Tag Archives: wildlife

The lives of fairies

Today, I have a special guest for you. Denise is a wonderful author and a great person to get to know. She’s also one of my partners over at Story Empire. She has a new book to tell us about, and I’m exited to see the wildlife photos. I have these same birds in my back yard, but don’t have access to redwoods. Make her feel welcome, and don’t forget to use those sharing buttons to help her spread the word. Take it away:

***

Thank you, Craig, for having me here today to share my latest children’s release, “Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories.”

In Tree Fairies, several birds make an appearance, including red-tailed hawks and horned owls. So I thought I’d share some interesting facts about them. The red-tailed hawk weighs between 2-4 pounds, with the females being the bigger bird. They can have a 56-inch wingspan and “kite” or hover in the air over their prey, which is usually rodents.

The great horned owl’s weight falls somewhere between 2 and 5.5 pounds. They will eat anything that moves but can’t digest all they eat. These birds leave behind pellets, which are their undigested food. Their huge eyes, which enable them to see in the dark, don’t move. This is why they swivel their heads to look around.

Where I live, red-tailed hawks have feasted on our chickens. Once a hawk flew at a window where our cat was enjoying the sun. Her only protection from the hawk was a window screen and our barking dog. I’ve never seen an owl, but I do hear them. They are known to hunt small cats, but luckily that’s never happened to us.

Both birds are a nuisance to the tree fairies and will be zapped with magic to remind them that fairies aren’t on their menu.

Fun Finn Facts

1. We have two ravens who share our land.

2. We planted a Giant Sequoia in our front yard thirty years ago.

Blurb

When reality and magic meet in the forest

It’s 1969, and twelve-year-old Daniel Burns is camping in the redwood forest with his family. Danny wants to listen to his music and read, but his family has other plans. S’mores around the campfire and stories end their first day. The family is sleeping soundly in their secluded tent when Danny wakes up and finds his sister, Colette, is missing. Assuming she went to use the outhouse, he goes after her. When he finds his sister, they discover there is a thin veil between reality and fantasy.

Two bonus short stories offer a glimpse into the magical world that finds Danny and Colette. These hidden beings not only share our world but have a role in protecting their forest.

Excerpt

TREE FAIRIES

1969, somewhere in a redwood forest

The sun was setting behind the mammoth trees as we returned to our secluded campsite. My mom rushed into the tent to add inspirational words to the book she was writing. They had come to her on our hike among the redwoods. Dad and my nine-year-old sister, Colette—who weren’t as moved—collected wood for our campfire. They insisted it was a three-person job.

They walked ahead of me, Dad engaged in another batch of endless questions from Colette. I wanted to be listening to the brand-new portable radio I’d gotten for my twelfth birthday, but there were no radio stations to pull in—not even AM. I wouldn’t mind hearing the always-playing “I Heard It through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye, but my new favorite song was “Get Back” by the Beatles. Music filled my unsure spaces. Today, surrounded by trees that had lived more than one hundred lifetimes in contrast to mere humans, I needed some soothing tunes. I felt like I was a tiny grape in the vastness of a vineyard.

Picking up a branch here and there, I followed my dad and Colette. Two fluffy-tailed western gray squirrels were chasing each other across the same massive tree my family had attempted to join hands around earlier. I stopped and added two more branches to my load. A hand suddenly waved in front of my face. Dad. I held back my sigh when I saw his frown.

“Daniel Burns. Would you please join us on this hike?”

I kicked a small, gray pebble off the trail. It rolled under a fern before I met Dad’s firm stare. “I am with you.”

Dad folded his arms and raised an eyebrow. “Your body is here, but your mind isn’t, Danny. Like I just said, we’re headed to camp now because we have enough wood. Then we will all get the fire going and cook dinner.” He turned his attention to Colette with a wink. “After that, we can roast marshmallows and tell stories. Maybe Mom will have a new story to share tonight.”

Colette returned the wink. “Can we make s’mores?”

