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Well, today I took a little walk in the park. I’m trying to build back up to my old five-mile habit. I think I did about three miles today, so I’m making progress. Before setting out on my brisk “power walk” for exercise, I stopped by the little rivulet where I watched the birds bathing the other day. The robins (American Robins) were enjoying themselves thoroughly. I stood quietly, leaning against the railing of the small wooden bridge that crossed the water. The rats were nowhere to be seen. Today, however, there were squirrels foraging in the low undergrowth. One dug something out of the mud on the bank and ate it.

A squirrel ran along the water towards me in short bursts. After each little skip and hop she seemed to pause and look at me. She climbed up the footing of the bridge, just beneath my feet. She paused for a moment. The wooden beam on which the walkway was resting stuck out a few inches. The curious squirrel peered at me with this obvious barrier between us. Then, all of a sudden, she jumped up on top of it and looked me right in the eye. I was trying to figure out what she wanted. She was right at my feet, just on the other side of the railing, and for a moment I wondered if she would climb up my leg. I didn’t want to scare her and I had become quite curious as to what she would do, so I stood very still. She pondered my face for a moment and then disappeared under the bridge.

A moment later, I had the distinct feeling someone was watching me. Slowly, I turned my head and looked behind me. There, peeking through the opposite railing was the squirrel. She disappeared again and reappeared at my feet. She stared at me for a few more moments then, curiosity presumably satisfied, hopped down and ran away along the stream.

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Twice, on consecutive days, I've seen a squirrel come out of this hole. I'm  wondering if there's babies in there.

Twice, on consecutive days, I’ve seen a squirrel come out of this hole. I’m wondering if there are babies in there.

Once squirrel chased another down a tree and across this path. I missed the first squirrel, but here's his pursuer.

One squirrel chased another down a tree and across this path. I missed the first squirrel, but here’s his pursuer.

An American Robin.

Two Robbins foraging on a slope.

Two Robins foraging on a slope.

This is one of the previous two Robbins a few minutes later. He'd (or she) been doing a lot of eating.

This is one of the previous two Robbins a few minutes later. He’d (or she) been doing a lot of eating.

A face-off between two squirrels.

Then one chased the other.

Perhaps he was defending his hoard of nuts. Squirrels are scatters hoarders. The deposit nuts all over the place and it's quite a feat of memory that they can remember where.

Perhaps he was defending his hoard of nuts. Squirrels are scatter hoarders. They deposit nuts all over the place and it’s quite a feat of memory that they can remember where.

The moon.

The moon.

A neighbor's cat. He was crying at a door, but I've seen him go into another house in the past. Then the moment he saw me, he came to get pet.

A neighbor’s cat. He was crying at a door, but I’ve seen him go into another house in the past. Then the moment he saw me, he came to get pet.

I nearly forgot, a saw this bee in a Magnolia.

I nearly forgot, a saw this bee in a Magnolia.

 

I’m spending a couple of days at my sister’s in order to do work in the garden, consequently I have to choose from among several adorable animals. So, I’m giving everyone an update on Smudge, the friendly squirrel.

I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks. This isn’t the first time this has happened. They’re wild animals, of course. The chipmunks, who are very territorial and also earth bound, are more predictable. The squirrels come and go. I understand that they’re territorial as well, but they appear to have large, overlapping ranges.

A couple of years ago, when I first started getting friendly with the squirrels, my sister pointed at Smudge and said that she thought that I was giving her too many treats because she looked fat. Well, call us naive. A few weeks later, she showed up again with a significantly smaller belly and swollen teats. Perhaps we didn’t expect it because it was late winter. However, it seems that gray squirrels typically have two litters a year, in February and June or July. Predictable, I’ve seen Smudge get a big belly twice a year until this winter when she seems to have not bred. I wondered if she was perhaps getting on in years.

Well, apparently she’s not as old as all that because she came by the other day and she seems to be big again.

A squirrel eating a peanut.Another friendly female, Spot, also is sporting a big belly. Compare the old lady to a young, trim male, and I think you can see the difference.A photo of a young male squirrel.