Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Fallen Adventurer

It was going to be a great day.

There I was, all alone in the middle of the wilderness, enjoying my most recent hike. The day was a cold one, and the paths were covered with snow and ice. I was right in the center of one of the larger nature preserves around here, on my way back to the front of the park and out to my truck. That's when it happened!

I came to a lonely area where only the deer like to go. I was entering a gully where I like to stop and enjoy the quiet  of nature. The place is like a bowl that is surrounded by trees, except for the human foot path and a deer trail that crosses it. As I got halfway down the slope, my feet slid right out from under me!

A lot of times, when this kind of thing happens, it seems to go in slow motion, but not this time. I was laying on the ground almost before I knew what happened! I did have time to kind of tuck my body to try to minimize any injury, and to try to protect my camera, which is too valuable to me to let it get broken.

I fell on my back, and my arms and legs splayed out to my sides, as I slid a couple of feet down the slope. As I was falling, my eyes turned to my hand with the camera in it. I tried my best to keep it out of the snow, but it ended up completely covered by the wet white stuff.

These are the marks in the snow from my fall.

While I did feel the impact as I crashed to the ground, I didn't really feel any pain. I guess it must have happened too fast for that. What I was most concerned about was the camera. When I stopped sliding, I sat up in the snow and began trying to get the snow off of it any way I could; it was everywhere. I was happy to see that my prized device was still working.

This whole time I just sat there in the snow. I never once attempted to stand up. I didn't feel cold or wet, I just felt frustration and confusion. How could I have slipped? I was wearing my trusty ice cleats on my feet. They should have dug right into any slippery spot. I then noticed the battery indicator on the camera was flashing, so before I got up I changed the batteries.

Finally, after putting in the new batteries, I got to my feet. I felt fine! I didn't seem to be injured in anyway, not even my hind end, which probably bore most of the impact. I had a feeling that I'd be sore later though. It was then that I decided that all I wanted to do was to get out of there. I wanted to go home.

Notice the blurring on the bottom left and the middle.

I began quickly walking towards the front of the park. I took some pictures just because that's what I do. I noticed that there were a few very blurry areas on the view screen of the camera. I hoped these were just because the lense needed to be cleaned.

It was then that I noticed I was moving so fast. I also noticed that I had a few aches and pains that wouldn't normally be there. I realized that in a situation like this that it was natural to panic just a little bit, and that's what I was doing. The pain was from the fall, and my movement had warmed me up and brought out the pain.

When I realized what was happening, I physically stopped myself. I came to a halt right there on the trail. I told myself to slow down and be careful. Tiring myself out or really injuring myself wouldn't help one bit. I reminded myself that I was fine and to slowly continue on my way out of the park.

Finally, the parking lot!

In the end, I got out of the park and to my truck, but it was very slow going because I made sure to move extra slow. My camera still works, but I don't know how well yet. I immediately felt exhausted when I got home, and took a long nap. When I woke up I felt very stiff, but other than that I'm uninjured. It could have been much worse.

This should be a lesson to any prospective hikers. Try to hike with someone if you can. I only hike alone because I have no choice. I carry a cell-phone with me for situations like this. I almost needed it. Without my phone, if I had been really injured, nobody would have heard me yell for help, because I was very much alone out there. Before you go hiking take a look at my post on hiking tips for beginners. It could save your life.

I guess that's it for today from a sore, but otherwise fine Everyday Adventurer. I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Broken Lake

This is what I was greeted with when I went down to the fishing platform at Carpenter Lake the day after all the snow melted. A broken and battered sheet of surface ice. We have a new, even thicker, layer of snow now that I'm going to be showing you soon, but first I wanted to show you what a warm up and a thaw can cause.

I've shown you in days past how this lake so quickly froze solid. Now, just as quickly, it is breaking up. I really wonder what it must have been like when these cracks happened, and when the ice began to shift and shake. I know now that the experience is very similar to being in an earthquake. Go here for my description of what an ice quake can be like.

As you can see by the photo above, this ice must be at least three inches/eight centimeters thick. That had to be an awesome force that drove this ice sheet up and over the one next to it. Just think of the incredible cracking sound that must have accompanied it. Along with both sight and sound must have come a huge vibration that shook the surrounding area.

