as I approached the creek, too fascinated by the many vultures starting at me to notice the real focus of their activities.

When we arrived at the small pond, now a mere mudhole, a sickening sight (and smell) hit us. An adult deer carcass, covered with mud from stampeding vultures, lay just in front of us. Speculating on the cause of death is difficult, but in attempting to drink that nasty water I suppose it could have been snake bitten or got it's leg stuck in a hole or branch. Chalk up one in the survival of the fittest contest.

Investigating further down stream to see why the vultures had also been hanging around there, we found a fawn which appeared to have died a day or so latter. This sight became even sadder than the first when we began to understand what had likely happened. Our guess is that after watching it's mother die in the mudhole, the fawn wandered around for some time, not knowing what to do, under it succumbed to the heat. In nature, timing is everything. A month or so later and perhaps the fawn could have survived on it's own. Nearby property owners (and hunters)
make meals relatively easy to get by providing deer corn, but this little guy wouldn't venture far enough away from mom to take advantage of that.

So, our quick visit to Wimberley was at just the right time to see this mini tragedy. A few days later and all evidence, save a few scattered bones, would have been gone. Life and death goes on there every day, with or without human visitors. Back home in Houston a few hours later, well feed and in air-conditioned comfort, it seems odd to be composing this blog while the rapidly diminishing remains of this little family is still out there.

In the scheme of things, this was a tiny event in mother nature's everyday course. But to me, it was a powerful reminder that tiny mistakes can make a difference; survival can depend on every step.