Sunday, April 14, 2019

Mosaic Monday #23: Anticipation

When we moved into our new house on April 14, 2018, I began taking notes about wildlife we saw around the acreage, including information such as date and location.  And, of course, digital photography is a superb record-keeper since it embeds the date the photo is taken.  My blog is another source of historic information about the last 12 months.


So, as the anniversary of our move-in date approached, the idea of a retrospective on flora and fauna deeply excited me, and mainly as a reminder about what we can expect as spring continues to unfold.  I plan to maintain my journal, and in the years ahead I can envision a running dialogue such as "the bluebirds are late this year" or "flowers will be delayed because this winter slammed us with 5 more feet of snow than normal".  Won't that be interesting?

For now, let's focus on what we can anticipate in the next 90 days.  Maybe in a future post I can tell you if it happened or not!!!

APRIL

As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers, so this month delivers more in the way of fauna than flora.  Last year, April meant turkeys passing through our yard, but we have yet to spot any this year.  The chipmunks, on the other hand, emerged from hibernation at the end of March and have been scampering around ever since.

Birds that have been absent for the winter have begun to appear.  Both the Mountain Bluebird and Sandhill Crane have arrived at Hodge Lake, earlier than last year.  I find it particularly interesting that I observe a mating pair of bluebirds in almost the same location as last year.  I read some material that suggests these birds bond more to a nest site than to each other.
Sandhill Crane
Last year at this time, the bluebirds and swallows were considering our bird houses.  This year, as I mentioned in my last post, we have already noticed the bluebirds examining the nesting quarters, but the swallows are still in absentia.

April also witnessed the return of the Red-Winged Blackbirds at our bird feeders.  This year, the first one showed up on March 14, and now my feeders are mobbed by males and females alike on a daily basis.  The sunflower seeds have also attracted an occasional house finch, a new visitor.  On Friday, I almost fell over myself when a Red-Naped Sapsucker perched for just a few moments on our porch railing.  (I knew it was a woodpecker, but I had never seen it before and had to look it up in my Montana field guide.  SOOOO exciting!!!)

Other new sightings have included two otters.  On April 7, in the early evening, Spousal Unit spotted something dark on the remaining ice of the lake, and he examined it through the binoculars while I deployed the spotting scope.  Over the next few minutes, we watched one and then two otters slide in and out of the water onto the ice.  At one point, they shared a fish that one of them had pulled out onto the ice.  How cool is that?

On April 10, Spousal Unit (yes, he has sharp eyes) detected movement on the far side of the lake, and we soon determined that it was four wolves.  We must have observed their activity for 20 minutes; they ran up and down along the edge of the lake, and at times acted almost like puppies in the way that they gamboled together.  Of course, I have reported wolves before, but this is the first occasion that we have seen them in real time.
That same evening, I noticed something white moving around in the tall grass near the lake.  On closer examination, it turned out to be a bald eagle eating something on the ground.  Being this close to Hodge Lake is certainly a boon for wildlife!

MAY


May 2018 was a thrilling month since we witnessed the moose down at the lake, and the beaver pair moved into the neighborhood, building a dam and lodge lickety-split.  After those initial sightings of the moose, it disappeared for parts unknown.  We continued to see beaver activity in terms of changes to the dam, tree cutting and the occasional tail slap, but over the winter they have been entrenched in the lodge.  Hopefully they will be more visible once the ice clears out.

The flowers surged last year during this month, and here are some of the beauties we can anticipate emerging first.
Lower left: Glacier Lily; Center: Blue Violet; Lower right: Aspen

Upper right: Kinnikinnick
Upper left: Serviceberry; Upper Center: Heartleaf Arnica; Upper right: Wild Strawberry

Lower left: Oregon grape; Lower Center: Not sure; Lower right: Lodgepole pine
On May 28, my trail cam documented the Columbian Ground Squirrels, but I am fairly certain they were scrambling about earlier.  Just as I was wondering when they would leave hibernation, I spotted one yesterday on the slope just below the kitchen window.  He was frantically eating the short grass; we shouldn't be surprised since he has been underground since mid-August!


May 29 brought a coyote loping through our leach field around 9.30 pm.  At the time, it was a novelty that had me jumping up and down.  Twelve months on, I have become accustomed to a sighting (at a distance) while I am running, and I have certainly captured plenty of them on my trail cam.  Don't get me wrong, I am still mesmerized, but they are not as rare as I first imagined.

At the end of the month, we planted our flower pots.  While this does not relate directly to my chronicles of native flora and fauna, I can use the reference as a safety net - generally, I don't have to worry about these plants suffering a snow storm or ravaging frost if I wait for the final days of May to set them out.

