Ah, Wilderness

So you’re probably thinking this is about the book of the same name. No and I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read it :0.

No, I’m going to talk about the thrill of discovering wildlife out and about.

Now I live in the suburbs of a large city. But we still have niches of meadows and woods….not as many as we USED to thankyouverymuch development but it’s still there. There’s a state forest not too far from me so it’s not so very unusual to see an animal along the road…and yes…gulp…ON the road.deer

But every time I see one, I get a thrill. This past weekend I actually saw a DEER strolling along the highway. My friend refused to make a U turn so I could go back and shoo it away from the expressway 🙁  so I had to settle for a quick prayer to St. Francis I didn’t see bits of it on the way back!

But I get just as thrilled to see a rabbit in my yard. Oppossums? Eh, interested, not so excited but hey, still cool. Squirrels? I love ’em. Love the way they leap and scurry. Love their fluffy tails and their acrobatics. I will brake for squirrels.


Dear Lord, you’d think I was backpacking with Marlin Perkins in Wild Kingdom I get so excited. My type of mammals pale in comparison to some you all see. Anna Campbell posts pictures of exotic (to this Kentucky girl) visitors to her yard. I’d faint in sheer bliss if a koala ambled onto my deck. Don’t get me started about kangaroos!

So what about you? Do you regularly see wildlife in your neck of the woods? What’s the most exotic? Any stories to tell? My own story involved a opossum the size of a Volkswagen beetle….shiver….squirrel1


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  • Jane says:

    Hello Joan,
    I live in the city and the only wildlife I see are squirrels. There are lots of squirrels in the city. I think there used to be wild rabbits in Central Park, but are gone now.

  • Joan, what a fun piece. I remember the first time I saw squirrels in Hyde Park in London. I went mad with the camera – and we’re talking film, not digital. All the locals looked at me like I was a complete loon. Squirrels aren’t that exciting to them.

    I love the wildlife here where I live. Mainly lizards and birds but it’s fun to share the pictures on Facebook.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Oh yes….I saw your post yesterday showing a black Cockatoo at your house.

      I got JUST as excited when a YELLOW finch landed in my zinnias on my deck this year. My local bird population is kind of drab robins, starlings (thank you England) and wrens. Red Cardinals show now and again and the rare bluejay…

      I’m ok without lizards….ugh

  • Mozette says:

    Wildlife is wonderful… and it’s a lot of fun to see when you have it in your garden – at least you know you have done something right and these furry little critters have found your yard good enough to come and visit… 😀

    My garden often gets possums – but they are hilariously funny. The are attracted to the Lilly-Pilly Trees. These are native trees which are used as a weather break next to my unit/townhouse; fantastic in storms, keeps my house warm in Winter, cool in Summer and wonderful in every seatson in between. And they have the most wonderful sweet smell when it rains… and the possums fight over whose berries are whose (the berries are edible and if you’re desperate enough, you can eat them… but they taste like camphor because of the seed). Then, when they eat too many, the berry mulsh in their guts ferments, they get to become their very own personal stihl… 😀 Funny as hell when you hear a possum fall out of the tree at night onto my car port, and then it can’t get back up there, gets into a fight, falls over the guttering, on the ground then then really gets pissed off with itself and find its harder to climb a fence, post, tree or anything to do with wood… and when I come out to see what the growling and spitting is about, it growls at me and runs away… talk about being a bad drunk! So, I’ve gotten to feeding them rotten bananas… at least I know that fruit doesn’t ferment in their guts.

    Then, there’s the Blue Tongue Lizards… sweet little guys. they eat grasshoppers, aphids and other little nasties… terrified of us, but love sunning themselves in my garden… and at first glance look like snakes – especially if you get them from the wrong end! They hide in the Aloe Vera patch next to my car port… and their over a foot long!

