Sunday, June 2, 2019

Mosaic Monday #30 - Movin' and Shakin' in May

Sandhill Crane by our lake
May has lingered.  Oh, not in a bad way.  Last week, I sat down at the keyboard to compose this May summary, and then a glance at the calendar brought me up short - whoa, there's another week left!  It occurred to me that, by week 3 of the month, I was full, satiated, deeply satisfied.  It led my mind to conclude that the month must be over!

First Glacier Lily in our yard 
Even my attempt to distill the month's activities yields seven major categories, in addition to our road trip, recent hikes, and my garden journal.  So much has happened in May that it's no wonder my brain would put me a week ahead of myself!  But, it's just too much for one post.  On the other hand, this is a helpful problem - I won't be running short of topics for weeks, months, maybe even years!  Does anybody need to "borrow" some of my material?

So, as unlikely as it might seem, I pared down my content to four subjects that brought me immeasurable joy this month.


It was always our intent that our landscaping should evolve over time; I have grand visions for the ultimate look of our property.  This month, we stepped forward in this area, in both permanent and seasonal ways.  First, we added a jackleg fence to both sides of our driveway entrance.  It provided some needed definition, while maintaining the rustic feel we prefer.
Upper left: first section underway
Right: first section completed
Lower left: second section completed
Driveway with fences
All of the logs used for this project are lodgepole pines harvested from
our property during last year's thinning process

Second, we enhanced the driveway itself with dress gravel.  The original driveway was constructed with a crushed material that compacts to establish a firm foundation capable of withstanding the rigors of all four seasons in Montana.  Having passed through summer, fall and winter, the driveway was ready for dress gravel to provide a finished, clean look and better define parking/driveway areas from landscape/natural areas.
Left = before   Right = after
Driveway outside garage
Before and After; Looking down driveway toward road
Before and after: additional parking area, especially designed for the
RV owned by my younger brother and his wife!
Before and after - looking up the driveway from the road - WELCOME!

Third, we adjusted the location of several large rocks at the driveway entrance while our gravel contractor was on site with his Skid Steer (you can see them in the collage directly above this paragraph).  I am ecstatic that we have completed a few more stepping stones leading to the landscape we envision for the roadsides along the entrance.
My landscape design for the right side of the driveway is already a
year old, and our thinking has evolved.  But, you get the idea!

Fourth, we selected annuals for our deck planters.  Already, the little splash of color adds warmth and layering to the deck that is so absent in the winter.
Black-eyed Susan Vine; Ambella White Bellflower; Coleus;
Evening Star Trailing Petunia; Red and Orange Ivy Geraniums


In past posts (March 14, April 7, May 5), I have written about combining my spotting scope, PhoneSkope adapter and my phone to take bird pictures.  This month, with some assistance from Spousal Unit, I feel I have improved my technique.  It doesn't hurt that it's been a banner month for birds!
Left: Male Evening Grosbeak; Middle: Red-winged Blackbird; Right: Female Evening Grosbeak
One day, I saw a yellow-headed blackbird come to the feeder, which is quite unusual.  I set up the spotting scope with my phone and waited for it to return.  And the most wonderful thing happened.  I was passing the dining room window, and my brain, on alert for "birds", saw a "bird" and caused me to stop and look again.  This is what I saw.
Great Horned Owl
This stunning creature roosted in the same spot for over three hours.  We couldn't take our eyes off of him.  (We kept hoping he would swoop down and capture one of the Columbian ground squirrels scampering around below him, but it was not to be.  That may sound cruel, but they are eating some of my landscaping!)  I love the clarity of this photo, and wondered aloud why this came out so much better than my other shots.  Spousal Unit reminded me that Mr. Owl sat very still, whereas most of the other birds are constantly moving, not to mention the feeder on which they are sitting is often swaying in the breeze.  Right.

This discussion made me wonder if video might provide better clarity.  Maybe you can give me your opinion.  Here is a picture of a Blackheaded Grosbeak (it seems to have been the month for grosbeaks), followed by a video.  Make sure you watch the video through to the end - my sought-after Yellow-Headed Blackbird shows up after the grosbeak.

