Today, I am going to share a photo journal with you - shots I’ve taken (and not yet shared) in my hikes around the lodge this month. Next time I will share photos and journal entries about a little excursion we enjoyed recently. You may not be too impressed, but I found it beyond amazing. I truly live in the most incredible place in the world!
The time has come. I no longer have Elk Lake to myself. Yes, the animals and birds are returning, as I have been showing in the last two posts, but the people have returned as you can see in the photo above.
But, they are not what excites me most. So. . .here are a few photos and blurbs to finish recounting my recent hikes.
Bluebirds are among the first small birds to return. While we (humans) expend a lot of effort trying to make sure the Tree Swallows do not steal all the quaint little Bluebird boxes we put up, I think the real problem lies with Mrs. Bluebird.
I’ve yet to see a Swallow steal an established Bluebird nesting spot (although I do not claim extensive knowledge), but I have seen Bluebirds spend more time looking at themselves in car mirrors, sunning themselves on handy perches, and debating over an available house (long before and even after the Swallows arrive). Perhaps she is in no rush to settle down and have a family? Besides, he looks too cute to be a serious papa candidate!
This year has been unique - oh, we’ve had the typical warm and cold weather mix. The animals appear to be returning at the usual rate. The wildflowers seem to be popping up on schedule. It’s the birds which have surprised me. Barn Swallows here already? They usually do not show up for another two or three weeks. Goldfinches on my feeders? I’ve never seen them at the lodge before - and certainly not in numbers. A Common Grackle outside my door. While obviously ‘common’ means they are not rare, I’ve never seen one in the valley before. Yet, when my hubby came in to report ‘a blackbird on steroids’ partaking of our feeder, the fellow eyeing me from above is what I found.
Elk sightings are more common this time of year than during any other season. Thus I watch closely and hope each time I hike I’ll see some. Sure enough - even walking the road produced sightings of three cow elk. Typically I turn around when I see wildlife so as not to disturb them. However, this time I wanted to make a loop which required working my way past (at a distance). I tried a new trick (hunching down and ‘hiding’ alongside my big hiking buddy - Bo). Whether they stuck around to watch me make a fool of myself or whether I really was less frightening in such a posture, I’ll never know. I really don’t care. It worked!
I have seen a couple of butterflies - amazing! Who would have thought they could survive 25 degree nights, cool days, and the lack of vegetation? However, this was my first caterpillar. I probably would have missed him if I hadn’t stopped to admire the Wyoming Kittentail!
Wyoming Kittentails are a wildflower new to me this year. They have come in abundance, so I have little doubt I have just missed them in previous years. While I've never seen a kitten with a purple tail, this pretty flower does resemble a furry tail in other ways.
The lighting was not too great, but here is another bird I had never noticed before. I’m sure they are usually here - but with water fowl it can be difficult to get close enough to identify them properly. This Green Winged Teal was hanging around the boat docks - another pair were hanging out at the pond.
Usually one expects to see Pronghorns in small bunches. However, this lone buck has been spotted several times hanging by himself. He had better watch his back with hungry wolves around.
The Osprey return even before the ice releases its hold on the lake. Funny thing - they always seem to know just when there is enough open water for them to catch a meal.
Of course - all these excursions would probably not occur (at least not in such abundance and with such confidence) were it not for my hiking companions. So. . .here’s to you Rosie and Bo!
Lady of the Lake