Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

My best life apparently includes ALL the wildlife.

June 17, 2021

Today was a rough day. Like, almost throw up from the stress of it all kind of rough. Because no one likes surprises. Especially stressy, tough surprises. And not those surprises over and over again.

Honestly, yous guys, I feel like Wile E. Coyote a bit, because just when I feel like I’m getting back on track, rebuilding my best life, feeling great about who I am and where I’m going (except for one or two pins I need to fall into place), and then… KABLOOEY!!!

But! When I woke up this morning, I pulled up my Girl Scout socks and told myself that anyone who can find a bald eagle in the wild – a bald eagle nest, even! – doesn’t have anything to worry about. She’ll manage.

Of all the inspirational things I tried to tell myself, that was the one that actually stuck to the wall.

Because you know what? I DID see a bald eagle – a bald eagle nest, even! – in the wild! I’ve seen a mature bald eagle, majestic, breathtaking, damn near miraculous honestly. And I’ve seen two fledglings still in the nest (…who i maybe thought were part of the tree at first. Shhh! -don’t tell!). The fledglings were ginormous; nearly the size of their mama. They all just sat there, occasionally preening. Not much ado about anything.

How crazy is that? I’m a city girl. I didn’t roam out of the city…well, maybe a little towards the suburbs as we roamed the Langolier pole path, and sat by the sides of swamps. By “we”, I mean one of my uncles took me. He used to be an avid hunter, and for the past 15 years or so, he’s changed fields and now photographs (and sells prints of) New England wildlife. I had gone to his house to vent to him and my aunt about the newest surprise stress, and after I finished unloading, my uncle asked: “Wanna go look for some eagles?”

“Uh – YES!!!!!” was my reply. I think I had my shoes on before he finished turning around.

I’ve been asking him him he finds all of these animals; I know there are tracking methods I could just study, but my uncle’s talents are beyond that. He just happens about all kinds of things, like he’s a woodland magnet, or maybe a Disney animator with a magic wand.

Whatever it was, we saw the mama (or papa) eagle with the two fledglings at the first pond. Then we went to check out the owl tree – sadly, nothing doing there. I’m glad we went though, because he’s been telling me to look in the tree in the town center. I drove there and there are twenty trees in the little triangle of park! The owl tree he meant? Is across the street in front of someone’s lawn. But he made up for it – we went rambling down backroads, seeing the squirrels the size of cats; a deer ran in front of our truck thankfully when we were crawling along; there were red-wing blackbirds; crows the size of eagles; an empty osprey nest; and then my proudest moment: I asked what the bump on top of a telephone pole thingy was, and it was an Osprey sleeping! Mrs. Monopoli would be so proud of me!

At the next place, which was next to an adorable old-timey cemetery a few towns over, one I’ve driven past a hundred times!, we saw osprey in their nest with wee ones; Great Blue Herons stalking fish in the shallows; other Great Blue Herons in nests (like apartments) with fledglings; paired swans; Canadian Geese; duckies; and even muskrats swimming around! And then, as if that wasn’t enough Disney wonderland to lift anyone’s spirits, he pointed out a doe that was walking through the woods on the opposite shore. See what I mean about how he’s a woodland creature magnet?

All of that buoeyed me today. I hope the thought of it helps someone else, too. I’ve given Uncle John a new list that includes pheasants, bobcats, and a black bear that’s a safe distance away. (If football has taught me nothing, it’s: be very, very specific with your requests to the Gods above.) Oooh, and pheasants – I should tell him there’s been an update. I can’t add porcupines or anything else until we check some off. But it’s okay – I’m keeping track.

And then it turned out the stressy thing went my way this morning and I have a month’s reprieve so I can show everyone that I really am trying to be the best Katie I can be. It just turns out that my action figure comes with a field guide and binoculars.

Tell me this isn’t what I think it is.

September 10, 2013

Um…what the heck?!

Trap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m running along on my…well…run, and I see this thing along the outside of someone’s fence, parallel to the path that leads into the neighborhood’s park. It’s a trap, obviously, but…for what?

Honestly, I’m a little scared to ask.