And here are a few other birds from the month.
Left: Rufous Hummingbird; Center: Song Sparrow; Right: Yellow-Headed Blackbird
In case you would like more, below is a video of the owl, and separately, the female blackheaded grosbeak.


Of course, we have more than just birds here!  The trail cams have continued to deliver a delightful menagerie.
Upper left: Red Squirrel; Upper right: Canada goose
Lower left: Mountain Cottontail (well-camouflaged, right?)  Lower right: Columbian Ground Squirrel
One morning, Spousal Unit suddenly grabbed the binoculars and said "Is that a moose?"  Well, that was better than a shot of espresso to get me going!  By the time we looked through the binoculars and the spotting scope, "it" was nowhere to be seen.  The good news?  The trail cam was in the perfect spot to capture "it".  So, I trotted down there and retrieved the disk, and this is "it".
A cow elk.  Elk are usually in herds; the fact she is on her own suggests she is ready to calve (give birth).
One of our neighbors told us today that he saw a cow and two calves in the last few days.  Might be her!
Another sign of spring - the young bucks with nubbins for antlers.

My heart always takes a little leap when I see the coyote on the trail cam.

And then there are the spring wildflowers.  
Upper left - I love to bring the outside in - larch, kinnikinnick, star-flowered Solomon's seal
Upper right: Oregon grape;  Bottom: Blue violet
Some of the flora we find is edible, as in the case of morel mushrooms.  I wrote in the past about a gift of morels from a neighbor - upon first taste of the sauce prepared by Spousal Unit, we were hooked.  Fully intending to go mushroom hunting on public lands this spring, we were pleasantly surprised to find enough around our own acreage to make a meal.  Melt in your mouth good!


But the month wasn't complete without a couple surprises.  One day, Spousal Unit was tidying the woodpile and came back with this beauty - a long-toed salamander, which just happens to be the state salamander of Montana.  Yep, you know I love nature when I get excited about one of these!

And last but not least,  Spousal Unit was fishing the North Fork of the Flathead River, and popped into the Polebridge Mercantile.  Despite its middle-of-nowhere location, it is deservedly famous for its baked goods.  Imagine my delight when he returned to the house with two huckleberry bear claws.  Savoring this confection made up for the fact that he didn't hook a single fish!

What's not a surprise?  That Spousal Unit was the man behind both of these moments - I can always count on him to bring me joy! 

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).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


  1. What a wonderful read this morning - your landscaping plans, the progress (wow), wildlife. Thank you Angie for sharing what you see. Thank you too for your 30th Mosaic Monday.

  2. ...Angie. before my retirement I was in the landscape business for 50 years. With plants like that Glacier Lily, you will be hard pressed to do better that Mother Nature!

  3. Great work on your driveway. The jackleg (now I know the name for it) is very attractive and I bet it makes you feel very proud because you used your own trees to make it. I don't have a mosaic this week but will enjoy the others. - Margy

  4. Oh, I do love me a wonderful bearclaw and what a bonus to get a huckleberry one! Sweet. I'm amazed at your owl capture and the fact that he visited for 3 hours. I wouldn't be able to take my eyes off of it either. So special. Love all the critters you captured. The improvements and enhancements on your property look real good. Love your defined driveway entrance and everything else. Good work!

  5. Looks like you've been working very hard around the property so a huckleberry bear claw is most definitely in order!

  6. The beauty of your neck of the woods is totally amazing and the bear claws look pretty amazing too!

  7. What a wonderful post, so much happenjng in your part of the world. The owl photo is stunning.

  8. Your monthly recap is filled with stunning captures - I love every single photo.

  9. I'd take that pastry over a fish any day! Your photos are stunning. I could not name a favorite. Thanks for sharing and thanks for hosting.

  10. What an amazing set of photos. The elk is wonderful.

  11. landscapes, wild life, foods and everything else look so great....
    Thank for sharing the post.

