This morning I replayed my pursuit of marauding wild dogs. After seeing a pack of 4 at first light yesterday, I was hopeful of making contact this morning. I chose a different spot today, electing to stand against a fence post on the ridge top and look to the south. To the east, I could see the sick cow. Ahead was a kilometre of open, short-grassed pasture. To the west, the ridge went down to meet a big billabong. That wetland was only a few hundred metres from me. Any dogs that wanted to pass it would be in plain sight for hundreds of metres.
On the grassland before me were several scattered pairs of Lapwings (Spur-winged Plovers to most) that would give me warning of any dogs passing near them. Likewise, the wetland which had a couple of thousand Magpie Geese on it, along with plenty of Brolgas, Sarus Cranes, Pelicans and a scattering of Lapwings. That meant I could concentrate on the south-east where another more distant wetland on the neighbouring farm would channel dogs my way.
When looking through binoculars, there is the risk that you may miss wild dogs that appear and pass you out of sight of the binoculars. Wild dogs travel fast, usually a brisk jog, often a canter. Being small and either dull brown, or black, they do not stand out in a paddock. With their fast pace, they can cover a kilometre of open country in a few minutes, or less. So, the various alarm birds could be trusted to give me warning of any wild dogs in their vicinity while I scanned the distant ridgeline to the SE, hoping to pick up approaching dogs from afar.
First light was slowed by ominous, dark clouds. A brisk SE breeze was given an extra edge by the mizzle it was blowing. Some folks call mizzle a Scotch mist; it is too heavy to be a true mist and yet not quite rain. I kept the covers on my scope lenses to protect them until needed. As the sun rose, it briefly broke through the heavy, tumbled clouds. For a fleeting moment, the land before me was bathed in dawn’s golden glow, softened by the mizzle. The scene looked very much like one of Gainsborough’s famous English country landscapes for a few moments.
My attention was drawn by the honking of geese. Flight after flight was taking off into the prevailing wind and flying right over me, only a few metres above my head. As they gained height, the birds formed ragged V formations of about 50 to 100 birds and streamed off to the south. The cattle, who had been watching me with interest for the last half hour, then slowly made their way up to say hello. That, and the strengthening mizzle, was a good reason to call it quits. The dogs should have appeared by then. I took a selfie with my bovine pals and headed for the vehicle.
After the obligatory chat with the farmer, I drove off to another location to swap cards in the trail camera I had placed over the dead cow there. At home, a hot coffee restored my warmth as I reviewed the photos and video. And, there was plenty of that. The big pied pig had been there again the last two nights, feeding leisurely on the carcass. But better still, another boar had visited the carrion just after 5PM, so I know where I will be at that time tomorrow.
Surprisingly, there was no sign of the pair of wild dogs I filmed on the first night, but I expect they will show up again, sooner or later.