JUNE


 Middle left: Narrowleaf Collomia

Middle right: Rose

Lower left: Starry Wild Lily of the Valley
Reproduction systems kick into high gear in this month.  Fawns begin to appear, and as many as six elk with a baby in tow wandered the edges of Hodge Lake.  A painted turtle crawled up the logging road and seemed to be digging a hole for eggs.  This occurred twice that I witnessed.  Each time, I placed rocks on either side of the area to enable monitoring (incubation is 72 days).  Nothing came of it as far as I could tell.

Not to be outdone, the swallows were nesting in both bird boxes.  (But by mid-June, the gnawing squirrels had kicked them to the curb.)  I also glimpsed the occasional Western Tanager high in the pine treetops, and male and female crossbills chose our rock steps below the kitchen as a favorite hang-out.  I still have not determined what drew them to that spot - something in the soil?  Microscopic bugs that I could not see?


Of course, not all wildlife is welcome.  This month also brought the carpenter ant infestation, which we were able to fend off quickly.  That was a relief, and now I am constantly vigilant for bugs attempting to make a warm nest out of our house.

Abundant wildflowers danced in the meadows and nodded under the shrubs.
Upper left: Cinquefoil; Upper Middle: Blue Violet;

Upper Right: Butter and Eggs

Lower left: reflection in lake; Lower right: Shooting Star
Left: Yarrow; Upper middle: Pink Wintergreen; Upper right: Blue-eyed Grass

Lower middle: Self-heal; Lower right: Bog Orchid
I would be hard-pressed to choose the highlights from June, but the black bear on the logging road (captured by trail cam) and the badgers I observed would land at the top of the list.



JULY


Early July brought much of the same with an occasional surprise, such as the afternoon I glimpsed a small black bear on our driveway as I returned home from a run.  Or the weasel that caught my eye from the window of our master bathroom.

As I sit here now, looking at barren tree branches and muddy ground, my mind struggles to grasp the life that is waiting just below every surface.  I am dreaming about the wild grass and wildflowers that we sowed in the fall, immediately before the snow took over.  Will it sprout?  What kind of wildflowers will we see?  Can we defend the new growth from the deer and the bunnies?  Of course I am also keen to observe our formal landscaping.  Does it come back?  How much self-seeding occurred?  Will our apple trees bloom and cross-pollinate?  And then we have the pines and aspens we transplanted at the end of the summer.  Did they survive the process?  When can we expect the aspens to leaf out?  So much anticipation.  All I have to do is wait.


Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
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As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.
 
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44 comments:

  1. I couldn't believe it. Our Tree Swallows arrived two weeks ago, almost a month early. Fortunately, the gnats and mosquitoes came early so they have plenty to eat. My small brown bat also returned early. Between the two species we get very few mosquitoes at the float cabin. On shore under the trees it is much worse. - Margy

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  2. ...having none of the organization skills that you seen to have, hit each day running and try to take as many photos as I can. The BIG problem is finding them after a while, oh well.

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  3. Your log cabin home with its “welcome” sign is a perfect fit near where forest creatures dwell. Looks like you’ve embarked on an extensive job of cataloging the wildlife that surrounds you. It will be fun and insightful reading for generations to come.

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  4. You sure have the most amazing sights, no wonder you fell in love with that area and your beautiful home.

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  5. I'll be back later after our dinner company leave to read your post thoroughly and leave a comment! Thanks for hosting Mosaic Monday!

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  6. There's lots happening in April while you wait for those May flowers! Blogging is a great way to look back on how things were a year or 10 years ago, in my case. I organize my photos by month, and that makes it easy to look back, too.
    Thanks for hosting MM, Angie, and have a wonderful week as you anticipate all the beauty appearing in your corner of the globe.

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  7. A fun combination review/look forward post ... your “fauna” are amazing (bear, badgers, and turtles oh my!) but it is your beautiful wildflowers that have me enthralled. Snow must provide all the best nutrients during their winter sleep...so wonderful.

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  8. I am loving learning all about Montana life. How clever that you have kept such detailed records, it will indeed be fascinating to see the changes by the seasons and how they compare to the previous years. I love your trail cam captures!
    Wren x

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  9. Thank you Angie for your 23rd Mosaic Monday - keeping detailed seasonal records - such a good idea.
    Joy

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  10. I share your anticipation for what late spring and summer will bring, Angie! It is always a thrill to see wildlife--except I'm not a fan of snakes, especially the rattlesnakes we have to watch out for here on the front range trails. I also love wildflowers and love to photograph them. I hope all the late snow will bring us both many this year!

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  11. You live in the middle of wilderness Angie. It was fun & interesting to read about all the animals and native flowers. Yes, when the nature awakens you are thrilled for sure!

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  12. Good morning, I had my Coffee and now it's time to comment...
    ...dear Angie, this wilderness is a treasure. I am so glad to see this. It's rare. And I love to read about!

    Thank you for sharing. Have a good week.

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  13. I am enjoying your Mosaic Monday. Thanks.

