During our many enjoyable summers of observing wildlife around White Lake we have learned some wildlife characteristics, including sounds and postures, of certain species. Learning these behaviours has made it easier for us to spot animals, especially those that blend into their surroundings. Two examples include herons standing upright and still amongst the cattails, and bald eagles perched high in white pines. Some other animals are recognizable by their unique postures such as the acrobatic maneuvers of chickadees in tree branches or the head-down posture of nuthatches moving down tree trunks. But every now and then Mother Nature throws us a curve ball and if we are lucky, we get to observe familiar animals displaying unusual, and what are to us, humorous postures.
It came as a surprise while recently walking early one morning to observe a beaver calmly munching on twigs in a pond beside our cottage road. These animals are usually skittish, slapping their broad tails on the surface and diving underwater when they spot humans or other potential threats. That morning, the beaver seemed to take no notice of us photographing it until it appeared to raise its forepaw to wave at us and then continued on munching the bark from twigs. It did not even dive after we started laughing out loud!
One afternoon while paddling, we came across a great blue heron standing on a neighbour’s dock. While we commonly see them standing at the edge of docks hunting for food, this time the bird was standing motionless in the middle of the dock with its wings partially extended. Perhaps it had gone into deep water and was drying off its wings. Perhaps it was soaking up the warmth of the sun’s rays on that sunny fall day. We laughed.
We enjoy watching the small birds that visit the mesh ball from which we offer black-oiled sunflower seed. We have tried a range of locations and baffles to keep the squirrels from stealing the bird seed. At one point, we hung the seed ball briefly from the clothesline. We were really surprised when we saw this upside-down raccoon moving paw-over-paw to get away from Carolyn and her fly swatter. Following that, we relocated the seed ball.
We have installed a couple of salt licks on the trunks of two trees in the front yard of our cottage. The licks are frequented by both individuals and groups of adult and juvenile whitetail deer. Typically, the deer position themselves directly alongside, close to the tree and proceed to lick repeatedly at the salt. Recently we observed this solitary fawn standing well back from the lick and stretching out to access the salt.
Early one morning while canoeing, we came across a family of wood ducks resting on a partially submerged log. As the adult female moved into the water alerting her chicks to our proximity, the young birds slowly stretched their wings before joining their mother in the water to swim away. You could almost hear them yawning and muttering about the early hour!
These are just a few examples that remind us of the usefulness of remaining vigilant of our surroundings so we can notice and appreciate the unusual, as well as the more typical, wildlife behaviours going on around us. We wonder if the animals we were chuckling about were laughing at the unusual behaviour of the paddling/walking photographer taking pictures of them.
Usually, we provide references but today’s article is based purely on our observations.