The wife and I were doing The Hollows Loop on a gorgeous early May morning. Sunny, warm with the occasional cool breeze just to make the open meadow patches on the trail more comfortable. Ever vigilant for Spring foragables, flowers &/or beasties, we walked rather quietly, scanning the trail around and ahead of us for sights and sounds. The usual (but always welcome) trilliums, bloodroot, trout lilies, and such, were putting forth an awesome display. The osterich ferns weren’t quite ready for fiddlehead harvest yet, but we found some later that same day, at Thurne Parks.
The songbirds sang high up in the canopy, the ruffed grouse drummed in the distance, the squirrels and chipmunks rustled through last year’s fallen leaves, making enough racket for beasts twice their size.
Then something considerably larger crashed through the leaves. Stopping abruptly, and looking in the direction of the sound, I spotted an auburn patch of fur through the underbrush virtually “running” up the side of a tree. We’d seen a small weasel further back on the trail, so I wondered if we’d come across a larger relative of his. I felt excitement at the possibility of a rare sighting, but apprehension as some large weasels can be aggressive.
“What the Hellizat ?” I asked the wife as I jockeyed for a better view position and readied the camera. The wife said “It looks like a groundhog !” “Ten feet up a tree? “ I asked (of myself as much as her). I actually watched it climb up there, and it was pretty impressive I must admit. Upon closer examination … it was a groundhog … up a tree.
I always considered groundhogs to be dullards of the open grasslands. And don’t even ask Ranger his opinion of them (he was obviously raised on a farm). Rodents in over-sized pyjamas is what I usually call them, but this guy could climb like any squirrel. But then, they’re both members of the same taxonomic family classification “Sciuridae” so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.