Friday, July 31, 2009

Game - Find The Chipmunk

I haven't done this in a little while so I decided to bring you another little Find The Critter game. Don't worry that you can't do it, because my games are always easy. All you have to do is find a chipmunk in this picture and then leave a comment to describe where you see it. Very simple.

There may be one chipmunk, but there also may be more than one. You only have to find one of them. Even if you think somebody else has already found the chipmunk you see, you can still tell us all where you think it is too. This game is mostly just for fun. I don't give away any fancy prizes, but I will most likely mention the winner(s) in my post tomorrow when I reveal where any chipmunks in this picture are located.

If you have never seen a chipmunk before, it is a little brown rodent with black and white stripes on its back. If you're still not sure, go here for a few pictures. I will also show you some very good pictures of a chipmunk tomorrow when I post the answer at my usual time.

Even if you don't think you see any critters, go ahead and make a crazy guess. You can even say you can't find anything. That's okay too. My games are only here so we all can have fun, and I hope you have fun with this game. They are always fun for me. Now go on and find a chipmunk!

Hint: The picture gets bigger.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Alice and the Toad Prince

It has been a long time since I last had a visit from my little friend Alice. I was finally able to drag her away from her favorite cartoon, Scooby Doo, so she could go on a short hike with me. I thought she might like to see some of the warm weather animals I've been visiting in one of my favorite nature parks.

We were in luck because there were many of them that came out to see Alice for the first time. It's not every day that you get to meet a big star from Wonderland like Alice, so I think most of the animals were pretty excited. I didn't see that evil squirrel Mr. Nutz out there anywhere though. I think he's afraid of her.

A black squirrel greeted us at the front of the park, but it ran as soon as I tried to get its picture. Next were the young geese that I've been watching. They thought Alice was about the best creature they had ever seen, so they swam over to see her. Even the cormorant lake monster was there. I was glad because I know Alice had never seen that before.

After visiting with many of the animals at this nature park, and getting another look at the dam, Alice and I headed back to the trail. As we were walking back through the darkest part of the forest a big toad hopped over to the side of the trail and stopped and stared at Alice.

I was the first one to see it so I looked at her and asked her if she wanted to see a toad. She likes all animals so we stopped to see this new wonder. As I began taking my pictures of this toad I told Alice to pick it up. She of course refused. I teased her and told her if she kissed this toad it would turn into a prince.

Little Alice looked at me and said that all that would happen is that the toad would pee on her and give her warts. She then said she would beat it up if it turned into a prince anyway. Just like me, little Alice is Irish, and that's how we handle just about everything. So since I didn't want a punch in the stomach I decided that we should probably move on our way.

I looked back once at this poor toad still waiting there beside the trail. I guess it would never know what it would be like to be a prince. Alice was probably right that there would be no prince, because it was actually a frog in the old story that became a prince. Maybe this toad was just trying to fool us.

Alice quickly forgot this incident, but she did like seeing all of the animals, even the toad. I think she was probably glad that the snakes didn't come out to meet her though. As we arrived back at the front of the park Alice happily began practicing her skipping. She had been having trouble learning that, so she's glad she figured it out.

After we had seen all of the animals and flowers we could, and after Alice got to pick out a very good stick to wave around at her brother, we decided it was time to go. I took Alice back to Wonderland so she could go back to watching her cartoons. She likes going on adventures, but she really likes her cartoons just a little bit more.

Any of you who have never met my little friend Alice can click here to read about some of her other adventures on these trails with me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Playful Cardinals

This path in the photo is a very special place. It is in a small section of the forest that is right next to a huge meadow. The meadow was to my back as I took this picture. This is an area that very many types of birds like to gather. And that is exactly what I saw, but this was a little different.

Whenever I come to this place I begin looking for birds so might get a few lucky pictures of something. I like to stand in this path and wait for the birds to come out. It almost never works because of my impatience. I usually give up and look for other adventures, after I get a few very blurry pictures.

