Thursday, May 8, 2008


Indy and I took our morning walk a little earlier than usual today. On weekdays we usually trek through our neighborhood to a path that connects to an adjacent neighborhood and a small city park.

This morning something caught my eye and I looked overhead to see a great blue heron (gbh) flying over. Big birds, impressive to observe.

Some of my favorite wildlife moments have occurred while walking the dog.

When I acquired Lacey I was still living in an apartment. The complex had a koi pond that was later emptied and landscaped for reasons that will become obvious. I used to get up at 5:00 am to walk the dog, eat a quick breakfast, shower and dress before leaving for work at 7:00 am. We generally took a spin around the nearby high school football field, but when pressed for time we would make a loop through the apartment complex. On one of our quick early morning walks we came around a corner toward the koi pond and something BIG jumped up in front of us. We had startled a gbh grabbing breakfast from the pond! It flew off -- flapping its huge wings. Quite a sight to encounter such a large bird up close.

On another walk at the high school a handful of Canada geese buzzed the football field. They were so close I could see the glint in their eyes.

This past winter after a dusting of slushy snow I observed a raccoon footprint in the snow where the critter had emerged from the riparian area that borders our neighborhood to walk across the street.

On weekends Indy and I tour the high tech campus across the road from our neighborhood. The acreage has several buildings and large grassy areas. But a goodly amount of acreage has been left wooded and they have a native plant project as well as bluebird nest boxes.

Bushy-tailed squirrels are a common sight on the campus, but one day I saw a striped chipmunk. First and last time I've seen one there, but I'll keep looking. Another time I saw a pair of western bluebirds. First, I was pleased with myself that I noticed them in the tree. Secondly, I was proud that I knew what they were. Seems the bluebird nest boxes are working.

Black-tailed deer are not uncommon. We've seen them come up from the riparian area to emerge between houses before scurrying back. I've spotted a doe and fawn trot away from the small park in our neighborhood where they had bedded down for the night.

My funniest deer story was when Indy and I were on the tech campus a couple of days before Halloween. Indy was oblivious, but I saw a deer near the paved path that connects the buildings. I swear my first thought was someone had placed a life-size cutout of a deer near the path for Halloween. Then I realized the doe was real and had two more with her (current and past fawns?). They froze and stared at us. I stopped and waited, not wanting to scare them toward the road. The three deer finally strolled off into the wooded area where they completely disappeared. When we arrived at the area where the deer had been standing, Indy caught their scent. He's a herding breed not a hunting dog, so he didn't quite know what to do about it. I got a chuckle at him and a laugh at myself over the "deer cutout."

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