WILDLIFE FASCINATION

Yesterday while I was out on a bike ride, a deer ran across the road, not more than ten feet in front of me. Earlier in the ride, a snake was sidewinding right in my path and I had to swerve so I did not run over the snake. Both occurrences brought a smile to my face and gave me extra endorphins as I battled the heat and forged on with my ride, be on the lookout wildlife is everywhere!

WATCH OUT! ANIMALS ARE ON THE ROAD.

Animals live among us and have figured out how to survive within our urban and suburban oasis. Rabbits, turkey, deer, and fox have become as common as chipmunks and squirrels in our neighborhood.  With these animals comes risk. On my drive down Interstate 93 from New Hampshire’s White Mountains, I approached an accident scene. It was a single car crash involving a deer, the deer was dead on the side of the road, and the driver of the car was inside an ambulance at the scene. We all know how dangerous a collision with a deer, or a moose can be. We should all be prepared when we drive for an animal to appear at a moment’s notice. 

Deer and other wildlife also carry deer ticks, causing a massive spread of lyme disease. The suburban population of deer continues to increase as the deer in our part of the country have no predators, hunting is not allowed within the tight confines of suburbia, and the wolf and big cats have long since disappeared, leaving the automobile as the only cause of destruction to the deers growing population.

WALKING WITH MY EYES OPEN

Two weeks ago, I saw a bald eagle while hiking the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut. I was up on a ridge, and the great bird was literally at eye level about fifty feet away.  I was so excited. I told some friends about the sighting, and it turns out they have been trying to see a reported bald eagle that has been seen near a lake in the town we live in. They have made numerous trips without success. Birders will tell you how simultaneously visible and invisible birds can be.  If you would like more stories on wildlife and nature, check out the Moosing chapter in EVERY DAY IS A FIELD TRIP

It seems like hawks are now as common as sparrows or robins; they used to be a rare treat seeing a raptor flying in the skies above. I love seeing the cardinals, robins, blue jays, doves, and other birds fly around and nest at our property. A friend of mine puts live mealworms in his bird feeder to attract bluebirds and adds oranges to attract orioles to his property. The fact remains we have never had a bird feeder or fed the birds, yet they still come.  Last week a hummingbird showed up on our deck. With my name, the Hummingbird seems like family and was a welcomed, but very short visit!

Speaking of birds, last week while hiking in Maine, a Partridge gave rise from the forest floor when we walked about five feet from the bird. I had never seen a partridge so that was really cool.

Why all the fuss about a few birds?  It is all about how it makes you feel, and if seeing wildlife gives you even short term pleasure then be sure to spend as much time as you can where you have the chance to see something you have never seen. An example of life’s simple pleasures takes place at the summits of Mt. Carrigain and Mt. Tom in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Feeding the Gray Jays, now officially called Canada Jays is a daily occurrence. The National Bird of Canada finds itself quite at home in New England, to the pleasure of many seeking a photo of the birds eating out of their hand. Join our Every Day Is A Field Trip Facebook community for more inspiration.

Have you ever seen a roadrunner in person?  Growing up in the Northeast, the only roadrunner I saw was in cartoons.  So when I was in Texas at Big Bend National Park and a roadrunner was running along the trail I was pretty stoked.  The bird flew up to a rock ledge (about 15 feet), and that was the end of it. It made me think about the Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon: the roadrunner was so fast, the coyote could not catch him, the entire show was based around the roadrunner outpacing the coyote.  But the fact is, a roadrunner usually tops out at about 20 miles per hour, while the coyote can reach speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour. 

CAMOUFLAGE

Another wildly interesting component of wildlife is how they blend into their environments. I took the photo below of the roadrunner after it flew up to the rocky outcrop. The exactness of its colors matching the rocks was as interesting to me as the roadrunner itself. For great photo opportunities visit your National Parks

People love wildlife for different reasons: from hunters who pose with their quests, to people like me who are elated when we get a great photograph of the animals we were lucky enough to see. Last weekend while with my brother-in-law, he showed me pictures of a huge number of elk he saw at Yellowstone National Park. Not to be outdone, I pulled up a picture of a bull elk my daughter and I saw at Rocky Mountain National Park, and we were close enough to get a great picture.

With his rack of antlers this bull elk could do some real damage. Fortunately for us, he seemed to be far more intrigued with his snack than he was with us. It is best to stay at least 75 feet from an animal such as an elk and 150 feet from a bear.

Some wildlife species are quite friendly like the wild ponies of Grayson Highlands in Virginia, who are happy to walk right up to you. The Park asks that you keep your distance and not feed or pet the ponies, so we obliged but still enjoyed snapping a few photos. 

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY!

Animals are cool to see even though they may not be a big deal to locals.  Like the Marmots I saw on Flattop mountain in Colorado. While the marmots are part of the squirrel family, we do not have Marmots in New England so I was intrigued to watch. They seemed curious, more so in finding a path in and out of the rocky formation than in any of the hikers on the trail.

On occasion the little guys are just as cool to see as the big animals, sightings are rare for for the pika I spotted on Wheeler Peak in New Mexico. The pika is a member of the hare family, the small creatures blend in with the rocks where they live. You really have to be on the lookout to see one.

Do you have a wildlife fascination like I do?  What have you seen recently, and what do you hope to see?  

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