As I arrived at the entrance to this path this time something strange happened. From the trees on the left, at about as high as my waist, a Cardinal flew across the path almost too fast to see. As I stood there feeling slightly stunned another one shot by! Then after the second one was gone a third cardinal flew past! Zip! I got one blurry picture, without any cardinals.

I was kind of irritated with everything that just happened, so I decided I was just going to go back to the meadow and look at something else. After only a few seconds I saw something in the trees at the edge of the forest. It was another bird!

This bird wasn't just another bird though. It was a female cardinal! It was the first female cardinal I had ever seen! A male cardinal is colored a brilliant red, so it is usually pretty easy to see. Go here to see a few pictures that are a little better. The females on the other hand are not as brilliantly colored. They are mostly light brown with maybe a little red.

If you click on the picture you can see the bird a little better, and I circled it to make it even easier. But wait, there's more! Not only is there a female in the trees, there is a male in the tree behind the female! Both of these birds were watching me.

After they finally left, I got distracted with other things so I made my way up the meadow path beside the forest. While I was taking pictures (I do a lot of that), I saw some more movement in the trees. It couldn't be more cardinals could it?

Yes it could! These cardinals seem to have been following me up the trail. They were watching me through the trees! I changed the direction of my camera towards them and began trying to get a few good shots, even though they were mostly hidden by the branches of the trees.

I got only a few decent shots of this one bird. The female was also there, but that picture wasn't so good. After the birds left, I also decided to reenter the bigger section of the forest. The cardinals weren't going to follow me in there. It had been fun playing with these playful cardinals, but there were other things to see and more adventures ahead.

I want to remind you to follow the links in this and my other posts, because they can lead to very interesting places.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Unsolved Mystery

I have a little story about a mystery to tell you. As a few of you know, a short while ago I bought a little toy called a GPS device. I have been using it to help me know my general location when I'm out hiking. Mine is specially made for things like that. There's another use for it too.

The other use for this little hand held device is a thing called geocaching. Geocaching is a treasure hunting game, using GPS, that is now being played all over the world. You use these devices to hunt little treasures that other players hide. There are hundreds of these things within ten miles of me. I started doing this as a way to bring you new stories here.

Since my device is still new, I'm really only a beginner at this game, so it's understandable that I have some learning to do. So far though I've been a complete failure at it. I just haven't really been able to find any of these caches yet. I know I'll get better, but no luck so far.

"But what does this have to do with the title of this post", you ask. "What is the unsolved mystery?" Well, while I was searching for one of these caches I found something. It was a similar thing to a cache but there was no treasure, and it was not in a location where a cache should be. It was only a plastic baggy with some things inside.

I didn't get a chance to examine it or even look much closer because there were people coming. You might guess why it's not good to let most others know about the location of these things. So I decided to continue my hike through the park that day. I knew I could come back at a better time, when there weren't so many other people.

So I went back yesterday. It was a good time of day to look without being disturbed, but I must have picked the wrong day. The place was crowded! When I got back to the site, there was a family of people walking by, so I decided to walk through the park and then come back. This place is not large for a nature park, so even kids can walk all the way through.

When I was finally able to investigate this place alone, I found that everything was gone! I searched for it a little bit, but then gave up. Maybe somebody hid it better, maybe somebody stole it. I didn't get a chance to find out if there was something interesting in there or just a baggy full of junk.

Now I'm left with an unsolved mystery! I should have stayed around there that first day I saw it. I guess I'm just too impatient right now. I could have just ignored this thing I found, but I have become obsessed with it. I could have shown you the pretty little birds I got pictures of, but instead I'm showing you the hole in an old fallen tree. How's that for fun?

You gotta admit though, this post is a little different from most of my others. It still has Ratty written all over it though. Who else would give you a story of an old plastic baggy in a fallen tree? One of these times I'll actually find something on a little treasure hunt, so the story ends up actually good!

