Friday, August 31, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Good news to report on my little woodchuck. She’s been active all day and eating a ton of her favorite food: sunflower seeds. It’s just as hot today as yesterday but the humidity is lower. Her breathing is better and she hasn’t been digging body trenches.
This afternoon her brother appeared but then took off when he saw me. Obviously both are living here although they keep their distance from each other. Woodchucks are notorious loners so it should be most interesting to see how this plays out. Stay tuned for further updates.
Sunny "plays well with others." She gets along great with the squirrels and the groundfeeding birds.
Yesterday I had one of the most incredible experiences of my life: a “Grizzly Adams” moment.
Bon Bon Pond has been home to woodchucks for decades but in 2005, after the gazebo was built, a groundhog moved in—or rather—under, the structure and set up housekeeping. I wasn’t too pleased at the time and set about discovering humane methods to relocate the animal to the barn. I would fill in one hole . . . and he would dig another. This dance went on for a good share of the summer. Frustrated, I decided to learn more about these elusive yet determined creatures. My research told me that woodchucks will always have two holes: one is the main entrance and the other serves as an escape route. It was becoming obvious that I would never win this war so I surrendered. As soon as I stopped filling in holes, he stopped digging.
A truce was called in the ground battle and that’s when our friendship began. Not one to hold a grudge, the little woodchuck became a constant companion while I was working outside. He kept a respectful distance from me but would remain in the vicinity. My “Buddy” and I lived happily together for years.
In 2009, I discovered that my little pal was not a “he” but rather a “she” when she gave birth to five kits. A change in name spelling was required. I’d always known “Buddie” was exceptional but now I learned that she was also an extraordinary mother. Woodchuck kits, or cubs, usually stay with their mother only till mid-summer then are turned out to find their own dens. Buddie and her babes stayed together right up till hibernation time in October. In fact, all six went to sleep under the gazebo. In the spring the kits were forced to fend for themselves as my sweet girl passed away.
I’m fairly certain that one of her offspring inherited the gazebo residence. A very large male, this new Buddy has, unfortunately, not been able to get over his fear of humans and runs for his life whenever he sees me.
About two weeks ago I was working outside and heard a shrill whistle emanating from around the gazebo. Soon I saw Buddy chasing a small woodchuck (most likely a female) across the driveway and into the pasture. A few days later she was back, only to be chased away again.
On Monday I saw she was back, happily munching on sunflower seeds in the gazebo area, so I ran for my camera and snapped the fuzzy close-up photo below.
Today was very hot and I noticed the animals seemed stressed. Both the red and gray squirrels were lying spreadeagled on the driveway. When I went to water the potted plants I spotted my little woodchuck in the gazebo area munching on sunflower seeds. I slowly walked to the flowers and was surprised that my close presence did not startle or bother her. I decided to sit down on the bench and observe her for a while. She appeared uncomfortably hot as she stopped eating and dug a trench in the dirt. Her breathing seemed fast and forced so I decided to fill a pan of water so she wouldn’t have to travel down to the pond. I returned with a large dish and set it down on the walkway. The little woodchuck got up from her trench and walked over to me and proceeded to lie down at my feet. She didn’t touch the water but just stayed close to my foot for several minutes. I remained still and after a couple minutes she got up and slowly trudged around the front of the house where she rested in the dirt.
My first thought was that she was sick but later in the afternoon when the gazebo area was shaded she returned to eat sunflower seeds for close to two hours.
I cannot explain the behavior of this sweet little woodchuck I have named “Sunny” but her trust in me deeply touched my heart. I'll never know for sure but remain convinced she is one of the offspring born to the original Buddie and thus has memories of me since birth.
I sincerely hope she and her brother can coexist peacefully as she is a wonderful new friend.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
My sweetheart, my special friend, my totem animal, my Peanut, always makes it a point to visit with me when I’m outside. Yesterday, while snapping a shot of the burning bush, he popped into the picture just to say “hi” and brighten my day.
I’m so happy to report a bumper “Peanut crop” this year (all the Red-breasted Nuthatches are “Peanut” to me as each one has the same sweet, friendly, outgoing, fun-loving and exuberant personality). Bon Bon Pond is now home to several thriving families which spend all but eight weeks per year here.