Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I've been under the weather a couple of ways lately. It's been very cloudy and I've got a headcold. Having the little viral critters inside me made me think about the kind of critters that share the outside world with me.

I live on the upper portion of the Minnesota River valley, a wide expanse with gentle slopes and a broad flood plain. The area has been settled for almost 50 years and the woodlands have long ago been lost to agriculture and urban development. We've seen deer only twice in our back yard in almost 30 years. One time we saw a very bedragled fox. Other than that it's mostly bats, rabbits, woodchucks, raccoons, squirrels and mice. Pretty tame, all in all. The really big mammals like bear and moose stay well north of here.

I've never seen any mammal larger than a rabbit or stray cat while observing. I've no desire to see a raccoon (or even hear one!) and the coyotes that are starting to return to the area have yet to show up.

Insect life has also been relatively benign. It's a draw between June bugs and mosquitoes for the worst of the lot. The folks who handle mosquito control do a good job here. June bugs are harmless but clumsy flyers that tend to scare me when they blindly crash into me.

I know that in other parts of the country you have to contend with nasty critters like spiders and snakes, but there's really none of that around here.

There are Owls, though. One night one swooped over me on the way to a tree it frequents. It was a huge Great Horned Owl, amazingly impressive as it flew past me. That it was perfectly silent as it did so was almost eerie.

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