June 21, 2020

This Father’s Day, I’m reflecting on the time I get to spend connecting with my daughter and the nature around our backyard. We’ve been quarantined and stuck at home for a few months now, but even though we’re at home, we’re not at a loss for things to do.

We moved to Great Falls, Virginia 8 years ago when Samantha was only 5 years old.  Moving from a more urban setting, we wanted to raise Samantha much closer to nature. Although Great Falls is only 14 miles from the Washington, DC border, it seemed like a world away. With a stream and a pond in our backyard that flow into the Potomac River and heavily wooded areas, we found seclusion and Samantha found her love for wildlife.

Red fox captured on trail camera
Laurence Grayer

Armed with only a cheap $50 trail camera, we soon began to document what was living all around us. It has been a joy to watch Samantha’s contagious excitement every time we download the latest pictures, especially when we discover a new animal neighbor. The incredible biodiversity has included coyotes, deer, foxes, great blue herons, hawks, minks, opossums, otters, raccoons, turkeys, woodpeckers and many more.

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Red fox captured on trail camera
Image Credit
Laurence Grayer
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Raccoon family captured on trail camera
Image Credit
Laurence Grayer
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Otter captured on trail camera
Image Credit
Laurence Grayer
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Great blue heron captured on trail camera
Image Credit
Laurence Grayer
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White-tailed deer fawns captured on trail camera
Image Credit
Laurence Grayer
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Red-tailed hawk captured on trail camera
Image Credit
Laurence Grayer
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Opossum captured on trail camera
Image Credit
Laurence Grayer
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Mink captured on trail camera
Image Credit
Laurence Grayer
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Coyote captured on trail camera
Image Credit
Laurence Grayer
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Turkey vulture captured on trail camera
Image Credit
Laurence Grayer

During the quarantine, we have been able to spend even more time observing animals, and we even added a new trail camera aimed at an animal path we built behind our house. A pair of barred owls (they mate for life) have new owlets near our house almost every year. Since we are home every day, this year we have been able to watch a pair of owlets fledge and explore their habitat. Although she would be embarrassed to admit it, Samantha can perform a remarkable imitation of the barred owl’s unique series of eight accented hoots. 

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Barred Owl Adult
Image Credit
Laurence Grayer
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Barred Owl Owlets Great Falls, VA
Image Credit
Laurence Grayer
Father and daughter
Laurence Grayer

I feel lucky that we live in an area where we can explore just outside our back door, learn about the natural world, and I can share these experiences with Samantha, who is now thinking about becoming a veterinarian.

I hope you enjoy the trail camera pictures! Happy Father’s Day!

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