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The Daily Bucket is a place where we share our observations about the natural world. Whether we note the winter birds at our feeders or the dramatic weather events of the season, we are building a resource to learn more about the patterns of nature and how they may be changing. Everyone is welcome to contribute!  Just tell us what you are seeing in your backyard or wherever you are roaming and approximately where your observations come from.
How often do you see a truly wild raccoon?

Mostly, for me, raccoons are opportunistic garbage-can scavengers in my neighborhood. Extremely clever and deft, they can open almost anything, and squeeze through unimaginably tiny spaces to get to food. For years I matched wits with a mama coon and her succession of litters, who made free use of my cat door, and then when that was locked up, managed to squeeze through a 3" space in a sliding glass door, a space marginal even for my cats. I remember one night vividly when I heard them entering the living room. I switched on the light and caught them en route to the cat kibble bowl: mama in front and 3 babies, frozen in place, front leg raised for the next step, all staring at me, like deer in the headlights. It wasn't until I marched noisily on them that the family turned and scurried back, squeezing, one by one, out the 3" space. I knew she was the same mama from year to year; she had a crippled right front foot she dragged, but still easily managed to climb walls, open latches, knock over flowerpots, strip strawberries from the garden, and teach generations of new raccoons to do the same.

So it was with great delight I saw a raccoon in the wilderness, out on the beach.

raccoon beach 1
Can you see her? She sees you.
Follow me past the clump of orange seaweed to see what a wild raccoon does.

2nd Beach, Olympic National Park
Every winter we like to walk the wilderness beaches of Olympic National Park, in Washington state along the open ocean. A day's drive, including two ferry rides, it's a livelier shoreline than the inland waters of the Salish Sea where we live. This narrow strip of coastline just a few miles wide but 60 miles long was protected from logging and development by legislation in 1938. Unlike Oregon and California, there is no road paralleling the coastline here. It's dense impenetrable temperate rainforest jungle on one side of the beach and heavy surf on the other.
raccoon tracks on beach
Every day the beach is washed clean of any footprints by the high tide. So when I saw these tracks, I knew a raccoon was nearby.

When raccoons aren't eating garbage or kittie kibble, they are scavenging wild food. At low tide, rocks on the shore are a buffet of crabs, limpets, snails, and tidepool fish for the taking.

We disturbed her feast, and being wild, her impulse was to run away. But the waves were washing around the rocks and it looked like she didn't really want to get her feet wet.

A dilemma.

Then a leap.

raccoon beach 2
wave washing down the beach - shallow enough!
Up the beach, running top speed. Could hear her breathing hard.
raccoon beach 3
And up into the woods to safety, in a flash.
raccoon beach 4
This all happened in a few seconds (luckily my camera was in my hand and turned on for these pics). Unlike the raccoons around my house, she wanted nothing to do with humans. Even if that meant getting wet. Wild and independent.

What wild creatures have you seen recently?

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