A couple of days ago we had some nice sunny weather, so for a break I took Raven down the road to the 100-acre woods. Raven was feeling her oats and all over the place. I decided to strike off off-trail to wander around and see what I could turn up. So often you encounter things that you either wouldn’t have noticed from the trail, or don’t happen to be near enough to the trail to be seen. This happened to be one of them. Raven had hurried up into a swath of deciduous trees, mostly maples, not far ahead in the forest. I thought I could hear the sounds of something climbing up a tree, and thought perhaps she’d cornered a raccoon. As I drew nearer, I just caught a glimpse of a prickly porcupine butt disappearing into a hollow in the huge maple. Despite trying to tell Raven that she wouldn’t have a lot of fun playing with a porcupine, and the porcupine didn’t want to play with her, besides, she continued to stand at the edge of the tree and whine (which is how I know it’s a “I want to meet you!” and not “What the heck is that scary thing??”, which elicits some barking, or “Omigod something evil is coming this way!”, which causes her to puff up her hackles and growl; she doesn’t seem to have a setting for “I don’t want you here, go away or I’ll chase you!”, at least that we’ve ever noticed).
Back in the spring Dan and I encountered a porcupine in Frontenac Provincial Park that scurried up a tree and sat, allowing me to get a few shots. Comparing those photos to this individual, it looks like this guy may have had a run-in with something else recently, perhaps a coyote or somebody’s dog. Its rump and upper tail are missing all the pale-coloured quills that are its primary defense, leaving a dark brown patch. After a few moments waiting in the tree cavity hoping we’d go away (we weren’t, I was trying to find a better vantage point where I could get a photo of the fuzzy bit of quills poking out of the cavity, since I’d missed getting a photo of him going in), he decided perhaps he would be a bit safer higher up in the tree, and hauled himself out again to climb up a bit farther. We left him alone after snapping this photo, much to Raven’s disappointment. If you’re interested in more of the life history of porcupines, visit my spring post.