The End. (I told you it was unsolved)

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Rabbit

The little critter I have for you today is this brown Rabbit. I thought I should bring you something that could hop away, since I've been showing you things that are a little more rooted to the ground these past few days. What better animal to bring along than a rabbit?

Rabbits are probably considered to be the cutest of all rodents by the majority of humans. Maybe that's because squirrels are just too ornery to be considered the cutest. Or maybe it's because rabbits seem so gentle, and they have those adorable long ears. Do any of you know why rabbits are loved so much?

You know, I haven't gotten a good picture of a rabbit since almost a year ago. I see so many animals running around out there that you would think rabbits would be among them, but I guess they just aren't forest creatures. There are a lot of rabbits near where I live, but not too many on the hiking trails.

I actually took this picture from my truck. I was out searching around for a few new exciting places, and maybe a hiking trail or two, and I happened to see this little ball of fur having a snack on the side of a quiet road. When I stopped the truck I honestly didn't expect this rabbit to stay where it was, but it didn't seem to mind that I was there at all.

It seemed just a little more interested in the tasty little lunch it was eating. I don't know what was so good, but it looked different from the grass around it. You can see in this last picture that the rabbit has a mouth full as it checked around just to be sure there was no more danger than me.

I would have loved to tell you a story of how I hunted this rabbit with my camera until it surrendered these pictures to me, but it just didn't happen that way. I guess some adventures are easier than others, even when it involves an animal that could easily hop away.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My Friend The Tree

While I was writing my posts about flowers the past few days, I realized I've been passing up very many interesting things. I like looking at and writing about animals and now flowers and other plants, but there are other related things out there too.

This tree, while it obviously is still a plant, is also something else. It is or was the home of some sort of animal. I've never seen the animal so I'm guessing that this animal home has been long ago abandoned. That doesn't mean it's not interesting though.

This tree has actually inspired two of my fiction stories. The first one was The Little Green Man. This is the tree that the little man jumped into in that story. There is even a snowy picture of the same tree there with the story. Also, without this tree there would be no famous Mr. Nutz. It inspired the story of The Squirrel Strikes Back, the first appearance starring that rascally little squirrel.

So this tree is quite well known to me and also to many of you. Now you know it a little better. This is a good example of how the things around us can stir our minds and inspire our imaginations. I'm sure you have similar objects of your own.

I see this tree every few days. I walk right by it on a nature trail I frequently travel. How many other things do I walk by that I don't stop to look at? Probably too many to count. A tree like this one can be very valuable in ways that we don't consciously think about.

This tree has become one of my best friends, and I didn't even realize it until now. Do you have an object like this that has become a friend or an inspiration of some kind? What is it? What has it done for you?

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I have to admit that I'm being influenced by you. Before I began reading all of your blogs I would walk right past most flowers. Oh, I would take a few pictures at times, but I never really thought much about it. Now I will spot a flower from a distance and go after it with the same enthusiasm that I have when following any animal.

This influence hasn't just gone as far as to appreciate the beauty of a flower, or to know that it might make a good post. It has done both of those, but it has also done much more. I've actually been learning a thing or two. Now when I see a flower or other plant, the chances that I might actually know what I'm looking at are becoming greater and greater.

For instance, when I saw this Chicory plant growing at one of my favorite parks I instantly knew what it was! I don't really remember where I learned this, or even if it was from one source or it came from a combined effort of several of you. The important thing is that I did indeed know, and it's thanks to all of you, my wonderful teachers!

Of course, I'm still not completely sure of my knowledge yet, so I made sure I checked the internet for confirmation and a little information on these lovely little flowers. This whole plant seems to be useful for so many things that I can't list them all here. Don't worry though because I'm going to supply you with some very valuable links if you want to know more.

A lot of you know that this plant is sometimes added to coffee, and it has even been used to make coffee all by itself. This plant has been also used for medicinal purposes, such as easing an upset stomach, heartburn, and headaches. Again, so many to list for this herb. Since I can't possibly tell it all, here are the links I promised you.

