A Pandemic Playground:
While the Humans are Tucked Away, the Animals Will Play! The streets are so quiet and peaceful right now. There are fewer cars, less traffic, and you can hear birds singing in every neighborhood. Perhaps our friends in nature think that they can walk the land freely again. Maybe you’ve read in the news lately that the unintended side effects of the coronavirus pandemic are reducing the amount of air pollution as well as replenishing wildlife across the world. It seems the animals have found our neighborhoods to be a pandemic playground of sorts.
It was amazing to read how, in just a few months – the air quality drastically decreased in major cities, oceans became clearer, and animals took over urban spaces! Goats and sheep were seen walking the highways in Istanbul, sea lions in the sidewalks of Buenos Aires, and a herd of buffalo rambled along an empty highway in India! The last few months have been a frightening time for the human race – yet seemingly a calm and peaceful moment in history for mother nature.
Suburbia Has Become Nature’s Pandemic Playground:
The Cranford/Westfield area was not a stranger to this calm in the universe. Chats on Facebook and social media revealed an increase in deer sightings and residents being woken up very early in the morning to the loud symphony of birds. We have been hearing many stories of beautiful foxes passing through our neighborhoods. Indeed, the hush of the world allowed for animals to feel a bit more comfortable in their environments. My former client and current assistant Andrea and her family have definitely had a wildlife awakening at their home in Cranford!
Their new home has a tributary of the Rahway River in their backyard – so it wasn’t unusual for them to see a little more animal activity than other neighbors. During the months of March through May they have witnessed large varieties of birds nesting, geese, ducks, foxes, racoons, bunnies, deer, stray cats, and one skunk. However, the incidents that occurred in the first week of June on their property created quite a buzz in the community!
A Visit From Yogi Bear:
On Monday, June 8 everyone in Cranford got a Nixle report of a bear sighting on Orchard Street! The whole family noticed quite a bit of police activity on the street and, all of a sudden, a big bear came parading through their back yard and then down to the river! People were terrified and excited at the same time! Luckily, Andrea was able to capture a picture of the bear before it headed to the stream! The rest of the day was spent following the bear sighting reports and seeing helicopters search in the skies above. Like many other residents, they were transfixed by the reports of the bear’s pandemic playground antics. It was quite a day!
Giant Snapping Turtle In The Yard:
And if that wasn’t enough…the next morning was even crazier! In the wee hours, The “Queen of the Rahway River” had paid a very special, once-a-year visit to the home to lay her prized eggs. Yes, a huge snapping turtle had emerged from the river to take four hours to dig a hole and start laying her clutch of 15-50 eggs! When Andrea and her family had moved into the home, nearby residents had told the tale of the large snapping turtle in the Rahway River stream near their home. The legend passed down from neighbor to neighbor was that this particular snapping turtle is as old as the home – approximately 110 years old! We are told she crawls out of the water every year in June and lays her eggs somewhere near the property! Then she disappears and no one sees her until the next year!
The sheer size of this snapping turtle impressed all of us! Andrea was able to capture the whole process – even the “Queen” walking away, stumbling into the stream, and then swimming away! Andrea and her family protected the nest immediately after she left as snapping turtles do not return to their eggs and the incubation period is around 3 months! They are hopeful to capture the hatching of these eggs videotape these cute turtles doing what they instinctively know how to do…crawling into the Rahway River to live out their days!
Appreciating Nature During This Pandemic:
What a crazy time in our lives – but these local animal sightings offered us a bit of reprieve from the news. It was fun to hear of the legend of the Cranford snapping turtle and to realize that it wasn’t a myth at all! Maybe all of this makes us appreciate the beauty of nature even more. And maybe it will help us appreciate our wonderful town of Cranford just a little bit more, too. If we are truly living in their world, maybe this time around we can take even more care of it! It would be wonderful to have nature enjoy the pandemic playground long after the crisis passes!
Deer, foxes, bears, turtles…. what’s been hanging out in your backyard?