Take a Walk on the Wild Side


I squeezed the car into the pull-off making sure my tail was off the road.  Since the weather was gorgeous, I had come to my semi-secret place to check in on the warbler migration.  This is the place where Hooded Warblers nest every year and the only place I know where I can reliable see both Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers.   I knew that it was several weeks too early, but hey, ya never know.   I slipped around the gate and starting walking down the path.  Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers chased each other through the leafless branches, Phoebes gathered bits of mud and what looked like moss and a lone Song Sparrow scratched in the mud.  Other than that, it was completely still.  I soundlessly strolled the path searching for wildflowers, butterflies and hoping for bird calls.  Next to the path, but hidden from view, was a 2 lane road where cars whizzed past just out of ear-shot.  I walked along, then stopped to eye a large pile of black scat with what looked like hair in it.  I paused to ponder what might have passed this way but was distracted by lots of tiny Spring Azures.  Further up the path a large rock was flipped onto the middle of the grass, but the hole where it had been was dry.  I stood and stared, it was an oddity.  How could that has happened?

I continued along reveling in the warmth of the day and being outside when I rounded a slight bend and up ahead I saw I was not alone.  My semi-secret place was not so very private anymore.  My heart pounded.  I was far from the car and a large Black Bear was walking toward me.  It stopped and sniffed the air, it’s nose swiveling from side-to-side.  I stopped too.  I had liberally sprayed my hat and clothing with noxious bug spray.  I was down-wind.  After a few moments of the stand-off, the bear shuffled through the high dry weeds and disappeared.  I hustled back to the car making noise.  Bears really are timid, but still it is not wise to surprise one.

I have never seen a bear in this place.  But they are all around us.  It pays to be attentive.  The smelly bug spray may have helped too.


Filed under Local schmocal

13 responses to “Take a Walk on the Wild Side

  1. To this day I still have not seen a wild black bear. I guess being in central and south Jersey makes a big difference.

  2. I’ve never seen one in the wild either – but they don’t tend to be found much here in Australia. I guess our equivalent would be facing a Brown Snake. Done that a few times. Not good – though they tend to escape into the grass or undergrowth fairly quickly when humans are around. You learn to tread heavily.

  3. Glad you didn’t have a closer encounter! Great picture, though!

  4. Totally cool. Long may that bear live. A good reminder to bring in the bird feeders.

  5. Amy

    Woah! Has your secret place been tainted now or will you be back?

  6. Larry Sheldon

    I remember stopping along the road in either British Columbia or Alaska (I’d have to dig the logs out to see which, if it matters) at a Blueberry patch.

    As we gathered blueberries I realized that there was somebody besides me, my wife and three little kids in the patch.

    Turns out there was a bear not far away (close enough to hurt us if it chose to). We got back into the truck as quickly as we could but there never was an indication that the bear was interested in anything but blueberries and did not regard us as a threat to the supply.

    We elected to make do with what we had.

    And I would definitely go back.

  7. Awesome – I’m jealous and relieved at the same time. I notice you got a photo regardless. 🙂

  8. Quite the encounter. And great picture. I would like to think I’d have the same sense of mind to snap a picture if I came across one as well.

  9. paris

    That photo is priceless. At Lake Owen in Cable, WI, we had a similar encounter. Three brown baby bears and an extra protective mother blocked the roadway! of course we stayed in the car as they scurried away… awesome shot

    *I Donated to Cornell Ornithology*

  10. Crickey! Great encounter and writing.

  11. NOOOOOO! Oh my goodness… what a great, great story (my heart was pounding just reading it!) What a beautiful black bear (big one too!) What a thrill that must have been (but..but..but… – lol.) I can only imagine what that felt like… or what was running through your mind when he/she exited and you got back to the car.

    LOVED this story!

  12. How exciting and scary at the same time..My husband and I come across bear many times when hiking…Usually the look and walk the other way or just sit there and watch us walk away slowly.

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