By Ethan Shea
For this penultimate Cat in the Stax of the academic year, I’d like to take your mind off finals for a brief moment and encourage you to think of something much more relaxing…the great outdoors. Now that the weather is warming up, not only more people, but an increasing number of wildlife can be seen roaming about too. As birds return from their winter vacations, our mornings are full of song and beautifully painted feathers. Not to mention the increased presence of our favorite furry mammals!
Over the past few months, I’ve become a bit of an amateur birdwatcher during my morning runs. Almost every day, I run through Norristown Farm Park, which is about a twenty-minute drive from campus if you’d like to visit yourself. I’ve loved watching different birds migrate through the park recently, and some of my favorites are Eastern Bluebirds, Barn Swallows, and either Downy or Hairy Woodpeckers (I can never tell them apart). I even see some larger birds on occasion, such as the Great Blue Heron and Bald Eagle.
Regarding the flightless inhabitants of the park, my absolute favorite animal to run into is the Red Fox. I’ve been lucky enough to get pretty close to a few because thankfully, they’re not aggressive. When a fox has to choose between fight or flight, it’s almost always going to choose flight. That being said, they’re still wild animals and should be treated as such.
There are also plenty of White-Tailed Deer and groundhogs around. In fact, this morning I must have scared a groundhog while running through the woods. I watched it scurry away then climb straight up a tree! I’ve always thought groundhogs stayed on…well, the ground, but I learned something new today.
If you’re interested in learning more about our local wildlife, Falvey Library is the place to be! For example, this book by Gerald M. McWilliams, titled The Birds of Pennsylvania, has everything you need to know about birding in our state.
To explore nature for yourself, you need not go much further than our campus. In addition to the scenic walks around our own Villanova neighborhood, just down the road, Haverford College has a great nature trail that is open to the public. I also recommend checking out the Schuylkill River Trail, which currently has about 75 miles of completed trail in different sections. There should be more than enough places to visit along that path!
If you can, try to take some time between exams to relax and enjoy the nature we’re fortunate to be surrounded by. Good luck on finals, Wildcats!
Ethan Shea is a first-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.