Moonlight on ‘Possums

I was out late the other night, when I heard a rustling in the bushes behind the garage.  I froze, not sure what I’d see, and found myself 10 feet away from a large, gray, moonlit opossum.  We had an intense staring contest that lasted about 2 seconds before it turned and disappeared.  I know there is a good number of opossums living in my neighborhood, but I’ve only seen 3 or 4 ever.  They are so secretive, so shy, that they leave almost no trace of existing, and when you do see them they scurry away in a heartbeat. It also doesn’t help that they are nocturnal, and seem to avoid not only daylight, but street- and lamp-light as well.  I don’t know much about these little guys, but they’re awfully exciting to see!

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This rather ugly critter was so weird-looking I wondered if it wasn’t some sort of duck-goose hybrid – an ugly guckling?

Looking up from a Metro station in Washington, D.C. 

The jellyfish at the National Zoo are amazing. You can actually see electricity coursing through them.

This orangutan made me sad. She looked right at me, and her eyes were so human – she doesn’t belong in a cage.

Coming out of Mammoth Caves. Located in Kentucky, it’s already the largest cave in the world, and only a tiny fraction of it has been discovered.

Magnolias

I’m Back, and better than ever!

This last month I was on vacation all over America. Here are a few pictures:

White Squirrel

Recently an albino squirrel has shown up in the neighborhood. It’s exciting to watch these pure white, pink-eyed rodents scurry around with all the other ordinary gray ones. The other squirrels don’t treat it any differently, although it seems a little more shy than most. Albino animals generally don’t live very long,  since not only are they easier to spot, but the same mutant gene that makes them white often comes with diseases. But when they’re around, they are definitely fun to have!

Squirreling Around

The squirrels are quite active during colder days, searching for food to keep warm. They’re about half the size they were this fall, & during the winter, when they are weaker, many of them get a disease called Mange. Caused by mites, the squirrel’s fur becomes patchy & begins to fall off. But so far most of the squirrels are still healthy.

Rainbow of Squirrels

Yesterday I chanced upon a red squirrel, chattering angrily in a tree in it’s typical red squirrel way, infuriated by my intrusion upon it’s property. There aren’t a whole lot of reds around here – the forests are mostly deciduous, & they prefer pine & spruce forests to oaks, elms, & maples. But once in a while I see one, hiding in the forests by the river – they are shyer than their gray cousins.                                                                                                                    And while there is nothing new about seeing a gray squirrel searching for food under bird feeders, recently I have seen a couple of oddly colored ones. There is a resident albino squirrel, snowy white with bright pink eyes. I see her (or him) frequently enough, but a few days ago there was a black one hanging around, checking out the territory.                                                                                                                                                                                                     So while it seems at times that the variety of squirrels near in my yard will never differ, the truth is that there are probably enough squirrel colors out there to create an entire rainbow.

More Rabbits

Eastern cottontail rabbits are becoming much more common here. There are always a few around, but in the summer & winter they are usually much easier to find. They come & nibble on the plants & leaves on the ground, but they are more timid than squirrels, & they are quicker to run if they are startled. However, they will choose to forage for plants much closer to people than squirrels will, & if you do not move in their direction, you can pass by very close to them.

Rain, Rain, & More Rain

It’s been raining hard here for several days now, & the sun is rarely out for more than a few moments a day. It’s also very cold, although it’s mid-May. I noticed that the birds really don’t mind though. They’re hopping around on the ground (& trying to get under the roof of the birdfeeder) with their feathers all fluffed out, searching for the least soggy seeds. The squirrels also are out, but I see them less often. I think they are mostly all curled up in their holes staying dry.