I love living in the Bay Area for many reasons, not the least of which is the occsional spotting of wildlife – sometimes as close as my back deck (Raccoons), or an occasional coyote roaming the Open Space. If you extend your outdoor activities to actually hiking some of the many trails, here are some of what you might encounter.

As I walked along the path toward the steps to the lighthouse, I heard a very unusual “thunder.” As I stopped in my tracks, I was mesmerized to see a herd of elk passing me on the adjacent path. What an amazing site? They were magnificent to watch, and then in a flash, they were gone.

As I was sitting in my living room, my big cat, Yoda, became very alert, focusing his attention on our sliding glass door leadng to the back deck. Whoa! Whose face is that peering into our townhouse? It was one of the biggest raccoons I had seen in a long time and they are not shy.

One spring day, I found myself going out multiple times to my back deck, trying to figure out what the squeaky noise was that I kept hearing. When I did some research, I realized that I had a mother raccoon and her babies underneath my deck.

As I was starting to walk the public Open Space trails in front of my townhouse, I looked up at the ridge above me, deciding which path to take. Low and behold, a gray coyote was staring back at me. We spent several seconds being in each other’s presence before he wandered off. 

I love hearing the packs of coyotes at nighttime, howling in their high-pitched announcements, possibly at their successfully catching a prey. Fortunately, it was not my cat they caught, as my cats don’t go into the Open Space and the coyotes don’t frequent the neighborhood streets.

Okay you guys, it is one thing for you to be in the fields and Open Space, but you are obviously not shy about coming into my neighborhood. I guess watch out for pedestrians takes on a new meaning. These photos were taken in front of my townhouse, where the turkeys were walking from on area of Open Space, across the other side via our sidewalks.

My 20-lb. cat, Yoda, tolerates them walking through the neighborhood, but if they put one foot on our front lawn, well, that is not acceptable! He chases after them until they cross the street to the other side.

Ummm . . . there’s that familiar smell again . . . coming from my backyard. Occasionally, I see skunks running quickly – or not – through the planned garden space of our townhouse community. For several minutes after they have departed, their scent reminds us that they have been wandering the neighborhood.

As I was walking the 3.1 miles around the Lafayette reservoir on a warm spring day, I came to a turn and saw a group of walkers stopped, looking up into the trees along the high trail, some with binoculars. As I looked up, there was a magnificent Bald Eagle sitting on a sturdy branch.

They are such extraordinary birds to view in the wild – none of us were in any rush to be on our way to quickly. It’s one thing to see them in captivity (like the one at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum because he has a broken wing), but to see them in their natural habitat is really special.

Here is an observation from another person who observed close-up wildlife in the Bay Area from Martinez.

At noon recently, I was at my computer working in my office at the back of the house when I heard a loud noise. Turning instinctively to my left, looking over the redwood deck, I saw a fox dashing across.

As he reached the far side, maybe 25 feet away, he turned and stared in my direction for perhaps 15 seconds, then dashed away. 

He was gorgeous! A strong, red head but by the beginning of his shoulders, the color of the fur faded to dark gray.

A quick internet search revealed no bi-colored foxes. Could he be young — he certainly was small — and not fully colored out? I live in an area with lots of open space. Hidden Lake Park is about three long blocks from my residence and there’s lots of wild life there, too.