Monday, May 24, 2010


Over the years I have had to swerve, slow down, stop completely or simply pray for a wide variety of wildlife that has attempted to cross a road in front of whatever moving vehicle I happened to be in at the time.

Dragonflies and butterflies. (Most seem to make it, but a few haven't). Toads and turtles. (Best stop I ever made for a turtle was when I was working at a living history museum; got the turtle to safety then hiked my skirts to get myself back across the road. I had forgotten about the red-and-white striped stockings I was wearing. Bet the guy I had been dating at the time still hasn't. Hey, at least I wasn't wearing the hoop skirt that day! Hmmm, or was I…?)

Raccoons, cats, squirrels—par for the course. A family of skunks. (My mother was driving with that one; she and the oncoming driver stopped while I jumped out to shoo across the road the babies who had failed to follow their parent and siblings. That the little ones found me much more interesting than any fear that momma was unreachable across two lanes of traffic is likely what started my abiding fascination with baby skunks. Yes, of course I uttered the cliched words "Can I keep them?"! [My mom put up with my bringing many odd things home, but she drew the line at baby skunks. Funny how she was with me the next time I encountered another litter many, many years later… But that's another story. ;o) ])

A bat that did not quite clear the side frame around the windshield; argh, that one still bugs me. Deer, naturally, although not as often as I expect. Florida panther. (They still have one in that Audubon sanctuary all these years later! I was working there when the first one showed up.) Coyote. (Well, at any rate, mom and I agree it didn't look like a domestic dog.) Songbirds seem to specialize in playing chicken (no pun intended). Killdeer—while nesting in my stone drive, yeah, that's reasonable, but running across the highway practically under my front tires while an idiot driver was practically riding my back bumper last week? Augh!

But last night, I topped them all…

Double-crested cormorant.

Yup, a (what appeared to be) coughing (choking?) double-crested cormorant standing smack in the center of a back road at 11:25pm on a foggy night (precautionary trip to emergency vet; likely UTI, female cat, not serious, just wanted drugs ASAP to make my baby feel better). Took me longer than it should have to id it, but then I wasn't expecting a seabird in the middle of the Macadam in the middle of the night, even here where we have lots (and lots) of cormorants.

Oh, and what they say about diving seabirds, whose legs tend to be set waaaay back on their bodies to facilitate swimming under water, not being able to take off from dry land? Not necessarily true... This one managed, after a brief moment of confusion and panic (on both our parts—eek, what do I do if it runs into the bushes?!), a beautiful running take-off right down the road when I went after it with a towel. Up, up and away, indeed. (Where I had planned to keep it had I actually caught it, since the cat I had in tow was going to be locked up in a crate in the cat room where rescued wildlife is usually held until I can get it to more experienced help [or release it on/near water, in this case], I'm not sure. Give me a break; it was waaaay past my bedtime, even if this time [second trip to the emergency vet in the middle of the night in two weeks, I've set a record! Different cat, now recovering nicely, thank you] I had decided to heat up left-over coffee to drink on the way.) It was still a good thing that I stopped even if the bird didn't need rescuing after all—two cars came down the road before I had even started up my truck again, and I somehow doubt they'd have paused for a bit of birdwatching in that place at that hour.

For good measure, five minutes later on a different road I had to slow down and swerve for a 'possum.