Her big blue eyes were enormous with excitement. Strawberry-blond pigtails bounced up and down in constant motion, and her smile’s brightness matched her loud orange-and-pink-striped shirt. The combination of my sister’s movement and colors made me dizzy. She would be a perfect cartoon character, like a colorful Tweety Bird in the Bugs Bunny cartoons.

“I packed the chocolate bars, marshmallows, and graham crackers myself.” Dad grinned. “Let’s go.”

“Groovy!”

Purchase Links:

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SMASHWORDS

Author Bio

D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include adult fiction, poetry, a unique autobiography, and children’s books. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.

D.L. Finn Links:

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D.L. Finn blog

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Wildlife rescue

Found this little guy scurrying to get away from the weed whacker. I rescued him and moved him to the front yard where it’s shady and damp.

He was so cute chirping at me. He made my wife scream when he wiggled, but she still managed to take this picture for all of you.

I wish I had thought to take a picture of his back. That toad skin would make great cover “leather” if I ever get around to writing a third Experimental Notebook. It’s probably something I can Google for Sean if I get around to more short stories.

Hope everyone who had a holiday got to enjoy it somehow. I hope the rest of you had a great day even without a holiday.

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Nature Boy takes a drive

Work sent me across the state to do a project in Idaho Falls. I went in for the morning shift, then hit the road about noon. I wanted to get here before dark and potentially rush hour.

Not that IF is such a frightening place, but I’m not overly familiar with it. I elected to cut across the desert. There is a freeway option, but it’s quite a bit longer.

I saw antelope all around Fairview, which is pretty normal. It’s also big game migration time, and I expected a few deer. The deer didn’t show. What did show was a badger out in a stubble field. He was booking along, trying to get to his burrow somewhere.

I was fairly content with seeing something unusual, but then I got near Sun Valley. My highway crosses the one up into SV. There is a stop sign, and usually quite a bit of traffic.

Drivers were starting to accordion as they approached the intersection, and I may have slowed down a bit too much. I think I irritated the guy behind me. My reasoning was the herd of six elk that just crossed the road. Five cows and a six-point bull directing where they went. I don’t think he even saw them, and they were standing in short grass as we drove by.

I wanted pictures of all this stuff, but the traffic never cooperated with me. I know how to call a badger back up from his hole, and have done it many times. I have some beautiful photos from back in my 35mm days. I just didn’t have 30 minutes to spare. This is a work trip, and I really didn’t want to get here in the dark.

Nature wasn’t finished with me, though. About two miles past the intersection, there were two raccoons grabbing for something out in a stubble field. You don’t normally see them out in broad daylight. I slowed to see if there was a parking area, but there wasn’t. I don’t know if it was grain, or some kind of bug that brought them out, but it was cool to see.

I turned back toward my drive, and a rooster pheasant stepped right in front of the car. It didn’t end well for the pheasant. I heard the thump. I never saw him in my rear-view mirror, so drove to the nearby chain-up area. Once around the car, and no sign of him. This isn’t my truck, it’s a small state vehicle, so I was a bit concerned about cracking a headlight, or damaging the grill. No damage at all.

I cruised through Craters of the Moon, and enjoyed the scenery, but the wildlife had called it a day. Other than one last herd of antelope near Arco, that was it.

It was a fun day, but I didn’t get any pictures. I may have had my best chance with the raccoons, but the pheasant threw me off my game. (Raccoons aren’t known for a rapid retreat.)

I need to surf through a couple of websites, then I may add some new words to my side project. Goodnight everyone.

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Life goes on

While I was touring my book around, the world didn’t stop spinning around here. I worked, and we had some unusual visitors at the office. This little guy was photographed from my office window.

He didn’t stay long, but it was fun having him stop by. We also had this visitor, and it’s appropriate for the season.

My iPhone makes it tough to photograph something so tiny, but you can make out his little bat ears at the bottom of the image. He’s only about the size of a walnut, but it was cool seeing him.

In other news, I got the sprinkler system blown out. Old What’s Her Face is on her way home, and we have an appointment to get the camper winterized tomorrow. It seems like winter is determined to show up, so we need to get ready.

I finished reading a book and posted a review. I try to review whatever I read. I look at it like a karma kind of thing. Authors need reviews, so I ought to post them, too. I’ll probably start reading another one before my vacation ends.

