Serendipitous Finds: Bambi, Weasel, and Whatchamacallit

This is a mixed bag, but with one thing in common. These are all unexpected encounters.

First off, there are lots of deer in our neck of the woods, white-tailed deer, albeit I usually come across adults or at least teenagers. Seldom do I see a young fawn, pure and fresh, like Bambi. He was scared to see me, of course, he was all alone.


For this little guy in the following pic, at first I thought it was a gopher but the shape was long and slender. When I uploaded the photo on my laptop did I realize it was a weasel. So, this is my first time seeing a summer weasel. Taking this snap shot is easy and fast, serendipitous. My winter weasel was totally different. I hid behind a tree in -20C temp. for over an hour. But well worth it. Here are the two seasonal coats:

And I caught sight of this tiny inch-long critter crossing the road. Yes, I give my neck full exercise when I walk, look up for birds and down for bugs. But what is this?

Here’s the head. The white spikes are like bristles of a bottle brush. Later I find its name to be Lophocampa maculata, a caterpillar that will turn into the Spotted Tussock Moth or Yellow-Spotted Tiger Moth. It was first described by American entomologist and botanist Thaddeus William Harris in 1841. I’ll just call it bristle head. No offence. Love the colours.

And finally, on a crazy, windy afternoon. I was walking by the river and it felt like a storm looming. Suddenly I was the spectator of a Merganser Race, the mood exhilarating. I can see what Wordsworth mean, ‘My heart leaps up.’

And sure enough, the gulls followed. All of a sudden, hundreds of them took to the sky, maybe a premonition of an imminent change in weather:

Serendipity. That’s one of my favourite words.

***

Published by

Arti

If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

15 thoughts on “Serendipitous Finds: Bambi, Weasel, and Whatchamacallit”

  1. Oh, mergansers! I ADORE mergansers. I’ve seen them on my lake only twice and they are so pretty! Love the weasel shot — and the comparison. He’s awfully cute for — what? A rodent? I’m not sure… natural science was never my strong point! I love the fawn and what wonderful photos you got. I never see fawn at my ditch and I’m surprised because there are deer there. So this is a special treat!

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    1. Weasels eat rodents and moles, so no. They are in the same family as the badgers, close to ferrets and minks. But other than these simple facts, I don’t know much about them. Only that the winter photo was a labour of love (of nature). There were half a dozen nature photographers who had set up their tripods and long lens to wait for it for hours. I went back on my own the next day, hid behind a tree and observed its hunt, in minus 20C temp. Quite an experience!

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  2. Caterpillars are always good, they turn into beautiful, butterflies and moths. I wish I had had more in my garden this year. I would never have guessed you had such a variety of wildlife where you are.

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    1. At first I didn’t even know it was a caterpillar. I was mesmerized by it, the colours, like a furry bee crawling on the ground. Yes, we have a huge variety of wildlife. I just need to find them. What I can see is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

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  3. Oh Arti,
    These photos are incredible! The weasel pic is such a treat.
    Also, I love birds flying in swirling patterns (called murmuration) it’s an amazing feat.
    Finally Colorado too is feeling some autumn weather after a brutally hot and dry summer.
    Keep it coming.

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    1. Yes, I’ve seen murmuration (usually Starlings) in video clips, just amazing. These gulls were no murmuring, they were in a frenzy all of a sudden and took to the sky from the river, more like the birds in the Hitchcock movie. But white against a blue sky, so, making an interesting and pleasing picture, unlike the ominous murder of crows in the movie.

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  4. I do love the pair of weasel photos. I don’t think we have those, although they might be somewhere in the state. I did see mergansers here once — but only once! It’s such fun to see birds engaged in their various sports. Coots are especially given to grouping. up and then chasing one another around the water. It is heart-leaping.

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    1. There’s the song ‘Pop goes the weasel,’ and the arcade game whacking the weasel, I thought it would be common in your country. It’s not often we see one here, but I know they are there, just not easily seen. As with hundreds of wildlife. Once when I was following a birding group we saw a mink. I never thought I could actually see a live one other than a winter coat.

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      1. They are found in parts of Texas, just not where I do my roaming. I’ll occasionally see a river otter or a nutria, but the fact that our weasels tend to stay in the west, south, and east means I’m far less likely to see one. We have only one species, and it tends to be nocturnal — another reason I probably won’t come across one!

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      1. These common mergansers are the uncommon ones. We do have hooded mergansers in the winter, and they’re a little more common. In fact, I have some poor photos of a pair on a pond in Galveston. They apparently prefer fresh water, and I tend to be around more salt water — that makes a difference, too.

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