    Then, there’s the bumblebees… now if you think the lizards are funny, these guys are hilariously weird. I’ve had a bumblebee hang around angry that I’m in his face when he got into mine instead… then he’ll follow me inside my house and not know how to get out! hahahaha… these guys are harmless and hard to come by, but their numbers are coming up as I found around 6 of them this past September. 😀

    I also have a Pee-Wee… a black and white bird who is really weird about who watches him eat. He didn’t like it when we met and he was scoffing down breakfast and I happened to turned and look at him about 2 weeks ago… he flew screaming a deafening warning cry out of my yard… but we have gotten to know each other. I can watch him now, say hello and he just looks at me, knowing I won’t come out until he’s finished.

    There you have it… my little patch of dirt and its weird and wonderful little critters who get drunk, get terrified and get twitchy around me. 😀

    • Joan Kayse says:

      OMG Mozette! I nearly fell out of my chair envisioning DRUNK opposums bouncing around LOL.

      My frame of reference of course are American Opposums. Do your all’s look the same?

      Lorikets are only at our local zoo. You can pay for a small cup of nectar, stand in the enclosure and they will land and take it. When I did it, a couple became amourous on my outstretched hand…lorikets French kissing? The handler came over and said “Break it up you two”

      Romance among the birds

      • Mozette says:

        Ohh la la! French kissing Lorikeets! 😛 Yeah, they’ll do that just about anywhere… won’t they? And with birds, they’re on heat at any time of the year… there’s no sexy time at a particular time like cats or dogs… they horny little things (believe me, my budgie used to try and make out with me that we were … um partners… yeah, I had my own little weirdo of a birdie as a pet! 😛 ).

        But Aussie Possums are vegetarians and will eat flowers too.. last year, jsut before my Agapanthus came into bloom, a possum nipped off the bud and ate it! naughty little bugger! So this year, I’ve been leaving bananas out for them to eat and not my plants… and it’s worked a treat! But they’re still getting drunk on the Lilly-Pilly berries… stupid possums.
        They’re fuzzy critters that look about the size of a cat and have long claws that will make you sick if they scratch you… and if you have a piece of fruit or a tomato in your hands, they’ll give a look of ‘ooohh,, for me?’ so you better give it to them or they’ll climb you unceremoniously and take it off you. 😀

  • Joan –

    I’m not that much further north than you, so we get the same critters – though we had skunks and raccoons to deal with last year. I’m told there’s a fox in the neighborhood currently, but I’ve not seen him.

    About my only animal story has to do with deer – those things can jump! When the kids were little we all piled into the minivan to head to Cleveland for Thanksgiving. We were driving up the highway when two deer run down the slope on the other side of the highway, cross two lanes of southbound traffic without incident and continue runny through the grassy median toward the northbound lanes. Given their speed and ours, I had visions of the second deer crashing into our windshield as we sped north. The first deer managed to cross the lanes in front of the us. The second deer jumped over our car. I swear it! I could not believe it! Not so much as a hind hoof hit our minivan.

    Somehow, somewhere, I think maybe some of Anna’s kangaroos have cross-bred with our North America deer 🙂

    • Joan Kayse says:

      ROFL Donna….Kangadeers!

      There is a radio interview making the rounds on YouTube of a talk show host and the caller…a woman who is dead serious….stating that they should “move” the deer crossing signs to safer places so the deer wouldn’t cross roads and be killed.


  • flchen1 says:

    We live the suburbs, in a slightly hilly, slightly woodsy area. We regularly see deer and tons of squirrels, plus the occasional possum, skunk, and raccoon. I do know that since we’ve been parking one of the cars outside, there are frequently paw prints on the hood and windshield as they apparently climb onto the car to access our compost bin. Yuck! And there are also loads of rats and mice, which I honestly prefer NOT to see. The worst was last winter, when I apparently accidentally ran one over with the van when pulling into the driveway, didn’t notice that I’d done this, and then horrifyingly stepped on it as I was getting out of the car. Aiyiyi!!! I ran into the house screaming… DH was forced to clean it up–yes, he’s a saint 🙂

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Eeek Fedora!


      A couple of years ago, some friends and I went on a trip to Ohio. On the way back, we drove through a flock of birds on the expressway? When we got home and looked at the grill of my car…SPLAT a bird smooshed in perfect midflight silhouette.

      Thank God my friend wasn’t squeamish cause I was retching

  • Mary Preston says:

    I don’t know about exotic, but the possums dance the fandango on the roof every night.

