Notch, Bigfoot, and the Hunt for El Chupacabra in our Front Yard

So this isn't exactly about a DIY project, but it sure is home related. I thought you'd like it. 

Animals of The Midwest vs. The Southwest

Growing up in rural / suburban southeastern Michigan in an old cottage, sitting on a peninsula, I grew up with all sorts of wild creatures. I grew up around reptiles and amphibians like frogs, toads, snakes, turtles, and salamanders. There were plenty furry creatures like muskrats, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, and possum. We were flocked with birds like sparrows, cardinals, robins, herons, hawks, and owls. 

When we moved to Arizona, the animals were not as obvious, at first. Now we've seen plenty of creatures we didn't know from Michigan, like roadrunners, javelina, coyotes, and bobcats.

We recognized plenty of other animals, like basic bunny rabbits and various familiar birds. 

One rabbit in particular seems to call our yard his home. His name is "Notch", due to a v-shaped notch in one of his ears.

He's almost always there, spooked into running whenever we pull into the driveway or open the front door. 

Sometimes, he's entertaining company which makes us feel bad when he and his girlfriend go bouncing away across the neighbor's yards when we intrude on his space. It's truly rude on our part to pass when he's having a dinner party.  

Our property pretty much features bunnies, birds, lizards, and bugs; that's it. There's not much exciting to see, until about 8 months ago and ...

That One Odd night.

I don't know what woke me up so late. Admittedly, I'm a middle-aged dude, so waking up and wandering around the house isn't totally out of character. Sometimes it's just to answer nature's call, to grab some water, to watch a few minutes of a World War II documentary, or simply to wander aimlessly about before crawling back in bed, just like every other guy in his 40's. That night, for some reason, I peeked out between the blinds, towards the street. 

I saw the beast. 

It glided between my peeking spot and the mesquite tree in the center of the front yard. I was within 10 feet of a monster. It was a little fuzzy without my glasses, but I could see it was dog-like, super lean and really scraggly. It moved strangely unlike any dog I've seen. It was bigger than any of the coyotes I'd seen around the neighborhood in early dawn hours. Truly, it reminded me of Professor Remus Lupin's werewolf in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. 

via GIPHY

Clearly it isn't a werewolf and we don't really have domestic dogs running loose in the neighborhood. But what in the Sam Hill is it?

Obviously, it was a fabled creature of whispers and legend...El Chupacabra!!! right in our front yard!!! It was clearly returning to a hiding place, somewhere in South Mountain Park, after a night of looking for livestock to suck the blood from. 

  El Chupacabra - Courtesty of Artist:  Robert Borashan  - used with permission

El Chupacabra - Courtesty of Artist: Robert Borashan - used with permission

I'm watching for you Beast

I burned some Amazon gift cards and ordered a special camera. (Thanks for using my affiliate links; it helps me do stuff like this)

This trail camera has all kinds of cool features, but what interested me was its infrared, night-vision, motion detecting trigger, and reasonable price. I loaded it with AA batteries, slipped in an empty 8 GB SD card, and strapped it to the mesquite. I programmed it to shoot between 9 pm and 5 am. Hopefully, I'd catch the beast. I pointed it at the front door to keep it from picking up cars. 

Phoenix after Dark

This is what a basic 1979 tract home looks like to an infrared camera at knee-height in the wee hours. Can you feel the excitment?

 Boring Emptiness. 

Boring Emptiness. 

Are these photos real? 

Yes.

I've done absolutely zero manipulation with Photoshop, Lightroom, or any other program. These are the actual photos as taken out of the trail camera. The only thing I have done is to crop them to better fit, lower the resolution for the website, and occasionally zoom in. I've also removed the date stamps from the bottom of the images because I failed to set the camera up properly; all the images incorrectly showed they were taken in 2017, when they were taken between March and July of 2018.

I've used galleries to show a bunch of photos. Click on them to enlarge if you want to peek closer.

- John

 

For the first week, we excitedly opened the camera, grabbed the SD card and viewed the photos. There were a few blurry rabbits and raindrops captured.  Cool but nothing great. 

After the thrill of new wore off, I stopped looking at the photos. At one point, I changed the angle  but left the contents untouched. Weeks and months slid by while I worked on the kitchen remodel

Cleaning up the seed pods in the front yard, I retrieved the SD card again to see what was to be seen. There were over 2,500 photos on it, taken over 4 months. Half appeared empty or had blurry smudges of something moving fast. The other half were interesting,..