Chicory - Herb Database - So much great information, and you can follow this link to a huge list of herbs and information about them.

Chicory - Wildflower - A good place to find information on several wildflowers.

Chicory - Asheville Natural - A nice little place with good information on chicory and other wildflowers.

Chicory - Wikipedia - This one's easy. Most of you know Wikipedia, but it has good information, so I listed it.

Okay, that's enough of that! I could list sites like these all day long, but that would start to get boring, now wouldn't it? There are plenty of other sites out there like these. All you have to do is look.

Here's a view of one of the many chicory plants where I took these pictures. The first flower was located right in front of my usual parking spot. It was almost as if it was waiting there for me. The front of the park near the parking area is just full of these plants. There are also several others, like dandelions, clover, and daisies out there.

I've been featuring a lot more flowers lately, even though I still see the animals out there. I've been learning that plants and flowers have just as much to offer as animals and other things. Even something that doesn't run away can give a fun everyday adventure if we just take the time to look.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Milkweed And A Little Surprise

Yesterday in an attempt to get a few pictures of some milkweed blossoms I stumbled upon a bumblebee having a tasty snack. I got the milkweed pictures, but they only served as a background for that magnificent bumblebee. Today I'm going to bring you a some better pictures of another milkweed plant, and a little surprise.

Milkweed has been one of my favorite plants ever since I discovered it as a kid. I only knew about milkweed in its evil pod form though. That's what I liked about it. You can see those sinister looking pods right here if you're interested. If you have never seen them before, take a look. You won't be sorry.

Last year when I had only been blogging for a short time, I was doing a little research on these pod plants, and WiseAcre told me about these blossoms. Because of the nature of my post, he directed me to a picture of his that showed a good closeup of these blossoms. These things actually have fangs. You can see the fangs in the picture below, and maybe a little better in his post.

The blossoms here haven't opened up quite far enough yet to see the fangs as clearly as I'd like. That's okay though. The pictures still show a fascinating stage in the life of a milkweed plant. Every time I see a milkweed plant it looks like something alien to this world.

There is something else special about this plant in the pictures. This milkweed plant has a little surprise crawling around through the blossoms. And no, it's not another bumblebee. The bumblebee photos were pretty good, but this little creature is more fun for us humans.

There it is! It's a little ladybug that I found climbing around in the blossoms. It's hidden back there pretty well, but it's clear for all to see in this last picture. These little ladybugs are a favorite of most children, and they're considered to be good luck.

Something I'm not sure most of you know about ladybugs though is that they can and do bite sometimes. It doesn't really hurt, but you can indeed feel it. I know this because it happened to me at least three times. These are the one kind of bug that we let crawl on us, and now I found out that they bite.

Don't let this worry you even if I am trying to scare and tease you a little bit. What I said is true, but I think they're mostly very passive. Maybe it's just me that they like to bite. Then again, maybe they're evil monsters just like the milkweed plants that this one seems to like. Hah haha ha hahaha hah!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bumblebee and Milkweed

Today I have some excellent photos of a bumblebee for you. I haven't seen very many that are better than these. I have something from just about every angle for you. Before any of you think that I'm shamelessly bragging, I would just like to say...

You're right! I am! I took these pictures all by myself, so I have the right to brag about every single shot. Not only that, these are only a small sample of the pictures I took of this bumblebee. I have many more that are at least as good as these.

Okay, now that I got the evil part out, I just want to say that this was an extremely lucky event, and this relaxed bumblebee was the one that made it all happen. Usually when I try to get pictures of a creature like this, it flies away before I get anything. This one waited patiently while I took every picture I wanted.

This bee was much too busy enjoying these milkweed blossoms to be afraid of me. In fact, it actually flew to a closer blossom while I was able to get twice as many pictures and more angles. This was a dream come true for me while I stood there and watched this bumblebee.

