With all the trials and tribulations that this year has thrown at us here on the banks of Child Lake, there have been some interesting moments that have been pleasant distractions from clean-ups and endless repairs.
I know the Chinese have cornered the market on naming their years after animals, but I doth proclaim this “The Year of the Critter”.
I have not included the regular residents that are seen daily or weekly, like deer, squirrels, loons, and various other common woodland denizens.
Those listed here are mammals and birds that seldom show themselves to us. Some are common to you in the south, but are new here in the Northland.
If not the year of the critter, it has been by far, the Summer of the Turkey. Though fairly common in the southern part of state and now much of the U.S., these feathered dinosaurs have never ever been part of the north country landscape.
We have seen them the last 2-3 years further west, but this summer they have us surrounded. Though not seen in our yard proper, they have been seen across from our closest neighbor’s driveway to the west. And some have been seen on the south side of the lake, and also a mile east of us. We’ve been seeing them weekly or so it seems.
I never in my wildest imagination, did I ever think I would see turkeys in this part of the country. It’s just a matter of time before they’re doing the turkey trot in the front yard.
I know what most of you are thinking… “Big deal, a friggin’ bunny!”
Well, most of you are trying to keep these little salad eaters out of your gardens. Here on the northern acreage, I have never seen one in almost 60 years. The local bunnies around here are the snowshoe hares, (not a rabbit at all). The Cotton Tail is a new-bee in this country. Unfortunately it may be global warming that is pushing this species north.
Earlier this spring, we noticed a young rabbit living under one of the cabins. Then, just a a few days ago we looked out the large picture window and there were two! I guess we all know what that means.
Then just a couple weeks back, I was enjoying a morning of cleaning the gutters. When I looked over the side of the roof, there on my feeder attached to the deck railing and munching on sunflower seeds, was a female Northern Cardinal! Again they are common south and they grace every bird feeder over most of the USA, but up here she was my first. (Sighting! you pervs…)
Next are the “Occasionals”. Those beasties who make sporadic visitations to our neck of the woods.
This Memorial Day, as I was watching TV with my sisters, a dark movement caught my eye outside the window. There, slowly strolling by the old garage was a big ole’ Black Bear. Well not really big, but then bears always look huge for the first 2 seconds you see one.
The very next morning, my closest neighbors to the west, awoke to have two bears sitting next to what used to be their bird feeders. One was actually a mucho big ole’ bear.
Next up is the furry floating phantom… the Beaver. These waterlogged rodents are fairly common up here but seldom seen. They do most of their engineering work under the cloak of darkness. They do that because they know if they show up in daylight I will smack them with a big stick.
My father, and now me, have been battling these bucktoothed buzz-saws for seven decades. We have won every battle but continue to lose the war.
Late last winter, when Sue and I were drinking our morning java down-stairs by the large lakeside window. A quick flash of white ran along a railroad tie that border along the walk-out basement.
It was our slinky quick-change artist, the Long-tailed Weasel. He was dressed in his formal winter garb, an elegant white tuxedo with a dab of jet black on his tail.
I can’t get enough of these energetic and quirky white killers. It is said they consume half their body weight in caffeine every day, or at least act like they have.
While we are stuck in weasel-land, Sue happened to see his mongo cousin the Otter crossing the back yard. Alas, I was engaged in another part of the house and when I came to her urgent call, the water weasel had been swallowed by the forrest.
It is strange to see one so far from water, but they do move overland from one lake to another. The good news is… they occasionally eat beavers! You go otter!
Then last spring as I was writing an earlier blog and happen to glance out the window, I was very surprised to spy a young Coyote pup. I’m not sure why he was wandering around in daylight alone with out mom or his brothers and sisters. He simply walked past the house like he had a destination in mind. I had no clue where he was headed, but he was as cute as the dickens anyway.
Lastly, comes the grand finale. Something that is rarely seen, especially by me. I was driving towards Longville on County 5. When just a quarter mile from town, I could see a large object on the shoulder of the road. As I drove closer, I almost locked the brakes up on the Subaru. There, sitting so passively was a large adult Grey Wolf.
It’s strange, this is only the third wolf I’ve been lucky enough to see in my life. Yet each time I never think dog or coyote. My brain instantly just went WOLF!
I very much think it’s a thousands of years old reaction left over from our glacier chasing days in northern Europe, when these savvy pack hunters were a major threat to our primitive survival.
It’s a thrill to see one anytime though.
I hope you really appreciated this blog and noticed that I never once used the “T” word in this post. (It rhymes with three). There is still some year left in 2012, so there may be some future critter sightings and someday, I just might tell you about our Sasquatch encounter. I do believe! I do believe! I do I do I do believe!