We have lots of wildlife in our woods. Squirrels and chipmunks (too small for that trap), feral hogs (much, much too big for that trap), an occasional bobcat if you believe the rumors (pleasegod too scary for that trap), snakes and giant spiders, slugs, an occasional frolicking llama (but that’s from the farm down the road). And skunks.

Please tell me that crazy neighbor isn’t trying to trap a skunk in that cage. Because how exactly are they going to let it out?! And how are the neighbors supposed to breath in the meantime?

Oh the things I see when I’m out on a run. And the things I think. Because now I’m tempted to stop after a run, knock on their door, and ask. Or maybe it’s best just not knowing. Yep, let’s run with that one for awhile.

To make me late, of course.

July 31, 2012

It was one of those mornings, sort of. I hadn’t slept well, I couldn’t find one of my shoes, and I forgot to start the coffee until I was supposed to be pouring it and rushing out the door.

So of course as I was hurrying down the road, praying I hadn’t fallen behind the traffic rush that I narrowly beat at the traffic light each morning, I noticed something in the road. And then another something.

That white thing there in the middle of the road? That would be a peacock. Or a peahen, more precisely. An albino peahen, taking its sweet time crossing the road. Since I had to stop, I whipped out my cell phone and tried to capture it. You know, for evidence, in case the boss man asked where I was. While I was waiting for Snow White over there to stop strutting down the middle of the road, this guy decided the grass looked greener on the other side of the road. And so he started crossing, too.

What the heck?! I live in the MIDDLE OF A MAJOR METROPLEX! I was started to look around for escaped lions and elephaunts or pissed off stampeding giraffes, but it was just these two. Snow White was getting a little two interested in what, exactly was behind the driver’s side door, and Mr. Blue had finally decided to stop looking at every pebble on his way across the street, and a car was finally coming up behind me, so I very carefully left the scene before Snow White figured out how to work the door handle.

Peacocks crossing the road. Some days I think wonders will never cease.

Tales from Vacationland: Oh, dear.

June 15, 2012

As it turns out, rural Connecticut has a lot of deer roaming about. My sisters have told me this, and I believed them – to a point – but I’ve been to Connecticut before and though they’ve sworn these deer are as thick as thieves, I’ve seen nary a one.

Until last week.

First we saw this guy munching alone in a field:

The girls were pretty excited, so we doubled back so they could get a better look (gotta love not having any traffic in the sticks), and then Auntie Rhi started telling them about how to call the deer.

Yes, indeed.

Apparently during mating season “friendly deer time”, deer make this god-awful loud moose-like noise. Ask Rhi – she demonstrated over and over and over and over. Once I stopped laughing so hard I was afraid I would wet the seat of Kim’s car, I started puzzling over how exactly I would type that out come the inevitable blog entry. AHHHH-unnnnnnnh! Except it has to be really low-pitched, with your jaw jutting out and really…um…”special” sounding. Like maybe a deer was the dumbest deer in the history of the world and limbs are flailing all herky-jerky and, if we’re being really insensitive, maybe a short bus is involved.

AHHHHH-unnnnnh! went Auntie Rhi and Gracie from the back seat. Kim and I were laughing so hard I could barely breathe, although I somehow found enough breath to yell “MAILBOX!” and Kim found the brakes just before the car crawled too far off the road. We were barely moving, we were laughing so hard, but cars like to drift when no one is watching the road.

No who was watching us, though? This dude:

The deer call had worked so well that this deer was staring at us, like we were all sped cases, which, really, we kind of sounded like. AHHHH-unnnnnnh! I can just hear the deer: What kind of retarded idiots are they and what the bloody hell are they doing? I swear he was slack-jawed, paused in his nibbling to wonder at our “specialness.”

So, yes Virginia – Connecticut does in fact have deer. Now we just need to puzzle out the bobcat that Auntie Kim swore she saw emerge from the raptor grass and cross the road in front of her car the other day.

Look! Over there! Something carby!

May 15, 2012

Sunday afternoon I was pretty desperate for any outing that would take the girls away from the potential mess-making (which would requiremore cleaning) and would fill us with the requisite calm and happy (damnit!), it being Mother’s Day. Feeding the ducks it was!

