Ever since I learned that they exist, I’ve developed a mild obsession to see the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel. No, this is not a joke. There really is an endangered squirrel and I really would like to see it. Maybe it doesn’t quite rise to the level of an obsession. So, yesterday, my sister humored me and we went to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on the Delmarva Peninsula in Maryland with the hopes of getting a glimpse of one of these critters.
Reader, we failed. In fact the only mammal we saw was a Sika Deer. Sika Deer are actually more closely related to Elk than to the American White-tailed Deer. They’re native to Asia, but they’ve established wild populations in parts of the United States. Although they’re considered to be environmentally damaging in the U.K. because they can interbreed with the native Red Deer, in Maryland their presence is considered benign and they’re left alone.
We did, however, see a fair number of birds, including an uncommon one, a bald eagle. The only birds we saw that we haven’t seen in my sister’s backyard were aquatic birds. We saw Snow Geese, whose numbers were truly impressive, a Northern Shoveler, which took me a long time looking up ducks to identify, some Northern Pintails, quite a few American Coots and a surprisingly large number of Great Blue Herons.
The most charming to me, however, was a Northern Mockingbird. They’re common enough and there’s one that’s taken up residence in a neighbor’s yard and I can see it from my window with binoculars, so I didn’t have to go all the way to the Eastern Shore to get a look at one. I know it’s not advisable to anthropomorphize animals and project human emotions onto them, but I can’t help thinking that Mockingbirds always seem a bit pleased with themselves.
I spied a little gray bird that had just lighted on a bush and I quickly turned my camera on it. He turned around an looked back at me, then he jumped onto a high branch on a closer bush as if he wanted to be sure that I got a good shot, despite being blown about by the wind a bit.