    A while back we did see a kangaroo bounding down the street. I live in a country town, so this is not the norm.

    The kookaburras laugh in the afternoon to tell us rain is on the way. If they laugh in the morning – clear skies. One of my favourite birds.

  • Helen says:


    I live in the suburbs and the only wildlife we have are lots of birds galahs corellas cockatoos lorikeets and they are all really noisy and we have a few magpies living the trees in our neighbours place but I do enjoy watching them fly around and scratch for food in the yard :). Of course if we go driving in the country I have seen kangaroos and the odd wombat on the side of the road (still walking).

    Have Fun

  • Anna Sugden says:

    When we lived in Jersey, we saw lots of chipmunks, raccoons, opossums, deer and the occasional skunk.

    Here in sunny Cambridge, we see foxes, badgers, rabbits and hares. Thanks to CC and Jersey Girl, we also see plenty of mice, voles and shrews.

  • When we lived in Hawaii, the most exotic wildlife was the colorful birds. And the occasional mongoose (there are feral hogs and some deer in the remote areas). But rarely did I see road kill.

    Now that we are living in Maryland, I see groundhogs, rabbits, and deer all the time, live and as road kill. It breaks my heart that the majestic bucks dead alongside the highway.

    • Joan Kayse says:


      I’d think mongooses would come in handy for SNAKES.

      And a feral hog? Heard they are very dangerous. Would have to surround my house with BBQ sauce to ward them off 😀

  • Deb says:

    I live in a small, rural town, and see rabbits and squirrels and birds in our backyard. My parents have a lot of bird feeders at their home and it is fun to see the variety of birds that come to their deck and I often wish I had more feeders in my own yard. I like to see the dark-eyed juncos in the winter.

    There are many deer around here with wooded areas. I have to keep an eye out on my 9-mile drive to and from work. I’m thinking about investing in deer whistles since the deer population has increased and especially since I almost hit a deer one night last week. (Smack in the middle of the highway and my tires screeched quite nicely coming to a stop.) My BIL is a hunter, and he says that when there is a doe, the buck is nearby because, “gentleman” that he is, the buck sends the doe out first. There have been reports, too, of a cougar roaming around, and one was killed 4 years ago about 12 miles from our area.

    I also see anywhere from 10 to 15 wild turkeys almost every morning in the winter.

    • Deb says:

      Let me just say that Iowa is not really the natural habitat for cougars/mountain lions. We do have bobcats in wooded areas.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Who knew deer were GENTLEMEN!!!

      Is there such a thing as domestic abuse among the deer?

      A whistle? Deers whistle? Does it automatically go off when one is getting ready to bound across the road?

      • Deb says:

        LOL! I don’t think the buck is being considerate; I think he is either pulling his macho I-am-the-male stuff or he’s a big wuss.

        Deer whistles are put on the front fender and when the wind blows through them, they make, supposedly, a high-pitched noise that is a warning to deer….??

  • Minna says:

    I don’t know about exotic (you don’t think animals that live in your neighbourhood as exotic, anyway), but the animal that looks most exotic is Eurasian Golden Oriole. It looks like something that should live in the jungle around the year. I’ve managed to see one of those only once.

    But the more ordinary looking animals I see here in Finland most often are foxes, hares, moose, owls, squirrels, woodpeckers, blue and yellow tits. And I think I once managed to see a bear. This year my mom is feeding the birds and one of the birds that comes to eat the sausage made out of fat, seeds and nuts is this really ferocious little blue tit who tries to chase away all the yellow tits from the food. “It’s MINE! It’s ALL MINE!” He even tried to eat from the sausage while a woodpecker was eating from it, but the big bad woodpecker only had to look at him and the feisty little bird decided to go away for a minute.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Ahem…..Minna, your bird populations sounds colorful…um…..in America, “tits” mean something VERY different.

      So blue and yellow ones…..


