More and more, I've been stealing away from my work during the day to pass a little time down by the pond. The amount of wildlife I see in just those few minutes absolutely astonishes me. Every day is different.
This week, camera in hand, I saw...
A red-shouldered hawk. Two blue jays were noisily harassing him in what's known as "mobbing behavior" in an attempt to drive him from their territory.
A great blue heron.
A beautiful little blue heron, in the same family as the one above but a completely different bird.
A pair of ducks.
Look! We have muskrats!
As you can guess from the name, muskrats are rodents and so named for the smell they leave when they mark their territory. They build mud 'lodges' for winter protection, and people used to predict the severity of the coming winter from the thickness of these burrows. They peacefully co-exist with beavers, which is good, because we've got those too.
Despite the fact that I stomp through the thick leaves around the water's edge, I haven't seen many snakes. Just this one, at a distance.
Todd called me out last night, though, to show me a snake in the yard.
It was a black rat snake, probably five or so feet long. Perfectly harmless and good to have around, although Todd was horrified to see it start to climb a tree while we watched.
They are very skillful climbers, and it was pretty cool to watch him go!
We'll be spending a lot more time outside soon. We're *almost* done with our late spring yard maintenance. I've spent hours and hours this past week cutting back the hated mahonia plants so that Todd can shear off the trunks with his chain saw. Their leaves are needle-sharp and my hands are positively dripping blood by the time I finish with them.
Their only redeeming quality, in my eyes, is their gorgeous mustard-colored wood fibers. I bet they'd make an amazing dye.
Have a great week!