Footprints leave the evidence. Two missing fish.
When we first purchased this house which is 10 miles from Helotes and about 15 from the edge of San Antonio, we knew we'd be dealing with the elements of nature. In Helotes where we moved from we were used to snakes, scorpions, raccoons, possum and the occasional deer. The first clue were were "not in Helotes" anymore was the morning after we got hit by the wild pigs.
We knew wild pigs did damage out here. Our new yard had big dirt spots where the feral hogs had rooted up the grass looking for grubworms...rooting to find them. But the sellers played it down, "They don't come often....it's random." Well, after a week in the new house, we woke to find our grass in the front yard all uprooted in various places. It was interesting and annoying!
After about three months of this we finally decided to add grass to the dirt spots. We still got hit by the hogs, but my husband would get out that at 5 AM and cover the grass back up. We also put up an electric fence. It goes off in the middle of the night. I'm not sure if it's effective or not because at the same time, the Homeowners Association hired trappers to trap them...So for two months we've been pig free.
We thought we were finished with the wild animal thing. Deer aren't a problem out here. I guess they have enough to eat. Oh we did fish out two small Hog snakes from the pool, but that could happen anywhere. We have a Koi pond right off our back porch and it's complete with a waterfall and fish! It was one of the selling points of this house that I loved.
But one morning I was home recouping after a battle of the nasty virus that was going around and I had just taken Parker to school. I was tired and feeling yucky and ready to get back in bed when Molly wanted outside. I let her out and through the corner of my eye I saw something big and white fly off. I assumed it was a duck as we have a pond close by and it has several ducks in it....so I promptly got Molly in and we got in bed and fell asleep.
We were soon awakened by a loud THUNK at the back door, which is glass. I thought someone was trying to get in...I ran to the door to see this HUGE gray HERON walking out of my pond. I thought WHAT THE.......OMG....I bet it got the fish!!
Sure enough the fish, we had five, were gone. I was so upset. I could see the footprints coming out of the water. The evidence. He was gone for the day, but the next morning and the next he was back....Back for more fish.
I learned that it was probably migrating and would be leaving soon. So we placed a huge net over the pond and in about two days he left. It was persistent. I got to see it very well. Turns out he only got 2 fish. He got the biggest goldfish and one of the Koi. The other three fish were so traumatized that they wouldn't come out except in the cover of darkness.
I don't blame them. I had been working on feeding them. They would see me in the morning and at night and come up to the surface for food...now they hid within the rocks. We ended up buying three more Koi to add and they have helped the other ones not be so skittish, but they still are. In winter, when the water is really cold they hardly move anyway, so hopefully in the spring, I'll keep the net up and get them to trust us again.
Here are the survivors and the new guys. One goldfish still doesn't like to come out. :)
Who knew I'd be battling Herons in my backyard??