As we depart my discomfort zone

juvenile eastern cottontail rabbit Sylvilagus floridanus posing for posterity
Ha! Just to show the scope and breadth of my photographic talents, and to rebut all the naysayers (myself among them) who said I can’t do “cute,” I present to you a visitor yesterday evening – well, actually a resident, since we’ve been seeing it for a couple of weeks now. I had nothing to show the scale of this eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus,) but let’s just say it was a little bigger than palm-sized, less than half the body length of an adult. We’ve seen it numerous times in the front yard, primarily at dusk, and I have a suspicion that it lives in the thick phlox under the Japanese maple right outside the front door. In this case, it was sitting just at the edge of our front walk, less than three meters from the door. I was shooting handheld with the 100-300 L in the dimming light, through the storm door glass, so sharpness suffered a little due to this. Give me a break; I’m not experienced in chasing cuddly subjects and my skin wasn’t crawling at all, which was disconcerting.

juvenile eastern cottontail rabbit Sylvilagus floridanus moving to new spotUpon first sighting it I froze, knowing that I was in plain sight to it through the full-length glass panel, but after calling The Girlfriend over, I got the camera and started firing off shots, otherwise remaining mostly still. Previous encounters with this one has told us that it’s not terribly shy, and in time it resumed its evening meal, selecting samples of the various plants that grow in the edges of the front planters. The yard looks unkempt in these images, and it probably could be better, but bear in mind you’re seeing a small section where the exuberant phlox gives way to the lawn, with a handful of various plants competing under the taller stems. The bright green leaves seen in the first images are actually a decorative sweet potato in a pot alongside the door, which has a tendency to stretch excitedly in all directions in an attempt to take over the front steps. You’ve seen it last year, of course. Meanwhile, pine needles are everywhere because pine trees suck but we have not yet eradicated all of them from the property.

juvenile eastern cottontail rabbit Sylvilagus floridanus resuming its meal
While we were watching, Little Girl went up to the door and looked out for a bit but failed to spot the rabbit sitting so close in front of her; this wasn’t particularly surprising, given that at the time the bunny was remaining motionless, blending in pretty well with the background, and I already know Little Girl’s vision is less than optimal – she pretty much needs motion to lock in on a target. A few minutes later on after the cat had wandered off, the rabbit had assured itself that we were presenting no danger and continued foraging, sampling several different things including the sweet potatoes themselves.

Now, you surely recall the tale of the fox’s visit, and are asking me if this was the escapee. I honestly don’t know, though that one appeared to be at least slightly injured, but there’s been enough time for it to heal. However, there was another development that told us this one was tempting fate, since about two weeks ago I found evidence of a capture sitting atop a tree stump (like I said, not all of them yet.) In the side yard, only a dozen or so meters from the foraging grounds of my disturbingly fluffy subject above, sat the remains of another juvenile rabbit, almost certainly a victim of the fox given the tight cluster of remains and the lack of overhanging branches right there – otherwise I might have suspected a hawk or owl. You’ll see a hind leg to the left, and a bare jawbone at lower right.

remains of consumed juvenile eastern cottontail rabbit Sylvilagus floridanus on tree stump
Given the general nonchalant nature of our resident bunny, we’re concerned that it will suffer the same fate, and in fact it had vanished for a few days and had us wondering, before reappearing two evenings ago. I suppose I could get in the habit of storming over and making a lot of noise every time I see it, to reinforce its flight instincts a bit, but I’d almost certainly end up sleeping on the couch if I did, so…