August 9, 2002
12:43 AM   Subscribe

Here, not long ago, I went with Tina--whose name is honey in the mouth of he who says it--and we rented a canoe, paddled forth, and very soon we saw one of these, one of these, and, as always, several of these—that’s osprey, bald eagle and great blue heron to you lazy folk—as well as geese, ducks, coots and grebes—and the odd beaver. (And that is a far more generous view of a swimming beaver than any I’ve seen in real life. It’s only when they dive, and you see the famed paddle tail, that you are sure that it was a beaver and not an otter—they have those here, too, you know. I've yet to see one, though...) Oh, and, ps—I went out canoeing again today with a friend, and we see saw all of the above, plus this—a green heron. Oh, my heart be still--to be in a major urban center and to see all this. So, what’s the funnest and most natural thing you can do where you are? Ancillary, no matter where you live, how does the Wild impinge—did I mention that I went out to set the sprinklers and found all these holes the raccoons dug in the lawn last night in search of earthworms?--upon your world? OK, I want stories, species and pictures, now…
posted by y2karl (36 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason:

Well, I'm in a cabin in Northern California for the summer, and its been one long Wild Kingdom episode - I've seen a variety of hawks; a flock of wild turkey; vultures; songbirds of unknown (to me) description; deer; racoons; field mice (I believe they're deer mice); a fox; more deer; mountain lion tracks; a host of insects not seen since Biblical times, including gigantic mothra-like things, irridescent little green bugs, a nuptual flight of young queen ants, a black widow, wonderful butterflies (could they be monarchs?), bees, yellow jackets, wasps, and mosquitos; bats; a rattlesnake; even more deer; immature salmon in the river and on a trip to the nearby beach, seals, starfish, sea lions, various shorebirds, and supposedly there were great whites out in the water, though I didn't actuallt *see* those.

It's been wonderful. One of the best experiences of my life.
posted by AlexSteffen at 1:05 AM on August 9, 2002

Here in the Boston suburbs, there's Walden Pond, the inspiration for modern America's love of nature.

I grew up near Devil's Den, the largest plot of protected land in otherwise sprawing Fairfield County, Conn. Untouched, it is a gorgeous deciduous forest with clearly defined seasons; the wildlife of the woods thrive here.

Oh, and there's always The Bronx, home to hundreds of species of birds.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:15 AM on August 9, 2002

Sprawling. I didn't mean to invent a verb.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:16 AM on August 9, 2002

Here in downtown Bellevue, WA (Redmond-Seattle buffer city) where the skyscrapers grow as thick and fast as weeds, among the few species complimenting the usual pigeons we have the Howler Yuppie and the Great Spotted SUV. Preying upon these we can observe the Riceroceros and their companion parasites the Wealthy Dungfratboy. Rounding out this menagerie would be none other than the common but remarkable (in that you can't help but notice and remark upon it) Screaming $%^&headed Highschooler (Deservus Deathicus). Also some grass, I think, because quite frankly all other natural flora/fauna have been poisoned, paved over, or squashed flat by the SUVs. If you've ever been to Bellevue (you poor bastard) you probably know what I mean - whatever New Zealand is for nature-freaks, Bellevue is for urban developers.

In seriousness you should've posted a week later, karl, Mt. Ranier for four days end of next week - barring that the Miss and I've only gone outside to walk two blocks to work or grab groceries for the past 18 months. You might say I'm rather looking forward to it.
posted by Ryvar at 3:37 AM on August 9, 2002

Recently went to a heron rookery in southwestern New Hampshire. The fledglings (calling them fledglings seems strange since they were larger than most full grown birds) were just getting ready to fly. They nest in swampy areas in old rotting trees that stick out of the water like bony fingers. The nests are huge, the whole scene makes you feel like you have been transported back to some prehistoric time. It's amazing that the herons stay aloft when they fly, they flap their wings so slowly it would seem they should drop out of the sky. An incredibly beautiful and sublime experience all around.
posted by anathema at 3:47 AM on August 9, 2002

It's all fun and games until someone starts feeding the bears. (bears show up in my area every couple weeks during the summer to eat berries and to clean out the birdfeeders of the people who haven't gotten a clue yet)
posted by plinth at 4:32 AM on August 9, 2002

This would be more appropriate as a MetaTalk discussion, since as a FPP, the entire thread has now died under the Outdoor Provision to Godwin's Law (y'know, "Any reference within a nature discussion of...").
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:01 AM on August 9, 2002

Yesterday in Oak Ridge, TN, I watched 4 raccoons feed on cheap dog food on a client's back porch. And a few months ago one of my co-workers photographed a bird-eating frog in the middle of dinner. Wish I still had that jpg
posted by dmo at 6:02 AM on August 9, 2002

Yesterday I fed a squirrel in front of the White House. Then I took hot naked squirrel photos.
posted by brownpau at 6:11 AM on August 9, 2002

Amish buggies or parties (if you're Amish).

