Jack ThumbnailBy Jack McShane

Alert as usual for any wild critters alive or dead, while on my Sunday morning jaunt along Route 30 into Margaretville for my NY Times, I saw a creature up ahead in a slow lope on the right shoulder. Very unexpectedly, it was a dog. Knowing immediately that it was lost I slowed down; it ran in front of the car. No hit, and as I eased onto the shoulder he disappeared from view.  Blinkers on, I got out, but there was no sign of him as he apparently was quite spooked. I commenced gentle calling; whistling; nothing. The steep slope on the right down to the reservoir was relatively open with no sign of him, and on the heavily wooded hill, I saw nothing. I remained about ten minutes as cars passed, drivers and passengers looking at this nut calling and whistling to nothing. Bottom line I never did see him again and left hoping that I wouldn’t find a canine roadkill on my return trip.  I did not see any sign of him although I slowed way down when passing the vicinity. This occurrence was back on July 17th, midway between Perch Lake Road and Bushkill Road. Description: medium size, short hair, mottled gray, wearing a collar, breed undetermined. In our local forest with bobcats and coyotes and, of course, “Makwa” there lies great peril for such a lost dog. I do hope that he has made it safely home as did my friends’ very lucky dog, Zeke.

An update on my local critter friends as follows: the woodchuck family has dispersed seeking new and safe places.  Of course, some may have fed the foraging predators. Cottontails are back in good numbers according to trail cam night shots and sightings at dusk. Very timid bunnies, a good thing for them, but tough for a young and hungry coyote. Painted turtles have been unseen, no basking on their favorite logs, as the heat of the sun on their black shells would overwhelm them. Best for them to stay in the cool comfort of the pond bottoms. Many indigo bunting sightings by my avid birder neighbors. No more killdeer, as the gravel patch they used for nesting is now gone. There has been no sign of my usual tenants, the bluebirds. Many of the bluebird boxes are now occupied by mice and the other usual tenants such as our tree swallows which have now already left for southern climes. A number of paper wasp nests fastened to the underside of our porch rail have been safely removed, this under cover of darkness when they are not active.  “Makwa,” a local black bear caught on trail cam, was also seen by neighbors showering under a small waterfall on the Bussey Hollow brook behind their home. My friend the EDG has been a constant companion whenever I intrude on his domain; you know, the emotionally disturbed grouse.

I got some shots on one of my trail cams of a fisher going about his business in what appears to be a healthy manner even with an apparent large tumor on the left side of his face. In addition to the disappeared dog on the road, I was concerned about a fawn that refused to get out of the center of the Tremperskill Road as Nancy and I were returning from one of the great opera concerts in Phoenicia. It was 12:30 am with only us and the fawn. All efforts, including honking, yelling and blinking headlights would not deter this very confused little guy. After about 200 yards of a halting centerline march, we were able to get alongside him and hustle him into the woods. Was it an EDF?

A conversation with a couple of ardent naturalist friends about eagles morphed into a commentary about falconry, its practice, and an incident where a trained eagle at a certain point in training refused to return to its master and instead chose freedom. This conversation caused me to wax philosophical and to question our various relationships with fauna that at one time were all free and living wild in the natural world and made their life decisions on their own. I am defining the natural world as a world where nature moves on its own without interference by man. Some can legitimately argue that we are a natural product in the process and should be included in any discussion of the natural world and its progression. I accept this premise, but question the morality of the human species taking control of and, in too many cases, decimating, if not eliminating, so many other species and their habitat for its own benefit. Which begs the question: Will this eventually have grave impact on the human race itself? Obviously, it does now. Will we take notice, slow down our exploding numbers as nature is trying to do, or just go on with our madness? As Pogo stated clearly, but not loudly enough, back in the 50’s, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”~

“Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.” E.O. Wilson.