Category Archives: animals

The Bear of Voorheesville

The mornings are getting brighter, but when I’m out running at 5am, it’s still more dark than light.

On one recent morning, I was trudging along, and in a field across from Indian Ladder Farms, I spied a dark object. I recall my exact words, muttered to no one: “Holy shit, that looks like a fucking bear!”

I stopped and stared at the dark object. It was a good 40 yards off, but what else could it be, but a bear? I turned on the headlamp, but could not see a flash of eyes in the shadows. I clapped, thinking it would move — but then imagined myself being caught by the bear and mauled. The newspaper would have a field day with that.

Hmmm. Best to turn and be on my way, carefully putting distance between myself and the bear. A quick glance over the shoulder confirmed that it was not after me.

My wife was somewhat skeptical of the bear sighting.

“Were you wearing your glasses?”

No, I was running — but a bear!

I drove back there later in the day, now with a seed of doubt planted in my head. Here is what I saw, in the approximate location of the bear:

Well, OK — perhaps it wasn’t a bear. But imagine being chased by a small pine tree. Now THAT would be terrifying.

Beaverville

The beaver are busy.

Just off Johnston Road in Guilderland, you can see where beaver have been working on a couple of substantial trees along the Normanskill. Many people are saying it’s part of a plot to cut off Voorheesville from the rest of the Capital Region. One never knows.

The beavers are eating these trees.

I don’t have to remind you that America’s largest rodent casts a long shadow here in ye olde Beverwijck.  Christ, they named the place after the beaver. Albany’s seal shows a beaver felling a tree as a white man and Indian look on, presumably saying, “WTF is up with these beavers?” Stranger yet, is the coat of arms of the Albany Diocese, which shows a beaver holding a bishop’s staff. Bishop Beaver, I presume?

But look closely and you’ll see lots of beaver activity around streams and swamps, and to learn more DEC’s excellent website has much information about beaver – including an extensive page on “nuisance beaver.”

Meanwhile, I’m interested in seeing how long it takes for those trees to come down. The beaver may have their revenge, yet.

Coyote Ugly

“The coyotes were after me!”

My wife was out of breath and extremely worked up after rushing back home with the dogs. In the woods along her regular route she’d heard a pack of coyotes — or at least what sounded like a pack of coyotes. She didn’t actually see them, but in the dark, scary noises are amplified; they may not have truly been “after” her, but it seemed that way.

Coyotemania gripped our house for a week, and we were consumed with talk of carrying pepper spray and cudgels to ward off the invaders. Then this.

According to the Times Union, these signs were posted around two adjoining golf courses in Albany and Bethlehem, warning of coyotes (“They are smart and fast”) and cautioning people not to mess with them.

By the way, what do you do if you encounter coyotes on the golf course? Let them play through.

Look, coyotes have been around here for a long time, and now all the sudden we’re freaking out? I’d suggest we all spend time worrying about real animal risks, like the deer who play chicken with your car. You’re much more likely to be injured in a collision with one of those damn deer than you are to be bitten by a coyote.

I much prefer the approach of Frank Vincenti of Mineola. This self-styled coyote defender spends his spare time trying to protect coyotes on Long Island and in New York City. Yes, New York City. From a recent NY Times story:

When he hears of a sighting, he closes his barbershop and heads to the scene. He may spend all night working as a human scarecrow, chasing the coyotes back into the underbrush. The goal is to keep them out of the public view and away from the traps set by specialists hired to euthanize them.

Vincenti believes the coyotes will persevere in the end, citing the most famous coyote of all:

“Wile E. Coyote always loses,” he said, “but no matter how they try to kill him off, he always comes back.”

Cat 2.0

miaTwo of our three cats died over the summer, one giving way to old age and the other to a terminal illness. But as we mourned their loss, one member of the household seemed to celebrate: Mia, the remaining cat.

Mia is a whole new cat since the others are gone. She suddenly has the place to herself, and free of the stress of sharing our home with other felines, she’s become increasingly bold.

The upside is she’s much more sociable — but some of her behavior pushes the limits. For example, she’s taken to a shine to the kitchen counter, where we’ve found her licking our food, and in one case stealing bag of bread and running off with it.

