Those folks connected a bit too closely to their electronic devices are missing some very interesting things in the natural world. Some are not that far from our own back doors. I am especially reminded of this following some unusual encounters with some furry, scaly and feathered friends over the last few months.
A large family of wild turkeys visited my yard this past Sunday. I might have missed them had it not been for the gobbling of one of the adults trapped behind a pasture fence. The other adult bird and ten chicks were on the other side of the fence and the trapped turkey was frantically racing back and forth looking for a way out. Turkeys spend much more time on the ground grazing than they do in the air, so this panicked bird scampered about for several minutes before it evidently remembered it could fly over the fence. When the bird finally escaped its unexpected prison, it scurried (again on foot) to catch up with the rest of the flock.
A few weeks before the turkey incident, I ran into a couple other smaller birds on a bicycle ride. When I say I ran into them, I mean it quite literally. In four decades of riding, I have run over chipmunks, small snakes and collided with countless insects. But this was the first time I'd ever been hit by birds in flight. The two were evidently distracted as they tussled with each other in midair, disregarding this passing cyclist and smashing into my chest.
Not far from the Tipton Reservoir, I noticed an uncommonly large rabbit grazing along the roadside on several rides earlier in the summer. I thought it unusual when the rabbit kept showing up not far from the spot I first saw him. Finding the animal and its behavior to be a bit of an oddity, I stopped one evening to take a picture. The rabbit stood calmly eating, unfazed by my close proximity. The photo and some internet research helped me determine it was a domesticated bunny, an American Sable. I can't say whether someone claimed the animal or if a predator took advantage of its trusting nature, but it disappeared in late July.
In a twist on the tortoise and hare story, I also came upon several turtles during that same span of time. I passed one on River Road near Tipton but, on pace for a particularly fast ride, didn't stop to help the slow moving reptile across the road. I felt guilty for days, fearing the turtle might have been run over before it got to the other side.
Later, I saw another one making its way across Route 453 outside Tyrone. A much busier road, I feared the odds this turtle would make it across were not good. I stopped and turned around to see an SUV bearing down on the unhurried reptile. The driver stopped, waved me onto the road and I gently slid the reptile across to safety. This summer of unusual wildlife again proves to me there is much to see beyond the screen of our smart phones.