There’s a pond in the smallish pretty sort of park near our neighborhood. We were promised a playground and a gazebo, but right now we have a half-mile path, trash baskets and benches. All of this, I should mention, is in the middle of a giant field near the small branch of the river. Once I got over my fear of being kidnapped (I’m not kidding about how remote it is – no one would hear you scream) or of being mauled by the feral hogs and coyotes that parade through, I started enjoying my runs in park. Every time I’ve been there during the past few weeks, I’ve seen a big, white egret who keeps triangulating across the pond away from me, and three or four ducks. The ducks didn’t seem to care too much about me either way.

It was the ducks I thought the girls might like to see, so we grabbed a few half loafs of stale bread I’d been saving for such an occasion, and walked down to see if the ducks were home. I was worried the ducks wouldn’t know that we were throwing bits of food at them – the last few times they had been sitting clear across the pond from the footbridge and might be too far away – but I shouldn’t have worried. Really. The ducks were VERY FRIENDLY.

The ducks swam over right away, almost as if they knew what was in that loaf-of-bread shaped bag. For serious, they shot right across that water…and kept coming…and kept coming, until I started getting a little nervous because they were less than two feet away from the tasty, tasty fingers of my very small children.


You can almost see the alpha duck thinking about launching himself into the face of the girls, just to make out with the bread crumbs. It was at this point I started launching entire slices of bread back a few feet and yelling, “Look! Bread! GO GET IT!” And just to prove those ducks were every bit as cunning and intelligent as I feared, theyunderstood and followed my directions.

All except for Glutton Duck. Too bad for him, we were soon out of tasty things to launch into the water, at which point the girls decided they should race around the pond and I should chase them. And they mostly won, too, because I had already run three miles around that stupid pond earlier.

It was a fun 45-minute jaunt for the kiddos and me. Let’s just hope I’m not assaulted by the gang of ducks when I run by later tonight. Otherwise we’ll find out how fast I can do half-mile sprints!

Quick – hide the Children.

June 16, 2011

It started innocently enough. My sister Kim was telling me about how annoyingly loud her tree frogs (grey ones, to be exact) were at night and how desperately much she wanted to go find one. The only thing was, Rhi wouldn’t let her go outside exploring with a flashlight because of the bobcat roaming the neighborhood, and the fishers, and the coyotes.

Fishers? What the heck were fishers?

(Ha. Ha HA HA HA HA. I never should have asked.)

“Fisher cats. Didn’t I tell you about the fisher cats?” Kim practically exclaimed.

Me, I was still calm and joking around. “Are they aristocats?” I asked. “Because those cats are frickin’ creepy.” Oh, how silly and naive I was then.

To which Kim replied, “Holy , Katie. Wait – maybe I thought you wouldn’t ever visit after dark again if i told you… The most succinct way to describe them is that they are kinda like real-life versions of R.O.U.S.s [Rodents Of Unusual Size – Go watch Princess Bride, geez.]

Yeah, this is pretty much the point where I narrowed my eyes and asked Kim if Rhianyn had maybe told her about these so-called “fisher cats” maybe when she was mad at her. You know, for making her do the dishes or something. Kim’s a city girl. Kim doesn’t commune with nature. This is exactly the hilarious kind of prank we in Extended Familia de Katie pull on each other. Cleary – Kim had been had.

To which Kim emphatically replied: “No! My neighbor warned me we have them around, so don’t let Friedrich out at night
  confirming what my coworker said the sound was because one night? it sounded like a young woman was being hacked to death by an ax-murderer down by the highway. THAT is their victory cry when they’ve taken down prey. They’re in the weasel family, have hundreds of razor-sharp teeth, and can take down deer. I didn’t know they existed until a few months ago.”

I answered with the only logical reply: “They cannot take down deer.” Because SERIOUSLY. Kim tried to tell me something about scary Youtube videos and warned me not to watch when the girls were around. I’m not quite sure. I was too busy rolling my eyes. And then the conversation wandered and we started making fun of something else (quite possibly Rhi for being afraid of owls instead of, you know, any of the very large (and some pretend) predators. But that was that.

