Written by Christian Cali

I spend a lot of time on the trails around the Greens, especially during winter when few people or bikes are out and about. And, always when it snows to better see the animal tracks. I have seen a good bit of wildlife around here. To date, I can distill my most memorable moments into the following three episodes:

Three. Near the water station off Grassland Grove is a fox den. A few years ago, I saw and walked past a fox cub sitting on a mound near that fox den. This was a much different encounter than the many fawns I have seen around the trails. The fox cub was generally curious. It’s a wild animal, but clearly closer to human compatibility than much of the other young wildlife around the trails. Perhaps this is why many of the adult foxes I see around do not immediately run away, they tend to observe humans from a closer distance than, for instance, the coyotes that were more present before the neighborhoods were complete. Side note – Coyote America by Dan Flores is a very good book for understanding America’s history with coyotes and in part wolves.

Two. While walking in a clearing near Bull Run Overlook, I felt a sort of whoosh in front of my face. I glanced to my left and a cooper’s hawk snagged a small bird and flew into the tree line. While I often walk with an earpiece and listen to podcasts, at this particular time I was completely focused on the path. I heard nothing. Mostly, I felt the presence, but it was so fast and intense it was only a sort of momentum of air, like when you wave a hand in front of your face. That is how immediate and deliberate the strike of a hawk can be.

One. In early spring a few years ago I was walking between the archery range and Bull Run and saw a Great Horned Owl fly between trees with full wingspan extended. Awesome. I can picture the sequence of seeing the great raptor move through the forest, but my writing is too fallible to depict it. Honestly, every time I go on the trails I am on the lookout for another sighting. For me, this was an all-time wildlife experience. In the winter and fall (when they mate, I believe) you can hear owls better than spring or summer. The sounds are much more meaningful since the owl sighting, but each season that passes is a reminder that I am more out of touch.

I’ll see you around the trails. All the best in your adventures — scripted and otherwise.