Sunday, July 19, 2009
I like to think I am fairly rational, calm, and not easily frightened. It is important to be alert and observant when out on trails, or anywhere for that matter. I have tried to overcome my two main phobias, those being my fear of snakes and heights, but doubt that will ever happen. I came across a large northern water snake this month and actually took a couple of pictures from a respectful distance as it slithered toward Bass Creek, but looking at the images makes me cringe.
The owner of the camp where we stayed owns an abandoned farm across the road from his lakeside property. He rents it to a farmer and about fifteen cattle graze there in the summer. I have often walked through the fields and have not been bothered by the cows at all. One morning I opened the gate and walked quietly to the back of a field where a pair of Sandhill Cranes were calling noisily. I took a few pictures as they moved away and finally flew over the fence. The cows, who were a good 300 metres away from where I stood, suddenly started moving toward me at a good pace. I took a picture of their approach just before they broke into a full run.
It seemed that I was being charged! There was no way I could out run the herd to the gate and my heart started pounding as I envisioned myself being trampled. I saw a clump of Dogwood bushes which stood a bit taller than myself and hid behind them. The cattle stopped on the other side of the bushes and I listened to their heavy breathing through the branches. After a very long ten minute period, they turned around and walked back to their previous grazing spot. I walked back quietly and slowly keeping an eye open for another hiding spot.
Later that day, I took a golf cart up the dirt road toward a swampy area that is good for birding. In the distance I saw a lone animal walking my direction with a distinct wolf-like gait. I stopped and decided to make a prompt U-turn back to the cottage. Looking at my pictures later, I realized the "wolf" was a particularly aggressive farm dog named Duke. The previous day he had chased me on the golf cart before his owner had called him off. I am fond of dogs, but this one had a menacing eye and snarl that made me think back to the inservices I had attended as a Home Care therapist which dealt with recognizing dangerous canines.
I am sure there is a reason the cows rushed to me and it may be as simple as them thinking I had some tasty corn for them. On the other hand, I was wearing a shirt I had bought the day before at Sheguiandah, the nearby Indian reserve. I did not have enough warm clothes packed and selected a warm red pullover with drawings of primitive hunters on the front and back.
Who knows what goes through an animal's mind?
Have you had a frightening animal encounter, wild or domestic?