I have always admired the closeup pictures of bees and other insects I've seen at some of your blogs. I'm glad to be able to try to return a good closeup look at something like this. I'm sure you can guess how excited I was when I was taking these pictures.

The story part of this post is obviously full of more nonsense than usual, mostly because I want it to be more about the pictures this time. I got lucky enough to bring you some that I'm really proud of, and my camera even cooperated this time. The milkweed came out a little on the fuzzy side, but the bee is the thing this time.

If you want to find out a little more about bumblebees click here. For a little more information about milkweed you can click here. I've also written several other posts about milkweed. You can search my site for those if you want to read them. I recommend that if you want a few really odd stories today.

You know, I originally walked over to get a few pictures of the milkweed plant, but I saw the bee when I got up close. It didn't fly away so I started taking pictures of it instead. I can't describe how surprised I was when it didn't immediately fly away, and then when it stayed for so long. This plant must have been very tasty.

I'll return tomorrow with more natural wonders. Who knows what I might find next time? Nature is an amazing thing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another Crazy Squirrel

This story was originally going to be completely different. I was going to show you some boring pictures of this squirrel posed on a branch. As I began to post the pictures, the real story of this squirrel came back to me. Hey, it's hard to remember everything when so many things happen in just one day.

I was walking through the forest in an area where I usually see a few squirrels in the distance. I've posted several pictures of them from this very same area. While I was there, I watched another squirrel playing in the forest, and I got some decent pictures while I was at it. As I turned back to the trail, I saw something even more interesting.

That's right, I saw another squirrel peeping at me from the side of a tree. He seemed to be a happy little guy, and I thought he was a bit shy at first because of the way he hid. I had no idea how wrong I was. I guess it was his actions that came next that won him the prize of becoming an internet star.

Once he knew I actually saw him there, he came out of his hiding place and crawled up along a small branch that was about shoulder level to me. He got to the very end of it and waited patiently while I began taking several pictures of him.

Of course it wasn't enough for this little squirrel to just stand there balanced on the branch. He knew he had to perform if he was going to be seen by people all over the world. He gave me a few standard poses like you might have seen at a million other places, but then he did something strange.

I have no idea what he's doing there on that branch, but it looks like he might be trying to take a nap. Maybe he's hugging the branch. We all know how much squirrels love trees. Maybe this branch is his own scratching post. Whatever it is, it was a good sign that this squirrel was nuts.

After it finally jumped off the branch, I moved on with the intention of heading toward my next destination. I saw which direction the squirrel had gone, and it happened to be in the same general direction that I was headed. I watched it, but I had the intention of forgetting the squirrel and moving on.

As soon as I turned a corner to change paths, I happened to look to my right at another tree. This same squirrel poked his head out again at me. It scurried out as quick as a flash, stood on the side of the tree, and looked right at me. I would swear there was a big smile on his face. It's dark, but you can see the grin if you click the picture.

It waited for me to get a few last pictures, and then it climbed up the tree and out of sight. It's sometimes amazing to see the different personalities of these little creatures. Some are angry, and some are shy and fearful. And then some are curious and friendly like this little guy. Nature is a wonderful thing, and so are squirrels.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Duck In The Creek

I left you yesterday as a lone little duck took a thrilling leap off the edge of a dam. After its worried pacing back and forth at the top of the dam, and its distressed sounding cries, it threw itself off the edge. This poor little creature's fate was completely unknown... UNTIL NOW!

The lone little duck wasn't alone after all! It was actually a mother, and this mother's babies were waiting for it in the water at the bottom of the dam. If you look very closely at the picture that shows the mother duck's leap of faith, you will find two of the babies visible at the edges of the tall grass.

It's a very happy ending to part one of my story. This has been told in two parts because it happened in two parts for me too. I didn't see the babies until the duck splashed into the water and swam a little closer. The picture above was my first glimpse of the mother and her little ones.

That's when it all became clear. The distressed quacking and the nervous pacing was just a mother duck keeping her kids all in one place. She was watching them and telling them not to go far. She was probably pacing so she could find a good spot to land without hurting them. The quacking sounds were just duck language commands for the young ones to behave.