I know this all happens. I've seen, heard, and felt it myself. I do have a recording of the sound of the ice breaking, but it's not a very good one. I got it on a day when the ice was still forming and the lake was pulling at it. I think I'll wait to bring sounds like this to you until next spring when the real action happens.

I have one final look of this big crack in the ice for you. It's very similar to the first one, but it's a bit closer. I wanted to cover all bases for you; well, at least as much as I could. I guess sometimes there's no substitute for being there, but I'm going to work on bringing you the closest experience I can by the time we get the really good ice quakes next spring.

Notice on the right of the picture the ice is shinier, more liquid in appearance. That is evidence of the thaw it went through. It is now in the process of refreezing. The next time I came out here the ice was once again covered in a layer of snow. These cracks now cannot be seen.

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Just when I thought I had seen it all, I met a new squirrel in the forest! I guess I'll have to name him Baldilocks because of his huge bald spot. He doesn't seem very happy about his baldness either. I feel for him, but he didn't have to take it out on me. I'll tell you what happened.

It was the last day when all of the snow was still on the ground. I was happily walking through the forest not really expecting to see any animals because everything was so quiet. That's when it happened! On the tree just to my left a squirrel came around the side of the trunk right for me! It was very angry because I was so close.

I learned a long time ago never to run from an animal, but I always remain very careful. The key is to never make any sudden moves either way. I was still well within jumping range of this furious little baldy. You may notice black edges around the corners of my pictures. That's because I was too close for my zoom lense attachment.

I already had my camera up and ready, and when I saw what looked at the time like a possible injury on this squirrel's back I had to get some pictures before it was too late. As I began to take my pictures I also started slowly backing away. First, I had to get out of jumping range of this hostile little guy, and second, I needed to get better range for my lense.

I had no idea why he was missing the fur on his back, but I wanted to get plenty of pictures so I could examine them later. I ended up with exactly 125 pictures of him! Yes, you read that right! I would show them all to you, but I don't think you'd have time to look at them all, so I'll just show you these five.

I'm happy to say that after examining all of the pictures that whatever the problem is with his back, he seems to be just fine. There is no sign of injury or disease anymore, just a lot of wrinkly, bald squirrel skin. I guess the only problem he has right now isa case of wounded pride from not having all of his hair.

You know, I can't say I understand the experience of going bald, like this squirrel, or some men. I have a very full head of hair. I have two uncles who are quite bald though. It took me quite awhile to understand what some bald men feel about it. It's not always fun for them.

Years ago when my youngest uncle, who is like an older brother to me, began to seriously lose his hair I used to playfully tease him about it. He wasn't even thirty years old yet. I thought he was fine with the teasing, and I thought he was too confident as a person for it to be a problem. Besides, he always gave better than he got. 

But one day he got angry with me, and I saw that it was because I seriously hurt his feelings. I felt horrible about it. I never realized it would make him feel bad. That was the last time I ever said anything about it to him. We still tease each other about everything, but I keep that off limits.

Back to the main story. I had no idea how many pictures I had of Baldilocks the squirrel, but I knew I had plenty, so I went on my way. I still couldn't resist taking more pictures as I left him behind. He was determined to keep his spot on that tree, and to send me away. He got his wish. He was still there the last time I saw him from very far away.

Baldilocks the squirrel was angry with me for being there, but I was just glad to discover later that he seemed to be healthy. I have found another unique squirrel in the forest. I was worried about him at first, but now I think he's going to be just fine.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Golden Trees Of Winter

I have something for you today that may be every bit as magical as the trees whispering to me, like I talked about yesterday. There are trees in my forest that keep their leaves all winter long. The leaves turn golden when fall arrives, and they stay like that all winter long.

These golden trees of winter never lose their leaves. When everything else turns gray, and the ground turns white, these trees shine as golden beacons throughout the forest for all to see. They dance and whisper for all of the forest visitors whenever the wind blows. They can be a welcome presence in a lonely winter forest.

On a snowy day last winter, almost one year ago, when my little friend Alice first saw these trees she told me that they looked just like the dryads from Narnia. After watching the movie again I understood what she meant. These trees shake and shimmer in a very magical way. You can go here for a special guest post that she wrote which talked about these trees.

