Birds and others
This morning, walking in past the little pond on my way to work, I saw a blue jay. I was unreasonably startled by this, and I've been trying to think when was the last time I saw one around here. I can't. There were always blue jays around my parents' house, but I truly can't think when was the last time I saw one up here. And they're actually one of my favorite birds. I know, they're loud, and all the rest of it. But they're smart, and they're beautiful. That they aren't really blue amazes me; it's to do with the way their feathers are put together - a damaged feather loses all that brilliant color. Like the sky, I suppose - they aren't blue, they just look like it to our eyes. But they're elegant, all that crisp black and white pointing the brilliant blue, and their crested heads, and the confidence of their bearing.
Anyway, this morning I saw one in the red-berried tree (don't know what kind it is, some sort of cherry I imagine) tree next to the pond. It flew across the path into a dogwood and watched me. This little park is the domain of mockingbirds, usually, and this morning they were here, too, perched up on the lamp-posts and displaying their vocal virtuosity, cycling through their repertoire of other birds' songs - or at least short snippets of them. One of them here has upwards of a dozen - I lose count. Mockingbirds are actually my favorite songbird. I love the way they leap into the air, flashing their white-barred wings, never missing a note. This morning they were peacefully coexisting in the park along with the jays - because there are a couple of pairs at least of those; I saw four this morning as I walked the path to work. I hope they're here to stay.
The cattails beside the pond are home to a red-winged blackbird pair, too, or were this summer anyway. I used to see him every morning when I came in. He'd sit there on his cattail and sing at me, never moving. Of course, I didn't exactly go wading in after him, so I don't know how much he was used to people never getting off the path and how much he was just used to people. Some of the rabbits here have apparently figured out we won't chase them; they sit in the early morning nibbling on grass and keeping an eye on us, but they don't run. Others do, and if I was given to anthropomorphizing I'd wonder at the conversations the two groups might have - better safe than sorry vs. why run when you can eat?
There are deer around here too - probably living over in the big park across the road and past the building where I work. I haven't seen them, but I have seen their tracks in the mud after a rainy night. This dry summer they probably came this way looking for water; there's no signs that they forage regularly around here - far too many cars, busses, and people considering all the woods they have available in the other direction. Also some feral cats - at least two that I've seen, one brownish and very shy, and one bolder Aubrey - who may be the ones that took goslings this summer. One of the two pairs of Canadas started with seven and raised four to adulthood - or late adolesence anyway. I never did see the other pairs' past a quick glimpse of five little ones; they mostly stayed on the other side of the pond.
There are some groundhogs - woodchucks some call them, though my only familiarity with that name is the tonguetwister. Not that it's much of twister, actually, especially compared with the she who sells seashells or Betty's bitter butter in the batter or even Peter picking peppers. Woodchucks ... we always called them groundhogs. There's a pair here, anyway. Sometimes in the afternoon I see them; when they see me they gallumph across the ground with their odd, short-legged run that makes them look as if they're flowing across the ground, like Cruella DeVille's cape with the Dalmatians underneath it, and then they reach one of their trees and vanish quite suddenly. They are, of course, going into their dens, but they seem to just disappear.
I do enjoy the walk in from the metro. I'm even looking forward to this winter; it will be quite interesting to see what the snow will show.