Urban Animals

I moved from Vermont to New Jersey last November – The Green Mountains for The Jersey Shore? Not an even trade. Not even close, but I make do. Ok, so I don’t actually live on the Jersey Shore. I live in Princeton, which is quite pretty. Some people say Princeton isn’t really New Jersey. I’m not sure where I stand on that one. But, needless to say, I miss Vermont like crazy.

Anyway, it continues to amaze me how much more wildlife I see now that I live in a more urban area. Oxymoron right?

But every time I go anywhere I see something – in fact, all I really have to do is look out the window at the front yard. Granted, seeing deer or squirrels here isn’t exactly surprising. Getting excited about that would be like getting excited about someone walking down the street with a black lab. “Oh my gosh! That woman has a lab?! No way!” That being said, I still get excited (more about the deer than the squirrels).

This summer, in addition to all the deer and squirrels (black and gray!) we have also been inundated by woodchucks. They are constantly chasing each other across the yard. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a woodchuck run, but it’s absurd. Somewhere between a skunk and a fat corgi. Before now, the only way I had ever seen a woodchuck was dead, on the side of the road.

However, by far the coolest sighting I’ve had all summer was actually in Boston. My sister and her husband live on a school campus in Brookline and driving up the drive during our 4th of July visit we saw a HUGE hawk in the middle of the front lawn eating (I think) a squirrel. Now, of course, I had to get a picture. So I jumped out of the car and crept as close as I could get. He ignored me for a while, then took off for a nearby tree (missed that picture – darn!) I followed him to the tree to snap another pic, and then headed back to the car. As I was passing under a big tree I heard something rustling and keening (is that what hawks do?) above my head. I looked up, and directly above me, about 4 feet away, was a baby hawk! Now, the word baby might give you the wrong idea, because this hawk was not a small bird by any means. His nice sharp beak could have done a number on my face, and he was watching me closely (like a hawk, one might say). Never in my life have I been so close to a wild animal – except probably a squirrel, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count.


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