Taken with Nikon B500
The deer that frequent our yard and the stray cats have been acting a little strangely for the last couple of days, and I began to suspect that a large predator was in the vicinity, and this morning my new neighbor’s garbage looked as though it had exploded. (I forgot to tell her about the kitty litter on top of the garbage bag trick.) My suspicions were confirmed when I looked out my bedroom window and saw this young fellow. Weighing in at about 150 to 200 pounds, he isn’t the biggest bear I’ve seen in my yard, but he was certainly the least timid. He even stepped to the window to say hello, which made me a little nervous, I must confess. Especially when my cat Boots jumped up to the sill and started to paw at the window. I wish the photos were a little better, but I didn’t know how the bear would react to the flash. I found after watching him for a while that he is lame, and his left front leg is badly injured. He is also wearing a tag in his ear, so I’ll be calling the Game Commission in the morning with the hopes of getting him a little help.
They have been gone for seventeen years. I suppose it’s unkind of me to say that I haven’t missed them much. Their appearance marks the passing of time and reminds me of my age. I was a small child playing in the gravel on the banks of a lake with my brother and another little boy when I first saw one. Although, I can no longer remember that little boy’s name, or even the name of the lake we were playing by, I can still remember in vivid detail the creature’s black skin, the red eyes, and the transparent wings. My exclamation that day was much the same as my daughter’s when she saw her first one this week. “What is that??”
“That,” is a periodic cicada, or as we know them, a seventeen year locust. This week my front yard is inundated with them. They are hanging on the flowers, hanging on the trees, crawling across the porch, and leaving their little shells behind them. I would be freaked out if I didn’t know how very gentle they are. My biggest fear is stepping on them.
Every seventeen years they crawl out of the ground, shed their skin, find a mate, lay their eggs and die. Those eggs hatch into larva, which drop to the ground and crawl back in. Where they go once they return to the soil is a mystery to me. I have cared for my flower beds for ten years and never dug up one.
Mourning Doves are a regular at our feeders. Their quirky habits make watching them a joy. Like people with new cars at the mall, these comical birds like to land far off, and walk the rest of the way to the feeder. Perhaps they are afraid the younger, more clumsy birds will cause an accident and rumple their perfect feathers? Only the doves know for sure.
Now that warm weather is back, my husband and I have been spending the evening hours relaxing on the front porch and watching the birds that come in to the feeder. Some of them have been frequenting the feeder since their parents first brought them as fledglings. The people on the swing no longer frighten them. The chickadees in particular are courageous enough to occasionally use a human being as a landing strip. But the boldness that these two, rose breasted grosbeaks displayed was quite a surprise as they bounced around our feet picking up seeds. In spite of the fact that we had never seen them before, these two boys seemed almost tame. I think there is a chance they were a “raise and release,” and see humans as a safe food source. We are hoping they find lady grosbeaks and decide to stay for the summer. If anyone out there raised these little guys, we wanted to let you know that they are still safe and happy.
It seems to me that this winter lasted forever. I don’t remember what I was bummed out about, because when I look back, I can truthfully say it wasn’t a bad winter. The weather was mild, and so were the heating bills. We never lost power. The cats kept us entertained. I guess it was just not being able to go outside. Now that Spring has come, I am reinvigorated. The onions and lettuce aren’t only planted, they are up and reaching for the sun, my tomato plants are strong and stalky and eagerly awaiting transplantation into warm soil, and the spring birds are everywhere. The hungry chirps of baby birds can be heard on either side of my front porch, and the chickadees and sparrows almost meet me at the feeder when I go out to give it its daily refill. But… It is not the birds in the front yard that are occupying my attention this Spring.
I was working in the guest room last week when I spied something out the window that had me tripping over myself as I lunged for my camera.
“There are golden eagles in the backyard!” I yelled to my husband as I ran out the door. (Note to self: “Yelling is not a good idea if you’re trying to sneak up on something.”)
In spite of my foolish announcement, I was greeted by an awe inspiring site. The massive outstretched wingspan of this guy.
Right about now, you’re probably saying, “Sue, there’s something a little funny about your eagle.”
But give me a break. My vision isn’t what it used to be, and the cats have slimed the guest room windows.
They were vultures, but I wasn’t disappointed. A vulture is a beautiful, majestic bird that soars on the thermals with a grace that man could never duplicate. (Beautiful might not be the right word… presentable… tolerable… Okay, I concede. Turkey vultures are just plain ugly. ) Summer evenings will find me relaxing in my backyard watching the vultures glide overhead as they return to their nightly roosting place. For the first time, they were roosting within the reach of my camera, and they brought a young one with them!
Vultures are a vital part of nature’s clean up crew, and this flock of seven were hanging out in our back yard to do us a much appreciated favor. The fragrant odor of the deer decaying behind our barn will be a mere memory when this flock moves on. Only bones will remain. (The deer originally died under our front porch, but that is a tale too disgusting to relate here.)
Until they leave us, to clean up the next corpse, I will continue to creep around the corners of the barn in an effort to get better photos. I’m not getting my hopes high. This flock always seems to arrange for a sentry to watch on one of the taller trees. When I approach, he unfolds his wings to warn the others that a strange human with a camera is approaching. I guess if everyone insisted that I was ugly, I might avoid cameras too!
The white tailed twin fawns that were born this spring have had an entire summer to grow. They are now almost as tall as their mother, and they have put on some strong, lean muscle. They have also grown much friendlier (which may not be a good thing come hunting season). They joined me in the yard this afternoon, and the clarity of these photos is not because of the quality of my new Nikon, but because these two youngsters were very close. They seemed quite curious, and actually walked towards me in spite of the breeze blowing my scent in their direction. Even speaking to them didn’t discourage them.
The cute reason that we didn’t get any corn this year.