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.
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.
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.