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  14. Dearest Angie; Oh, I DO agree with you that blog is another source of looking back what happened; I trully enjoyed your repot♬ I really AM envious with gorgeous surroundings of nature♡♡♡ And great collages and videos.
    Thank you so much for hosting and sweet comments, Dear friend in America.
    Lots of Love and Hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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  15. Hello, the first year seems to have gone by quickly. A wonderful look back at your fist year in your new home. It is a great idea t keep a journal, recording your sightings. You do see some great birds there, The Mountain Bluebird is gorgeous. Love the bear and deer images. Thanks so much for hosting MM. Enjoy your day! Have a great new week ahead.

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  16. I began my post today with a photo similar to yours. I love when that happens! And it's amazing to see the animals you see there. I think the biggest surprise is the Sandhill Crane. They are here year round but I know they migrate too. Enjoy your day sweet lady! Thanks for the MM fun!

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  17. Awesome photos, thanks for sharing your look back. Happy Mosaic Monday

    much love...

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  18. What a wonderful collection of keepsakes, Angie. As you say being able to record everything digitally certainly makes things easier!

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  19. Happy one year anniversary! It is interesting to see the changes or similarities from one year to the next. You have an amazing array of wildflowers and wildlife - though I don't think I would want to see a black bear on my driveway! Have a great week!

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  20. We have similar flora and fauna!
    I enjoyed the retrospective. I've been trying to look forward, by reviewing other srpings and things to come!

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  21. Good morning and happy 1 year anniversary! Who would have thought of the myriad of wonders you are now experiencing in your retirement home. Amazing. The badgers intrigue me...at a distance, and bears, too. Those squirrels are cute. We are wondering what will pop up here, too. We've had our first turkeys come to visit our property. The birds are in abundance, too. Something is digging, maybe a gopher. The one thing we hope we don't see is a rattlesnake. We have heard that turkeys like to eat baby rattlesnakes so I'm hoping that's what they were doing on our slope behind our home. Hope you have a great Easter Week!

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  22. You do have an amazing variety of wildlife, and that you also catch so much on camera always surprises me. I know we have a lot more around here than we actually see in person. I need to spring for a new game cam as soon as I find one that won't quit working in just a few months.

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  23. Fabulous shots. I envy you your wildlife. I just have to say that your bluebird shot is beyond gorgeous!

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  24. It is hard to wait for sure. I only have a few plants up and nothing blooming yet. But the Robins are back and the Osprey. Yay! Kit

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  25. Oh my what lovely nature shots. I love this time of year.

    Have a fabulous day and week. ♥

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  26. Wow, you've certainly had a wealth of wildlife!

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  27. Hello,
    ...love the bluebird of happiness (as Snoopy would say)!
    Have a nice day!

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  28. Hello Angie and SU. Living so far north a unknowing reader might imagine that your wildlife is rather sparse. Not so! It's lovely to read your diary of the changes that you see and hear. It must be quite dramatic to go from deep snow to sudden spring with every day bringing joy from the birds and animals that wake from their winter sleep or arrive from very far south of you. Dare I say, you appear to becoming quite something of a birder and wild animal watcher? Be careful, it can take over your life.

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  29. Angie, the best photos you have done. Fabulous.

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  30. Whoops! I did a mosaic but I am too late!!! Next week.

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  31. One of my favorite things about spring is seeing and hearing all the birds again.

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  32. What a wonderful photo post of the 'year in your new house!' What a place and divine critters surrounding you ~

    Happy Days to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

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  33. congrats to one years anniversary in the house. :) You had many great experiences. Thanks for sharing them. And, I´m glad you managed to get the ants out of it :)

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  34. Wow, you have a lot of wildlife to watch from and on your property. Elk, Moose, bear, wolves, otters. You got it all. I have never seen otters in the wild and would love to see them.

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  35. Such a great idea for keeping a journal. Lovely drawings. The photo of the bluebird is beautiful. To be able to see wolves - that is amazing!

    -Soma

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  36. I just took my time to read through your retrospective. What a wonderful array of birds and especially wildlife you have been viewing and documented. I'm sure such information is a valuable record and provide pleasure to review. Lovely mosaics and such pretty flowers as well. Thanks for taking the time to share this! A wonderful post.

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  37. I love Sandhill Crane ...awesome
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos....
    Have a great day

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  38. Such a lovely post to read and look at. I'm sure this first year in your new home has simply whizzed by and what a super idea to keep an account of the sightings and happenings. I have to say the Bluebird caught my eye, what a fabulous colour it is.

    Fabulous 'Mosaic Monday' post.

    All the best Jan

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  39. Wonderful post to read, so good to see the animals around you and anticipate the beautiful plants and flowers.

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  40. Happy Anniversary! Hope you have a wonderful weekend. I am bummed as it is going to be raining here all weekend. The only positive side of that is at least the chocolate wont melt in the easter baskets.

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  41. congrats to you on one year in your new home, it is beautiful!!! you have so many pretty flowers, i enjoy seeing them in mosaic form!!!

    happy easter, happy spring!!!

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