      • Minna says:

        I just knew someone here would have a dirty mind… And apparently my internal dictionary was wrong about the yellow tit. The name I was actually looking for is Great Tit.

        http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_tit

        http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Tit

  • pjpuppymom says:

    Not as much wildlife since I moved to the city, unless you count the two-legged variety. 😉 That’s a far cry from the squirrels, rabbits, deer, beavers, foxes and bears we routinely saw at my old home. We do have a family of rabbits nearby but that’s about all I’ve seen.

  • Shannon Arthur says:

    In my home suburbs, one of the parks where I walk has ducks, geese, and cory swimming. Trust me, you don’t want to get between a mother and her goslings.

    At my Mom’s suburban home in the Pacific Norhwest, there are lots of deer–four in one lawn. Driving home last night we saw 20 wild turkeys. When I was walking, I also saw geese. I haven’t seen any on this trip but there’s the occasional porcupine and skunk which Mom’s dog always finds. Babe is curious, and I’m pulling on the leash to get her out of there.

    I especially miss the woodducks of my childhood. We had woodduck houses so they would nest. From time to time we saw osprey which are nearly as big as an eagle. On rare occasions, I even spotted eagles.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Shannon…it has to be asked…

      How much wood could a woodDUCK , Duck if a woodDUCK could duck wood?


      And we have loads of Canadian Geese locally now….I love watching them flock

  • Morning Joan!

    Today I had two of the bluest blue jays frolicking in the backyard. Loved the color on them!

    Animal stories, huh? Well, when I was a kid and would visit my grandparents in Tennessee in the fall, often deer would wander into the yard. Usually early in the morning. Grandma often “dropped” food on the way to the chicken coop, so they’d be out there when we got up for breakfast. Too cool.

    When we moved to Texas I knew coyotes were in this area of the US, but imagined them being out in the desert and less urban areas. However, driving home at night from work (remember this is in the dead of night) I’ve seen more than one cross my path, two in my own neighborhood. Usually during drought season and they’re looking for the wild hares that live around us.

    Then there’s the bobcat. Yep. In a high-priced neighborhood near my old hospital. One of the docs was out in the evening walking her four little kids, and she saw this “really big cat” keeping pace with them on the other side of the street. She finally got a good look at him…yep a full blown bobcat. She got her kids home quick!!!

  • We regularly see squirrels and rabbits in our neck of the burbs. A couple of years ago, we had a pair of baby bunnies in the back yard. They were so adorable. We also get the occasional skunk wandering through the back yard, which I could live without.

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Cute post, Joanie! I know the thrill of seeing wildlife stroll casually across a four-lane busy street.

    In fact, Emma and I saw a wild turkey this morning. She was so excited. Every car in every lane stopped as said turkey scurried across the divided street to the other side. Target and Chevy’s and Safeway’s are on that side, so I can only guess the turkey was going shopping.

    We have a protected habitat near our house and that’s where the wild turkeys live, but sometimes they get wanderlust.

    Uck on opposums. I’ve only seen them dead and they look like giant rats. Squirrels inhabit our back yard but we have to protect them from the neighbor’s cat. Our biggest night-time visitor, though, are the skunks.

    What can I say? It just … well, stinks!

  • catslady says:

    Oh, a subject dear to my heart. I have always loved animals of all kind. I would have loved to have worked in the field some how but it never happened. I get very attached. I’ve tried to save baby rabbits and even a nest of mice but alas they didn’t make it. I did save a baby bird. I’ve done a lot better with cats. Since I do take care of ferals/strays in addition to my own inside only cats, I see other wildlife because they come for the food. I have seen possums (with babies attached) and I do believe I have the largest racoons in the world lol. One female comes and begs at my back door and she gets extras (she also shows up with her babies). I had a skunk only once thank goodness! I feed birds too but they are safely away from the cats 🙂

    The sad news is that they don’t live forever. I just lost one of my dear cats this week and she died in my arms 🙁

  • Becke Turner says:

    Heavens, this post brings back memories. I was raised in a small town so there was a lot of exposure to animals. My childhood friend and I once collected a hundred baby birds from the hayloft. Bad part was we only found six worms. Not a happy ending.

    We also rescued 6 baby oppossums from a dead mother. They are not very cute and make a yukky noise. However, we tried to feed them with a baby bottle. We had a funeral for Suzie Oppossum. Buried her under the cherry tree and sang Christmas carols.