Until…

HOLY EFFING SHIT do not Youtube fisher cats when you are a) at work or b) by yourself that night or c) the owner of non-refundable tickets to Connecticut. Because LOOK:

Evidence A – do not trust this video. I didn’t see this video until this morning and it is obvious a GIANT FABRICATED LIE. Cold blooded killers are not that cute.

Evidence B – Another good daytime shot of the baby-killing rodent. How can you trust something with a tail like that? Gives me the frickin shivers.

Evidence C – Careful with the sound on this one. You want it loud enough to imagine hearing that in the middle of the night, but not so loud everyone at work drops everything and heads for the exits. That might take some esplaining, Lucy. BUT HOLY SHIT – Tell me that’s not straight out of Blair Witch!!

So I sent a chat message to my dear sister and blathered something about how we were never coming to Connecticut and if we did we were never going out after dark because that Beast would carry off one of the children and scare me out of my mind with paranoia and the holymotherofgod you’renext! screaming. After Kim’s succinct if predictable reply of “I told you so,” I might have pointed out to her that her street is kind sorta disturbing named after fisher cats, isn’t it, not after people who want to fish in the nearby pond. And then maybe fainted at my desk from sheer abject fright.  I mean, seriously! What the hell! Why not just call it Dead People Street. Or, PlaceToHideTheCarcasses Pond.

After Kim maybe quoted back my “They cannot take down deer” line, she might have offered to leave the windows shut when we visit this summer. “Well, unless it’s unbearably hot,” she qualified. But then she offered to let me sleep upstairs if that was the case. Yeah, and not only will her windows be shut, but her dresser will be in front of the door and I’ll buy a shotgun to keep under the pillow. Because those things PROMISE TO EAT YOUR CHILDREN AND LEAVE YOU FOR LAST and it is just unpossible for anyone to not melt into a puddle of goo with fear when faced with such screams.

I don’t know about you Connecticut. Or New England. Or wherever else the ghosts of my nightmares have roamed. I haven’t quite ruled out the possibility that a door has opened between the Real World and the scaryass world of my imagination (because how else would I never have heard of such animals before then?) but  THAT, my friends, is why I did not sleep a wink at all last weekend.

One fox, two fox, good fox, bad fox.

June 13, 2011

Let me say that this blog post happened because my sister and I were discussing what in God’s Black, Scary Earth could be making the I’m-Coming-To-Kill-You-In-Your-Sleep noises outside her (very rural) house one night. There’s a second part to the story and if you’re very good (and I’m very dedicated), you’ll hear part two tomorrow. But first, I have to tell you…

When I was little, I was deathly afraid of foxes and wolves…and I really wasn’t too fond of coyotes, either. Our See n’ Say was broken and wouldn’t make the coyote sound and I always thought it was a sign that the world loved me, because sometimes when it would play just part of the coyote sound, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and my stomach felt all watery. I couldn’t read the book about Little Bunny Cottontail without running to my mom in a dead fright because there was a fox whose tail the reader could see getting closer, and closer, and closer until it was almost too late. I used to have dreams that that fox was chasing me on the path behind my mom’s house and I almost couldn’t get up the stairs and into my mom’s house in time. In other dreams, it would be the dead of night and my mom and I would be running for a house when I would feel – literally feel in my dream – the wolf’s jaws jump and grab my left collarbone from behind (always the same spot) and start to eat me alive.

Did I mention that I lived in the middle of a rather large city (well, large for New England, at least) and that it wasn’t like we had any of these animals anywhere near us? I’d never seen a fox outside the pages of picture books. I couldn’t even stand to watch them on TV, they scared me so badly. So it’s not like I had reason to be afraid. I hadn’t ever heard coyotes howling. My fears had no basis. But that didn’t stop them.

