I do much of my running after dark, thus, I come across a fair number of nocturnal critters. I’m startled on a regular basis by their sudden (often violently so) way of announcing their presence. Tonight was the most interesting one I’ve had yet though…
The most common ones that scare me silly, besides dogs, are deer. I always thought they just jump out in front of cars. That’s not the case… When I’m running faster, I think I’m more likely to startle them, causing them to go flying with a mighty snort of huff of air. Raccoons are regulars also. Normally they are docile and curious and I just see their little eyes glowing at me from a ditch or field, but sometimes they go off in an angry tizzy. I haven’t figured out what sets them off, maybe just a bad day? Oh yeah, there are those silly birds that like to bed down about a foot off the road in the grass and nearly fly into my face as I go by. They about give me a heart attack every time, but I’m getting used to it.
But tonight was special.
I was running along near Lightsville, kind of half watching the road and half watching the sky. You see, I’ve been watching how the moon moves in relation to the earth the last week or two so I’ve been enjoying tracking it’s position each night in relation to the surrounding stars. I wasn’t facing the moon at this point, but out of my peripheral vision I saw a shadow move across the light of the moon. I often see bats flitting about so I didn’t think much of it.
Maybe 10 seconds later the beam of my headlamp caught something in the air in front of me and I jerked my head upward to see what it was… Just in time to catch a Great Horned Owl in full talons-out, wings-spread, about-to-get-me mode! Yikes!
Listen, I have no idea what that owl was up to, or why he was coming at me (surely he knew I was too big to eat) but as soon as my headlamp beam hit him full on, he went into full backward-thrusters, gotta-get-outta-here mode and was gone in an instant. Whew! Ok, so he didn’t get me, this is good!
The best part, at least I thought it was better after I calmed down a second or three, was that he circled be several times before flying away. I was able to keep him in my spotlight as he was only about 40-50 feet away at the furthest. What a beautiful creature all light up against the dark sky!
Now all I need is a wolverine or mongoose or tasmanian devil to come after me and I’ll feel complete.
Tell me in the comments section below about one of your favorite encounters with local wildlife!