As you can see, the mother and all eight of the little ducklings were fine after she jumped down to meet them. The family was reunited and ready to move along their way. The children obediently lined up right behind their mom so she could lead them to their destination.

At times they formed a tight little group so they could navigate this little creek at the bottom of the dam. It hasn't rained very hard here in some time, so this creek is very shallow right now. At other times the lake can flood over the side and turn this peaceful little creek into a raging river.

In a shallow creek like this there are many obstacles. Things like branches or old boards block the way, and they have to make their way past. The water becomes so shallow in some places that the mother and even the babies have to wade through the water instead of swimming. This must have been a great adventure for these little ones.

All too soon, as I watched this family of ducks, they swam down the creek into an area hidden by trees. They were now out of sight, and I haven't seen them since. What at first seemed very strange and maybe distressing, turned out to be a story of a happy little family of ducks.


As I write this, I have just returned from this very same place. It seems that this whole incident may just be the normal routine for this family of ducks. I went back to there and found what looked like the same duck right back on top of the dam.

I waited for it to leap down again, but it didn't want me to see it happen this time. I looked for the babies, but all I saw was another female duck swimming in the creek below. I didn't see them last time either, so they were probably well hidden in the weeds while they waited for their mom.

As I was walking away, I heard the familiar sound of a splash behind me in the creek. I didn't go back. There was more adventure up ahead, and I was soon going to find it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Duck On The Dam

Sit down and let me tell you the tale of the duck and the dam. What? You're already are sitting? Good! I guess we can start now. Wait a minute! I just want to warn you that, so I can show you more pictures, this one's going to be a cliffhanger. Okay then, uh, what was the story again? Oh yeah, the duck and the dam. Here we go!

I happened to be out looking at the lake where I like to watch the geese, and there wasn't really that much going on. No geese, no cormorants swimming around trying to look like little lake monsters. Just nature and a quiet lake. That's when I heard a strange sound coming from the dam behind me.

The sound was the quack of a duck. This wasn't just any quacking sound though. It really did sound kind of strange. The duck was making a sound that led me to believe there was something wrong. It was almost a strangled cut off sound instead of its normal quack.

I turned to look but I couldn't see the duck that was making the noise. So I walked through the heavy grass to the other side of the dam. There is no path to get there, and you have to walk down a steep slope that leads down to the creek that the dam empties into.

When I got there, I saw the lone on top of the dam. I couldn't see it before because there is a short wall up there that separates the front and back of the dam. The duck was standing there looking as odd as it sounded. It was still quacking strangely, and it looked as if it were in some sort of distress.

It soon began pacing back and forth, looking as if it were confused. It had something on its mind, but I couldn't understand what it was. The duck didn't look injured or anything like that, but as I watched it, I began to understand that it was worried about something. It was doing that funny sounding quack the whole time.

As it got to the middle of the dam, its pacing shortened to only that area. It actually turned around several times before it finally stopped. That's when it began looking over the edge of the dam. The strange quacking continued!

It began to duck its head as if it were studying how high the dam was. Maybe it had a hurt wing and couldn't fly. It looked as if it wanted to get to the creek below, but it didn't want to fly. It began making motions as if it wanted to actually slide down the side of the dam! I knew I had to watch this.

I watched as the duck looked down at the creek while it made that odd quack. Then it would move its foot over the side of the dam like a swimmer testing the water for the first time. Then it ducked down, tucked its legs in, and leaned over the edge a little bit. That's when the duck leaped over the edge the dam!

I guess it was more like a jump than anything else. The duck halfway slid, halfway flew, and halfway jumped down the edge of the dam. That's a lot of halfways! It finally splashed into the creek below. I couldn't see that part because it was behind the tall weeds in the water.

I'll have to end this part of the story here. If I didn't, it wouldn't be a cliffhanger would it?

