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local critter sighting

April 3, 2012

I was walking in the woods at an unusual time (around 5:30 pm), looking for wildflowers. I saw and heard a lot more songbirds and squirrels than I usually do. Even heard possibly-larger animals moving around.

Our local May apples (Podophyllum peltatum) already have flower buds!

I stopped near a tree that is hollow at the base, because I was looking at a particular plant to see if it was a trillium. I heard a soft scratching, so I looked toward the dead leaves in the tree hollow, which I noticed were moving. A little grey head poked out. I thought it might be a baby squirrel, but as it clambered out of the leaves, I realized it was something else entirely. Something I’ve never before seen, in 40 years of walking in the woods.

The critter was 3-4″ long, with short grey fur. No tail that I saw. I guessed shrew or mole, tending toward shrew.

Looks like it was a Northern short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda).

I will be taking more walks at 5:30 pm!

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