Melrose: A wild and wooly place

... collecting animal flix over the years

from Don Norris

In an effort to show off our city of Melrose, we thought a few flix of the
crazy and wild wildlife in our compact little place on the map. Something
like the photo of four young buck deer caught in a vernal pond on Mount
Hood (highest peak is about 275 feet) some two years ago. Unfortunately we
used the picture once, and there's some rule about repeating ....

However, there was this very strange animal (strange to me, at least) that
used our yard as a wildlife path, recently. By the time I ran to get the
camera, this was all that was visible of him. So I showed the picture to
several friends, all of whom came up with an ID -- unfortunately the wrong
ID: meerkat, the neighbor's fox terrier, a muskrat, a porcupine, a big
pussycat ...  I showed the pix to my son in law, who is a New Hampshire
native, an avid hunter, a shooter, a crack shot, and a good authority on
wildlife. He said it was a plain and simple woodchuck.

Oooph da, my vote is plain and simple: It's that missing Panda everyone's
looking for. You readers can vote, if you wish.

Next we visited the Upper Pond at Mount Hood -- a kettle pond formed by
the last glacier to pass this way. It is about three feet deep, two
hundred feet long, is lined with a huge rock cliff on one side and a bunch
of golfing fairways of the others. And here is what we saw: a family of
young turtles that have survived, right here in metropolitan Boston.

This has to be the biggest Mallard duck ever to land in Melrose. He was
walking boldly down Whitman Avenue, calm as could be. He didn't even get
flustered when I approached him with my Canon (camera, that is). There are
dozens of mallards down to Ell Pond, or at any of the five or six small
pondlettes around town, so what is a duck doing walking down on of the
busiest residential streets in town?

This is my back yard. That's my motorcycle trailer at the left -- I used
to run endurance competition a couple of decades ago -- now the best I can
do is to take a run up to New Hampshire to visit our two daughters, a run
that is 1.5 hours drive in a car on I-93 -- but six hours on the
backroads, using the dirtbike.

The bunny rabbit is a newcomer -- he's just a youngster. But there he was,
trimming my grass as I started for the shed to get the bike. I stopped, he
stopped, and we stared at each other for a couple of minutes. I spoke to
him, kindly, softly, and he listened. So I went away, he continued to trim
my grass. I came out two minutes later, and we went though that
recognition again, and again I left him alone. It happened a third time,
and I talked softly to him. Finally, an hour later, he was gone and I
could get into my shed.

There must be an animal in this hodgepodge. This is the small swamp that
feeds Towner's Pond.

... and this is Mrs. Robin, who obviously thrives on worms in our yard.
Two weeks later she showed up with a smaller issue following her every
step -- a youngster who had yet to learn how to find worms.

... and finally, we must show you our dirt road -- yes, in the little city
of Melrose, we have some three, very short dirt roads. This one is perhaps
in Malden, although it begins in Mount Hood Golf Course: Penny Road. It is
so full of huge, deep water holes that I use it with my dirtbike,
practicing for enduros.

July 5, 2013

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