My neighbours have two amazing sumac trees. This one blazes red and orange. The other is yellow and gold. Thanks to whoever planted them so many years ago.
I really love the colours of autumn. Added value: when tromping around in the bush the poison ivy becomes spectacularly visible. No dripping oozing wounds for me this month.
It is breeding season for the fox squirrels. They are normally solitary creatures but lately I typically spot them in twos and threes leaping across the road and twirling up tree trunks. How do they run along the electrical wires? They seem fearless to me. An emblem of freedom.
I hope a couple will turn our squirrel box into a nest this year.
I also hope fewer will die on the road but I know that is not likely. Every year the road gets busier and even though I live in a residential zone there will always be that guy who thinks his hurry is more important than the life around them.
Cars are the prime predator for fox squirrels. I take some consolation in knowing that each death probably means a meal for a vulture or other scavengers but it is small comfort really. There is a new carcass on the road near my house and when I pass it I wonder if it was one of the new squirrels I saw grow over the summer or one of the older tougher survivors. I have an image in my mind of one of the wee ones who gorged itself silly on mulberries this spring. I laughed when I saw it later at the bird feeder. Its mouth was all stained purple like lipstick gone drunkenly wrong.
I know you probably don’t even believe I do have a bird feeder but it remains in its stupid place that makes taking photos nearly impossible.
Anyway this next photo does not show one of the many cardinals who visit the feeder as far as I know. I spotted him on a walk along the creek. Actually I saw a little bit of red that was just a bit TOO red to be a leaf — at least in these parts. He was nestled in some very thick brush on the ground. I had to really stretch to get even this crummy shot. If anyone saw my contortions they must have had a great laugh!
Obviously he saw me too. His little crest is up showing his anxiety. Plus he looked directly at me. He could have flown away but instead he just remained perfectly still.
And I marvelled that cardinals are so successful in urban environments. Even my dim eyes easily spotted the red. Surely they are beacons to real predators.
Which I suppose might be the point. He is there to distract danger away from the little ones. Any male that can survive for any length of time must be clever enough and quick enough to make an excellent breeding partner.
But what about remaining still? I looked it up and apparently it is a better strategy than I thought. The brush was thick enough to deter a cat pounce. But more importantly, a lot of predators are designed to spring out at a moving target. As long as he remained steady he would remain quite safe.
Which reminds me an indignity I recently suffered …
I frequently see a few cats regularly prowling around the creek. Most are fat house cats — the kind that mew pathetically and rub against my legs hoping for a tasty bit of salmon. But I think this one is feral.
The other day I saw him walking ahead of me on the path. He was about 500 feet ahead of me. He passed a certain point and a single white-winged dove screamed and fluttered away. When -I- passed the exact same point eleventy billion white-winged doves screamed a hullabaloo loud enough to alert every living thing for miles and took off like they saw Death itself.
Come on! Do I not feed them every day!?!?!?! Am I really seen as more of a threat than a feral cat? Sigh.
If you don’t know me by now ….
You will never never never know me