She pays no mind to the dogs, in fact she joins them in watching us eat, hoping for a handout or dropped bit of food from the table.

None of the cats ever got along, so for Mia, this is the best thing to ever happen. Me? I miss the other two, but I have to admit, life is simpler with fewer pets. Even if it means walking in the kitchen and finding someone eating the humus I left out.

Foto Friday

Help Wanted

cows

518 Life, the Times Union’s free monthly magazine about the Capital Region, is seeking an editor. Knowledge of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area is helpful. Must know the difference between a cow and a horse.

Lost

Lost might be overstating it, but it makes a much better headline than misdirected or mildly confused, wouldn’t you say?

Anyhow, I woke up on New Year’s Day in a strange house on the edge of Mother Myrick Mountain near Manchester. Our family ski vacation was a bust thanks to the lack of snow, but we turned it into a perfectly fine playing board games and drinking vacation.

So, the dogs and I greeted 2016 with a walk up the path behind the house. It led to a well travelled trail up the mountain, and the gradual climb was the perfect antidote for my throbbing head. We three went along until the human in the group had enough.

It’s not clear when things started looking unfamiliar, but somewhere on the way down it was obvious that we’d missed our turn.

Untitled

Rob, where the f**k are we?

We walked and walked, and eventually emerged from the woods, at a point on the road some three miles from the house.

At worse this was an inconvenience.

There are few places in the northeast where you can really get lost these days. Keep going and you’ll come to a road, and if you’re luck you’ll turn right instead of left when you get to that road. Then , perhaps, you’ll have a half mile walk home, instead of a three mile walk. Oh, well.

A Good Walk Spoiled

Today we return to a theme explored in many blog posts that you’ll find here: dog poop. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I’m certainly an enthusiastic amateur.

Albany’s Capital Hills golf course welcomes dog walkers during these winter months when the links are closed. It’s a terrific place for dogs to run, and this year it’s especially nice because El Niño has deprived us of snow.

But as usual, somebody has to ruin the good time.

There are a certain class of people who feel no responsibility to pick up the piles of poop left behind by their pooches on the course. For the purposes of this blog post, let’s refer to them as assholes.

Seriously, it’s everywhere.

So, on Saturday I’d been doing a fine job dodging the hazards, but in a moment of inattention, stepped in a huge mound of fresh crap that some asshole couldn’t be bothered to pick up. No, not the end of the world, but c’mon.

what's trending in your life and in mine

Capital Hills even has special poop cans located on the golf course.

I’m sure there are no assholes reading my blog, but if there were, I’d tell them this:

Dear dog walking assholes,

Just because nobody’s watching doesn’t mean it’s OK to leave your dog shit wherever you like. Pick it up. Believe it or not, doing the right thing will actually make you feel good, even if it involves something as unpleasant as picking up dog poop.

Thank you. Assholes. 

The Deerslayer

Saturday was supposed to be about raking leaves until my son called early in the morning. He said he was coming home with a deer. It was already dressed, he said, which momentarily summoned up funny images of a buck in a flannel shirt, but I’ve lived upstate long enough to know what dressed means.

He lives in an apartment, so there really isn’t a good way to skin and butcher a deer, so my house was the deer destination. I cleared out a space in the garage and screwed a big hook in the ceiling so the poor devil could be hoisted up by his horns.

I’ll spare you the details. but by mid-afternoon, my son and his girlfriend were vacuum sealing freshly cut venison on the kitchen counter.

My wife does not appreciate hunting, and she would certainly not like having a dead deer hanging in the garage. She was spared his earthy spectacle because she was gone for the day, off baking cookies with my sister in Poughkeepsie.

But fate’s a funny thing isn’t it?

Less that 12 hours later she called to say she’d hit a deer — a very big deer — not far from our house. She was fine, the car was a mess and the deer was MIA, having stumbled off into the woods.

Deer karma? Perhaps.

Before the tow truck arrived, I took a picture of the damage and wondered if the deer community would share pictures of wrecked vehicles the way hunters show off their prizes.

My son said I should have gone into the woods to find the deer. “No thanks — but don’t forget that your mother got a bigger deer than you did this year.”