A couple of nights ago, I returned from the library at dusk. On the way home from the bus stop, I detoured into the vacant lot 3 doors down from our house. I decided to sit in the grass under one of the black locust trees and watch the sky and the stars and the moon for a bit. After maybe 10-15 minutes, I heard a rustling in the blackberry patch to my left, and turned my head to see a big ol' raccoon creep out! Maybe 8-10' away from me! He or she walked forward a few steps, sniffed, stared in my direction, walked forward a few more steps, getting within 3-4' of me! Peered some more in my direction. Turned to my right and walked in an arc, now maybe 6' out. topped and turned to stare at me again, sniff sniff, until due south of me. Maybe finally smelled me well enough to figure out my presence...moved at a brisk walk to the orange fence 20' away, and seemed to vanish in the blink of an eye!
2 minutes later...whole thing over again! Rustle rustle, emerging raccoon, maybe even a little bigger than the last. Step step stop peer sniff step step--this time definitely within 3', maybe 2', even closer than the last! Reared up on hind legs as high as he or she could get. Then back onto all fours, then moving to my left and backing out a bit. I thought this raccoon maybe peed, but I'm not sure why I thought that--I didn't really hear pee or see anything clearly (and when I went and sniffed the spot later I didn't smell anything.) Circled around to my right again, with the same step step stop sniff peer step step, pretty much in the same path as the first raccoon. Same thing again of stopping due south in front of me, and finally moving quickly to the fence; this time I watched carefully and saw the movement as he or she glided under the fence at a low spot in the dirt.
I waited another 5-10 minutes, but no further activity; I was wondering whether younger adolescent raccoons would all repeat the performance!
Very very cool; I'm so glad I got to experience that! I must have lucked out with positioning myself such that the bright street light was more or less behind me when they came out of the thicket, and the wind was coming from the south so not blowing my scent at them. I was actually scared a little bit; big animals with nasty teeth and claws and all that, oh my! Definitely worth another twilight stake-out sometime soon...