    I’d love to see a drunk one!

    Grandpa brought home a nest of baby squirrels. They are meaner than snakes. Cute but will bite the bejesus out of you! I let them go shortly after they arrived.

    However, I love mammals of any kind. On the ranch, we had a little bit of everything, cattle, llamas, horses, dogs, cats, skunks, coyotes, fox, and deer to name a few.

  • Joanie, how lovely to live where you can seem Bambi AND Thumper!

    Well, you know all about Aussie wildlife. The most exotic thing we’ve had from an Australian point of view was a small echidna (our version of a hedgehog), which we found in our carport. It scurried away before I could get a camera.

    We’ve also had huge carpet pythons that scared the bejeebers out of me but it’s amazing to watch them move from tree to tree.

    Can’t stand possums! Ours are a lot cuter than your opossums but they’re absolute pests. Lovely blog, JT!

  • There are a couple of deer I see almost every day coming home from work (not as much now that it’s dark). They are hanging out in the area between the 6 lane highway and the exit ramp to my town. I’m so afraid I’m going to drive up that ramp and see one dead on the road one day.

    My yard is filled with bunnies, chipmunks and squirrels. Every now and then we have a fox that runs up the street. He is a beauty with a full tail.

  • Marcy Shuler says:

    We have raccoons, squirrels and way too many bats. But one night as I got home from an evening shift I thought I saw movement in the driveway. My hubby had forgotten to leave the outer light on so I sat in the car for quite a while before braving the run up the back steps. Thank goodness I did, because a skunk came waddling out from under my car and on down the driveway. The next morning the air was full of it’s nasty scent. I was just really glad it hadn’t decided to douse me.

  • Cassondra says:

    Ah, Joanie, I love this blog!

    I regularly hear, “Cassondra! Come and look! Shhhhhh…..easy.” And it’s a rabbit in the yard. We have squirrels like crazy (14 black walnut trees) birds of all kinds (we have a bunch of bird feeders) and we have seen deer in the yard too. The rabbits though–I leave a bit of tall grass beside the fence just for them. They’re so fun to watch. I’ve even seen two young rabbits bouncing around like duo gymnasts as they played together near the flower beds.

    I love wildlife. :0)

    Tonight as I drove home, I was only a quarter mile from my house when a rabbit ran across the road in front of me. I hit the brakes, and good thing, because a HUGE Great Horned Owl swooped in front of me. He realized he’s screwed up and banked hard to the right, or I would’ve hit him. I don’t know if I could’ve gone on living if I’d hit that owl. He’s around here all the time. Sometimes he lands on the swing in our yard. We named him Junior.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Wow…close call C!

      I, unfortunately, DID hit a HUGE rabbit ( I swear it was as big as a jackalope) Anyway….there is a reason they call them “Thumper”


  • Joanie, I love this! We see rabbits in our relatively urban yard from time to time. Lately a chipmunk or two has been digging in the flowerbed outside the kitchen window. We have squirrels, of course. Lots of squirrels.

    We’ve had an owl in the neighborhood a couple of times and once saw a hawk perched high up in the oak tree.

    Our previous dog faced off against a possum–they’re really not charming when they hiss. The dog froze, decided to declare victory, and pranced back to the house, leaving the possum in possession of the field. Er, the yard.

  • Joan Kayse says:

    Well…it’s bedtime for me and my two little wildcats 😀

    Thanks for stopping by today gang!

  • Laurie G says:

    I live in the country in central Wisconsin. There are a lot of heavily wooded areas and farms both dairy and Christmas tree all around us. There are all kinds of wildlife: wild turkeys, deer, foxes, osprey, bats, ducks, owls, black bears, racoons, squirrels, chipmunks, MICE, geese, minks and weasels. Hunting is a huge activity around here.
    There is also a huge privately owned wildlife hunting area right next to the road where we walk. It has elk, fallow deer and white tail deer. The elk are huge. Some of the bucks can hardly lift up their heads due to the size of their racks.

    My granddaughter aged 2 loves to dance to the fox song. I saw the You Tube video last weekend for the first time. So silly but catchy!