Pay attention to the world around you

A few evenings back, I noticed some strange birds in my pasture. I went to investigate, and the next thing I knew, I was finding out a lot more about my land than I’d ever known.

I looked out at my pasture a few nights ago, and movement caught my eye. There were a number of large birds strutting around in my pasture.

I grabbed my binoculars to take a closer look. I originally thought they might be sharp-tailed grouse, but they didn’t look quite right. With the binocs, I saw that they had extremely long, curved beaks. And there were lots of them out there. Probably about 40 of them. They were long-billed curlews.

I grabbed the camera and snuck out the back door. They turned out to be far less skittish than I though they’d be, so I did get some pictures. I didn’t want to make them leave before they were ready, so I left them alone and wandered back to the house. But as I did, I payed a little more attention to my surroundings than usual. I hadn’t gone far before I noticed a tiny hedgehog cactus with a little pink flower. I got down to take a closer look at it, and there was a bee crawling over the flower, looking for nectar.

I stayed there, lying flat on the ground in the middle of my pasture, taking pictures and just watching this natural interaction, until the bee gathered all it needed and flew off. But before I got up, I looked past the cactus and saw a horned lark hopping through the grass. I stayed where I was and watched the little bird. He’d hop a few paces, then stop and tilt his head to listen for bugs. Every once in a while, he’d dart his beak at the ground before hopping off again to look somewhere else. Eventually, he came up with the legs of some tiny insect sticking out of his beak, and then he flew away.

It was all a good lesson to pay attention to the world around us. Every once in a while, you just need to open your eyes and pay attention to everything we usually just take for granted.