Tomorrow I'll reveal just what the mysterious problem was with this duck. Was there something wrong? Did it have a broken wing? Was it drunk or crazy? Or did it just have a bad case of constipation? Tune in tomorrow for the answers to at least some of these questions.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Finally A Blue Jay

If you look closely at these two pictures you can see a bird right in the center of each. The bird is a Blue Jay. Neither of these pictures are very close to the best blue jay pictures you'll ever see, but I don't care right now. This is still a huge accomplishment for me.

You see, I have been chasing blue jays since the beginning of spring, and up until now I've had absolutely nothing to show for it. These pictures may not be much but they're the very best I've been able to do up till now. Always before I've had a few blue blurs, and a few near misses, but no actual identifiable pictures.

I've seen plenty of them flying by me on the forest paths, but they always seem to elude me. The first time I saw one, it flew past me into the bushes. I saw it standing there on the branches, but the camera decided it was time to see only green. I guess blue was too much for it.

There were other times where one would fly quickly by me, almost within reach, and the rotten blue bird would just as quickly fly off into the distance. One of those times I watched as the bird landed on a tree just out of reach of the eyes of the camera. In the picture there was a small dark dot instead of this bright blue bird.

Another time there was a bird that flew in front of me on the trail. It kept landing in the trees just behind branches so I couldn't get a picture. As I would get close, it would fly a little farther away only to repeat what it did before. I'm sure it was teasing me. When I did finally get the pictures, they came out as eye jarring blurs! Aarrggg!!!

Now you get a hint at the feeling of accomplishment I have at getting these not so good pictures of a blue jay. This is actually the fourth one I saw on this very same path. These birds seem to be everywhere I go, but they are some of the most elusive creatures for me. I'm still feeling pretty frustrated, but right now that feeling is mixed with a great deal of satisfaction. Ahh progress! I love it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cormorant Lake Monster

I have something very interesting to share with you today. Well, actually I have a combination of interesting things. I guess I can reveal right away that both things involve this little double-crested cormorant.

Ever since I saw a cormorant swimming in this lake for the very first time, I thought I saw something very familiar. When a cormorant is in the water it looks very much like the pictures I've seen of the famous Loch Ness Monster, or a picture of a dinosaur. This makes these very birds fun to watch.

There is something even more interesting in this post about this particular bird though. I think this is probably the same one I've been watching all along. There have been as many as three out here at the same time. Today I got to watch this bird do something fun.

I watched very closely as this bird swam up to it's usual perch on the lake. I knew exactly what I was about to see. This bird swam straight to the perch and then slowed down as it got near. It began to look around, and then it...

Can you tell that I'm hesitating a little bit? I'm doing it on purpose because that is exactly what the cormorant did. I was taking continuous pictures of the bird as it approached, but it took so long when it got to the perch that I had to stop for a few seconds. I lifted the camera just in time to capture it as it jumped up onto its favorite perch!

A bird perched on a branch in the middle of a body of water isn't that unusual, but being able to watch it as it jumps to its perch is something you don't get to do every day. Getting the pictures to show everyone is even more unusual. I wish I could show you the whole event.

I actually watched as this bird swam all the way from the other end of the lake to this perch it finally ended up on. It was fun seeing only a speck in the water at first, and then watching it perched closer by and drying its wings off. I was even able to move down closer for some better shots. I hope to show you some of those in a few days.

Until next time, The Everyday Adventurer (feeling a little better every day) signing off.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More Black Squirrels

On my most recent hiking trip I didn't see many animals, but Idid have a nice time on the trails. It has been a lot of help in relieving stress for me. I can honestly say now more than ever that a nice quiet walk in the forest can really help a person with a lot of things on their mind.

As you can see by the pictures, I did see a few animals out there. There is a section of this nature preserve that is just full of squirrels. More specifically, black squirrels! As you get towards the back of the park, you'll begin to see little dark shapes darting from tree to tree.