New fiction is still taking a back seat. I haven’t written a new word in a month. I’m struggling with the production vs the promotion cycle. I love creating new stories, but hate the promotion part. Honestly, I don’t like getting promotion stuff either, so I assume many people are like me. (Maybe you aren’t, but that’s my mindset right now.)

The questions I’m struggling with are:

  • Should I just bury some of the stories I write? Publish the series work, and keep the stand alone things for myself.
  • What about blog only? I know some who’ve done this, but have no idea what kind of reception it gets. Is it appropriate to release a few chapters over a period of months, then publish, thereby, skipping any blog tour and such? Does this piss people off more?
  • Should I publish them with zero promotion? I know how that works out, but workmanlike promo for every other story could still draw attention.
  • I’ve learned how to write an incredible amount of new fiction. Should I go back to my old ways and produce less?
  • Would it be worthwhile to hold stories, then do a multiple book release with mutual promotion?

I’m interested in what you guys think, so speak up. Do you have any experience with these methods?

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Springtime in Idaho, plus a bit of luck

Yesterday was a travel day for me. This means my only job was to get to Lewiston and check into my room. I have a presentation to make for work today. I’ll go over my presentation materials in a few minutes.

While I’m waiting for the hotel to place out continental breakfast it seems like a decent time to update my blog.

Springtime in Idaho is a beautiful time. I saw animals all the way here. There were pheasants, turkeys, both mule deer and white tails. I even saw a bald eagle over the Salmon River.

Mostly though, Idaho Spring means construction. I passed through three construction zones yesterday with lengthy stops by flaggers. I even got to see one car who must have blown past the flagger at the far end, because he nearly had a head on collision with the pilot car I was following. Good times. There were two more construction zones, but they were monitored by those construction stop lights that are showing up more frequently. Only one rock hit my windshield and it didn’t chip.

Just past Grangeville, I got to watch a crop duster working. These guys always amaze me. Their acrobatic stunts are better than an air show. He was working close to the highway, and I almost ducked when he flew over my truck. I’m pretty sure I’m free of fleas and ticks now.

Since my only task was to get here, I decided to leave early. I was on the road by six am. My intent was to score some writing time if possible.

You can laugh if you want, but bald eagles have always brought me luck. Whatever my goal was, the sighting of an eagle insured success. This is what happened yesterday.

Serang and her master were still on that river. At this point in the story, they’ve been traveling a lot. There were lessons to learn along the way, and some cool creatures and scenery, but this is a novel not a travelogue.

I decided to tell a bit, jumping the story ahead by weeks and months. They sold their boat, marched back into the mountains, and met up with the only other living monk as far as they know. We made a fun stop at a blacksmith’s shop along the way. The elder monk also taught Serang an important lesson about the tigers she seems so enamored with.

Considering I haven’t been able to write any new fiction for a month now, I’m pretty happy. It came to 4010 new words I didn’t have before. Thank you Mr. Eagle.

When I called Old What’s Her Face last night, I learned that we’re going to have company again this weekend. That kills any writing time for Saturday or Sunday. I have a flex day in there, so maybe I’ll score some time then.

Or maybe, I’ll see another eagle on my way home today.

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Field trip and a bit of luck

My paycheck job sent me to Idaho Falls for a couple of days. We avoid work related topics, but it puts a damper on my blogging ability. That’s the main point here.

Fortunately for me, two of my guest appearances posted while I was absent. That allowed me to keep some fresh content on my site, and I managed to deal with comments after hours. I think I answered everyone, but I’m going to surf back through the host sites to make sure after this goes live.

I have things to do today. (I always have things to do.) I’ve just come up against a wall of “I don’t wanna.” A big part of this involves driving, hotels, and all the rest of it. Driving across Idaho is not like driving across Vermont. It takes about five hours to drive across Idaho, and I did it twice. Bonus though, I got to see about 200 antelope, and one really nice mule deer buck. I also saw an elk rack that did not fit completely in the bed of a pickup truck. I know we’re all supposed to hate hunting and everyone that partakes, but I do not. It was impressive, and that was one of the biggest racks I’ve ever seen. If the rest of him was that big, someone is going to need a bigger deep freeze.

