Monday, June 23, 2014

Critter Spotting

Spotting Equipment
I Love You, Too, Snapper
Ringed-neck Ducks
Osprey Flying South
Coffee? No? Okay, Go Ahead and Take Pics
Northern Flicker
Bootsy Slinking
Go Catch a Gopher, Bootsy
Deer in the Daisies
Taking my seat at the Elmira Pond Morning Show, I'm ready for critters with or without wings. Mostly it's the winged sort that acrobat for my attention as if I paid big bucks to sit here. They seem to be happy to perform for a buffet of seeds, insects, frogs and fish.

One critter watches me. Snapper, the sorrel mare, is falling for me. I know, because I'm falling for her, too. My cousin J texts me, "We should have brought you out to the ranch with us." As much as I'd love to spend time with her, ride their huge eastern Montana spread and direct them on fence building, I'm reluctant to leave my horse-love.

Other critters do not elicit warm and fuzzies from me. Like the gopher who gave me a panic-attack, dropping into my morning like an A-bomb. True we startled him so severely that he tried to claw his way up the side of the garage; a creepy sight. Bobo chased him into the garage through the cat portal. When I opened the big door it nearly ran me over, fleeing the GSP in hot pursuit.

Now that the excitement is over, except for the nose-whistling as the dogs beg to return outside to chase other critters, I'm watching the winged ones. The ringed-neck ducks patter about the pond and although I can't spot her, Lady Merganser shows up eventually. The big mystery for now--will babies turn up?

An osprey flies south, not pausing. Though distant, I actually snap a shot this morning. When he's winging south he doesn't stop to hunt. I imagine that his bird belly is full of trout from MacArthur Lake, and he's heading home to rest in a stick nest. Maybe he'll fish later in the afternoon.

And I'm not the only one critter spotting. A man parks his car along Hwy. 95, crosses traffic of logging trucks and motor-homes, and points his big lens at Elmira Pond. Or maybe the horses. Several times a week, cars stop and hands emerge out of open windows to point i-phones at the horses, and then kick up a cloud of dirt as they drive away. Ah, Snapper and friend--they are so lovely and photogenic.

I'd offer the man coffee if he'd glance my way, but he seems serious about his photography. It feels strange to be ignored in person on my own home-turf. Maybe he thinks I'll tell him to go away. I don't mind sharing the scenery. There's more critters hanging out on this place than one woman can shoot. So, I shoot him, shooting Elmira Pond.

Not long after he leaves without so much as a wave, a flash of russet zips across the driveway. Robin? Barn swallow? Ah, it lands on the power pole where the silent man took pictures and I see it's a northern flicker, a type of woodpecker. He poses for me today; a rare treat.

My mug is empty and the sun is slanting higher and hotter in the sky. It might actually get up to 80 today. Once inside, my critter watching continues. As I wash the breakfast dishes, Bootsy the barn cat slinks across the front yard. She's black as obsidian in the verdant grass.

The GSPs bark at the west porch door, perhaps catching sight of the gopher again. Do I grab the .22 or the camera? I choose the camera and good thing. The white-tail doe has returned and stands alert in grass and daisies almost as tall as her back. She's small for a white-tail. Maybe a yearling. For now I point the camera her way and call it quits on critter spotting until evening comes.