There it was again – a loud, odd gurgling sound – a bit like the warble of a bird but far more urgent. I was suddenly wide awake. Confused too, as I briefly wondered if I was at home and hearing the dawn chorus. But no, I was definitely not at home because I was sleeping in a cabin-style house in the desert, surrounded by mountians. And it was dark.
Something was definitely going on outside. Scuffles? That gurgling noise again, like an alarm call. It stopped and I went back to sleep.
Next morning there was excited talk amongst our family party about the noise which I’d heard, husband had heard, son and daughter-in-law had heard. The grandchildren slept through it all.
Our cabin’s location was just outside Big Bend National Park in the far south of Texas. Wildlife in that area includes deer, road runners, javelina and mountain lions. The conclusion was that what we’d heard was a mountain lion in pursuit of prey. The gurgling sound could have been the prey, or the alarm call of a bird aroused by the lion.
Our son, sleeping at the front of the house, had got up and looked out, shining a torch into the blackness of the night. He’d seen the lion attacking something else; the light from his torch had startled the lion and it (and preseumably the prey) had run off.
We went to look at the loose sand and soil outside the cabin where he’d seen the activity and found the evidence – paw prints and what looked like deer hoof prints. No blood.
Just another night in the desert maybe – but a real bit of colourful excitement for us.