I was on the side of the road in the Antennae Farm, taking pictures of the viburnum (ain't it purty?) when I heard a rustling from behind me on the other side of the road. A few minutes earlier a raccoon family had crossed the road about 100 feet in front of me, and although the mother raccoon had stopped to glare at me until I turned away and pretended to be graze on vegetation so that she would think I was just another animal and not some evil human (the babies, meanwhile, gathered up alongside her and kind of glanced around idly, like they were trying to ape Mom but weren't sure what she was looking at) I wondered if maybe they had come up to investigate further, and I turned around slowly, hoping to get more and better pictures of raccoon babies. But it wasn't a raccoon.
Skunks are misunderstood. A local wildlife rehabber says that they are good natured, docile and curious animals, and I've heard other people tell stories about baby skunks out exploring their brand new world and walking right up to a human to check them out. They only spray if they feel like they don't have any other option. (And this one, for what it's worth, did not smell at all, and I was standing about 10 feet away.) So I was actually excited to see one and get the chance to hang out with it for a while. But then a motorcycle came buzzing down the gravel road, and the skunk ducked back into the ditch.
I think there actually been some informal mammal meet-and-greet in the Antenna Farm, because in addition to the skunk and the raccoon family I also met a deer. I almost always see deer when I'm up there. This one was on the side of the road just as I turned a corner, and we looked at each other for a moment, and then she stamped one of her front hooves, and even though at that point I was anxious to get home (I'd found some oyster mushroom and wanted to get home and cook them up, although they turned out to be disappointingly bland) I thought, "Fine," and pretended to graze so that the deer would move on and let me pass. I even meandered into the woods, away from the deer, but every time I glanced over my shoulder there she still was staring at me. It occurs to me now that she may have left her fawn somewhere in the woods near me, although I also think that by this time of the year fawns should be big enough to be up and walking around on their own. But then a car came and the deer disappeared into the woods, and I moved on.
There were also tree frogs by the pond, singing already at 6:30 p.m., and about a million dragonflies. I think there must have been some big hatch of four spotted skimmers, because hundreds and hundreds of them are all over town this weekend. Of course they were denser out in a wetland, where some of them possibly hatched. (I wanted to look for exuvia on the cattails, but we've gotten so much rain that the pond was flooded and I couldn't get close enough.) I always enjoy these plagues of dragonflies; I like looking up at the sky and watching a steady stream of them pass overhead, maybe 40 or 50 of them every minute.
Cold, dreary end to our Park Point warbler walks
2 hours ago