As you focus your eyes in this dark forest, you'll see that these dark shapes are the black squirrels. These critters seem to be everywhere in this section of the forest. There are other types of squirrels here too, but this area is black squirrel territory.

All the way in the back, there are a few houses that are very close to the park. This is where you'll find the highest population of black squirrels. I think someone in one of these houses has been laying food out for them, because when I got there I saw at least six of these black squirrels having a snack.

If you look in the picture above you'll even see a little chipmunk in there with one of the squirrels. There were several other squirrels hiding in this picture too. There's actually a squirrel hiding behind that tree in the middle of the picture. There's even a gray squirrel hiding out somewhere close by.

I have pictures of all of these squirrels but it was difficult to see them all together with all of the trees around. I took a few of the best to show you here. These squirrels were concentrating so much on their meal that they didn't see me until I got very close. That's when they scattered and ran off into the forest.

This last picture is of the last squirrel I could see out there. I followed it toward the ravine, but it disappeared down there very quickly. That was the last I saw of these black squirrels. Here's a link to another post I wrote with a little information about these black squirrels. - Black Squirrel

Now I'd like to give you all a small update on a few things. Ever since I got this last internet outage fixed a few days ago, I haven't had any more problems with that. A few other unrelated distractions are still happening for me though. Right now I'm hoping I can begin to work around them and get everything here on this blog back to normal.

Some of the things I haven't been able to do here recently are things I took pride in before. I like to personally answer each and every comment here to acknowledge that you are all important to me. I want to let you know that I've still been reading every comment.
So I'd like to thank all of you for your great comments from the past several days. I also like to comment on all of your blogs too, and I've been doing that as much as I can. Even without this blog, I like reading your blogs.

I haven't been able to really do any of these things very much recently. Right now it's been difficult to even write this blog every day. I know I'm not giving much detail, but saying this much about myself is difficult for me. Besides, these nature stories are more important. I still think and hope that everything will begin to return to normal and I'll be able to do all of these things again very soon. Until then, I hope you all like the stories and pictures I've been bringing you.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Nature Trails

Nature trails are one of my favorite places to go. They're a journey and a destination. It's these trails that I travel to get to some of my favorite places, and at the same time they are some of my favorite places.

You can accomplish many things by walking along these trails. As you travel through these wilderness walkways, you get to see all of nature in action. You can see just about everything right from the trails. Going here and breathing the air can be one of the most enjoyable experiences you could ever have.

You can go in here to get rid of several negative emotions. Stay in the forest for even an hour or two and you'll come out feeling much better. Anger or sadness or anxiety can melt away. I know this for sure. I've used these trails to help with all three and more.

Even if you're feeling just fine, walking along trails like these is a fun outing you can have whenever you want. You can go alone or even go with your family or friends, or even your dog sometimes. This nice quiet exercise is good for everyone.

The best part is that you can walk through these trails any way you want. If you want to walk through them as fast as you can so you can get your heart pumping, you can do it that way. You can also take it slow and look at every little thing along the way. Whatever you want to do. You are the master out here.

The trails in these pictures are the ones I visited all day yesterday. This is a huge nature preserve and it took me several hours to get through. I wasn't in much of a hurry so I stopped to see as many things as I could. There weren't many animals out there today, but I was more interested in just taking in the beauty of my surroundings.

I walked up and down hills just for the fun of it. I stopped and sat on benches so I could look around at the trees or wait for a few birds to come closer. I explored every side trail to see where it went. I crossed bridges that went over a ravine, and I even followed a steep trail that went to the bottom of that ravine.

All of this gave me a full day of enjoyment, and my troubles didn't exist while I was there. When I got too tired to want to continue, I walked back to my truck and finally went home. I was exhausted from my journey, but it left me completely satisfied. It also left me too tired to stay awake, so these trails gave me a nice long sleep.

So that's what I'm doing right now. Sleeping. I'm having good dreams of all of the things I saw, and all of the things I'll get to see next time on these nature trails. I'll talk to you then.