Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Adventures in Nature Watching

The young hawk was walking along the paver path in front of our family room – stalking prey like an inexperienced, two-legged feline with balance issues.  Mars had seen the descent of brown feathers, went to investigate, and called me to watch.  The following performance took about three minutes.
We noticed the activity in our quince bush several seconds before it caught the hawk’s eye – rustling branches being the only visible sign of occupancy in the thick, thorny shrub.  Just like in a not-too-clever television police procedural the predatory bird worked its way around to the front, and the small flock of sparrows and finches hurriedly exited from the rear. Apparently alerted by the motion behind it the hawk hurried around back – but too late.  As it was standing there puzzling over what to do next one of our gray squirrels came rushing onto the walkway, totally oblivious as to what was ahead of it.
They both became aware of each other at the same instant – the squirrel skidded to a halt, the harrier hopped back in startled horror.  Then the tree rat scurried into the protective arms of the quince, and the hawk assumed a guard position along the north side of the plant.  But he evidently forgot what he was waiting for because when the squirrel rushed out in the bird’s direction the fierce predator once again jumped in fright and flew off to one of the many utility wires that border our property.  And the squirrel continued in a northwesterly direction across our lawn and up the trunk of an oak tree within fifteen feet of the perching peregrine.
 A moment later the bird of prey took flight, and has not been seen since then in our area.  To paraphrase Elizabeth Shue’s character in the 1987 comedy movie Adventures in Babysitting, “Don't f*** with the squirrels.”

No comments: