.......and Reflections

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Something Wonderful This Way Comes

Nature study is about learning about natural communities. Bird watching is an avocation that provides a window into natural communities. If you have followed my blog you should know that the Middle of Nowhere is somewhere where interesting, captivating, enlightening and often fascinating things are revealed.

I travel far from home to surround myself with wildlife that has long departed most of the more developed places in Ohio and the Great Lakes region. I often wonder what Ohio must have been like decades before I arrived on the scene. My travels gives me insight into what once was, and still thrives in wilder North American places.

Yesterday was like almost every day. I started a route I often take through Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area some 10 miles from home. I stopped to listen for birds along the way. Without hearing much, I watched a Meadow Vole scurry across the road in front of me. I thought to myself that it is fortunate to see one of the refuge's smallest mammals.

I continued to another location a few hundred yards down the road to a place I know Prothonotary Warblers nest. I got out of my truck and strolled casually along the road. There was a lot of activity. A Baltimore Oriole was calling and a Warbling Vireo competing. The Prothonotary Warblers sang too. A Pileated Woodpecker flew along the side of the road and wood ducks announced their flight with a familiar drawn out "wheep". Three Wild Turkeys crossed the road ahead and I thought I should move further along to try for a singing Cerulean Warbler.

I was thinking about how the sky, the habitats, the sounds and sights reminded me of many other wild places I have visited. As I walked casually toward my truck I looked down the road flanked by wet, I looked toward the wooded forest to where I would next stop. I was astonished to see an American Black Bear walking slowly and casually across the road about 300 yards away. I was so shocked I forgot to use my binoculars.

As if in slow motion the Bear traversed the span of the road and disappeared into the forest. I said to myself.........and to the whole forest....."I can't believe I just saw a bear in Mosquito Creek!"

After gathering my emotions I realized maybe I could get down to the spot where the bear might be. I jumped in my truck and went to a place close to where the bear entered the forest. I quietly exited the truck and began walking and listening with hopes of just one more glimpse.

I saw nothing. But out from the forest came a nearby, and distinct "crack!". It was a branch breaking that could only resonate from the weight or strength of something formidable. It was the bear I could not see but moving away from my intrusion. Although disappointed, the breaking branch was a fitting conclusion to the encounter. The bear wanted nothing to do with me and was perfectly content to continue on his way through his forest.

Bears are no strangers to Ohio and the Ohio Division of Wildlife keeps "credible bear sighting" records hoping to keep tabs on their movement in the state. Bears come to Ohio's eastern counties from West Virginia and this case Pennsylvania. I am pretty certain this bear was a male as he was perhaps trimmer than a female. This particular bear is of interest because most sightings are in May. A June 5th sighting isn't too far from normal but there is a possibility this may be more than a wandering visitor so the Ohio Division of Wildlife experts will hope to get more reports so they can piece the situation together.
This was an awesome sighting and punctuates the purpose of getting "out there" and exploring the natural world. After spending a lifetime exploring Ohio I was rewarded with a rare and beautiful sighting of an American Black Bear.

Reflecting on the whole incident gives me hope. I have always felt starved for the adventure of co-existing among those creatures that are often feared but grossly misunderstood. Bears rightfully deserve our utmost respect and, in my opinion, our greatest admiration. I strongly believe that the Middle of Nowhere belongs to wild things. That bears are rare here, is probably good for them and us. Where bears frequent the human community, it often results unfavorably, usually for the bears.

Once that bear walked into the woods and no matter how rare that may be, my belief that the Middle of Nowhere is often in our own back yards is confirmed. The Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area is a diverse community of wild things as small as a Meadow Vole and as large as a Black Bear. That it revealed its secrets through the bear is simply awesome!!

1 comment:

debbie said...

hi! this is debbie and i'm the girl who you see sometimes out at the wildlife area with her camera in tow. i was so excited to read you saw a bear! i have never seen one in all the times i've been to pennsylvania at my grandparents cabins. never! and i practically lived there! how exciting for you!

see you out and about soon!