As a busy society that seems to focus on arriving to our destinations in the quickest time possible, I don’t think we often realize how that conditioned behavior translates when we are out exploring nature.
Our heavy packs and clunky boots. A somewhat fast pace and idle chatter with friends. These things can easily scare away animals we are so intrigued to to see.
Imagine you are an animal that is constantly being hunted and rely on your constant alertness to keep you safe. You hear something in the distance that is approaching with urgency. . .
Fast, heavy steps are getting closer and closer. . .
What you you do?
RUN, of course!
Now imagine you are eating and you hear what sounds like footsteps, but they are slow and soft sounding. No sense of urgency, just an easy pace like most of the other creatures walking through the terrain.
Now what will you do? . . .Probably continue eating until the ‘creature’ is close enough for you to investigate better.
Although there are times we get lucky and find a creature sunbathing on a rock or staying still after being startled, hoping their camouflage will save them from being seen, but usually they all will try to flee (or sometimes fight) at any given opportunity when you approach too close.
However, if we can take our time and allow ourselves to melt into our surroundings (not trying to sound too ‘groovy’), wildlife will more often than not see our presence as non threatening and go about their routine. This is what we aim for.
For some, this can happen over night, but for most (myself included) it is a skill that needs forming. Here are few exercises that can help:
- Sit on a bench or under a tree and just watch. This can be really difficult for children and people with short attention spans, like me. However, I have done this numerous times and am always rewarded with birds pecking by my feet or a curious squirrel coming to investigate. The key is to be away from noisy people and spend at least 30 min at a time.
2. Don’t give yourself a time limit when going for a hike. Take your time to go slow and really look at your surroundings.
3. Visit the same place often. This exercise will get you familiar with your surroundings and where animals like to congregate. This is also good for the animals to get used to your scent (yes, you smell) and get more comfortable with your presence.
4. Try planning your outings during the ‘golden hours’ of the day, dawn and dusk. Many animals are very active during this time.
5.Create a wildlife menagerie in your backyard. I am sure you have heard the saying, ‘Build it and they will come’. . .Well, it is more true than you know. This is a great way to learn animal behavior in the comforts of your home. **I will be working on this soon myself and will show you my progress.
**As always, practice safety when exploring the outdoors and never do something you are not comfortable with. It is always a smart idea to travel with a buddy and tell others where you will be traveling to.
I also do not condone, or suggest, feeding wildlife while exploring the outdoors. This does not encourage natural behavior from wildlife and can lead to dange rous situations. **
Please comment below and share with me the one animal you would love to see in the wild!