Knowing now what I knew; backyard wildlife

Well, I hit my winter break writing goal on Friday, essentially clearing my Natural Bloomington time from now on for nature photo travel. I completed the Northern Indiana guidebook chapter on the landscape titled “Rock, Ice and Water,” essentially a thumbnail history of how those natural phenomena shaped today’s Hoosier landscape north if I-70 over the last half billion years.

The landscape section on this book is longer than the one I wrote on Southern Indiana because the landscape is just as diverse and simply has human history that is integral to the tales of half-billion-year-old bedrock, glacial deposition and canyon-carving erosion. Wetlands that took millions of years to cover most of the northern third of the state vanished within a half century of the Battles of Fallen Timbers and Tippecanoe in 1794 and 1811.

How could I not tell the story of the Indiana landscape without mentioning the Potawatomi Trail of Death? I could wax on here for 10,000 words. Suffice it to say I haven’t gotten to the woods in 2017, yet. But I have had my lens focused on some wildlife.

Backyard wildlife, that is. While deer are common here in the Bryan Park Neighborhood, I’ve never had them spend an afternoon lounging around my yard, which four young’ns did for about four hours on Tuesday the third. In fact, I’ve never seen one sleep or, for that matter, lay down, each of which I now have.

Watching one of these top-heavy creatures drop to the ground 15 feet from my back door, I found it curious her skinny legs didn’t crack upon impact. We’ve known each other since they were born, so they were comfortable with me getting about 20 feet with my telephoto.

In a related experience on Friday, I set out my new Christmas gift bird feeder and snapped a few cardinals, blue jays, sparrows and doves from my backroom blind. When I checked the feeder a couple hours later, I discovered it’s the perfect height for the papa buck – eight points, possibly – for snacking. We made eye contact, and by the time I made it to the blind, he was gone.

As for the future, I’m back at the head of the class on Tuesday, but I’ll have a few weeks with time for travel before school eats me up. So, conditions permitting, I expect to be setting my compass – yes, I still carry one – north exploring the historic rivers, moraines, drainageways, dunes, bogs, swamps, prairies, etc. that I’ve come to know well this break.

And I have a rare opportunity here to know now what I knew then, a notion I contemplated more than once while finishing the Guide to Southern Indiana Natural Areas book. I wrote most of the natural history / landscape chapter after I’d visited the sites in the book. This one is progressing much more smoothly.

And if weather, time, energy or blown car engine interrupt the plan, there’s always the back yard.

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