The Wild Kingdom

Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha

Yes. First and foremost, there was Notch, in all his tough guy, big-eared glory. Not only does he lounge around during the day, he's a late night playboy, the star of the front yard nightclub. 

 Notch. Grade-A Bad Ass.

Notch. Grade-A Bad Ass.

Bunnies, bunnies, bunnies. Good lord, do the bunnies love our yard. They sip from the drip irrigation, munch on mesquite pods, and enjoy the fruit dropped from the cactus.  Notch likes to entertain. 

On the Wing

Birds. Yep. Yawn at dawn. Meh. 

Feline Follies

Cats. There are at least two stalking around in the dark watches of the night. There may be a third, but it's too fuzzy to tell. They may be clandestinely hunting, but they never get the speedy Notch. I've seen very close time stamps of him streaking away, just before these smug cats amble by. 

Awwww Rats!

Yeah. I think that's a #@&%'ing rat. I know there are scumbag roof-rats in the area. They get into attics, hang out in palm trees and eat the errant citrus that gets left beneath people's fruit trees. In hindsight, I think it was a rat that violated the side of our house a while back, causing me to patch the hole. 

 It only showed up once. Maybe the one of the cats got him. 

It only showed up once. Maybe the one of the cats got him. 

Bigfoot Too?!!!

I caught glimpses of some kind of stooped and shaggy, sub-human creature shambling around in the early hours. Interestingly, the images seemed to be captured right around the time I normally leave for work on the weekdays and right after the newspaper lands in the driveway on the weekends. I don't know how I've never ran into it face to face.  It matches the historical record of Bigfoot sightings though.

It's clearly some sort of dim-witted prehistoric holdover with what appears to be size 12 feet. One wonders what caused the unfortunate brew of genetic mutation that lead to this disheveled, somewhat humanoid creature.  Odd that it can stay out of sight and survive in modern-day suburban Phoenix. 

 Still, there's something oddly familiar about the creature.

Still, there's something oddly familiar about the creature.

There's also a leaner, more active biped creature that seems to appear at much later hours. Normally, the camera just catches a blur of movement. Later, I notice our pantry and refrigerator have been ravaged coincidentally around the times of these sightings. 

This particular creature employs some degree of intellect. It chilled me to the bone when I woke up one morning and found undeniable traces that it had actually figured out how to get into the house and manipulate the technical doodads on the refrigerator. 

 horrifying

horrifying

There's also a delightfully lovely, curvaceous creature that graces the area from time to time. I'm going to have to study those pictures much more closely; I won't be sharing them here. 

Coyote Ugly

They're not great images, but these look like the coyotes I've seen around and the images I've found on the internet. They look kind of like a lean, smaller German Shepard. There's a bushy tail and coarse, straight hair. 

Yeah. I think this was a coyote. If it was, then,..

Holy Crap!!! What is that?!!!!

I mean, what the hell is this ugly thing?

This mangy mess appears to be the hind-side of the very creature I was looking for.  It doesn't seem to have a tail.  It does have,... uhmmm,... not to be indelicate,.. a pair of,... well,... it's anatomically... a male. It's a dude creature-thing. 

  "You always did have a scrote, boy!"    -     Yondu Udonta

"You always did have a scrote, boy!"   -  Yondu Udonta

Over the course of many weeks, filled with photos of Notch and his fellow bunnies, I caught more glimpses of the tailless monster. Many sightings were just big, lurking shapes, blurry in the dark edges of the frame, or too close to the camera. Some images however, featured good views of that odd, Harry Potter - Lupin's werewolf body. 

Finally, towards the end of the collection. It came close to the camera. It's not like any coyote I've ever seen. Similar, but that head is wrong.

It doesn't seem like a domestic dog either. It's El Chupacabra!

Good God. El Chupacabra

CHUPACABRA.jpg

Honestly, I think it's a feral animal, probably a cross between a domestic dog and a coyote. It passes through in the middle of the night, quite often. It looks ragged, underfed, and does not wear a collar. I suspect it lost it's tail in the violence of the wild world of the mountain park where it hides during the day before coming out and stalking the neighborhoods at night.

What do you think? You ever see crazy stuff in your neighborhood?