Thursday, May 01, 2008

Memories from My Small World

My world is alive with birds, rodents, hares, snakes, rabbits, lizards, antelope, amphibians and insects! I watch for movement, a flash of color or an unmoving familiar shape that reveals an animal trying to hide in the bunch grass. Almost every week I see a new animal or some unusual behavior

Three years ago an Antelope Squirrel gave birth to a litter beneath the Juniper that is closest to the kitchen window. Several mornings we watched the young squirrels and laughed at the way they scrambled for a hole into the den when startled.

Two years ago a lizard kicked up a minor dust storm digging in the hard soil by the front walk. Julie ventured a guess that it was a female preparing to lay eggs. Later in the afternoon I checked and the small hole had been covered. I placed a stone beside the location to mark and protect it. A few weeks later I saw a small exit hole and tiny lizards darting for hiding spots each time I passed their way.

Year before last a rock squirrel regularly visited an oriole feeder that hung on a limb of a dead tree. In the early morning light the sun would sparkle through the drops of nectar that dripped from her chin as she tipped the feeder to drink.

Backyard Awaiting Landscaping. (Larger version)

Already this year I have had a hummingbird sit on my finger as it drank from a feeder. I've seen more doves, cow birds and lark sparrows than I've ever seen at one time. Cedar Waxwings have come for water the last two evenings and the rabbits have performed entertaining acrobatics. Night before last an Oriole sat in a Juniper near a feeder and attacked all hummingbirds that came near. I'd never witnessed this behavior before that evening.

On the outside looking in.
On the outside looking in. (Larger version)

These are all good memories but one of the best is the Gophersnake that was hunting around the house. I came upon him on the east end of the house. He was startled and turned to avoid me. I gave him room to feel safe and watched for a few minutes. He continued his hunt for a opening to get under the house in search of mice. I watched as he checked high and low for an opening. I left him to his search knowing his efforts were futile.

Later in the day I was in the sun room when I saw him passing the windows that are just a few inches above the ground. As I walked over for a closer look he paused and looked in the window at me. Looking into his eyes I saw intelligence and sadness. Yes, that's just my interpretation. The intelligence was there without doubt. Sadness? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps it was my sadness for the prejudice that he and his kind suffers.

Passing by
Passing by. (Larger version)

After a moment of mutual examination he continued around the house. As he passed the door I opened it and once again we studied one another.

Then I did a selfish thing. As he passed the door I reached out and touched his tail. Just a light touch but enough to scare him into rushing away from me.

In the end I discovered I was wrong. His search was not futile. On the north side of the house he found a small hole that seemed about half the diameter of his body. When I last saw him he had slightly over two feet of his length under the house and about two feet exposed. He was straining to get the rest of his body through the hole. He's welcome to the free room and all the mice he can find.

The snake gave me another good memory . Unfortunately I'm getting older and my memory isn't what it once was. But, no matter. Each year brings new memories like this.


Blogger Buffalo said...

If you and Julie could be packaged as a vaccine I have a suspicion the world would be a better place to live.

You seem to be in a very good zone.

5/01/2008 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I enjoyed these memories of your critters. Keep on enjoying the nature around you.

5/02/2008 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

"Small" world? LIke hell, Paul. Your world is IMMENSE, and I am delighted to be let in to see some of it.

5/03/2008 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Malcolm said...

Thanks for sharing your memories - love the pictures of your neighbourhood Gopher snake!

5/04/2008 03:37:00 AM  

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