The following is a guest post by Ellie George.
When I was about 9 years old, I found a catbird nest with its beautiful blue-green eggs on my birthday in early May. I felt that Mother Nature had given me this wonderful discovery as a birthday gift, and from then on, every year around the time of my birthday I have actively sought out the amazing present that Mother Nature would send to me. I have never been disappointed.
Once it was a patch of painted trillium in bloom growing in the woods near my house that I had never seen before. A few years ago I found three shed deer antlers on a small mountain in the Adirondacks. Sometimes Mother Nature delivers right to my home, and a couple of times a male indigo bunting has arrived at my bird feeder at home exactly on my birthday.
Yesterday I was on a fishing adventure in the central Adirondacks with my son Scott. We had already fished one lake and been quite successful, catching and releasing several large smallmouth bass. We were driving along the southern leg of Sabattis Circle Road, heading toward Little Tupper Lake with the intention of carrying a mile into another lake, this time a trout lake, that I had never visited before. I was scanning the sides of the road looking for birds and other wildlife and Scott was driving.
Suddenly Scott hit the brakes and said “Ummmmm,” in a loud and puzzled manner. I quickly glanced at the road to see what was the matter. In about one second’s time, my eyes and brain went through the following sequence of analysis: Horseback riders—–No, horses with no riders——No, MOOSE!!!!! GET THE CAMERA!!
In the very center of the road stood two moose, so close their sides were almost touching each other. They looked right at us. I grabbed the camera with telephoto lens from the back seat of the car, pulled it out of its carrying bag, took off the lens cap, and turned it on. Meanwhile the moose had turned and were starting to walk down the center of the road directly away from us. I snapped a few quick photos and the moose trotted over a rise and were out of sight.
Scott asked what we should do, and I said to drive along behind them slowly, ready to stop in case they were standing in the road again. We moved forward over the rise and the moose were ahead, still trotting down the road together. Scott swung the car to the middle of the road so I could photograph out the open side window. Fortunately this road doesn’t get a lot of traffic. I took photos while the moose turned to the right, the larger moose leading. It trotted off the road, down an embankment, and into the woods, followed by the slightly smaller moose. Both moose had erected the hair on the backs of their necks, their manes, and they looked big and beautiful.
Once the moose had passed into the woods, we drove to the spot where they had entered the woods and I got out to see if I could find them. But no, they had vanished, leaving only a few tracks in the sand on the side of the road.
Wow, that was awesome! I thought that the moose were both yearlings, out on their own for the first time. But after we got home and I examined the photos, I think that the larger moose, the one that led the way down the road and into the woods, was a cow, and the smaller moose was either its yearling calf or possibly a two year old calf. I don’t know how large a moose calf grows in a year. The younger moose was almost as tall as the cow, but much more slender in body build. Also, both moose appeared to be in good health, with full, almost glossy coats of fur, not showing any signs of winter tick infestations which have been plaguing moose populations recently. They also moved on the blacktop road easily, as if they were accustomed to it. Sometimes when I see deer walk on blacktop, they walk strangely, almost as if they are walking on ice.
Thank you, Mother Nature, for perhaps the best birthday present ever! Early May is such a great time to be out in the wild world looking for and celebrating all forms of life.