Why is it that we get so excited when we see wildlife? Our house backs up to a local park and the park is full of wildlife. Every now and then, some of that wildlife makes its way into our yard.
A few months ago I noted that the security light in front of the house kept coming on in the middle of the night. Curious, I peeked out the front window, and found a red fox in the yard. That fox is well-known in the neighborhood. I had seen in once before at a distance, running through the Frisbee golf course in the park. This was the first time I’d seen it up close.
Yesterday, while in the park, the Little Man and I spotted a herd of deer making their way across the stream. It seems strange to use the term “herd” to describe 4 deer, but “herd” is the term used to describe a group of deer.
This morning, a deer made its way between our house and our neighbor’s. It seemed lost, a little unsettled, and finally, it hid behind a tree that I can see from my office. (My office is in a sun room with windows wrapping around three sides.) I managed to get a picture of the deer hiding behind the tree. It even turned to smile at me as I snapped the photo.
This was a large deer, and up close, I noted how mottled and mangy its fur seemed. Maybe that is just the result of spending the winter in hibernation.
We tend to get excited when we see these creatures, and I sometimes wonder how people reacted to seeing deer or foxes two hundred years ago. My guess is that it was not the exciting prospect that it is to me when I see them today. Maybe it is because we live in a suburb of a big metropolitan area. It’s nice to know that there is still wildlife around to see. I imagine people with gardens or pets are not as excited about the wildlife.
Walking through the woods in the park this time of year is nice. In addition to the herd of deer, you can hear a descent of woodpeckers echoing throughout the treetops. This is pleasant, but it also means we generally have to sleep with the windows closed in the mornings, lest the sounds of the birds wake people up.
In the summer evenings, there cauldrons of bats fluttering overhead. When I was young, we played whiffleball in the evenings we’d hit the ball with our bats, and the bats up above us would make mad dives at the ball as it arced overhead.
Writing about wildlife sightings is instructive. In the course of writing this piece, I learned that a group of deer is a herd, a group of woodpeckers is a descent, and a group of bats is a cauldron. Group names for animals is the one part of the English language that seems to me to be entirely made up for fun.