June 22, 2012
A Walk in the Woods: Surprise Encounters
The visual treats I find in the woods are generally in the vegetable kingdom––trees and mosses, lichens and mushrooms––meetings with animals are more rare. I have seen a moose lying in the path, a bear ahead of me, lots of grouse flying up and away, but I rarely have an extended look since these creatures run at the sight or smell of me. At the beginning of June, as I walked along the path, I was amazed to see a lovely little fawn stretched out on the ground close by. It didn't try to rise or run, so I was worried that it was injured or ill, but when I went by the next day it was gone (and there was no blood), so I'm hoping it was fine. It was such a pretty creature with the patterns of white spots on red fur.
I was startled by the sound of a large bird flying up in front of me as I walked along in the woods a few days ago. At first I thought it must be a grouse since many of them populate this area. The bird flew up and perched itself on a high branch, close enough for me to realize that it was an owl. We stood and regarded each other for quite some time, enough for me to take several zoom shots with my camera. He seemed so solemn sitting there, as though he knew something about me and could look into my heart. The deep, quiet stare of this large bird makes him seem very wise indeed.
In early spring I had a different kind of meeting with a small songbird, a hermit thrush, which I've learned is the state bird of Vermont. I was walking along and saw a rustling in the underbrush, catching sight of a bird hopping around in there. I stood very quietly, taking out my camera to try to capture the bird without startling it. I feel very lucky to have gotten this shot since I've learned that hermit thrushes are very shy. Maybe you can't see it? click on the image to enlarge it and look for the well camouflaged small bird sitting on a horizontal branch just to the left of center. I enjoy the birds I see around my house, even the ones that wake me at 4:30 AM (I'm thinking of you, Ms. Catbird), but these special encounters add a thrill to my life.