I’m going to have to sacrifice most of my planned word count for now. The stuff I need to do involves commitments to other author friends. I’m not going to let them down. There is one small bit of critique work I have to get to. Thank God for my Apple Pencil, and its new ability to work with Pages, my word processor. This speeds things up a bunch over the old redline versions.

I have two Lisa Burton interviews to work on. One has returned his questionnaire, and I’ll address it soon. The other is in a holding pattern until I get the questionnaire back. Still, it’s good to know there will be more “broadcasts” from Lisa’s trailer in the woods.

Yesterday was payday too. This means we might pull off a date night tonight. Old Chicago Pizza sounds good, but there is a BSU game tonight. Both things are good, but sometimes it means the place is SRO. Never know if we don’t try. I can be content with the MLB playoffs too, so I’m not picky as to whatever. We’ve talked about a backup plan that might involve a total absence of sports.

As a State employee, I get Monday off too (Thanks Columbus). Lower on my list is a cluster of critique pages of my own work. They aren’t going to spoil or anything, but if I get my commitments dealt with, I’d like to find time to slick up my own story.

It isn’t a huge list, and all of it is possible in three days. I just have to figure out how to deal with the “don’t wannas.”

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Out my office window again

Things have been pretty busy at work. I also have company coming this weekend. All of this means my time for writing projects is minimal. I still want to work on the pending interviews, but may not get as much time as I hoped for.

At least I have a cool view at the office. The other day two deer ran through the yard. They were moving too fast for a picture. The interesting thing was only noticed as they moved away. One was a mule deer and one was a whitetail. City deer don’t seem to follow the same rules as country deer.

This little guy has been keeping me company in the pre-dawn minutes this week. Maybe I shouldn’t call him little. Beavers are actually pretty big. Largest rodent in North America. Sorry for the image quality. It’s my iPhone, zoomed, through a window.

Not much more going on in my life right now. There’s work, and plenty of it.

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The Geyser Girl on #LisaBurtonRadio

Hey there all you woodland nymphs and water sprites. It’s Thursday, and that means it’s time for another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. The only show out there bringing you the characters from the books you love.

I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my special guest today has several names. She is Flower of the Steam Basin, sometimes called the Geyser Girl. Welcome to the show, and I hope it’s okay to call you “Flower.”

“Hello, Miss Lisa. You are most gracious, and I am honored to be in your company. Please do call me Flower.”

“You’re associated with the Yellowstone Upper Geyser Basin somehow. Can you tell our listeners about that?”

“When I was an infant, the Faithful Elder, known as Old Faithful geyser, and a mother buffalo named Bearer of Song found me alone on a snowy April’s night in the geyser basin. They raised me as their own with their stories, teachings and proverbial sayings.

“To this day, my origins remain a mystery. When I was older I learned, like you, that although humanlike in form, my physiology is quite different. It enables me to visit the geysers and hot springs, even those with openings too narrow for a human to enter, and to run with the buffalo herd. I dwell with my father; for, to live in the atmosphere of a hot spring and drink of its waters is my requirement…

“I must return to the geysers, I haven’t much time…”

“I get you, girl. I’m a slave to electricity. I can go and go, but eventually have to recharge my batteries. Most of us are like that, somehow. Even the natural-born humans need to have a cup of tea, a glass of wine, a nap.”

“Yes, Miss Lisa, you understand. I grew up playing tag with the lion cubs and wolf pups while I drew up wisdom from their parents’ stories… always to return home again to the steam basin…

“When I was six, my father carried me aloft on his plume when he erupted, much as children ride their fathers’ shoulders. One day, the winds grew playful and parted the waters of the fountain, and a human child my age spotted me with her parents. In time, the family, through their discreetness, proved trustworthy, and both sets of parents allowed us to meet. Because I understand the languages of human, animal and geyser, I served as translator when my father and mother received them.

