Photography · Short Stories

Back Yard Photographer – Frank the Squirrel

Frank the Squirrel

A young squirrel has discovered that we have the good bird seed out right now in one of the bird feeders. The seed has nuts, berries and sunflower seeds. He quickly walks across the top of the fence to see if he can get to the bird feeder. Yesterday he discovered he could get to the feeder, but couldn’t get to the food. Frank (the squirrel) then discovered that there were plenty of goodies on the ground underneath the bird feeder. The small birds tend to push quite a bit of food onto the ground. Today he didn’t try for the bird feeder he went straight to the food on the ground. The birds seem to be accepting of Frank as he keeps his distance. However, if he gets too close they let him know. We are also trying to set boundries for Frank so he does’t eat the plants or too much of the bird food. We will see if he follows the rules. 🙂

The below pictures are of Frank’s activities today. For the picture at the top of this post, I was able to get pretty close to Frank without startling him away. He does have a silly expression on his face – as if he is trying to figure out what is looking at him. 🙂

Here’s Frank’s adventures:

This doesn’t look like the good food.
Do I see the good stuff??
Hey! Where’s the suet?
I smell some yummies on the ground!
The treat has been found! Yum!!!!!

Hope you liked to see Frank’s adventures! 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog!!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless

Photography · Short Stories · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Small, Peaceful Lake

There is a small lake, maybe more like a pond, near one of my favorite walking trails. This is the spot where I go when I don’t have time for a long walk, but still want to relax in the great outdoors. Even in this little area I saw a couple different butterflies, some birds I hadn’t seen before, and an abundance of wild flowers. But I spent most of my time staring at the landscape. There is just something about the sound of the water splashing against the shore.

I met a few people while I was there. Even in a time where we wear masks and are socially distant, I can’t help myself, I have to greet people. From a distance we make eye contact and I wave politely. Usually people will wave back or nod hello. On this day, I met a couple who were unloading their small fishing boat, I had commented that it looked like they were going to have fun. They told me they like to get a little fishing in before they go to work. I’m not sure they caught many fish as I kept hearing the young lady laugh and there was the occasional splashing sound. I have a feeling he liked to fish and she just wanted to spend time with him. After I had finished with my photos and was heading back to my car, I met a gentleman. He saw my camera and asked me about the kinds of pictures I was taking. I asked if he was enjoying the weather on his walk. He had a cigar in his hand. He lifted it and said that he was enjoying his walk. This was the only time he could have a cigar since he couldn’t smoke at home. Even in a pandemic world, I get to have fun meeting people and having conversations.

But I digress. The above has nothing to do with the peaceful landscapes, just a comment on how others spend their time at this lake/pond. 🙂

Here’s a photo of the lake, trees, ect.

There were several types of dragon flies flying around me, but they were way too fast, so I wasn’t able to get a picture of them. And I was a bit fearful that I would lose track of my whereabouts and fall into the lake. So, instead I decided to focus on the green/yellow foliage that was floating in the lake.

Leaves in the lake

Here’s a closer look:

Yes, still looks like nothing more than a bunch of leaves to me. But it seems odd that there would be so many leaves at this time of year. So, I got an even closer photo (gotta love a zoom lens!).

The above are not leaves, but a type of Water Smartweed. The parts that are sticking out of the water, turn bright pink later in July. I learned something new on this trip. 🙂

I was sitting close enough to the edge of the water I could hear the fish and frogs. I never caught site of either, at least not long enough to get a good photo. However, a Great Blue Heron was nearby. It usually startles me when it takes off, but on this day I remained calm and was able to get some pretty decent photos. Here’s one of them:

It is a large bird. It stands 97-137 cm and has a six foot wingspan.

Hope you enjoyed the story and the photos. Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless. (yes, I changed my name from Kim Stites to Kim Lawless. I got married!)

Photography · Short Stories

Back Yard Photographer – Was Sunflowers, now just Sunflower

One remaining bloom

Sunflowers are supposed to be a good flower to add to your flower garden for pollinators. I am planting flowers and plants in the flower garden specifically to attract pollinators, but also to add some much needed color in that area of my yard. Now I just need to find a way to keep the destroyers (aka rabbits, squirrels and ground squirrels) from feasting on the new plants.

I bought a couple sunflower plants that each had about 5 or 6 blooming flowers on each. They were beautiful. The creamy yellow of the flowers with the rich green of the plant were a wonderful combination. I was very excited to get them home and planted. The sunflowers would add a natural blend to the small field of wildflowers and plants just beyond my property line. What a wonderful back drop to future photos of butterflies and bees! Ahhh… I was very happy with this purchase.

Once home I busily planted the sunflowers. I was hopeful that the plants were big enough that they wouldn’t be an attraction to the previously mentioned destroyers. I had already tried planting sunflowers from seed, but the destroyers and my bird friends had a feast. (Yes, in hindsight, I should have know that would happen.) As I had hoped, the plants looked perfect in their spot. I was very happy.

My daughter and my husband were fortunate enough to get to admire the latest addition to the flower garden with me. They might not agree with the “fortunate” statement, as I had actually demanded (in a loving way of course) that they view these flowers with me. After all the appropriate oohs and ahhs, they returned to what they had been doing and I had to get ready for my afternoon shift at work.

Before leaving for work I looked out to the flower garden for one more glance at the sunflowers. To my dismay about half of the blooms were gone. Remnants of the blooms were dispersed around the yard. A bunny was happily enjoying the fresh green leaves of the plants and the ground squirrels were having their fun with the blooms. Unfortunately, I had to get to work so I didn’t have time to check things further or to try to do something to slow down the destruction. There were a few blooms left, so I hoped they would remain until I got home and could take some pictures. Thank goodness I only had to work a half day!

