This afternoon I hiked a small nature preserve in New Marlborough, Massachusetts, called Questing.
There’s a meadow full of wildflowers, said to attract butterflies and dragonflies, but this isn’t their season. In their place were waves and waves of dried goldenrod.
It seems that birds who aren’t in New York City parks don’t feel obliged to let me get as close to them as I’m used to. Nonetheless, I saw a golden-crowned kinglet, if from a distance.
And a white-breasted nuthatch.
While photographing the kinglet, I noticed that the chipmunks around me vigilantly accelerated their alarm chirps the longer I stood in one place, and fell silent as soon as I took a step. Their theory seems to be that any forest creature worth its salt will be aware of me while I’m blundering forward in heavy boots, crinkling fall leaves, my binoculars clunking against my camera, and it’s when I’m standing still, holding my breath, and hoping a bird will fly my way that I’m dangerous and need to be encircled and screed at.
Except this guy.
He poked out from between the stones of an old farmer’s wall as I walked past, and since he was just a few feet away when he froze, I took his picture. Which made his ears perk up. He emitted a little chonk, almost as if responding to the shutter release sound, so I took another picture, to make the sound again. He chonked again; I clicked again. He chonked twice, I clicked twice. He ran inside the wall and almost immediately returned to resume playing. By the end he was leaning out of the wall, toward me, as you see, and I had two dozen close-ups of a single chipmunk.
Since it was cooler this morning, Toby didn’t need to wear the brace even briefly, but we took a shorter walk, anyway, as a precaution, just up Lookout Hill and back. That might be a bitter cherry, but I’m not at all sure; there was a light green fruit on the same tree that looked for all the world like an olive. The chipmunk was cleaning his tail, and also cleaned his nose, and while licking the inside of one of his front legs extended the leg in what looked like a rude gesture, but I decided against that photo, as too much in the vein of funny animal videos.