Nature Can Be Nasty

I often write about the animals on my bike commute. Bald eagles and snapping turtles get the most “ink.” May is prime time for eagles. June is when the snapping turtles lay their eggs. I look forward to each ride to and from work on the Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River.

Occasionally, the reality of nature makes itself known and it’s not pretty. Last year, near a tree holding a bald eagle nest, I saw the skull of a small animal, a dog or a fox, I suppose. A few days earlier I saw the head and spine of a Canada goose in the same area. No feathers. No skin. No meat.

Today I came upon another carcass, similarly stripped of skin and muscle. I initially thought it was a large bird but on closer inspection it appeared to be a beaver. I could only guess this by the small bit of tail fin on the end of the spine. Beaver paddles must not taste very good. The carcass was on the edge of the trail between the trail and the river. I am guessing that the beaver was hit by a car on the nearby parkway and made its way toward the river where some other animal put it out of its misery. The stripping of the carcass was likely done by crows or vultures.

Sometimes we dream of what it would be like to be a beaver gracefully gliding through the water. Sometimes, not often, we see the reality of nature.

As Mark Knopfler said: “Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug.”

This Is Getting Troublesome

Bike commuting on the Mount Vernon Trail normally brings the enjoyment of wildlife. Lately, it has started to get a bit creepy. Last week I rode by the head and spine of a Canada goose. No meat. No legs. No wings. No feathers.

Today on the way to work I passed a dead Canada goose lying on the trail. This one was the complete bird. I took a picture tonight on the way home. It had been moved to the side of the trail. It appeared to be headless. I wasn’t about to pick it up to be sure.


A few minutes before I stopped at the Tulane bald eagle nest. As I started to ride away, I noticed part of the skeleton of an animal in the trailside grass. I couldn’t make out what it was but it was gross.


Here it is turned over with my foot as perspective.


I don’t know if these three dead animals are connected but they were all found close to the Tulane nest. I am guessing today’s goose was hit by a car. These other two animals were picked clean.