Summer Critters 2023


This summer has been a particularly bad time to get out and take photos around the grounds and in general around Dunwich. It basically rains all the time. And I mostly don’t care to walk around in the rain.  Oh, I’ll do it from time to time just to escape from imprisonment but I’m not one of those people who enjoys “soft weather,” nope.

But we have had a few sightings of the local vertebrate fauna.

Starting with the lower rungs we’ve had the usual frogs and salamanders

And a few snakes

And more than our fair share of turtles

Including an attack on the main dwelling by this evil creature

With respect to birds I got this shot in a week or two ago in the puddle of a Great Blue Heron

And of course Camera Girl’s flock of turkeys show up for the casual photos around the bird feeder area.

As for mammals this year has been sort of barren of the unusual

We’ve had some rabbits breeding in the fields

And a fox or two.

But yesterday something new surfaced.

I was walking in the yard and as I passed the front shore of the puddle I saw vigorous rippling motion in the water and then a long thin outline breaking the water repeatedly.  The impression was of a weasel shaped creature but of a decently large size.  My impression was it was too large to be a mink.  And it was very aquatic in its motions, very graceful.  It was surfacing and diving in a continuous circle.  Every once in a while I could see the yellow color of a fish being dragged up to the surface.

I think it’s a river otter.  I tried to take some photos but they were pretty bad.  I only had a 90mm lens and it was relatively far away from the shore I was on.

I told Camera Girl to be careful about letting Little Evil Dog (LED) chase after anything near the water.  Weasels in general are incredibly fierce and LED is far from a great warrior.  I’d hate to see him become lunch for a large aquatic weasel.  It would be embarrassing for all involved.

Now I understand otters are tremendously able hunters of fish and the puddle is none too large.  I could imagine this creature emptying it of fish in a matter of a few days.  This would probably doom the giant snapper that also resides in the puddle.  A regular disaster for the ecosystem.  Ah, whatever.  We’re Darwinists here in Dunwich.  Survival of the fittest is our motto.  So bring it on otter and I await the outcome.  Let God and the Devil sort out their crews.

Camera Girl and the Welfare State

Like all women, Camera Girl believes in socialism.  Her bird feeders and scrap piles are an attractant to all the lazy and discontented riff raff that skulk at the borders of the Compound.  Of late it has gotten completely out of hand.  At six o’clock in the morning a murder of crows begins screaming at the top of their lungs for their scraps of chicken and bread crumbs.  At seven a voracious gaggle of turkeys descends on us to pick away at every seed that has fallen from the feeders.

This aggravates the crows to even more lunatic levels of cacophony.  Over the course of the last few weeks the hatchling turkeys have become noticeably larger and stupider.  They no longer startle when the crows approach them.  Even the chipmunks and squirrels have become mere background noise in this ocean of free-loading loafers.

Of course, reality does set in from time to time.  Perched above this scrum of bottom feeders, are the original occupants of Camera Girl’s colony; the cardinals, sparrows, finches mourning doves, grackles and blue jays.  They remain above the fray plucking seeds from the feeders and like aristocrats raining down mockery and droppings on the rabble below.  But from their elevated position they are a perfect target for the local hawk.  Probably once a week I’ll notice a patch of dull feathers on the ground where a mourning dove has been hit by one of these high-flying marauders.  When I’ve witnessed one of these attacks, I’m always intrigued to see the hawk plucking feathers from his victim.  I guess he knows his business but it seems a fussy habit for something so violent as this assault from the sky.

But even this murderous object lesson does little to discourage the dysfunctional mob that mills around outside Camera Girl’s kitchen window.  Of late a rabbit has begun joining this motley crew.  What’s next?  Will the local foxes, bobcats and coyotes join their erstwhile prey around the communal slop pile?  Will finally the black bear family show up and take up residence in this incipient Hooverville?

She loves these useless camp followers.  She even names them.  The largest and loudest of the crows is Moe.  The male turkey is, of course, Tom.  The rabbit, or rabbits, (they all look alike to me) is Bun-Bun.  I’m sure there are other cutesy names but these are the ones I hear the most.

I look on with murderous intent but I stay my hand.  My hope is that nature will take its toll eventually.  Based on logic and their general physical appearance, I’d say that heart attacks will be the primary weapon of the grim reaper.  But right behind that will be Darwinian selection.  I can’t imagine these gobblers outracing a fox or coyote in the confines of the forest primeval.  In fact, I saw a sample of what is to come.  On Sunday afternoon, Camera Girl and I were walking around the yard when we startled an adult turkey from its feeding.  It attempted to fly into the woods, but crashed into a pine tree branch and barely avoided tumbling fifty feet or so to the ground below because of a fortunately located branch beneath this embarrassing collision.  These creatures are morbidly obese and a reckoning will occur.

Well maybe, in a sense, even this imbalance is a natural pattern.  The high energy density of the fossil fuel era has even altered the equation for animals that live at the boundary between the human and the so-called natural environment.  Watching a game camera last year, I noted that when Camera Girl used to leave her scraps at dusk it attracted opossums and racoons and eventually the racoons became so obese that they noticeably waddled around on the video.  This led me to demand that she only feed the animals in the morning so that the crows would be the recipients and so spare the racoons from atherosclerosis.  But all I’ve done is transfer the disease from the mammals to the birds.

Recently I’ve had the realization that I am the final link in this ecological free lunch.  Camera Girl has been fattening me for the fall all along too.  Her delicious cooking has kept me lazy and contented throughout the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump years.  Only the horror of the Biden regime has been able to snap me out of my stupor.  I resemble those crows and turkeys milling around squawking and accomplishing nothing useful.  The bread and circuses of the American empire have kept us all in thrall to the free lunch that’s been spread for us.  But the price of the free lunch just got a lot higher.  Maybe that’s a good thing.