Friday, April 8, 2016

Critters in the Garden?

You may be expecting to read tree planting tips or information on new plants today, but when unusual events take place, it’s news, even in the gardening world. This news isn't new, but tracks in the snow this morning brought to mind an event that took place a year or so ago.

It happened one morning as I was about to sit down with a cup of coffee. I happened to glance through the window that looks over the back yard when, from the corner of my bleary eye, I briefly saw a large brown object, little more than a shadow, retreating behind the cedar at the end of the pond. I know some of you may be thinking water buffalo, but it wasn’t quite that large. I grabbed my camera, which invariably means the extra time it takes guarantees the subject will be gone before I make it out the door. In this case, it hadn’t. Something was still lurking behind the cedar.

I stealthily approached, camera in one hand, thinking I should probably have a stick in the other since I had no idea if it was rabid groundhog, an ornery raccoon, or just another rabbit. Regardless, it stealthily managed to stay one cedar width ahead of me.

I reversed direction. It reversed direction. Thinks it’s smart, I thought. Luckily, I’ve played this game around the dining room table with my dog, and even though she always wins, I’ve become pretty adept at the fake reverse trick. I pulled my patent double reverse and gotcha!

We met face to face between the cedar and the fence. It wasn’t a furry animal after all. It was a bird, a huge bird — it was wild turkey. I had a wild turkey in my garden! At this point I’m not sure who was the more surprised — the turkey or me. We stared each other down for only a moment before the turkey’s nerve failed. It panicked and hopped over the fence into the neighbour’s yard, where it calmly began eating the grass.

From there it worked its way out front, across the front yard and back to my front door. I know turkeys aren’t the brightest creature, and it did cross my mind that it might have arrived early for Thanksgiving dinner, but then, using the path as a runway, it took off. Last I saw of it, it was heading south.

These birds have thrived since they were reintroduced to the area a few years ago, but isn’t a wild turkey supposed to stay in the wild? I could understand this one visiting if I lived in the country, or even on the edge of the city, but I wouldn’t have expected a turkey to flop down into an urban garden. What’s next — a kangaroo? My garden sure is an interesting place.

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