Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Wild Ones

A while back, I blogged about my fascination with Florida wildlife, much of while can be seen right here in Celebration (Note: I'm talking about the feathered and furred kind, not the two-legged Homo Sapiens variety, which is also prevalent). Now, more than a year later, I still find it fascinating that in the middle of the 'burbs, we still get glimpses of what Celebration was like not so long ago when some of the original inhabitants pay a visit.

Late this morning, I was sitting on the family room couch, working on my laptop with my back to the window. I love the fact that our house has windows in available spot, letting in the sunshine and providing a glimpse of the world beyond. My husband was making coffee; the kitchen is wide open to the family room, so he could easily see outside into our back yard. He paused suddenly and said, "Turn around...quick!"

I glanced outside, and there, toddling down the alley in perfect formation, was the largest flock of wild turkeys that I've seen so far. There had to be close to ten of them, big and bold and not afraid to show themselves now that Thanksgiving and Christmas are safely over. I hurried into the yard to watch the impromptu parade, and I noticed that our neighbor on the corner was even taking pictures.

I know that the turkeys were frequent visitors back when our little corner of East Village was basically a huge sand lot. I saw them often when we came to town to visit our house in its various stages of construction. Back then, I saw lots of deer tracks, too, although I never saw Bambi and friends in the flesh.

I'm happy to see that man-made "progress" has apparently not frightened the animals off. We have the advantage of having a large plot of conservation area right across the street, which still offers some refuge for the wild critters. I'm glad to see that they still wander over to check out the human invaders.

Now that we live here, I've spotted the elusive deer many times. I've seen them in Aquila Reserve, which is not at all far from my home, but they still come over to our street too. I've had them hop out in front of my car while driving home at night, and my neighbor in the mirror triplex unit has even had them come into her yard.

It's easy to figure out where those critters come from, but I still haven't been able to fathom how a frog got into my mailbox. I went to check it the other day, and there he was, cowering in the back and trying to turn invisible. I felt sorry for the poor little guy; I knew that he couldn't survive in there for very long, despite the fact that he obviously wanted to remain. Besides, he was probably violating all sorts of Federal regulations. It took a bit of doing, but I managed to catch him and relocate him to the more hospitable environs of our front lawn.

The frogs seem to be attracted by light. At night, I enjoy bringing my laptop outside and working on my porch swing (thanks to the wonder of wireless DSL). I keep the porch lights blazing, and soon I have an audience of tiny reptiles, clinging to the wall of the house with their sticky little toes and watching me intently.

I still haven't caught sight of the wild pig that allegedly visits Founders Park in downtown Celebration. That is a good distance from East Village (20 minutes by foot). It's a much more "urban" area...that is, if anything around here can truly be called "urban" I'm surprised that a wild animal would hang around. Maybe he enjoys having an audience. But although there are also some massive arachnids in Florida, I haven't seen any spider webs declaring "Some Pig."

Depending on where you live, I suppose that Celebration is not all that exciting for wildlife spotting. I have a friend in Estes Park, Colorado (think Rocky Mountains) who has spotted all manner of wild creatures on his hikes, and even around his cabin. He recently sent a photo of a bobcat that was stolling along with her two kittens. Turkeys, deer, and even wild pigs pale in comparison. But still, it doesn't take much to excite me; as an animal lover, I enjoy spotting any sort of creature (although when it's a gator or poisonous snake, I appreciate some distance).

I know that we're going to have to fence our yard soon because we want to have a whirlpool installed. For safety reasons, I imagine that it will have to be a relatively tall one. That makes me sad, as I enjoy the backyard wildlife visitors, but hopefully I'll still see them when I'm sitting out on my front porch. And meanwhile, I don't think the fence should deter some animal visitors too much; our neighbor's cat likes to meow at the back door, knowing that I will come out to administer petting, and I'm sure that the fence will be simple for a feline to negotiate. Hopefully it will be wild pig-proof!

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