Trekking Tales: Our wild neighbours

A short-tailed weasel poked itself up on the side of the road from which the chipmunk had come

In the Rockies, May 2013, with Aussie company

We were about to leave Emerald Lake, clouds parting enough to see surrounding mountains reflected in its clear water, and were remarking on the brightening green as sunshine increased.

As we looked back towards the small bridge we had just crossed, a chipmunk darted across the rough surface of the road and disappeared into the brush beside the creek which drains the lake. For Aussies, these small critters are reason enough for comments and “admiration”.

The next animal sighted was much less common. A short-tailed weasel poked itself up on the side of the road from which the chipmunk had come. “Aha!” said John. “Now we know why that chipmunk was moving so fast.”

The weasel, observing the busloads of people coming and going, bobbed up and down in different places, but was unwilling to cross amongst all the feet. By then, it had worked its way along to the edge of the bridge.

Here, it too disappeared, but only temporarily, emerging from beneath the woodwork and onto the rocks that were part of the foundation, before being swallowed up by the spring flora and fauna. I use the word “swallowed” on purpose; a squeak and a squawk seconds later told us that the chipmunk had not been successful in eluding its pursuer. The weasel had captured its lunch.

Now in Newfoundland, September, 2013

Bestest buddy Joan and I had been directed to Brighton from Triton for a spectacular, late afternoon hike and were driving back to our digs.

Rounding a corner, we were stopped by a major collection of vehicles and spectators on section of dark highway. “Oh no!” we said. “An accident….” I wound down the window as a gal began to walk past. “What has happened?” we asked fearfully.

“Oh,” she responded brightly. “We were watching two bull moose fighting. They were here for the longest time – but they just left.” What a sight that must have been, and we “just” missed it.

A big bird puzzle – Much closer to home

As I drove towards Sunshine Valley across Clearwater River on the one-lane bridge recently, I noted a bald eagle perched aloft on a leafless birch.

“Hey, there’s more!” I grinned to myself upon seeing another just below it and three others in trees nearby. I slowed right down.

These non-smiling birds have been a favourite ever since I came to the North American continent in 1963. Inching forwards, hoping not to send them skyward, I suddenly observed that they were far from being alone.

Down on the snowy ground close to where the river rafters’ bus awaits its passengers, was a conspiracy of ravens. They were feasting on a partial carcass discarded there, no doubt by human hands.

“How come you ravens are at the table filling your beaks while your much larger ‘feathered friends’ with more ferocious beaks just watch?” I questioned from within my vehicle. Everyone was far too busy to reply, so I still don’t know the answer to that reasonable question.

As I drove on, the road curving up as short steep hill, I noticed two more eagles. One was an adult, but the other was smaller, its feathers variegated dark and not so dark.

The juvenile was yet to grow and display the typical white tail tips and white head which gave the bald eagle its name. They took time out to watch my progress, but didn’t supply an answer to the puzzle either.

 

On the other hand, I would have been rather shocked if they’d squawked out in unison: “We’ve already eaten. That lot just gets the leftovers!”

 

 

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