Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Observing Wellfleet Wildlife Over Breakfast

We have a resident fox here at Chez Sven who acts as if she owns the place. I watch her trot around Seagull Cottage, brazen as can be. Neighbors have seen cubs playing in the grass, up the hill, so I guess that’s where she keeps house.

Sven is hopeful that our fox will hunt our rabbits. I seem to wake up just as they are finishing breakfast: crocus leaves, today. Tulips are also on their spring menu. Rabbits cannot resist tulips. They bite off the tops, then move on to something more tasty.

Outside my kitchen window, two cowbirds are courting. I watch them crisscross the yard. Every once and a while, the male puffs out his chest and shakes his shiny black wing feathers. He makes quite a show, but the female, smaller, does not seem to notice. I observe the ritual a minute too long because, by the time I fetch my camera, they have flown away.

Our morning doves are not as shy. Their soft melodic voices provide a soothing soundtrack for gardening. Camouflage hides them well in the underbrush. A whole family inhabits one of our evergreens.

Sometimes a catbird perches in the wild cherry beside the bedroom window and trills away, a sure sign of spring. Such a sweet song!

Recently hawks have been circling overhead. Sven loves the hawks.

Last week I heard what I assumed to be three blue herons squawking as they flew over towards the ponds. A friend told me he had seen one behind the Wicked Oyster. I didn’t know they could fly this far, but there they were, up in the sky, flapping away.

We have chipmunks here, too. They hurry to and fro, their cheeks bulging with safflower seeds, grateful that Sven thinks we are feeding very hungry birds. Mutual misunderstanding, you might call it. The chipmunks are convinced we build woodpile-homes just for them.

At night the raccoons appear. Sometimes you can hear them cavorting up on the roof. Once I got a close look at a raccoon peering in the open Liberty Coin Suite skylight. I do not know which one of us was more surprised.

Coyotes are the most recent addition to the menagerie. I haven’t heard them howling of late. They must all have moved on to Truro.

I look out the window again and remember squirrels. We have gray ones with bushy tails, and little red ones, feisty fellows who chase the gray squirrels away.

Wild turkeys sometimes wander across Old King's Highway. Our favorite birds remain the chickadees. They come and fetch us when their feeder is empty.

Last but not least, there are skunks in the woods, as frightened of us as we are of them.

And – how could I forget? – seagulls! They sail by on the wind, inspiration for the metal seagull on the cottage and this story in our first brochure...

Guests always want to know how our darling cottage came to be, so here goes, a bit of whimsy: Once upon a time a seagull found a magic clam at Mayo Beach. Holding the clam in its beak, the seagull flew over Duck Creek, past the Mobil station, and into the woods behind Seamen’s Bank. Seagulls only venture inland when they have something important in mind. This seagull had noticed an exquisite garden with handsome brick pathways, perfect for opening supper. The seagull dropped the clam on one of the pathways, but instead of breaking open, it disintegrated into fairy dust, sprinkling its magic into the garden below. The seagull blinked and looked again. In the midst of the forest, a cottage had sprung up. The seagull landed on the roof and looked around at what its clam had wrought, then flew back to Duck Creek to tell friends. Seagulls still fly up from time to time, to admire what they call the “clam” cottage. Noticing their presence, we named it “Seagull Cottage.”