Tracking Wildlife in Minneapolis

While pursuing urban wildlife, one must be careful.  The hunter maybe become the hunted.  But this is for another blog.

While pursuing urban wildlife, one must be careful. The hunter may become the hunted. But this is for another blog.

The uninitiated might think I don’t follow the best practices of strong blogging.  My post headlines rarely describe what is in the post and I write the weakest leads in blogdom…or do I mean in the blogosphere?

I tend to call people names — well, sort of, I only call conservative politicians and right ring radio hosts names and I see no harm in that — and I complain a lot about mundane things like bad parkers and the grocery story running out of my favorite mustard.  And I tend to start at least a third of my sentences with a conjunction.

But if I had been clever enough to have been born about 70 years earlier and then wrote a short novel about a talking pig and spider, you would judge my random posts to be quite good.  So I want you to proceed with that thought in mind.  Refocus your attention and pretend.  What if he wrote a story about a talking pig and a spider…

Eventually, by the way, I will indeed write about Minneapolis wildlife.

And that eventually is now!

IMG_0527Well, first…wait a minute…now we’re stuck.  This is that awkward space where I don’t know how to begin.  Do I just talk about the bird I saw?  Or do I go off on another tangent, like my disgust with scented toilet paper?

Let’s talk about the bird.

Once upon a time I thought I had to drive thirty miles or more before I would be far enough away from the life-killing urban core to start seeing nature at play.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My neighborhood is a true wild kingdom, flush with squirrels, owls and raccoons; birds of every kind and deer everywhere, and even occasional sightings of small humans, druids or children…Really, I cannot tell.  It is so hard these days, both seem to wear hooded garments and scamper quickly if and when they come into the light of day.IMG_0544

Spotting wildlife hasn’t always been as easy as it has been recently, however.  It practically jumps out and grabs you.  Fox, hawks, deer, raccoons, some big furry thing…it abundance is everywhere.  Damn near an infestation of untamed creatures.

Look at the beautiful hawk.  A red tail, I think.  It sat on a bare branch above my trail, plain as the sun in the sky, as if waiting for me to say hello.  In fact from the look on his face, I’m late.

I clicked off a couple dozens photos, but most are tad fuzzy.  I really need a tripod…or I need to drink less coffee and other things.  I can’t hold the camera still on super zoom for long.  I tripod might be a less expensive solution, however not at all practical.  So I will stick with click-off-dozens-of-photos technique and hope dumb luck catches my target.  This one didn’t turn out so badly.

Nor did it fail me with the woodpecker.  He’s nesting there with his mate.  (Sounds almost dreamy, doesn’t it?  Who wouldn’t want to nest with a mate?)  Alas, Mr. and Mrs. Woodpecker made one brief appearance then off they went to find more bugs and things.  Such a gratefully simple life.  And all dressed up, too!

Thinking Twice

Thinking Twice

Further down the trail I ran into more wildlife, wildlife of all sorts.  Deer, birds, neighbors, and enough squirrels to feed them all.  In fact the deer in this photo made me a little uneasy.  He seemed set on having the path and ran fearlessly toward me.  In the man-versus-deer game of chicken, however, I prevailed.

More about the deer.

This deer almost appeared accidentally in the photo.  I was taking yet another picture of a wooded pathway and there he was!  Imagine my surprise.  A dangerous beast trotting toward me with vicious determination.

I seem to take a lot of pictures of wooded paths, by the way.  It must say something about my quest to find something lost in my psyche.  I have more pictures of wooded paths than anything else.

Note the cage.

Note the cage.

Some people bring their own wildlife to the parks.  This guy has a pair of something that looked like mongoose in this cage.  He was on his way to a photo shoot with a group of kids.  I’m not sure how it turned out, however unleashing a pair of pissed off mongoose on a group of kids dressed in their Sunday best sounds interesting to me.

I waited around for shrieks, but hearing none, I had to get going.  I was attracting attention.

If you’ll notice in the follow up picture, you will see I have been spotted.  Few things attract attention more than a single guy with a cigar (unlit, of course…you can’t smoke in Minneapolis) taking pictures in the park, especially if he is waiting for a mongoose attack.

IMG_0549So I went back to taking pictures of paths.  And trees, flowering trees.  Perhaps the flowering trees represent something nascent and untapped in my psyche.  I take a lot of photos of flowering trees.

Oh, and did I mention the fox?  Cute little buggers.  There are a lot of cute little foxes in Minneapolis.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  My neighborhood is known for its cougars.

While flowering with the trees, a thought occurred to me.  IMG_0553Once, for as long as I could remember, I would avoid stepping on manhole covers.  I’m not sure why, but I never would step on a manhole cover.  Maybe once someone told me they randomly blew up or something.  I don’t know.

Then one day I thought:  What if I was meant to step on manhole covers.  What if?  Perhaps I was cheating my purpose, my raison d ‘etre.  Sometimes one simple change can reset the cosmic order of things, one special find.

So I started stepping on manhole covers, expecting big changes.  Nothing happened.  Cosmic order unchanged.  Quite disappointing.  I still step on manhole covers.  In fact now I stomp on them.

I realized there and then — while flowering with the trees — that there could be another key, another channel to change.  I thought about my daily walk.  I always walk in the same direction.  Day after day I am a right-turn guy and guess what…Disarray.  The grip of doom tightening around my neck!  That sort of thing.

Perhaps, I thought, I was simply winding the spring tighter and before long, like an old watch, something would snap.  I thought about that…It would make some sense, might it not?  I decided it isn’t healthy to always walk the course in the same direction.  You have to look at things from another angle from time to time.

This made so much sense, it put me in a panic and I quickly turned and started back in the direction from whence I came, sort of unwinding things, you see.  And you know…it might actually be doing something.  Everything looked, well, different!  I even feel different.

Eating Duck?

Eating Duck?

And a  significant omen awaited me on the trail.  My friend the red tail hawk.  Do you think my change in direction had any benefit for him?  It must have.  I found him on the forest floor enjoying a midday meal.   The rewards of a life well-lived, a feast for a hawk.  Certainly, I presume, my opportunity cannot be far behind.

Maybe I’ll be nesting in a tree.  Well, let’s settle for a five star hotel, but one should never presume to know.  Don’t forget, wild life seeks its rewards, too.  The best might be the least expected.

I snapped a few shots of the hawk and felt a bit reassured somehow.  I think I’ll try going east by going west first, left before right.  At least for a while.  IMG_0547


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