All photos and text by Celeste Rouse
Why am I so obsessed with Nature? Because it breathes life into me, it encourages me, it embraces me and gives me permission to take time to listen. To listen to the intense silence, to listen to the calamity and noise of the creatures and to listen to that little voice inside of me that lets me know I am loved by God, Family and Friends.
I lived in Minneapolis for 45 years where I had to venture away from my house to find the animals and birds that I craved to see. Then my husband and I fell into good fortune a year and a half ago and we bought a lake home in Wisconsin. Well, I now have a yard that I call “The Garden of Eden.” Over 75 species of birds have come to visit, 16 mammals, 11 reptiles/amphibians and more insects that I can count. I would now love to share some of these beautiful gifts with all of you. I hope you enjoy….
Hubby and I were having breakfast when I looked outside at the feeders and saw a bird with a red head. I almost choked! I ran to the window to grab a shot through the window and lucked out. I thought I would never see him again. I was wrong
as three more times he visited my yard through the summer. Hope he remembers where I am!
I love owls, in fact, I wear my lucky owl earrings anytime I go out searching for them. I have traveled many a mile to find and photograph them. Well, the first time I heard a Barred Owl in my yard was late afternoon. I came around the corner from the lake and there he was, sitting up in a close tree watching my feeders. He flew to a nearby tree which gave me plenty of time to get his portrait and say hi and thank you before he flew off. He has visited me three more times.
I was looking out my kitchen window doing dishes when I saw a large Bald Eagle swiftly fly into the bushes and trees down at the lake. He then came out and landed on the shore of the lake. I grabbed my camera and got one shot off. If you look closely, you will see blood on his beak. I walked down after he had left and he had gone for a turtle. It was still alive but passed three days later. Good Old Nature…
Each day I wake up and think, there is nothing new that could possibly come through this yard. I am usually wrong, thank goodness. Again, I was at my window just looking out at the feeders when an Eastern Towhee flew by and started enjoying the seed. A Towhee in my yard? I was at the right place in the right time as he stayed for just a few moments and then flew off, not to be seen again.
I decided to take a walk to the end of the driveway to see what was up in the trees. As I was scanning, a bright red flash went from one branch to the next. I knew it was not a Cardinal as I have not seen them since I moved here. But I looked closer and it was a Scarlet Tanager! I had never seen one in my life but heard they come in with the orioles and Rose Breasted Grosbeaks which I already had in my yard. Is he not gorgeous???
This summer my yard became streaks of color darting about. I had the bright blue of the Indigo Bunting, the red of the Scarlet Tanager, the orange and black of the orioles, the red, white and black of the Rose Breasted Grosbeak. In late spring, I would sit out on my deck in awe that they all showed up about the same time.
The orioles and grosbeaks stayed all summer and even nested here. The tanager and buntings only a few weeks but again, I had these glorious creatures in my yard.
In the past, I used to drive hours to find search for birds and mammals, but now all I have to do is to look out my window. It is a thrill to wake up each morning.
I was sitting out in the yard when I saw a little bird going UP the tree. I zoomed in with my camera and realized it was a Brown Creeper. Well, this was a “lifer” for
me. Even though I had never seen one, I knew what he was. I was thrilled…plus I learned the difference between a Creeper and a Nuthatch. A Creeper goes
UP the tree, the Nuthatches go down. How exciting for me!
I was using the pontoon on the lake and came across some Cedar Waxwings out on the island. Well I was thrilled! I took some pics but I had to go a long way to get them. The next day, I was on my dock and I looked to my left and there were five of them right in the trees near my dock and lake. I spent two hours photographing these beauties and when I finished, I thanked them.
My friends and I were out driving around near my house. We noticed these birds and realized they were Nighthawks! Could not get a picture, for the world, because
they are so, so fast. I came home and took my friends out on the pontoon and looked up and there was more than a 100 Nighthawks zooming over our lake. The pic above is
not the best, but they are not easy to shoot. Tons of flying ants had hatched that day in my yard and others and they were having a feast! Lucky for us!
I have had some smaller birds come through this yard. I believe I get so much variety because my land is attached to a deciduous forest and a wetland. I am fortunate to get warblers that travel through here during migration. I was stunned when I saw the following birds: A Common Yellowthroat (“lifer”), Yellow Warbler, I have had many sparrows, such as Fox and a White Throated plus a Tennessee Warbler (another “lifer”) came through to visit. Such variety…..
I was in South Dakota when I saw my first Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. Who knew they would grace my yard all summer long. They kept company with my Downy, Red Bellied, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers whom we call “Phil the Pill”.
Pileated woodpeckers are fascinating birds but can cause havoc when it comes to searching for carpenter ants, their favorite food. They can take down a tree which our “Phil” is in the process of doing. My picture shows two males whom I think are brothers.
When sitting outside I noticed a new visitor darting in and out of an old birdhouse carrying nesting material. To my delight and being another “lifer” for me, it was a Great Crested Flycatcher. Even though I watched closely, I never saw them fledge, but saw the young being taught how to fend for themselves by both parents. I also had Bluebirds, Phoebes and Eastern Kingbirds nesting in my yard.
I was out on my deck when something on the left caught my eye. Darting and playing around a cabin we have on our property were three Red Fox Kits. I never realized I had a Fox den 30 feet from the house. They were great entertainment and made for a nice photo opportunity.
Like most mornings, we eat breakfast out on the deck. As I opened the screen door, I noticed some really unusual moths on the door. I could not believe my eyes! For the next two weeks, the first thing I did in the morning was check the screen door and there were different moths every day. This picture is just a small assortment of what I was treated to daily.
And then there is my lake. A small 49 acre lake that holds life in abundance. Loons, Green Herons, Beavers, turtles, frogs, bass and the list goes on. It also gives me back incredible reflections in all its’ stillness.
I was asked what is my passion for Nature about? Such an easy answer. It is what it gives me. My belief is God made this world for our enjoyment. When I fish or sit on my dock or go out in the pontoon, I can breath and take it all in.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing my yard through my eyes as much as I have enjoyed sharing with you. I want to thank “The Old Naturalist” for encouraging me through this process as it is a first for me. These are just a few of the delights I have witnessed but so thankful for each and every one of these new experiences. I am sure I will have more in the coming months. Thanking you and letting you know I am so “Thankful For Nature” and you.