Things that go ‘bump’ in the night…

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

We would be at a loss without our trail cameras. Yes, they are very popular before and during hunting season, yet ours remain in place at all hours, twelve months of the year. Oh, the discoveries we’ve made of secrets of bird, man and beast. At times, we’ve learned more about nature up-close than by reading books. For instance: Birdfood has been disappearing from our woodland feeding stations at an astonishing high rate of late. During the winter and spring, a single raccoon and a beady-eyed opossum appeared at our bird banquets as they gleaned left-overs scattered on the ground. Yet, during the last few weeks, parched earth under the feeders appeared as if swept with a fine broom.

Then, in late June, the trail cameras indicated possible culprits; a sow raccoon and five coonlets or kits…tiny cute wee little furballs. Each evening we’ve traveled to the hills to set a smoke smudge. This incense drifts across our hopelessly arid garden to deter some of the many deer looking for tasty munchies. Pre-Fourth of July Sunday, while in the deep woodland, (accompanied by Swanee, faithful silver auto,) we decided to check our bird feeders. Imagine, driving around a dark corner in the dank forest we came upon mor than a dozen and a half burly critters consuming fallen black-oil sunflower seeds! Yes, the hungry thieves quickly scattered into neighboring trees on the double, while we unwelcome visitors snapped photo after photo. However, as soon as Swanee’s lights were turned off, down the trees the assemblage flooded. Brave, brazen, and very unfriendly were the small creatures, shoving one another aside, growling, nipping at each other as they fed. Our faithful courageous photographer was able to approach the snarling mob to within three feet when said herd discovered the human visitor, and with a final barrage of growls and threats, vanished into the spooky woods. One especially witless mammal posed for a final close-up photo. As the remainder disappeared into the darkness, we heard a final growl, “We’ll be back, Jack!”

One wonders… We have experienced a very dry period thus far this spring/summer. Although other parts of the state are swimming in heavy precipitation, as of July 3rd, it’s as though the rain gods have forgotten us. Depending upon where you live, you may be carrying water just to keep plants alive. Foods that the raccoons and opossums normally consume seem to be missing. When was the last time you observed a frog, snake or toad? Where are the grasshoppers and crickets? Are mosquitoes as prevalent as former years? Has the balance of nature changed? Is the reason for lack of natural food a reason for nightly road-kills of aforementioned beasts on the rise, or are there just more four-footed hungry animals about? Thoughts from Indy readers are appreciated.

Many devoted Trumpeter Swan designated observers raised the alarm late June that the cygnets on Coachlight Pond had dropped from seven to five. What accounted for the disappearance of two of the beloved avians? Breathing was restored after three or four days, when, healthy and larger than their nestmates, the two reappeared! Next, Sylvan, the male, (cob) went missing. Was he off philandering in the adjacent former sewage treatment waters? Was Sylvia the ‘pen’ left to raise seven swans a-swimming? A huge sigh of relief swept the area when Sylvan reappeared. Observing the precious birds takes one’s mind off the myriad important problems/challenges folks are experiencing these days. DO keep up the good work!