“After my mother, Bearer of Song, passed away when I was eight, it was through this loving family that I came face-to-face with a man whose storied greatness my mother related to me when I was small: him and his loyal, supportive wife. But others connected with them put me in danger… and Yellowstone…”

“Honestly, your life sounds pretty wonderful. What kind of problem could this cause?”

“My beloved mentor, Lieutenant Ned Halpen, served in the First U.S. Cavalry at Mammoth, and he journeyed throughout Yellowstone as protector of her spiritual and physical heritage. This was before the National Park Service and the rangers. Later, he took ill and lost both his legs. It was then I met him. A year later, when he died, I pledged a sacred vow to God in my father’s presence, to follow in Lt. Halpen’s footsteps and tend to all the park. It is as my mother taught me: “The mystery of your purpose will not fail to find you in its time. Follow closely in its course, this being what you will be expected to give in return.”

“The Halpens have a daughter… Eleanor, a Yellowstone ranger married to a botanist with a grant to study the plant life inside the park.

“No one told her… she found out herself… she was relentless…

“Please, dear Lisa, Eleanor and her husband have captured… and confined me in their basement laboratory for… research. They said, they cannot release an unknown life form, that I have no rights by law. Their attempts to reproduce the atmosphere and waters I need is not sufficient… I’m growing weaker, and my breath… I can barely stand…”

“Hello, we seem to have some trouble on the line. Hello, Flower, can you hear me?–”

“Why, tell me why, Robert, you insisted on keeping a telephone in the laboratory!”

“But Eleanor, who would have known…”

Known what? That this persistent aberration of nature could adapt to using a telephone? Well now, let’s learn to whom she is speaking at the other end…”

“Flower, can you hear me?”

“I can hear you perfectly, Madam. There are laws governing unknown species. And since you are acting as a friend of Miss Flower, you may well fall under that category yourself.”

“Excuse me. Who the hell are you?”

“The voice sounds robotic in nature. Remarkable how, as a composite of metal and wires, you pass yourself off as an impertinent upstart. In fact, Robert and I find the idea of your joining Miss Flower in our accommodations more than intriguing.”

“Get in line, sister. I’m involved in about a thousand lawsuits over my Copyright, Trademark, trade secrets, human trafficking, endangered species status, and the list goes on.”

“Oh, but, I don’t think we ought to wait that long. Unless you furnish your location, we will place you under arrest and strip you down to the nuts and bolts. In addition, we are prepared to have every geyser and spring bottled up in Yellowstone until your friend cooperates. Perhaps you can persuade her…”

“Again, take a number. I think what you’re doing is terrible. Flower is all about love and deserves to live freely among her loved ones.”

“I suppose you would feel that way being, yourself, a potential contamination to humans. I, for one, have had it up to here with living under my father’s shadow. Never receiving credit for my own achievements. That is about to change. Know this: my husband and I will find you wherever you try to hide yourself.”

Click

“Well, looks like we can add cuckoos to the list of species in Yellowstone. I’m worried about Flower. If you would like to find out how she fares, check out the book The Geyser Girl of Yellowstone Park, by Myrtle Brooks.

“Please remember to use those sharing buttons on your way out today. I’m sure Myrtle and Flower would do it for you, when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.

“While we’re on the topic, I’m about due for some more guests around here. If you’re planning a book release, or maybe a push of some kind, keep me in mind. This spot has grown in popularity and it might be a good stop for you.”

***’

Blurb:

In Yellowstone National Park, at the beginning of the twentieth century, a girl of mysterious origins is adopted from infancy by Old Faithful geyser, and by a mother buffalo named Bearer of Song. Beloved to all the park, Flower of the Steam Basin grows up with their stories, proverbial sayings and teachings.

In time, having met a child her own age and her parents, trust ripens between families, and Flower of the Steam Basin gains a closely protective circle of human friends. At nine years old, she is brought face-to-face with Retired Lieutenant Ned Halpen of the Yellowstone Cavalry, whose exemplary career embodied the role of protector of Yellowstone’s spiritual and physical heritage.

