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How to Take a Walk—in Buffalo, and Beyond: Animal Sightings

Continue the series on walking Buffalo, from the intrepid couple who walked every day—no matter the weather—in the early years of Covid. They think (without being systematic) they walked every street in Buffalo, and many in other cities and towns, taking some 25,000 photos, shared in this series. While not itineraries, we hope to encourage others to “walk the walk,” to see, observe and appreciate Buffalo—and beyond. William Graebner and Dianne Bennett are also 5 Cent Cine’s film critics, here.

Today’s Photo-Essay: Animal Sightings

Here’s a thought: you won’t be disappointed in Buffalo’s animals, and we’re not talking cats and dogs, pigeons and squirrels, ducks and geese.

With all its greenspace—some of it intentional (parks and yards) and some of it not (abandoned rail lines, inner-city green spaces where homes used to be), there’s plenty of space for almost anything, anything but buffalo, to roam. 

Deer are, if not common, certainly not rare, even within the city limits. We found this one on a late afternoon In February, just steps from Niagara Street, in Prospect Park. The Armory is back right. 

When the house-less spaces of the East Side are covered with a layer of snow, deer tracks are a frequent sight. In deeper snow, it looks like the deer have been cross-country skiing (the deer-track photo is of tracks in the Forest Lawn cemetery). In the other photo, several deer are enjoying the early-spring grass in an East Side vacant lot.

For sheer numbers of deer, head to the vicinity of Veterans Park, just off 2-mile creek in Tonawanda, not far from where it flows into the Niagara River. Late one afternoon we saw more than a dozen deer there, lazily grazing. The deer spill over into the adjacent neighborhood, romping just across the street from ranch houses (photo below). Another hot spot, in the same general area, is Riverview Solar Technology Park, the name notwithstanding. Closer to the city center, there’s a virtual deer park in the once-factory lands bounded by Tonawanda Street, Hertel Avenue, and the Scajaquada foot path, and known to us as “Tee-to-Green,” a former occupant of part of that space (photo below). 

Approaching one of our favorite bars, Duende, from the rear, along the abandoned rail lines, several deer found our presence intriguing—and felt themselves amply protected by a wire fence. The Cargill-S grain elevator is in the background.

Among the open spaces that attract wild animals are the banks of creeks, including Scajaquada Creek in Cheektowaga, where it’s still a creek (albeit with cement banks) rather than a sewer, as it is through most of its “run” through the City of Buffalo. There, just east of Villa Maria College, we observed this fox:

Amherst no doubt has its share of deer, but what we remember is this turkey vulture, up in a tree on one of the area golf courses:

Sometimes you don’t even have to leave home to enjoy wildlife. This red hawk found our 9th-floor terrace the perfect place to relax. Lafayette High School, one of Buffalo’s most elegant buildings, is in the background.

We’ve already disparaged “ducks” (above), but what we meant was the common mallard (not that they aren’t stunning). We came upon a Muscovy duck in a yard near the corner of Sycamore and Herman. From a Facebook friend, we learned that it’s one of the oldest domesticated fowls, usually encamped in Texas. Another recalled that Muscovy duck was once a staple at Malczewski Poultry Shoppe in the Broadway Market. 

Minks? We’re quite sure we saw several in Wrazen Park, a small triangular plot northwest of the junction of William Street and Harlem Road. No pics! They move too fast! But the camera was ready to capture a rafter of wild turkeys at an industrial site on Sawyer Avenue in Tonawanda. 

Geese are everywhere, and often in large flocks. Ellicott Creek Park is a favorite resting place. Be careful where you walk! A pair was enjoying the grounds of the Tesla plant, not far from the Buffalo River. 

Not too many people keeps turtles as pets. We found this tub of turtles on Massachusetts Avenue on the West Side.

I was walking alone in late August (2021), downtown, in back of the Buffalo Grand Hotel—the brutalist structure that butts up against the 190, when this fellow charged out from nowhere and scampered up a slope. I thought then it might be a beaver. I have since been assured that it was a woodchuck, also known as a groundhog.

Dogs and cats? We’re fond of both, but wary of dogs, as most postal workers are (we’ve talked to a few; one said if a loose dog appeared to be threatening he wouldn’t deliver the mail). Over thousands of miles, we’ve only been accosted once by a dog—a barking, snarling, aggressive creature who followed us for several blocks on the streets of charming Lovejoy—until the owner showed up in a car and took him away. 

Cats, of course, are a different story. Here’s our favorite feline photo. Lackawanna.

Cats get lost frequently. The owners of orange tabby Gus made every effort to galvanize the neighborhood to search for him, asking folks to “look under steps, decks, in + under sheds, garages, culverts + up in trees.” That’s a lot to ask. Still, we hope Gus was found.

The most common of all Buffalo animals may be the Flamingo—the yard-decoration version, a mid-1950s creation that’s still with us. This “flamboyance” (as a group of Flamingos is called) is in a yard in Brockport:

Animals make for good signs. The steer with cleavers on Genesee Street is retro-dramatic. 

And the Yasin African Market, on Grant Street, lion (and more) by Tony.

Click here to see more “walks and thoughts” by © William Graebner.

The post How to Take a Walk—in Buffalo, and Beyond: Animal Sightings appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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