Tree coon

May 7, 2010

On Thursday evening, I was able to view a raccoon (Procyon lotor) in a tree during a trek through Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria.

Following my normal routine, I set off that day toward the marshy boardwalk area, but as I walked through the forest a couple noticed me with my camera and pointed toward a tree. A short distance off the ground, a small mass was scrambling up the side.

As it came to a split about 100 feet off the ground, it wedged itself in between the two limbs and just sat there. Shortly thereafter, the couple left and I was able to work the scene a little bit.

The difficulty came from the fact that at his height, I had very few options for where to stand and get a clear shot without leaves and branches blocking the way.

Light was not ideal, but I made the best of it and enjoyed the chance to watch something I’ve only seen once or twice before.

In terms of its behavior, it initially had its arms raised above its head and was hugging the tree as it sat there, clinging as if it would otherwise fall, with its head looking up, resting on the tree. It didn’t look like the most comfortable position. It maintained that position for a while until it eventually read my mind and started looking around, allowing for some better shots like the one at the top of this post.

Finding a raccoon is not easy. In my limited experience, you really have to stumble upon one. They blend so well into their environment and are nocturnal, so the window for possible viewing with sunlight is very small.

I’m sure that after the sun set, Thursday’s raccoon scampered back down the tree, but there was no point for me to stay that long. I had exhausted the limited light that was available and the mosquitoes were making a meal of me.

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