Nature Observer – June 2019

In complete honesty, I’ve spent every available minute this month outdoors enjoying the beauty and unexpected variety of life that seems to have been drawn to our yard. It’s very true that if you create a natural space that provides shelter, food, and water, the living creatures will come to visit.

Birds – over 20 kinds!

Insects – mostly bees, butterflies, mosquitoes, snakeflies, gnats, and ants

Amphibians – frogs and toads

Mammals – elk, deer, ground squirrels, Douglas squirrels, gray squirrels, bats

Arthropods – a variety of spiders

The effort to create an inviting environment for nature to come to us has been worth every minute and achy muscle. We’re excited to see what the rest of the summer brings to us!

Here are some nature highlights from our month.

kayak june 2019

We started the month off with a family paddle down the Little Deschutes River.  The sky was amazing! It doesn’t get much better than this when you’re out for a smooth water ride: the wildflowers were blooming, the birds were visible (including about a hundred cliff swallows), and the river all to ourselves.

wildflowers june 2019

Everywhere I looked this month I spotted a colorful wildflower. I’m keeping a list in my nature journal of all the flowers we see and it’s getting rather long. My favorite flower of the month is the wild blue iris. The meadow behind our house came alive with irises for about a week. They stand just above the grass so it looks like a sea of lavender-purple.

herb garden containers june 2019

As I have shared here before, we don’t live in a place that is highly favorable for growing a traditional vegetable garden. Instead, I’ve opted to grow fast germinating flowers and some potted herbs. Everything is starting to really shoot up with our warmer weather and I’m anxious to see how they fare over the next few months.

transplants on the berm

We’ve been busy transplanting native plants to our newly created garden berms. Each time I find a good candidate, I try to observe the growing conditions so that I can put the transplant where it has a good chance of taking hold. I’ve moved lupine, salsify, violets, columbine, and grasses. It’s all a great experiment to see what does well and what we can move in the future.

I’ve observed so many pollinators this month in our garden! Mostly bees, but also butterflies have come to land on our flowers. This is a great success for us because we’re thinking a lot about the design of the different areas of our yard to be more pollinator friendly.

wildflower sprouts

On that note, here’s an image of our freshly sprouted wildflower garden that we seeded a few weeks ago. We’re taking a gamble that we can get these plants established before the fall frosts come. If we are successful, this should reseed itself each year.

trout june 2019
Let me set the record straight. I am not a fisherman. But, I am married to one. This month the season opened on our river behind our house and we were out there several evenings walking and fishing. We had all the boys with us on one of those nights and that was the night my husband caught THE biggest rainbow trout we have ever seen. Look at my hubby’s face…joy! In the spirit of fair play, he released this big daddy back into the river to live a little longer. This is why I love him so very much….he knows the nature lover in me admired that fish’s beauty and freedom more than I would have a few delicious bites of trout.

 

 

Now for a couple of pages from my nature journal.

wildflower nature journal page

There are so many wildflowers growing on our property this year after the rains of May and early June.

may 2019 bird list nature journal

I could call this the “super bird list” since it has so many birds and the addition of a new bird to add to our life list.

Porcupine nature journal page

I’ve been eager to spot a porcupine in the habitat behind our house but have been unsuccessful so far. But, we have seen two dead porcupines on the road near our house. I stopped to look at one of them up close since he wasn’t run over but just bumped. This was a first for me to see a real porcupine this intimately and to see the quills and the fur. My admiration grew for porcupines after learning about their unique features and then having the opportunity to see one in real life. This is how advanced preparation is beneficial!

 

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Comments

  1. Barbara Selkirk says:

    Thanks for your post. This was very interesting. We love looking for new birds in our area. We also saw a porcupine for the first time this year. It was in late march when the leaves weren’t in yet. We were on our way back from our sugar bush and I saw a dark lump high up in a tree. It was a porcupine. You can also look for porcupine droppings at the base of trees (more easily seen in winter) . Those are my suggestions for find a porcupine! :)

    • Barb McCoy says:

      Thank you for the great porcupine spotting tips! I am so hoping to eventually see one if I keep my eyes open. I will keep you posted here on the blog!

  2. Leslie Druschel says:

    Hi, Barb. Here’s how I accidentally lured a porcupine. I was sitting near my vegetable garden at sundown quietly reading. I heard rustling and thought it was my dog roaming nearby, but I turned instead to see Porky just 3 feet away! He had come for his evening meal of my vegetables and thought he’d be dining alone :-) After securing the dog (!), I followed Mr. P. with my camera. He waddled away as fast as a porcupine can (not very). When he cornered himself by a retaining wall, he resorted to raising his quills. He was really quite pathetic trying to be tough because he was obviously frightened. Fortunately nobody was hurt–porcupine, dog, human–and it made for a memorable Outdoor Hour event!

    • Barb McCoy says:

      Wish I could have seen that porcupine! I have seen videos of how slowly they actually walk and climb. I guess with their defense system they don’t need to move very fast! That is actually a point in favor of me someday actually seeing one in person. Loved hearing your story!

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