By the time I got home all the blooms were gone. Most of the leaves were also destroyed. At closer inspection there were a few buds remaining, so there was still hope of future blooms and my dreams of photos with the pollinators. I would know more in a few days.

In post a few months ago I had mentioned my love/hate relationship with the destroyers (they really are quite cute and fun to watch). I am now at the love them a bit less part of our ongoing relationship. Here’s a few photos as reminders of just how cute they can be. (More of a reminder for me)

After a few days the remaining buds were blooming! It was a gloomy and raining day. In between rain showers I went out to take pictures of the remaining flowers. By the time I was able to get out there, there was one lone flower remaining and all of the other buds were gone. (I had seen a squirrel run off with one of the blooms.)

Here are some pictures of the last flower. I did some editing to brighten the color of the sunflower, but I think the darker background (due to poor lighting on the gloomy day) adds some drama to the photos.

Hope you like these!

All photos are originals by Kim Stites

Status on the sunflowers: They have really taken to their location. New leaves are showing and even some buds! They don’t seem to be as much of a treat for the destroyers right now (wildflowers are blooming), so I might end up getting those butterflies and bees photos yet!

Thank you for stopping by, checking out my blog and indulging my story of the lone sunflower. 🙂

Photography · Short Stories · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – The Thief (Squirrel)

Looking for snacks…

The other day I decided to give a treat to the birds. They have been surviving the winter on safflower seeds because I had read that squirrels didn’t like those seeds and would leave the seed alone. Apparently squirrels will eat anything when they are hungry enough, because they have been eating the safflower seeds, right along with the birds. Any way, the birds had suffered long enough – they deserved a treat. I had some fruit in the refrigerator that was starting to turn bad. The fruit was from a few weeks ago when I decided (once again) that I needed some healthy food in my life. That lasted long enough for me to buy the fruit and put it in the refrigerator. The lucky birds now get to enjoy the fruit!

I didn’t give the fruit to the birds without doing some research. I found different ways to feed the apples to the birds. After completing the research, I hung apple slices on a wooden skewer that I duct taped to a tree branch. This was not one of the preferred methods, but I improvised. Here’s a picture of the apple slices in the tree. It kind of looks like I hung donuts and not apples. No doubt this was another thing that my neighbors would question about me. 🙂

Donuts or Apples?

Throughout the day, I kept checking the back yard to see if the birds were enjoying the apples. I don’t know if they even noticed the apples because they spent their time at the feeders and not the apples. Late in the afternoon I noticed that one of the skewers was gone.

Then I saw this…

Sneaky fella tryin’ to hide
This squirrel took the skewer and one of the slices.
Same squirrel got rid of the skewer and moved to the fence post.

I did catch the squirrel in the tree after he had ate the slice. He looked a bit ashamed of himself. I’ve had the same expression after eating too many cookies and/ or donuts. 🙂

Can’t believe I ate it all…

You would think that after the apples, the squirrels would have had enough to eat. I was wrong…

yum, yum, yum

Guess it is time to do some more research, so I can truly give the birds a fruit treat and the squirrels won’t steal all of it. 🙂

Until the next adventures in my back yard…

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog! Hope you liked the story and the pictures!

All photos are originals by Kim Stites

Photography · Short Stories · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Icy Trails

There is a walking trail at a nearby state park that I have been wanting to get to, but time and weather has not been on my side. On Monday the weather was warmer, so I decided it was time to check out the walking trail.

I had been told there was a waterfall along this trail that I had to check out. So, sure, why not check it out in winter? (There are days I don’t really think through some of my ideas.) I did see the waterfall and did get a couple pictures. This is a waterfall in Eastern Nebraska, so don’t expect much. 🙂 Also, keep in mind the definition of a waterfall is –a cascade of falling water where there is a vertical or almost vertical step in a river. It meets the definition…

The first step on to the walking trail was pure ice. I saw it as I approached, but convinced myself it couldn’t be all that bad so why not give it a try. I had my snow boots on to keep my feet warm, but these are not meant to be used for hiking on icy trails. None the less, I ventured on any way.

On this trail, by myself, not equipped to be hiking on ice and hearing the loud call of black birds, I couldn’t help but think about what if I fell on the ice and broke a bone or something? When would the ranger realize I hadn’t returned – or would they? Would I have to crawl back to my car (assuming I could crawl)? Yes, I tend to go from everything is ok to oh my gosh I’m going to die in seconds. Some times my imagination can be a curse. (Oh, I did have my phone with me so it wasn’t like I couldn’t call some one and get help, but my slightly panicked mind doesn’t think about those things!) Even with all these crazy thoughts going through my mind, and slipping on the icy every once in a while, I kept going. I had set out to get some landscape photos and that is what I was going to do! (Have I mentioned that I am also VERY stubborn?)

Ignoring the thoughts, I went on my way and did get some landscape shots taken. Hope you like them!

And, I did fall once on the ice, down a slight embankment. I managed to stop myself at the edge of the stream that wasn’t frozen. No major injuries, just a few bruises. I also managed to keep my camera off the ground and undamaged. Did I learn anything – no, I’d do it again tomorrow if I had the chance. 🙂

The start of the trail
Happily held on to these hand rails as I walked around this curve.
Another part of the trail
Photo of the waterfall
Another photo of the waterfall – the reason I was on the icy trail
The spot where I fell
A squirrel watching me. I think he muttered, “Stupid human.”

Hope you enjoy the photos and the story. 😉

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog!

All photos are originals by Kim Stites