There’s A Reason It’s The Wilderness

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

In addition to the trees, plants and wildflowers, out at the wilderness retreat there are also the critters. Some are easily seen like the birds that come to the bird feeders along with the chipmunks and squirrels that feed on the sunflower seed leftovers. The hummingbirds like my sweet liquid offerings but are too territorial. I think if I put out a feeder for each one they would still fight and dive bomb one another. And there’s the occasional snake and Eastern Box Turtle sighting.

But there are some elusive wild things. The whippoorwill can be heard-sometimes loudly- in the evening but is rarely seen.

Ditto for the bullfrogs down at the lake.

Then there is this obese raccoon. Let me tell you the story and you, too, will figure out that the critter is overweight.

There is a cylinder style sunflower seed container that I hang on a shepherd’s hook so the songbirds can dine. Frequently in the morning, I find the bird feed disassembled on the ground and empty of any seeds. And the half-inch diameter steel shepherd’s crook is bent to the ground.

As a youth we would shinny up a small birch or poplar tree, kick out feet first, and hold on as it gave us a slow ride down to the ground; much like Robert Frost wrote about in his poem “Birches”.

I figure that at night the fat coon somehow climbs up the shepherd’s crook, reaches out for the bird feed for an easy dinner, and hangs on while the shepherd’s hook give way to the critters weight and bends to the ground where the raccoon can easily disassembly the feeder and dine until his belly is full.

Then to add insult to injury, he/she moseys over to Charley’s water bowl to wash his/her paws. That would explain the dirt and sunflower seed hulls in the bowl in the morning.

Perhaps I will get another trail camera set up and focused on the feeder to confirm my nocturnal hypothesis.

But the newest elusive critter sighting occurred over the weekend. As I worked at my laptop computer (I do that a lot, it seems), I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye.

A large adult weasel, normally another nocturnal animal, loped up from the lake as if it were on a mission. The brown intruder made a direct path to the metal shed by the house, grabbed some unfortunate critter in its mouth, and then promptly made its way back to the lake.

There was no stalking, no searching; it was as if the animal went to a grocery store shelf, pulled out the item it wanted and turned to head to the checkout. This all happened in about the time that it took you to read about it.

There was no struggle from its victim which appeared to be grayish-brown…the coloration of a lot of camouflaged critters in the forest. Whether it was fur or feathers I could not tell.

I had never seen a weasel out in daylight at the wilderness. And it all happened so quickly perhaps my memory is enhancing the experience. But maybe the next wild critter encounter will get caught on a trail camera for further investigation.