The concept of concentric rings comes from looking at how one action can set other things in motion. It's like when you throw a stone into a still pond and see waves of energy emanating out through the water. It teaches us to consider how the different elements of nature are interacting and how one event can ripple out and cause other events. If you read this story carefully you'll notice numerous layers of these concentric rings taking place. This whole study is fascinating to me.
So on with the story!
I mentioned yesterday that when we got out onto the prairie the first thing we noticed was a fox trotting along a trail up on the hill. This is our starting point.
It lay down in the sun & didn't move for quite a while. I kept my eye on it and after about half an hour I noticed it was on the move again. It was at that time that I noted two crows & an eagle fly overhead for the first time of the day.
Something had shifted and there were now three species on the move.
The fox moved down the hill & started traveling along the flat prairie sniffing in holes & looking for opportunities to pounce on unsuspecting voles. Then I noticed that coming up behind the fox was a large predatory bird.
It was a Harrier! But what was it doing? It was so ridiculously close to the fox that I can only assume it was following for some reason. Harriers don't hunt foxes so there must be some other reason.
My question was answered as it pounced down on a small mammal in the wake of the fox. The Harrier was using the plow of voles running for their lives to catch an easy meal!
But perhaps it wasn't as easy as it initially seemed... Because this story isn't over yet.
As the Harrier took off again to go find a spot to consume the vole, the crows came back onto the scene & started chasing the harrier. Had they been watching that whole sequence with the fox & the harrier too?
They chased and squawked and eventually managed to force the vole out of the clutch of the large bird, but in all the excitement all three of them lost track of where the vole had landed. It seemed as though after all this work... no one would be getting the meal.
I noticed as we moved through the rest of the prairie that from time to time we would see the harrier or catch a caw of the crows. Over and over again we would come across dead voles lying abandoned in the field. It would seem that this drama that we had witnessed was not a one time feature.
As morning turned to afternoon things settled down in the game of predator and prey but a new player made an appearance. Riding on the thermals was one of the greatest concentrations of turkey vultures I've ever witnessed. It's not surprising given the number of vole carcasses that were strewn about like a battle field.
I imagine that this is a story that repeats over and over again in that place. As I put the different pieces of the story together it seems as though the harrier knew to watch the fox and the crows knew to watch the harrier and the vultures knew when to collect the spoils.
So what was the event that set this whole sequence in motion?
Who was the pebble that was thrown in the pond?
It's always incredible to me how open spaces can give us such an amazing glimpse into the complex interactions between the various hunters, prey and scavengers.
As time has gone on I've wondered about that day on the prairie.
Does that interaction repeat every day?
What happens in the other seasons?
How does the the eagle fit into this story?
What about the rabbits?
Maybe someday I'll get to go back and answer some of these questions.