Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ground Hog Day

A while back, (the 90s, I think), we had the pleasure of Fifth Avenue Phil showing up in the Park. A bit later Fifth Avenue Phyllis arrived and together they had lots of babies. Yes, anything that's loved gets named. I assume that the Parks Department finally captured all these woodchucks (ground hogs), but while they were here they sure were fun. Being New York critters they learned to eat everything they found.

In the early 90s it was possible to walk on the grass at the north end of the 59th street lake and climb down on the rocks to sit by the edge of the water. One day I passed that way while walking to a dental appointment and noticed a plastic container on the rocks, the kind of container you get in the grocery store if you're getting food from a salad bar. The food was there- a tomato, two hard boiled eggs, a seeded roll, a small container of mayo- but no person. There was a highly possible explanation. In that area there was a big rat population and a smaller ground hog population. Wood chuck, ground hog, marmot, ground squirrel, all the same thing. Most likely one or the other appeared and the person who planned to enjoy lunch on the rocks fled in terror leaving lunch behind. I studied the situation and decided to wait. About a minute passed before a huge ground hog waddled out from under the fence to the Hallet Nature Sanctuary. It went over to the food, picked up the tomato and took it back into the Sanctuary. I waited. Back came the ground hog, took a hard boiled egg and returned to the Sanctuary. I waited. Back came the ground hog, took the seeded roll and returned to the Sanctuary. By this time I had the giggles, visions of a grand picnic taking place somewhere in the Sanctuary. Back came the ground hog, took the second hard boiled egg. I had a little time, so started watching the lake for herons. And back came the ground hog and took the container of mayo. That ground hog really knew how to prepare a feast. Survival of the fattest.

In the Munich zoo they have an enclosure for Marmots. Those marmots have dug a tunnel out of the enclosure, spend the day roaming, except for feeding time when they tunnel back into the cage for the food.

I think we're due for 6 more weeks of winter.

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