WALKING ON THE WILD SIDE
Who Is In My Backyard?
This months "walking on the wild side" will feature pictures of wildlife I have captured with my camera from my yard. Not every picture I take is worthy of a National Geographic cover, but they still tell a story about life with our wild neighbors.
Deer are commonly found in areas where people live. I bet many of you also see deer pass through your yards now and then. In Montana we have both the mule deer and the white-tailed deer like the buck below. This buck quickly got on my husbands bad side as he thrashed every one of our newly planted trees during the rut this fall. The buck was sneaky about it, usually coming by at night to wreck his havoc.
Snow geese travel over 3,000 miles along narrow corridors where they can stop to rest and feed. The agricultural fields between Lake Helena and our house offer great grazing to restore energy before continuing their journey. They travel North to the tundra in the spring and back South in the fall. When I first came to Montana every one raved about going to Freezeout Lake to photograph snow geese and swans. My first year here that is exactly where I went but now that I have my own show in my back yard I do not feel the need to travel there every year to capture the snow geese doing their aerial dances.
Then there are the swans, we see them both spring and fall as they fly over the house. A group of swans can be referred to by several different collective nouns. When in flight, they may be called a wedge or a flight. Otherwise, a group of swans may be called a bevy, a bank, or a herd. If you listen carefully you can hear the distinct call of the trumpeter swans mixed in among the tundra swans which pass through in large numbers.
Our national emblem, the bald eagle, stays year round in Montana. At the house we see them mainly hunting in the fields which are full of mice all year. At times we would witness them dive bomb ducks and geese in hopes of creating a panic induced flight where birds may collide and become injured. An injured bird is easy pickings for the eagles.
A low quality picture due to low light and the window, but the memories shared are priceless. My mom and dad were visiting us for the first time in Helena this past September. As we have a shared love for the outdoors and wildlife, Scot and I took them around to let them soak in some of the beauty of Montana and to search for animals. One night as the sun was starting to set and we were sitting in the family room reminiscing about the day Scot spied a dark animal out the window. My head was turned away from the window until I heard him say "there is a bear outside the window". I laughed and replied, "sure honey" as I turned to see he was not joking. This was one of two bears we saw during my mom and dad's visit and the first time we saw one pass through our yard.
Like many places, we have a variety of different birds pass through. Some are year round visitors and others are seasonal visitors. One of our most recent sightings was the sharp-tailed grouse pictured below. Not a huge surprise that they are in the area as the habitat is great. Given their shyness toward people and exposure to wide open spaces it was exciting to have one pose on the fence if only briefly.
Portions of our yard already have native sunflowers. However as part of an effort to plant native plants and wild flowers to attract pollinators we seeded our yard with another variety of native sunflower. The hope was to create habitat and maintain a healthy native fauna in our yard. While not everything came out quite as planned we did create habitat for many different species of insects, butterflies, and birds like the American gold-finch who happens to be a sunflower seed specialists.
One last story before I put you to sleep -- yawn :) --. This story is about the red foxes that live and hunt in the fields behind our house. They mostly stay out of sight and are masters at disappearing into the irrigation ditches just when you thought you saw a hint of red. Scot witnessed at least three, maybe four, different foxes in the spring. That is when this beauty decided to take a nap in the back yard, exhausted from playing cat and mouse with her suitors. At least that is my story and I am sticking to it.
So who do you see in your back yard? Leave a comment on my blog page to share your stories about wildlife in your yard.
Happy New Year! May 2023 bring great things for all.
A new year brings new ideas. I will be selling my open edition prints Fine Art America. Here is a link to some of the wall art options that are available as print on demand products. Search for Lea Frye to see my prints which are for sale.
<a href="https://fineartamerica.com/wall-art">wall art</a>
Lea Frye - Wildlife Photographer
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www.leaf-images.com | Lea Frye, Wildlife Photographer | Helena, MT
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