Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Critters on the Patio

When Pappy built our pond, we became avid fans of all the aquatic life the water feature provided, from the fish to the frogs to the dragonflies. Recently, though, we have been treated to closeups with animal life that we didn't foresee.

Have you ever seen a great blue heron take off from about a yard away? Two or three winters ago, we began spotting this impressive bird parking himself on the curved wall that borders our pond. Habitually, he comes by in the morning--I guess the pond looks like a breakfast buffet to him.

Occasionally a neighbor would call with a blue heron sighting: "He's on your roof!" JimnJane e-mailed us a photo of a great blue heron gobbling up yellow ducklings at a lake adjacent to our Shakespeare theatre.

During our initial sightings, I phoned a friend who had lost his entire koi population to a heron. His advice? "Get a decoy," he suggested. Thus we acquired Harry, the plastic heron. "Move him around from time to time," added our friend.

In the summertime, I don't bother repositioning Harry, because we only see the real thing in the winter.

He was early this year. This morning when, looking through the bedroom window, I saw him perched on the wall, I had to stare for a few seconds. He was sitting so still, facing away with his head turned toward me, that I had to convince myself he was the genuine article. (Please, don't anybody put a plastic heron on my wall.) I ran for my camera, but the heron started flapping those big wings, and he left the scene before I could snap a picture.

To add to the excitement, we also have a new Mystery Critter. Last week when I went out in the morning to feed the fish, I found that our large, full bucket of koi food had been overturned and rolled to a stop under the patio table. Odd.

The next day, the critter did better than that--the bucket was overturned again, and the lid had popped off, providing somebody a treat of koi food scattered across the patio. "DH," I inquired, "What would be big enough to dump over that bucket?" "We might have a possum," he replied.

Well, ewww! Isn't the possum, or opossum, that thing that looks like a giant rat? The idea of that running around on the patio didn't make me feel comfortable.

Research turned up the fact that the opossum is a marsupial, and an excellent climber. So maybe my strategy of latching the gate isn't going to be effective. I repeat, Ewwww!

No comments: