Friday, November 21, 2014

Wild Encounters on our Doorstep

We've been in the US for 3 months now, and one of the things that has struck me is the sheer variety of wildlife we've seen - mostly in our back yard!

During the summer, the area underneath our garden shed housed 3 rabbits, including a very cute baby bunny who can still be seen occasionally hopping around in the early morning mist.  We also have several squirrels who seem to know no fear - they particularly enjoy playing chicken on the driveway.  Our 2 cats (now indoor-bound) love to watch them playing on the patio and chasing each other around the tree trunks (and wrecking the bird feeder).

The trees (of which there are 7 or 8 surrounding our house, hence all the leaves), also play host to a huge variety of birds - very few of whom would be recognised in UK gardens.  I wish I could identify them all - there's a project for another day!  We have lots of small finch-like birds, some with little crested heads, several woodpeckers, one that looks like a magpie but with brilliant blue wings, and beautiful red cardinals (I wish I could get a photo of the cardinals but they're quite elusive).  Apparently we sometimes get wild turkeys too, but we haven't yet spotted them yet.  There's also an old hawk's nest in one of the trees, and it's not unusual to spot large birds of prey circling above (one of the reasons for the cats now being indoor-bound).

Also in the trees, particularly over the summer months, were a huge number of very noisy cicadas.  The noise these insects make is similar to that of crickets or tree frogs, but the sheer volume of the "singing", which seems to come in waves, is difficult to describe.  Live cicadas are a bright green colour, so they are difficult to spot in leafy trees.  However, they seem to shed their skins fairly frequently, so that the papery brown casings are left all over tree trunks and brick walls.  Quite disconcerting to start with.  With the colder weather, the noise has dwindled and now they seem to have disappeared altogether.

In our first few weeks we also had 3 deer running through the backyard (it looked like a doe and 2 babies).   They didn't stop for long enough to get a photo, but it was lovely to see them flash past the window.

We appear to have a chipmunk living underneath the hot tub right outside the house.  One day we could hear some spirited squawking / squeaking, and assumed it was another bird shouting at the cats through the screen door.  But when we investigated, both cats had their noses pressed to the window looking intently at a little chipmunk a few feet away, obviously trying to defend his hot tub house with some loud squeaks!  (Don't judge us re: the hot tub; it's our landlord's and is devoid of both water and power).  Every so often I catch a fleeting glimpse of him from the kitchen window as he scampers across the patio from one end to the other.

Spot the groundhog by the shed door...

We've had a ground hog bumbling around the garden in early Autumn, too.  He tends to stay on the edges of the garden, so is difficult to photograph, but I'd guess he's about the size of a badger.  He bumbles around, presumably rooting up grubs and insects, but moves surprisingly quickly when startled.

Finally, earlier this week as the cold weather hit, we briefly enjoyed the company of a possum one evening.  He set off the motion-detector light over the patio when he found the stale crisps I'd put out for the birds - the light didn't seem to bother him at all, and he stayed around until he'd snuffled every single crumb!

With our interest in wildlife piqued, this weekend we went to visit the  Wolf Sanctuary of PA in nearby Lititz.  Amazing place - and probably the subject of a future post...





  1. The best bit about blogging about this change is that you will have an amazing journal of your time and all the creative things you get up to.. so if you hit a low point of 'what I have achieved?!' you can just look back and read all this fabulous stuff!

    1. That's very true - I think that's part of why I enjoy writing about it all!