The Farm is Filled with Fragrance, Flutter, Velvet and Much More

A young-of-year ruby-throated hummingbird takes a break on a Mexican sunflower.

Greetings folks. Where has the summer gone? The kids are back in school and September is on the horizon. I’ve already seen whitetail bucks chasing does in circles and the young hummingbirds are feeding like crazy although they might not know why exactly. Yep, fall is just around the corner.

I’ve been photographing every morning, mostly looking for summer mammals, especially the young and dumb ones, but I haven’t had much luck. I will admit that I whiffed on a whole family of raccoons on a gravel bar the other day but other than that I’ve mostly just been staring into space from my turkey chair. That’s not such a bad thing though as the anticipation is part of the fun.

Even though the otters, foxes and coyotes have been giving me the slip, I’ve been getting plenty of images of other creatures large and small. The featured hummingbird is just one of many great shots I’ve made on our Mexican sunflowers. Man those things attract so many different butterflies, and hummingbirds as well. In the afternoon, the hummers just like to rest on the flower stems. I even have a few images of the one above sleeping. Its little eyelids are so cute!

A whitetail in velvet, panting after chasing a doe around in circles.

The whitetail above was chasing a doe around in circles right behind me as I sat in my turkey chair at the farm. The next thing I knew, he crashed through the fence row and stopped right in front of me! He was so close I could only get what you see framed with my 500 mm lens. The light was bad but I tried to make the best of it with the one shot. The rim-lighted effect kind of worked out and the spider webs added interest to the shot. I only got one click because the shutter scared the young 10-pointer a little and he eased off into the woods with three does right behind him. I’m sure we’ll meet again in the following weeks.

A pair of monarchs do their part to maintain their species in the face of growing challenges from habitat loss.

This pair of monarchs flew right by the kitchen window one afternoon when Joyce was baking bread. She often looks out the huge window while kneading dough, and she was lucky enough to see these beauties fly by. She let out a yelp and sent me out the door with my gear to try for a shot. It was also a stroke of luck that the light wasn’t too bad either.

A pipevine swallowtail on one of the Mexican sunflowers.

It seems like we have pipevine swallowtails all over the place this year. Our prairie continues to expand and our fields are full of a diversity of host plants so we have more different butterflies around than ever this summer.

American goldfinch on a volunteer sunflower.

Our goldfinches have been quite busy. I photographed the one above on one of the volunteer sunflowers from Virginia’s bird feeder. We see most to our finches on purple coneflowers, especially in our front-yard garden prairie. Every time we open the door we flush goldfinches. When the windows are open we constantly hear their happy chatter as they gorge on seeds.

A pine siskin right outside my bedroom window a few weeks ago. Wait, what? A pine siskin!

Yes, I photographed this pine siskin on one of our coneflowers a few weeks ago. For the non-birders, this is a very rare sighting in Missouri in the summer. When I reported it to the birding authorities (Mark Haas with Audubon Society of Missouri) he said it was only the second confirmed sighting in the state for summer 2019. Yes! It was my first ever sighting of a pine siskin at the farm, in any season.

An armadillo on a gravel bar.

Okay, this armadillo wasn’t from the farm but I’m including it because it’s just not that often that you see a live armadillo in Missouri. I myself, have seen five over the years but I spend a little more time in the field than most people. Here is a little armadillo story. Back in the early-90s when armadillos were starting to become more prevalent in the state, people were always wondering how they made it across major streams and rivers, including the Missouri River. Well, one day when I was driving to work, I crossed the Meramec River Bridge east of St. Clair and there was an armadillo waddling right down the middle of the road, half-way across the bridge. I always knew from that point on how armadillos get across rivers. Pretty smart little critters.

Just another sunrise at the farm. This is the ridge on the other side of the Bourbuese River valley from our deck.

One morning I stayed home because it was raining lightly. As I watched out the windows during breakfast, I saw the makings of a nice sunrise. I ran down to the basement and grabbed my 70 – 200 f/2.8 lens and a lightweight tripod. As the sun got closer to the horizon the sky became filled with fire, even as it continued raining. When I asked Joyce if she had seen anything like it, she replied, “Yep, it’s like this all the time.” Perhaps I need to stay home a couple mornings a week just to watch the fireworks in the eastern sky.

Happy Naturing!


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