    Have a wonderful day

  12. May is over in the falsh of busyness for me too. It looks like you live in a really lovely area. The peace must be glorious. Enjoy June! And thank you again for the link up.

  13. Hello Angie, your place is just filled with wildlife. I would love living there, I would be so distracted by any movement. The birds are beautiful, I especially love the Cranes, Owl and Grosbeaks. The Salamander was a great find. I would worry some about the coyote but they are still neat to see. Your annuals are beautiful. I have looked the morel mushrooms around here and I can not find any. Lovely photos and mosaics. Thanks for hosting MM. Enjoy your day, have a great new week!

  14. Your wildlife sightings for the month were awesome! The big Owl is my favorite but so many different things...even a salamander! Love to see the entrance to your we know where you are, we'll all show up for a nice long summer visit! heehee! Enjoy your day! Happy MM!

  15. A lovely Post, especially all the birds and the wonderful Salamander.

    Heidrun xxx

  16. Another delightful post, Angie. I really liked your before and after photos. Good to document the great results of hard work!

  17. Hi Angie,
    I envy your energy - that much happening in May! It seems that you live in the middle of wilderness with all these animals. The owl photo & video is stunning. That species I have never seen live. Your house is new and it is fun to plan the surroundings. Every year a bit forward, the world was not built in a second :) Wishing you a lovely & active June as well.

  18. Happy June Angie! The owls, birds, morels, flowers, new fence and driveway...all fun to see, and your husband is a wonderful cook!
    In my post my husband had a special birthday and I made him a special meal--a favorite!

  19. The owl in particular is quite graceful.

  20. Angie, What a wonderful place for wildlife. The videos are great. You are getting good photos! Love the fence. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week. Sylvia D.

  21. What amazing wildlife sightings you enjoyed. The owl is stunning. How fun to have a husband who cooks such delectable treats for you.

  22. Wow, the owl is wonderful! Shooting birds from a window can result in a fuzzy look depending on the angle of the light, and whether the lens is against the window. And then there are those pesky spider webs outside the window! Also double pane glass can be a "pain," LOL. I find I can clear up my window photos using Photoshop layers.

  23. You have had a busy month of May with so many wonderful sightings of birds and critters. It is pretty hard to pick a favourite photo or sighting but the owl is pretty magnificent. It is the first time I've heard the term jackleg fence and I think it looks perfect along your driveway. All the other exterior work is looking pretty nice as well.

  24. Hey Angie! :-) I love your photos of the owl and grosbeak. The birds pop against the almost impressionistic (such a word?) background. Love that lighting, too, in your photos and video shots.
    Spousal Unit knows your heart well. :-)

  25. Terrific Angie. You two really have your eyes open to spot all of those birds and other animals that grace your home. The video of the Great Horned Owl is simply super. All that stretching, turning and those eye movements give a much better idea of what the owl is all about, much better than stills.

    The salamander is superb too. What a great find.

  26. Beautiful the Sandhill Crane and the Great Horned Owl, fabulous Angie.

  27. Great variety of nature in all its wonderful and diverse forms. Great Horned Owls are not especially uncommon but getting the coverage you did is another matter entirely. Congratulations for that. The other bird shots are very appealing too. As for your garden, I think that nature has provided one for you and little else needs to be done.

  28. Fantastic Nature shots ~ love the owl! Beautiful presentation ^_^

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

  29. May, a marvelous month! Great post Angie, all your wildlife images were especailly nice to see.

  30. Wow,you are do lucky to get yo see all of those wonderful creators, especially the owl looks beautiful☺

  31. You live in a beautiful part of the world and it is so full of live. I enjoyed this post, thank you.

  32. What a wonderful post this is.
    So much to read and so much to see and enjoy.
    That owl is a brilliant photograph.

    All the best Jan

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  34. Look at that owl! So incredible. I am away from my gardens right now and missing them. But I have the sea to divert me. Enjoy your June. Kit