Friday, May 21, 2010

Wildlife: A great feature of our new house...


UPDATED: Added two more that we just spotted (raccoon and farm geese) and moved deer to the sited list... almost ran in to one as we drove on our road tonight!

Back when we owned the land our new house is built on, prior to construction, we used to drive to our land on Sundays after mass and just open our car windows and listen to the quiet, the wind blowing in the trees, and the birds singing. It's fairly rural in the surrounding area, with lots of open space, sod farms, and wetlands and we had hoped that once we moved in we'd be able to see and experience all sorts of different wildlife, and happily that has certainly been true! As a home-schooling family it's particularly fun to see lots of wildlife and be able to incorporate that into lessons for the kids. Here's a few of the animals we've seen so far...

Frogs are quite prevalent in the wetland area behind our home, and the most noticeable aspect is their croaking and singing together at night. It's great to have this soothing white noise outside to sleep to with our windows open. Oh,  and just the other day, the tiniest frog had somehow made it into our kitchen and the kids got a kick out of that. We brought it out back and left it to find it's way back to the wetland :-)

Ring-Necked Pheasant
A pheasant flew out of the grasses and right in front of my car as I was leaving for work.

A beautiful animal, we saw a fox trotting down our neighborhood street and cross the road as we were driving to mass on a Sunday morning. The funny part was, it was heading straight for these...

Our neighbors at the end of the road raise chickens in their backyard, something that's allowed in Ham Lake (Why not? Again, it's pretty rural). The kids have enjoyed going for walks down the road and looking at the chickens in their pen. Hopefully our friend up above didn't make a nice meal out of one of them!

Turkey sitings are literally a weekly occurrence around our place. They are all over, and easy to see since most of Ham Lake is sod farms. Usually we see them in large groups out on the sod, and even right in peoples' yards. Front what we've heard, these are not birds you want to get anywhere near, they are pretty ornery and territorial... and they're huge. It's lots of fun if you can catch a male puffing out all of his plumage though!

This is not one I would have expected, but lo and behold, there's a pond down at the other end of the road and the kids saw one of these guys out and about, gathering sticks for his house.

We haven't yet seen a Coyote, but you can hear them howling almost every single night if you keep the windows open. There have been numerous times we have actually been woken up by their howling, and it's not necessarily a nice sound to wake up to. They have a very moany, screamy kind of howl, and when they are in a big group (likely at an animal carcass) they are amazingly loud. From what I've heard, they are pretty scared of people and because of this they are very difficult to spot, especially in daylight.

OK, not wildlife, but our next door neighbors to the North have a HUGE purebred Newfoundland dog named "Seamus." He is very friendly and has often come out to see the kids when we go on a walk, and he bellows with his big, low bark. Did I mention he is huge? The kids could ride him like a horse.

Deer are all over the place and one recently left a nice trail of deep hoof-prints in our yard with newly seeded grass (how rude!). We also have seen a few; one was at night was we got close to our driveway, a car accident waiting to happen.

Just saw one of these scoot across the road as we approached our driveway, then we stopped the car and it just stared at us for a good 30 seconds before deciding we weren't that interesting anymore.

It was the strangest thing, but we saw a mother goose and her goslings walking down a gravel road about a mile South of our place, and these were not Canada Geese. These were good old fashioned farm geese (or free-range geese, or whatever they are called), and I can't remember ever seeing one just out in the wild. Maybe one of our farmer neighbors raises them, but they were out in the open. The mother goose was a big, plump, beautiful white just like the pic above.

There are others we've seen that I haven't included here, such as Blue Jays, Cardinals, and lots of other birds, and some equally interesting insects. I sense a birdwatching and entymology unit in the future for our home school!

Not yet spotted but it's only a matter of time...

Molly is just waiting for this one to happen. Even further, she is waiting for Aidan to pick one up and bring it into the house.


Molly Koop said...

I saw a deer last week. I guess I forgot to mention that. Also, Aidan just said he was going to look for a snake, but that he promised not to show it to me if he found one.
You really should have included wood ticks, our most prevalent form of wildlife. In the last 24 hours I have tweezed one off of Max's back, one from Clara's chest, and one from Aidan's arm, and enclosed one from our kitchen counter in an old butter container. I really should check Lucy...

Joseph Clarke said...

Great photography Brendan! You have a real knack for capturing wildlife pictures and getting the animals to look in your direction. How did you get that beaver to look at you instead of running away? Is there a special beaver call like there is for turkeys?

Brendan Koop said...

Call me St. Francis, but I just told them to look in the camera and they did. They all seemed to enjoy the experience.

Kristi said...

Start a bug pinning collection. My Clare has been working on one for about 3 yrs now. Dominic (8) started one last year. We bought a case at the Science Museum to mount them. They have a lot of fun with it.