I half-believed that every night, at 9:00 p.m., my closet door opened and a parade of beasts and witches and monsters filed past my bed and into the night to scare all the children. I don’t know why I thought the portal to the scary side of the world was in my bedroom, but I did. If I wasn’t fast asleep, the monsters would get me. And those were just the “pretend”(ish) beasts. I was firmly convinced that every night real wolves and real foxes and alllll of their very real teeth circled our house and looked for a chance to get inside. It could be through a window (I made my sister sleep in the bed next to the windows) or through an unlocked door, but one night they would get me. I made very sure that I slept stick straight in the middle of my bed and never moved a muscle. I didn’t sleep on my side or my stomach – just stick straight on my back down the middle of my bed. My mom used to tease me about never needing to make my bed – I could just climb out of it and fold my covers over my pillow – but it was because if the wolves and foxes put their snouts up to the bed, I thought they couldn’t reach me in the middle. The possibility of them jumping never occurred to me – thank god – but if they did, my plan was to scramble onto the brass pipes that made up my headboard. Okay, yes, that would have been impossible and impractical, but I was eight.

And then there was The Night I Was Scared to Frickin Death. It was a bitterly cold winter night. Temps must have plunged deep below zero because otherwise Goldie would have slept downstairs in the cellar on her carpeted pallet. Goldie was our family dog; half springer spaniel, half border collie. In fact, this picture is almost a dead ringer for her:

(You can see where this is going, can’t you?)

So on this Very Cold Night That Scared Me Frickin To Death, my dad insisted on letting Goldie sleep inside. Goldie NEVER slept inside. But it was freezing downstairs and he figured she would sleep next to the old cast-iron radiator in the kitchen, hidden from view by the washing machine. Ha, ha, ha, only she didn’t so when eight-year-old me wakes up at 2 in the morning and opens my eyes to do a monster check before I get up to pee, what do I see staring straight. at. me. from just over the threshold in the kitchen but a great, big, hair wolf.  I screamed bloody murder and, instead of implementing my If You Should See A Wolf plan, I threw my covers over my head. Turns out, that’s much more instinctual than people give it credit for. Next thing I know, my mom and dad are peeling the covers off, sitting on my bed and asking what was wrong. I couldn’t sleep for weeks.

I was well into adulthood before my “irrational” fear of wolves and foxes got any better, although I will admit that when I moved to Texas and first heard coyotes howl while I was walking to the car, I might have almost peed my pants trying to get inside and the doors locked. Heh. Now, I sometimes even think foxes are cute, although I will never ever really trust those sly wolves. You just know they’re planning on how to best prepare Feast de la Katie when they take over the world.

But if I had known – ever – at any point in my life – that foxes scream? It would have been game. frickin. over. everybody out of the pool. I never would have made it out of childhood and I’d be a drooling, gibbering mess somewhere, hooped up on sedatives and still eight-years-old.  Because look what I found while I was researching the thing that I’ll write about tomorrow and that started this whole mess. It’s a little thing I call Good Fox, Bad Fox and How to Tell the Difference:

Good Fox: Pretend I have embedded the Youtube video and Click here. Awww…aren’t the widdle foxes cute all jumpy and bouncing on the trampoline?

Bad Fox: Click here and then try not to run far, far away from the Very Bad Fox who seems to be promising that as soon as you go to sleep he’s going to come and eat your eyeballs Bwahaha!

If I had known that when I was little, my development would not only be arrested, it would be in maximum security with no possibility of parole. And the truth is, that’s not even the scariest thing I learned this weekend. But that is another story for another day. Now excuse me while I go get licenses to carry a not-so-concealed weapon into the boonies of Connecticut. <shivers> No way I’m going unarmed now.

How familiar it all feels, at times.

June 10, 2011

I can’t remember how it all started, exactly, but the girls have developed a new obsession: birds. Gracie – who will ask questions about everything and anything and soaks up information as if it were oxygen – started asking me what kind of bird that was each and every blessed time we saw one. Even if it was identical than the last one. “Mom! Mom! What kind of bird was that? Was that a black bird? Was that a crow? Mom! Mom! Mom! Did you know crows are bad luck? Aren’t they big? Mom! Was that an eagle? Did you know eagles are our sta…wait, no, yeah…our state bird?” I explained to Gracie that she meant our national bird – our nation’s symbol – and generally just tried to keep up.

