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The Daily Bucket is a place where we post and exchange our observations about what is happening in the natural world in our neighborhood. Bugs, buds, birds - each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unwinding around us.
Seattle. February 9, 2012.

I've been walking in the forest for so many years that I have begun to hold its yearly cycle in my own body. It's February, just over halfway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. For a couple of weeks now I've anticipated the cat piss fragrance of Flowering Red-Currant (Ribes sanguineum) down in the swampy bit near the northern end of the peninsula. They first appear every February in this sheltered place, a pale variety. This February is no exception:

February 7, 2012. Flowering Red-Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
February 7, 2012. Flowering Red-Currant (Ribes sanguineum)

But every once in a while something happens in the forest that sets everything I think I know on edge. Yesterday just about dusk, walking with a friend who understands this place in the same way I do, our nature gossip was interrupted by a sound that neither of us recognized. It came from a deeply wooded area, three times - a brief, raspy and almost mechanical shriek. Our dogs went on instant alert, ears and hackles up, both straining on their leashes towards the sound.

We waited in silence until the dogs' leashes fell slack. Nothing.

No more raspy shrieks. None of Eagle's lustful spring cries. No Crow bluster. No gossip from Chickadee or Creeper or Nuthatch. Not even a word from Squirrel.

Nothing.

My friend and I are both rational, educated people. We needed a rational source for this sound. We came up with these possibilities, in this order:

Coyote - We'd found fresh scat earlier in the day, so Coyote was on our minds.

Great-horned Owl- We've heard their hoots on occasion in the past, but don't know if they have other vocalizations.

A snag getting ready to fall. This is the season.

February 8, 2012. Snag fall.
February 8, 2012. Snag fall.

Barn Owl - The sound reminded me of what I remember the Barn Owls sounding like back in my hippie farm days, but there are no records of Barn Owls in the forest.

Cougar -  Highly unlikely. The forest is on a peninsula jutting into a lake in urban Seattle.

Or?

###

Where are you and what's happening there? Here's the link to J-Town. You know what to do.

I'll be back in the early afternoon PST, and again after dinner.

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