Take a walk out your back door. Sit down at your patio table, walk over to your garden, or kneel down to pick some weeds.
Then take a close look around you.
What bugs do you see crawling around? What kinds of birds are sitting in the trees? How many moths are floating through your bushes?
For the past couple years, Scott McIntire has been answering these questions on his quarter-acre plot of land in Greenport, where he keeps tallies of every kind of bird, bumblebee and beetle he can spot in his backyard.
Though he admits he’s not a trained scientist — in fact, he’s an artist — McIntire has, since 2013, taken inventory of more than 50 birds that have flown on or around his property. He’s also counted between 300 and 350 insects and a nominal seven mammals — not including him and his wife.
And he isn’t exactly applying the scientific method to do it.
“It’s not like I’ve been busting my ass,” said McIntire, who has lived in Greenport for the past 20 years with his wife, Lori Hollander. “I’ll just be in the garden, I’ll see something and ‘Click!’ ”
Now, photographs and paintings inspired by the beings in his backyard are on display at Greenport’s Floyd Memorial Library through Sept. 9. Separately, McIntire’s work will be exhibited at the Peter Marcelle Project in Southampton from Aug. 15-23.
“I try to get people to think about that’s going on around them,” he said while sitting in his backyard last week.
A native of Oregon’s Wilamette Valley, McIntire grew up close to the soil and describes his art as “realism based on iconic objects. Trying to make the invisible, visible.”
His subjects, which are plentiful, include a recently fallen iconic oak tree on Mill Road in Mattituck, a classic North Fork barn landscape, and a bee buzzing around a flower head, ready to pollinate it. The pieces have names like “Fear of Fracking” and “In Search of Balance.”
When McIntire first moved to Greenport, he was able to find red foxes and turtles in his backyard. Not anymore. The 65 acres behind his property have since been turned into a winery, and a deer fence now surrounds his property as the animals — hungry for some kind of forage — eventually started gnawing on the colorful plants around his yard.
The 70-year-old found himself in his garden in 2013, snapping pictures here and there — one of his cameras is always nearby — and eventually started keeping a tally of what he found.
A four-toothed mason wasp. A Carolina sphinx. A flat-faced longhorn beetle. A red-bellied woodpecker. A downy woodpecker. Twelve different kinds of butterflies. Eight different kinds of dragonflies.
Who knew there were so many different types of species in a single backyard?
“I’ve learned a lot,” McIntire said, laughing.
A copy of “Peterson Field Guide to Insects” sits on McIntire’s computer desk so that after the photos are uploaded he can identify the species he’s found. An avid birder, it’s not like the presence of all the animals in his yard were foreign to him before he actively started taking note of what he was seeing.
And McIntire is also well aware he hasn’t captured nearly all the species back there.
“I could still keep going,” he said.