Living with the Land

I like the idea of living with the land. Or rather, with the wildlife on it.

Last week’s post about defeating the deer made me think about how many animals I live with at Glen Villa, either occasionally or on a regular basis. I’m happy to share real estate with the ducks who nest annually at the skating pond. A few years ago, there were two separate families, and ducklings galore.

I count ten ducklings but I think there were eleven.

Occasionally a merganser drops in for a day or two. He must be on his way somewhere else, and travelling fast to get there — his hair is always windswept.

Love the attitude!

Unfortunately, Canada geese visit frequently, and stay far too long. This year, though, they’ve mostly been pooping on someone else’s lawn. Thank goodness.

Two Canada geese on a sandbar in the stream.

Bees bumble around the various sedums and echinaceas I grow, particularly at this time of year. I’ve heard talk of bee populations diminishing, but it doesn’t seem to be true in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Or at least, not in my garden.

It’s a bee on a coneflower.  What else can I say?

We have many seasonal visitors. In mid to late summer, butterflies begin to appear. The variety below really liked the wildflowers along the driveway.

I have no idea what kind of butterfly this is.
Can anyone identify it?
Will I remember the name if they do?

The fuzzy guy appeared earlier in the year. And thanks to some quick on-line searching, I can identify him:  lophocampa caryae larva.  (Not that I’m going to remember the name.)

Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear. No, a lophocampa caryae.

Chipmunks are everywhere, now that our neighbour’s cat has passed on. From old age or an overly rich diet of chippies and mice?

Chipmunks are fun to watch.

Woodpeckers and frogs make the most noise. We see frogs in the small pond by the house and in great numbers at the skating pond. We hear them even when we can’t see them.

A frog surfaces in the skating pond.

Water bugs of all kinds inhabit the skating pond: damsel flies and skimmers like this one that, very cooperatively, posed for a few minutes on top of a dry stem.

A black and white-tailed skimmer.

We happily share the land with most creatures (deer and raccoons are the exceptions for me) and even more happily welcome back some who had gone missing for years. Now that fewer fields are being farmed and forests are expanding, the pre-historic-looking creatures below are no longer a rarity. I see wild turkeys almost daily, but rarely up close, which explains why this photo isn’t very sharp.

A trio of turkey toms.

Some animals we smell more often than we see, like this frightened, and frightening, skunk. Thankfully, I stood still until s/he turned and moved off into the high grass, no longer bristling.

Who knew that skunk’s eyes look like the black button eyes on teddy bears?

Minks are genuine rarities. This animal dashed across the deck by the lake in early July, followed by four or five smaller versions.  Seeing them was a treat; getting a photo that allowed me to identify them with certainty was a stroke of luck. And very satisfying.

Thank you, mink, for pausing long enough for me to take your photo!

Was the mink responsible for the dead fish I saw a day or two later, lying in the grass near the lake?

An unidentified fish, curled artistically on the grass.

Grass snakes sun themselves on the warm rocks in the lower garden. They slither past from time to time. This one held still long enough for me to capture him with his tongue out.

A grass snake sniffs me out. I see it as a warming not to get any closer.

One grass snake at Glen Villa never slithers off.  He never moves at all. His tongue is always out and he reaches for the apple all day long. All night, too.

The grass snake is BIG — about 18 feet long.

Thankfully, he never reaches it. Our piece of Eden is secure. For now, at least.