So I'm visiting my mom, who lives 12 miles out of town. The good part is there's a nice gravel bike trail, we call the mopack, that goes right past here house only 3/4 miles to the north. So since the evening darkness is coming on cooler and earlier everyday, I fancied the idea of riding back to town in the dark to try to find some mammals on that bike trail. I figure, no one will be out, and there's plenty of cover along the trail. It's a recipe for success!
|The Meadow Vole I found tonight.|
So I saddle up on my 1980's Mongoose road bike (it was my dad's bike, back in his college days). My back pockets are stuffed with leather gloves, and a old pillow case, while my camera is strapped to my belt, and my tripod is in my backpack's left water bottle pouch. I flip the peddle lace over my left foot, and swing my right leg over while pressing into the cycle. I click on the red strobe attached to my back side, and press on my white beam head lamp before I hit the road.
To my great pleasure, I have a nice tail wind tonight. And as I scream down the gravel road hill to the trail, splashing my tires too far to either side into loose gravel, I remember just how sharp I need to be to ride state-maintained gravel roads, as I hit a monstrous wash out at the bottom of the hill. This wash board nearly jumps me off the road. Then out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimpse of rusty red and black fur running up out of the ditch. The tom cat trots right out in from of my 25 MPH blazing hot wheels, and I momentarily wonder if I should even try the brakes. But the cat made it to the ditch fine, and I made it to the trail head fine too.
|A Vole we caught in mammalogy class|
|One of the Meadow Voles I caught in|
As I neared the city, I rode through a village. Only about 3/4 of a mile after the village, I spotted a small brown ball of fur in the rode. A Microtus!!! My mind goes instantly to the Genus name because I just had a Mammalogy test over this a few days ago. This little rodent is commonly known as the Meadow Vole. I ditch my bike right as he heads for the ditch. I dove with cupped hands to gently catch the small mammal, and darn it if my knee cap didn't find the pointiest, most painful rock to jab into!
|Selfies! :) -from mammalogy class|
Even though these little guys are cute as a button, I know it's important to remember, they have a roll in the ecosystem as a food source, and nutrient converter much like other animals. So I let the Vole go on his way, and I hopped back on my bike to go on my way. Just enjoying the tail wind and the sense of a mission accomplished.