At zoos, we try to bring nature up close where we can see it without getting out in it. At designated recreation areas, we go out into nature ourselves – but in an environment that is generally safe and has certain amenities close at hand. Al and I visited both the zoo today, together with our Cub Scout pack, and then stopped at a park where our Webelos den is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide bluebird boxes and monitor them.
Last year when we went to the zoo, it was a hot day, and many of the animals were too hot to come out from their shady shelter to pose for pictures. The fish and ducks never seem to have that problem, but they seemed especially full of energy this morning. Perhaps if we visited in the afternoon, they would have eaten their fill, but this morning they were fighting over each new handful of food pellets tossed their way.
A Kid feeding a kid
The goats were also eager to eat, including this little kid. I remember when I took Zach, as a toddler, to a petting zoo, that the goat was not satisfied with eating from Zach’s hand and decided to try Zach’s juice box as well. But today I had our water bottles safely in a backpack, so the goats had to be content with the food designated for them.
We always visit Lorikeet Landing on our way through the Australian Outback exhibit (where we see wallabies and emus), and we buy a small cup full of some kind of liquid food the lorikeets eat. Sometimes they come eagerly for the food, other times they have apparently had their fill and have to be coaxed to eat some more. Today they were evidently quite hungry.
Two fought over the cup in Al’s hand, while two more perched on his shoulder, perhaps more politely waiting their turn. A fifth landed, but it was getting crowded and one of the other four flew away. Finally he asked me to get them off, which I did quite easily by taking the cup from his hand. I don’t mind having them on me, though I did object when one tried to nip my finger. And I definitely didn’t appreciate it when another lorikeet did his “business” on a fly-by over my T-shirt.
Since I don’t read the paper every day, I didn’t realize that the Army Corps of Engineers had closed the Shady Creek Recreation Area, along with five other recreation areas, due to rising floodwaters. So from the zoo we headed (after a lunch stop at Happy Joe’s) to Shady Creek, because it was our week to check out the bluebird boxes.
We were able to check five of the six boxes, and in most of them we found nests made by house wrens. As they are on our list of “naughty” birds that take over territory from bluebirds, we cleaned their nests out of the boxes – even the one with five eggs. The sixth box, however, was in a part of the campground that showed why the park was closed - though the geese seem to be enjoying the altered environment.
The rangers were busy raking and sweeping away debris on the dry side of the park, and once we stop having so much rain I’m sure they’ll be able to clean this side also. The picnic tables will be put back, and RV’s and people will again fill the park.
But for now, nature is dominating the area.