"The drinking takes place during the warm months at bonfire parties that can attract up to 200 youths. Police often rely on tips to find the parties because most are hidden on rural, private farms.

Sheriff's deputies also have been following buggies whenever they see a large number being driven by teens on the weekend. Sometimes the Amish youths even show authorities the beer in the buggy, Mr. Hiscox said.

(Authorities are quick to note that drinking among Amish youths is not as widespread as it is with the rest of the teen-age population.)"
posted by sheauga at 6:12 AM on August 9, 2002

Did you know how clever crows are?
posted by Summer at 6:25 AM on August 9, 2002

I had to brake to avoid running into a moose with my tiny car about a week ago. It was a full-on 9ft-tall antlered big boy too--I probably would have died if I had hit it.
posted by Fabulon7 at 6:40 AM on August 9, 2002

Actually, anathema, part of the U of Washington property fronting on Lake Washington is designated a wild bird sanctuary. There's a hidden little inlet with a heron nest in a tree in one corner. Prehistoric is the word that comes to mind when one hears the hungry nestlings sounding like an arrhythmic hippie drum circle when Ma or Pa Heron show up with the fish--it's distinctly pterodactylian. Here's some slow loading Heron Cam movies (without soundtracks, unfortunately) of such nestlings. Great Blue Herons are absolute hell on local backyard garden fish ponds here, by the way... talk about your free lunches.
posted by y2karl at 6:47 AM on August 9, 2002

Living inside the borders of a large state park, on a lake, in a tiny rural community there is no shortgage of wildlife.

Aside from your usual run of the mill bears, beaver, loons, deer and an occasional moose we are blessed with the once rare but increasingly common, "Oil Spewing Jerseyite Jet-Skier" and the everpresent, "Tanked-Up Reckless Snowmobiler".

A few pictures of my back yard.
posted by cedar at 7:16 AM on August 9, 2002

Well, if someone doesn't post Summer's smart crow link to the front page, I will.
posted by mediareport at 7:18 AM on August 9, 2002

I live in the city, but I've had a racoon break into my house 3 times in the last couple of weeks. (Pulled the screen out the window.) I tried to get away from nature, but it came and found me.
posted by tdismukes at 7:26 AM on August 9, 2002

I saw a Black Crowned Night-Heron in downtown Denver last year, along Cherry Creek.
posted by jazon at 7:29 AM on August 9, 2002

Nycticorax nycticorax! Now there's a scientific name.
posted by y2karl at 7:50 AM on August 9, 2002

My mom lives right in front of the flood control in Long Beach, California and every day around 5:00 p.m. flocks of pelicans fly past on their way back to the Pacific. They never cease to fascinate.

One of the great things about moving to the South was the huge numbers of new (to me) birds and butterflies such as cardinals, blue birds and woodpeckers. I spend a lot of time exploring the 35 miles of hiking trails in and around Raleigh. But the best thing I have done since moving here is put in a pond next to the house. Besides attracting lots of dragonflies, one day I found a squirrel on his belly lapping up the water.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:56 AM on August 9, 2002

I have a picture of a dead gopher I caught in my backyard. Does this count?
posted by MaddCutty at 8:25 AM on August 9, 2002

I saw a fox in downtown Stockholm a couple of years ago. That made the news.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2002

Whereas here in Tokyo I get nostalgic for grass.
posted by dydecker at 8:42 AM on August 9, 2002

Even though I live in the boonies I understand the impact wildlife has on the citydweller erectus. I see everything mentioned here as a matter of routine (except moose) plus the occasional Elk and Bald Eagle. Most enjoyable has been observing the generations of deer and turkeys, recognizing individuals and routines and patterns in their day to day lives. And realizing that they don't need us, but that we do need them.
posted by Mack Twain at 8:47 AM on August 9, 2002

i grew up in the full-on rust belt ghetto of north Jersey, and there's not much nice to look at. there's a great book, "Meadowlands," about this naturalist guy who canoed (!) around in the toxic swamps and found all kinds of flora, fauna and chunks of the old Penn Station building in NYC (no Hoffa bits though). and in our own backyard, squeezed beteween the Turnpike and Route 1, we had possums, box turtles (of unknown origin, there were way too many to just be unleashed pets), garter snakes, even bats. amazing really.
posted by serafinapekkala at 9:09 AM on August 9, 2002

Growing up in North Dakota I had the following happen:

Was chased by a rabid skunk and was treed on a fence by it for a half hour---

Came home one night to a yard full of thousands of salamanders getting it on. (we have a pond right next to the house and it had just rained)

Woke up every morning one summer to a raccoon perched in the tree outside my window, staring at me (I had put bread out for the birds, the racoon found it, and came back every day hoping for more)

Rattlesnakes in the flowerbed were a common occcurance

Ever sit on your front porch and have a momma fox com trotting by a few feet away with her babies bouncing along behind her?

