I Am Rescued by the Sudbury Police and Fire Departments!

Have you ever gone for a stroll in the woods that didn't go all that well? Of course you have. Stuff happens, as they say, and it happens to everyone. But have you ever needed to be rescued from the deep, dark woods by police officers and firemen at 9:00 at night? That happened to me last Friday night, and I still don't understand why it happened.

I went to Sudbury to discuss a bird blog I'm helping to build for the Sudbury Valley Trustees. They are one of my favorite local conservation organizations, and very big around here. I took this photo of an Eastern Phoebe at Wolbach Farm, which is SVT's headquarters.

After the meeting I headed over to Great Meadows NWR in Sudbury. It took all of five minutes to drive there, and I arrived about 5:30 PM. I checked the sign that said the trails were open from dawn to dusk before I entered the parking lot. There were about 7 white trucks and SUVs with National Fish and Wildlife logos in the parking lot. I wondered why there were so many vehicles in the lot when the Nature Center was closed, but I only thought about it for two seconds. Then I saw three Wood Ducks right at the shore, and I fired up the camera and went after them.
I have yet to get a good look at a Wood Duck, never mind a good picture. I am in love with them. They are so beautiful - male and female both! I stare hungrily at other people's Wood Duck photos whenever I can. I had seen a few flying away when I was at Great Meadows earlier in the week, and that's why I returned on Friday afternoon. They were there, too. I must of seen a dozen Wood Ducks in less than an hour, but every one was flying off in a panic by the time I noticed them. One was up in a tree behind me, and she scared me half to death when she started squawking and flapping. There were two sitting in the middle of the path near the parking lot, and I jumped a mile when they flew up in front of me, too. No wood duck photos were coming out of this trip!

I was back at my car by 6:30, but just when I finished packing up the camera and the monopod I looked up to see a deer at the edge of the parking lot. He was looking back at me, too. Since he didn't appear to be running away, I unpacked the camera and took a few shots. That's when I noticed the that gate looked as if it were closed. Since it was a good hour before sunset, I figured it must be an optical illusion. But guess what? The gate was indeed locked. It was a very big metal gate, too. I was locked in.

At first I was not at all worried. The trucks and SUV's were still there, for one thing. I also knew that whoever had locked the gate must have seen my car in the parking lot, and they wouldn't have locked me in unless there was a way out. I called the big nature center/ house three or four times, but no one answered and the voice mail wasn't working right. I knocked at the door (the house was lit up inside and out, BTW), but no one answered.  It got darker and colder and scarier  with every passing minute.  Eventually I was desperate enough to try driving my little first generation Honda CRV down the trail and over the hill, but the trail turned into stairs and the hill was much steeper than it looked. 

beaver at night
I heard splashing as I sat despondently in the darkness of my car, which sounded like something BIG was coming to get me. That's when I learned that Beavers are really MUCH LARGER than muskrats. I's say at least three times the size, if this one was any indication. I had to use the on camera flash, which didn't cut it, but I did get pictures of him chewing through a big branch and then swimming off with the wood.

I didn't get a picture of his tail, but I saw it and it was as flat as Kansas. If nothing else, I learned how to distinguish between muskrats and beavers. I also learned that beavers are nocturnal, which was news to me.

To make a long story short, I'll skip ahead to the moment when I was spotted by a passing Sudbury Police Officer who was nice enough to turn around and see if I needed help (or maybe he though I was a criminal!) In any case, this officer was incredibly nice about the whole situation. He never acted the least bit annoyed, even though he had to make dozens of calls to find someone who could open the gate. I was mortified to learn that the Fire Department had to be called out because no one else had a key. But the Fireman who arrived was also very kind and patient, and shortly thereafter I was on my way home.


  1. Susan, I am glad things ended well for you. Did you ever find out who locked the gate on you? Anyway you got some terrific photos out of your adventure. I love the beaver pics. And the deer: beautiful capture - did you use some special filter? It looks so three-dimensional.

  2. The prospect of camping early was not in the agenda!
    Good that you got out!

  3. Ah yes, the trouble (for me mostly deer ticks) those wood ducks can get us in!
    Have you tried Great Meadows Concord (assuming it's not still under water...)? I've had pretty good luck with wood ducks there.

  4. Thanks, Hilke. I still don't know what went wrong that night. Scary, though.

    The deer might look well defined because I had to use Nikon D-lighting, maybe?

  5. Hi Peter. I have heard that Great Meadows Concord is amazing - but I'm not going if they can lock you in! I checked the National Weather Service, and sunset was at 7:35 PM last Friday. Those rangers must have been playing with my head!

  6. What a hassle, but you had a great adventure with the bonus of getting some great photos! I enjoy your blog.


I love positive comments, critical comments,and corrections most of all!