Tag: animals

Mr. Fox Takes His Lunch

While on my morning walk the other day, deep into a technical explanation in the Alan Turing biography I am listening to, I suddenly noticed a large dog off to my right. I don’t normally see dogs without owners, so I paused to look at him (or, perhaps, her). I realized at once it wasn’t a dog at all, but our local neighborhood fox. I’ve spotted it before, once even in our front yard. There was no one else around, and the fox appeared as taken aback as I was. We both froze for a moment.

The fox then dashed across the bike path on which I was walking, across a small parallel street, and into the back yard of a nearby house, where it went behind a bush and pretended it couldn’t be seen.

The fox was much bigger up close than I remembered. It also carried with it its lunch. From both sides of its jaws was the limp body of a squirrel1. When we first ran into each other, I was too startled to snap a photo, and then he moved so quickly that I didn’t have a chance until he’d attempted to hide himself away behind a bush. That part was amusing because it was like an elephant trying to hide itself behind a thin tree.

I managed to get a photo of it there from a distance, and I’ve tried to focus the image as best as I can on Mr. Fox. It’s not a great picture because he’d run so far by this point.

The fox hides between tree and bush.

It made me laugh. I imagined him thinking, I am invisible. No one can see me. Not with this tree over here and this bush over there. I’ll just wait until this fellow passes and then I’ll be on my way.

Normally, this particular part of the bike path is full of people at this time of day, and I suspect it was the fact that it was empty that the fox and I had our little encounter.

  1. It took 3 tries for me to spell squirrel correctly.

Wildlife Sightings

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.

A deer in the yard.

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.

Oh deer!

I woke up around 1:40 AM and heard rustling of leaves and snapping of branches in the backyard last night, so I got up and looked out the window, and there, 20 feet away, was a rather large deer in my backyard. It didn’t see me and I remained still and watched it eating grass for a few minutes. It was very cool. It then walked along the side of the house toward the front yard so I went to the front of the house to see where it went. Turns out, it joined an entire gang of deer assembled in my next door neighbor’s front yard. I counted 5 of them. Once they were all together, they moved on down the street and disappeared from view.

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen deer in my backyard, let alone in my neighborhood.

And I want, and I need, and I love, animal

Friday morning I woke up early feeling a bit dizzy and that’s because I drank quite a bit Thursday night. I lay in bed for about an hour and finally got up, showered and started to get ready for the day. I decided to skip the gym. Lisa and I met Andy and Mandy for breakfast and then caught the bus to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

We had perfect weather all day long: clear skies with temperatures reaching up into the 80s. It felt great. Lisa had a plan for what she wanted to see at the Animal Kingdom, and we more or less followed her plan. There were all sorts of cool things to take pictures of, and I couldn’t take pictures of any of them because my battery had died and all attempts at finding a charger or replacement battery had failed.

We took a train to the vet hospital to see how they take care of the animals. We visited the petting zoo in order to pet the sheep and goats, all of whom seemed strangely attracted to Andy. We got a Fast-Pass for the Safari, which was what all of us were really looking forward to. Andy and Lisa got some amazing pictures of the tigers, but you’ll have to wait for them to post their pictures.

Mandy couldn’t ride the safari because it wasn’t recommended for pregnant women. So it was just Lisa, Andy and I. We were in luck because all of the animals were out in force, even the cheetah and then lions. There were elephants. A giraffe walked right along side us, until it saw Lisa and then it took off the other way for some reason. We even managed to catch some poachers.

Given that we spent only about half a day at Animal Kingdom, I think we did pretty well, and Lisa and Andy have the pictures to prove it.

Santa Monica Squirrel

On my way into work this morning, I was walking along 4th toward Pico and spotted a squirrel sitting next to the base of a palm tree, eating. I slowed my pace so as not to scare the thing away, however, as I passed him, he didn’t budge. He just kept on with his breakfast as though he had not a care in the world.

This is very different behavior from Riverdale squirrels, which make a mad dash up a tree everytime someone sneezes.