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The hills were alive with the chirping of rock chucks. Getting a jump on the crowds and the heat, I was taking my morning constitutional on the mile and half trail to the top of Tablerock. Rising about 700 feet above the city, Tablerock is an iconic landmark, sprouting antennae, cell towers, and an offensive illuminated cross (a topic for later). The trail has become a highway for hikers, trail runners, dog walkers, and cyclists, which describes quite precisely everything I seek to avoid. But it’s within biking distance of my home and hiking to the top and back is a lot cheaper than a gym membership and, if I get my ass out early enough, it’s a lot more pleasant than a gym.

One morning last week, the upper section of the trail was a cacophony of chirps and squeaks and anguished wailing. About half way up, I watched a raptor soar across my line of vision and land on a nearby power pole.

Look carefully under the crossbar the owl is perched on . . .

Look carefully under the crossbar the owl is perched on . . .

So much for my workout. I had to stop and watch the drama being played out. It dawned on me that the rock chuck ruckus had something to do with what this fellow was clutching in his/her mighty talons. To my surprise, the owl swooped off the power pole and glided to the base of a large bush about 900 feet away. Seconds later the bird returned to its perch on the pole.

Good morning Mr. Great Horned Owl!

Breakfast served!

My eye had also registered movement in the bushes south of the owl nest. The movement turned out to be more cause for concern if you’re of the furry, close-to-the-ground body type.

A coltish coyote was cavorting below the rocks

A coltish coyote was cavorting below the rocks

I continued up the last steep sections of the climb, passing nervously catatonic rock chucks along the way. I pondered whose parent or child just disappeared.

These looked like youngsters. I hope breakfast was not their mom or dad!

These looked like youngsters. I hoped owly breakfast was not their mom or dad!

This particular morning I extended my jaunt to explore the quarry hidden behind the iconic face of Tablerock. Much of Boise’s historic architecture and landscaping has been blasted from this quarry. It’s a pile of sandstone that just keeps on giving.DSC_0003 (3)

Man-caused fault line

Man-caused fault line

This early in the morning, though, the quarry is quiet and the critters in this area were far more relaxed than the harried rock chucks.DSC_0029 DSC_0015 (2) DSC_0014

It was a good day to avoid the clutches of a Great Horned Owl.