Wildlife in Redding

Some people can tramp through Redding's woods and fields for hours and see no more wildlife than a gray squirrel or a chickadee. Others, keeping their eyes open and their mouths shut, may be fortunate to see a variety of creatures from deer to turtles, to a magnolia warbler--or perhaps even an eagle-in an hour's quiet ramble. Turkeys and coyotes, making a dramatic comeback, are frequently seen in roadside fields-mature turkeys and their poults often in packs of a dozen or more.
Redding's open space probably holds most of the common wild creatures native to this part of the state, and some that are not so common. Considering how much damage the white-tailed deer can do to our backyards, it is surprising how elusive they can be in the deep woods. But they like to use the trails that people have made, and the quiet walker can often glimpse a small herd, white flags flying to warn others of their kind, slipping off through the trees as he approaches.
There is evidence that beavers have returned to the Saugatuck Falls area. Look for trees felled seemingly at random, leaving a stump like a sharpened pencil. Muskrats and river otters swim in the Saugatuck River and live along its banks. And in at least one Redding tract that shall be unidentified, bobcat tracks have been seen in the snow.
Approach a river or pond silently and you may see a spotted turtle sunning itself on a log. A wood turtle may be surprised in a patch of wild strawberries, or a box turtle strolling through a meadow. But stay away from the large snapping turtle-it is said to be able to take off a finger in one bite.
Redding's lakes, ponds and streams, harbor a variety of native fish, from bass and pickerel to brook trout and minnows. The cheery peepers greet us from the still-icy waters as they sing for a mate on those first almost-warm nights of March.
Swamps such as Lonetown Marsh attract numbers of water birds. American egrets and the great blue heron have been seen there, as well as flocks of black ducks and Canada geese and mallards.
A very large woodpecker hole in a dead tree or stump is probably the work of the pileated woodpecker, uncommon but perhaps increasing in our woods. It is a black-and-white bird the size of a crow, with a flaming-red crest. Its loud drumming on a tree can sometimes be heard from far off in the woods.
Over most of Redding turkey vultures soar looking for carrion. At night they roost in the forests of the Saugatuck Reservoir area, Stormfield, and Devil's Den. And, rarely, bald eagles have been seen here.
The best time to see wildlife is very early in the morning near water. Sit quietly, and wait, and watch. You may be lucky enough to see a fox or a weasel, or at least a skunk, raccoon, opossum, cottontailed rabbit, or native and migrating birds of many kinds. ❧