Bee didn’t ask nearly as many questions, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t swept up in her sister’s Bird Fever. Oh no. Bee took a more declarative stance. “Mom! Birds like to fly around. And they hop on the ground like this!And birds like to eat worms. And they live with their mommies and always always always want to live with them! Isn’t that cool, Mom? And there are two mommies and three daddies and four babies at that bird’s house. But they don’t get squishy because they just fly around and sometimes they sing.”

Both girls, however, decided that crows are b-a-d BAD LUCK. Also that any dark-colored bird was a crow. Unfortunately for me, Texas is pretty much run over with grackles. Do you know what color grackles are? They’re black. They’re black and they’re ugly and have wickedly messed up tail feathers (it’s unnatural, yo) so if there ever were a bad-luck bird, I’d put my money on them. Still – I can’t let an incorrect fact pass me by. So I pointed out that those were in fact not crows while the girls ignored me in favor of listing out all the horrible things that could happen to them and fake-screamed. Then I tried to explain superstition to them. I don’t think they bought it since the fake-screaming didn’t stop.

In my own defense (and also because I couldn’t list very many black-colored birds when Gracie demanded it), I took off the shelf my North American Wildlife book when we got home. That book is guaranteed to make me nostalgic for my childhood any time I see it. I can’t tell you how many hours my brother and sisters and I spent pouring over that book. We’d find our favorite birds, we knew every page where there was something “cool” (i.e., a dead mouse in an owl’s talon, or a nest full of baby snakes, or a seemingly out-of-place animal in the background picture), we knew the page numbers of our favorite animals and could flip right to them. That book was our childhood Bible, and now it is Gracie and Bee’s.

This morning, the girls raced through breakfast, brushed their teeth without bickering once (and let me feel their foreheads for fevers) and then raced to the couch to look at their wildlife book. They haven’t wandered past the birds section yet, but I know it’s a matter of time. For now, they’re happy finding birds they know – Bald Eagles, blue jays, and yes, crows. Gracie has found all of the black birds. Next week she might shift her obsession to a different color, but right now she is singularly focused. Bee, meanwhile, happily narrates all sorts of home lives for her new friends. I love watching them soak up all of this new information and find all sorts of new facts to spout.

Not a bad way to end a week, all told.

I think I blinked today, but I’m not sure.

September 29, 2008

Wow. What a day. Training – training is hard work. And then coming home and being mommy? Even harder. I am tired, yo, is all I am saying. The fact that I am sitting here, blogging for you fine people? that is a testament for my love for you.

Or it’s because I want to brag about all the doing. Whatever.

Because guess what? Those caterpillars? They’re dead. All six million of them. Or, at least, all of the six million that I could have possibly seen from my safe perch upon the terrace are dead. I wasn’t venturing into the yard – what are ya, nuts?! Secondly, those caterpillars that dared to cross me – they aren’t even caterpillars. They’re something called army worms. Maybe. I don’t know. Because there’s an infestation of army worms in my general area. They supposedly eat all of your grass dead and march from yard to yard to yard, swarming in the millions and marching over everything in their path. The crawly things in my yard sure match the army worm criteria and look a lot like the pictures all over the news…but by everyone else’s account, the army worms are unstoppable by every known chemical compound on the market. And mine are dead. So, either the death ray I can shoot out of my eyes really is good for something, or else I had a plain old tent worm infestation. Either way. I just want them GONE.

(more…)

Oh, the insanity!

September 29, 2008

It is just barely past 7:30 a.m. and my head is already spinning, people! Which is quite a feat, because usually my head doesn’t even know my name at this hour. Anyway, I am training the new person at The-Place-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named today, and I’m earlobe deep in prep work. Sooooo….my posts might be up a little later than usual this week. But because I am not (completely) mean, I will tell you that I kicked those caterpillars’ collective asses. And then discovered I am also being overrun by bunnies. Le sigh. Leave it to me to have a bunny rabbit infestation. More to come – if not later today, then as soon as I get home and feed the other monsters overrunning the house – the ones other people refer to as my children.