I miss it....
posted by Windigo at 9:14 AM on August 9, 2002

More urban animal encounters discussed here. Most days, I get these, these and these shitting on my car at work. Sometimes I see these when I go to get lunch down by the shore.
posted by piskycritter at 9:17 AM on August 9, 2002

This thread almost makes me feel as if I never left for work this morning. I am fortunate to live in the woods on the banks of the Savannah River and see almost all of the wildlife described above (no bald eagle or bears, though) There are whitetailed deer every day at dusk and dawn. Lately I have been been seeing one of these around. Wild turkeys can be found in the woods, but more easily in my house. There are all sorts of snakes, and every spring the turtles come up from the river to lay their eggs. Finally, the tree frogs come out every night to eat the bugs attracted to the lights of my house. I can't wait to get home.
posted by TedW at 9:20 AM on August 9, 2002

As there's a wolf running around in the suburbs outside Stockholm right now, and as he's causing all sorts of commotion, (in swedish) I may have some more interesting stories to tell you all tomorrow.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:23 AM on August 9, 2002

San Francisco is swarming with wildlife. I've seen raccoons in the Presidio, Golden Gate Park and Emeryville, bobcats in the hills above Marin, coyotes in Briones and at the back of Stanford, deer all up and down 280 and many, many great blue herons and red-tailed hawks around Felt Lake. I've smelled skunks but never seen them. I'd love to see a skunk.

Santa Cruz is even crazier: sit on the beach for five minutes and watch seals, otters and dolphins play in the surf, while pelicans fly over in formation.

I'm from Australia, where encounters with megafauna are comparatively rare. California supports way more biomass. That's what you get for having fertile, geologically active soil versus an ancient continent with a thin top layer.
posted by rdc at 9:23 AM on August 9, 2002

TedW, you probably live within driving distance of the Savannah River Site, which is home to a wealth of wildlife and hosts an environmental research park on its extensive grounds.

Let the jokes about multi-headed fauna begin...
posted by alumshubby at 9:31 AM on August 9, 2002

Toronto's pretty cool: it's been compared to San Francisco turned upside down. That is, we have an extensive ravine system threading through the city from the 'burbs all the way to the downtown waterfront. Apparently, this is unique. Of course, the river system now way too dirty to swim in, but there is a movement to clean up the Don Valley watershed. The Elevated Wetlands is a particularly cool project.
posted by slipperywhenwet at 9:38 AM on August 9, 2002

The roof next door to mine doesn't drain, so I have a pond, right outside my window! I witness: mosquitoes, cockroaches, and pigeons bathing! Sometimes I drop a rubber ducky in on a string and pullit around.
posted by goneill at 9:44 AM on August 9, 2002

On campus we have these which, quite frankly, breed like rabbits. Particularly in the evening, their abundance astonishes. And delights. I'm also fortunate enough to live next to a big ole' mountain. Which doesn't really mean anything, other than that rattlesnakes insist on napping on the porch.
posted by apostasy at 9:49 AM on August 9, 2002

Here in Vancouver we are (nearly) surrounded by protected wilderness, so there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing (bears, deer, cougars, wolves, lots of bald eagles and other raptors, and many of the smaller animals so common throughout North America) in the numerous local mountains. But we also have very large parks in the heart of the city so many residents are intimately familiar with skunks, raccoons, and perhaps even the rare coyote. Out at UBC we also have particularly aggressive squirrels and crows who will pluck your lunch right out of your hands if you're not careful.

Over on Vancouver Island there's even more to see, with Tofino on the west coast being especially popular for catching glimpses of otters, seals, and orcas. And on Princess Royal Island can be found the hauntingly beautiful ghost bear.

Yes, that's right. Come visit British Columbia today!
posted by fhangler at 9:56 AM on August 9, 2002

Pictures are trapped on my camera (no Smartcard reader at work), but I saw a raft of ducks asleep on the shores of Greenlake (Seattle) this morning, plus a daylight braving rat a few days ago.
posted by daver at 9:57 AM on August 9, 2002

Guanoshortstory: At a crowded coastal reststop I tossed a piece of bread for a seagull. 2nd toss to 10 seagulls, by the 5th toss it was chaos, gulls screaming and shitting on cars and people alike. I made a lot of friends that day, none of them human.
Skunks: In June I found a dead mom and six baby skunks. The cutest things you've ever seen! Found several skunk rescue sites, fed them for a month, never touched them altho I wanted to, and now they've moved to the woods.
posted by Mack Twain at 10:13 AM on August 9, 2002

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