Jeff Green | Aug 04, 2005
Nature Reflections, August 4, 2005
Nature Reflections August 4, 2005LAND O' LAKES NewsWeb Home
by Jean Griffin
In my search for breeding birds for the forthcoming Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, one of the birds that I was seeking was the Whip-poor-will. This is one bird that is very difficult to see and seldom heard once daylight has arrived, so it was necessary to be up early and out before dawn.
Birds start their songs and activities as dawn is emerging in the eastern sky, but at the same time animals are often winding down a nights activities. And on the two mornings that I was out looking specifically for the Whip-poor-will I saw several animals, some of which I rarely see.
Even before I was out of my driveway the first of the animal kingdom appeared - making a series of small jumps across the driveway. It was a Jumping Mouse, which I have only seen once before. There are two kinds of Jumping Mice, Woodland and Meadow, and I suspect this was a Woodland, but it was only a brief look and it gave me no chance to see which one it was.
Next on the side of the road was the Snowshoe Hare, which gave a good demonstration of how it avoids predators as it zigged and zagged in its flight to get away. Fortunately for this one it did not zig into the path of the car. Another on a different morning once made the mistake of zagging just as I passed. It became a meal for the Turkey Vultures or a Red Fox. Farther down the road was the meandering Striped Skunk, and thankfully he avoided me as I avoided him. I had no desire to have to take the car to a car wash. There are skunks around my house, but I rarely see them. I know they are there because of the small holes that are dug in my lawn as they hunt for food. I thank them for their ability to keep the white grubs under control.
It was in a large pond at the side of Ardoch Road that the very early light disclosed a hump out in the water. A quick stop revealed a Moose having a meal of water plants, as it stood in the pond up to its belly. It would reach down into the water and come up with a mouthful of tasty (to it) leaves and roots for breakfast. It was probably also enjoying the coolness of the water, and the semi-protection from annoying flies - this summers crop of Deer Flies seems innumerable and endless.
The nocturnal wanderings of the Raccoon were probably coming to an end, and this one quickly moved off the road into the protection of the shrubs as I neared it. Now if only the ones who raid my bird feeder would stay away...
The final animal of these morning journeys was a delight to see. Following its mother White-tailed Deer across the road was a young fawn. It must have been only a few days or even only a few hours old as it tried to keep up to the adult. A quick stop and a reach for the camera was not fast enough as the tiny deer struggled with the underbrush down the edge of the ditch - it did not wait for a picture.
The Whip-poor-will? Yes, I found them in a couple of areas, incessantly repeating their calls in the diminishing darkness.