In the wake of Lt. Halpen’s passing one year later, her sacred vow to continue his legacy brings both reward and mortal danger. And when the circle is breached, Flower of the Steam Basin and her father are forced to choose between her own safety and well-being and the performance of her sworn duties.

This is her story, as seen through the eyes of Yellowstone.

Buy it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or through Myrtle Brooks.

Bio:

As written beneath her yearbook photo, Class of 1970, the expressed lifetime goal of the author herein known as Myrtle Brooks, is: “to realize the love present in everything.” Maturity has taught her that this is a vision meant to be shared. When not at home in her beloved Brooklyn, N.Y., she may be found dancing with the big rigs on the interstate as she heads for national parks and places of quiet beauty. Knowing her place, she enters such sanctuaries as a respectful visitor and humble observer; Whereupon she is lovingly greeted and made welcome as family.

Contact Myrtle at the following locations:

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | LinkedIn

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Just an update

It's been a crazy week here at Entertaining Stories. There were guests, and fun things all around.

Lisa Burton Radio was a big hit. I have a couple more “shows” to schedule and post, several questionnaires out, and one in the stage where I need to put the shtick together and send it back to the author. I gave the broadcast its own category so the authors could find them easily if they wanted to use them for promotion of some kind. It also gives new victims friends somewhere to see what the posts look like.

I'd like to ultimately post these about twice per month. Right now it's going to be a little more frequent to help it get off the ground.

Old What's Her Face had to get her car serviced today. I met her at the dealership and we went to breakfast. I saw rooster pheasants everywhere along my drive, and I love spotting the local wildlife.

We went to Merrit's for breakfast. This place is a Boise institution, and in fifteen years of living here, we've never been. It seems like that's pretty common. When you live somewhere, you never take in the local things. This place is an absolute dump, but it's always packed. Think unfinished concrete floors and painted over bricks with tables that might have been there for fifty years. The food was outstanding. Their signature is scones, and we each had one. There are a lot of definitions of what a scone is, but out West it's a raised dough, stretched thin and fried. They're almost always served with honey butter, and these were no exception. (My belly is pretty happy.)

When the car was finished I routed back though the farm land, but the pheasants were gone.

No idea what I will work on today. I have critiques from the guys. They liked the section, but had some useful things to say. I dropped a bunch of bombshells in the first 3000 words; think hooks. This 3000 words is a little more getting grounded in the character and story. I think it paled compared to the first submission, but it almost has to.

I also have more “Radio” things to work on. I'll probably make a new page so authors can contact me if they want a character interview. Then I have those questionnaires to follow up on.

I roughed out a micro fiction in the evenings this week. It needs some work, but fever hallucinations made a good topic. (Or were they hallucinations.)

There are still some posts to pre-write for the release of The Playground. I haven't hit that too hard, because I'm still waiting to hear from the beta readers.

The Yak Guy project always needs attention, and I'll get a chance sometime later this weekend. I'm going to loaf around with a few of the small items today, and we'll probably still have date night somewhere.

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Looking out my window

I work in downtown Boise, Idaho. I’m fortunate to have an office alongside a small stream. There is an abundance of wildlife in Boise.

Over the years, we’ve had raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and abundant wildlife. When I can, I try to snap a quick photo, but they are usually too fast for me. (particularly the foxes)

There was a mink playing in the snow outside my window last winter. I was so fascinated I never even reached for my phone. Oops. The beavers and muskrats wind up being a blip in the stream on a photo.

I have a few shots of the wood ducks and geese. The weeds are tall along the stream right now, but that will change after the first big snow. We get many blue herons and kingfishers. I have one photo of a white mallard drake that flew in with a group of the normal version. He even had the curly tail feathers to indicate his being a male.

Yesterday a big mule deer buck walked up and looked in my window at me. I slowly reached for my iPhone but he wasn’t posing. He took off, but wasn’t quite quick enough. While this isn’t the view I had originally, it’s good enough to share. Nice big antlers on him, and he looks very healthy. He cleared a six foot fence like it was nothing just outside this frame.

deer

I’m sure he’s on the search for does this time of year. I see them all the time, but he was a rare treat. I even saw a whitetail doe in the parking lot one day.

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