I have a very short video of this same tree for you. I guess this tree is a little camera shy because as soon as I began filming it quieted down, but it still shook its leaves for me a little bit. Even with the tree's subdued behavior, this video might help bring it to life for you just a little bit. Go ahead, take a look.

In this last picture you can see some of these trees spread out through the forest. It was shortly after watching them that the whole forest seemed to come alive for me. I told you about that incident yesterday. It really was a magical experience for me.

Some of mentioned in the comments section yesterday that you have had similar experiences in the forest. Would you like to share them? All comments are welcome, especially if you think it is a strange one. That makes a story more fun. And any of you who don't read the comments on your favorite blogs don't know what you're missing. I read them all because comments can add so much.

That's enough for today. I'm still trying to get back into things here because of all of the Christmas commotion. So many of my favorite blogs to visit with so little time right now. So far I'm up to zero. Hopefully I can change that later today. I also have a very special project I'm working on that won't be finished for many months. I have to get it exactly right because it's a very big one. I can't reveal any more so I'll talk to you later.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Kind Of Magic

There I was walking through the forest yesterday when a strange feeling suddenly overcame me. There was a kind of magic in the air. I knew there were no other humans in this forest with me, but I wasn't alone at all. Now you may thin I am referring to the presence of all of the little forest creatures like the squirrels, but that's not what I mean at all.

It was the trees! All of a sudden I had an overwhelming feeling that the trees were communicating with me. I could hear them in my mind whispering to me. They were telling me that I was their friend and I was welcome here. It gave me a feeling of utter peace and contentment. It was more intense than I've ever felt in my entire life.

These two pictures I'm showing you now were taken in that exact spot at that exact moment. At that moment I understood the trees as much as I've ever understood anyone who has spoken to me. They were all my friends and I was completely surrounded by them. I had to stop for over five minutes so I could listen to them talk to me.

How can I explain the things they said? They weren't speaking any kind of human language, and the only translation that exists is, "Welcome friend." I don't claim to actually know any more of nature than anyone else except through my past couple of years experience, but I am claiming that this really happened to me. Maybe it can happen to you too.

What I am saying to you now is stop and listen to the trees. A few of you already have done this, but I want even you to listen again. Maybe there really are a kind of tree spirits. Maybe it was only my own fanciful imagination. If it was just my imagination I'm glad to have it. If they are really tree spirits I just want to thank them for being my new friends.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Tale Of Winter

I'm back once again to bring you a winter's tale. It's not the greatest story ever told, but what do you want for free? All I can say is that if you read all the way to the end I'll give you a big thank you.

What you see in this picture is the path that leads up to the viewing platform for Carpenter Lake. On the other side of that big fence is a small dam that lets out into a creek. The creek flows for many miles into the Rouge River. The Rouge River flows directly into the big Detroit River.

Some of you have wondered recently where this Carpenter Lake is located. It's just off of 10 Mile Road, just east of Inkster Road in Southfield, Michigan. I'm not sure how the lake got its name. The park here is named after the lake. The park and the lake are both small, but they make up for it with a great view and plenty of wildlife.

This park is the place I've been going most of the time for my daily hikes. I like it because I can travel the whole park before it gets dark. Until the days begin to lengthen again I have to stick to smaller places like this.

Last year I got caught in an unexpected snowstorm before I was able to get out of a bigger place than this. The wind began to blow very hard, and the sky turned dark too fast that day. On my way out I found many downed trees that weren't like that when I went in, including one that was very effectively blocking my path. I won't take that risk again.

Now I know this story seems to be meandering around for no reason, but I actually have a very good reason for this post. The snow you see on the ground in these pictures is gone! On Christmas it rained all day long and washed the snow away. We had a bit of a warm spell, but it rained the whole time.

I know we'll have much more snow before winter is done, but I wanted to show you our first big snowfall of the year before the next time I go out. Besides, as the winter goes on there won't be as many animals for me to show you, so I'll have to practice getting my creative juices flowing so that my posts will still be entertaining.

There you go, that's my reason for the winding story. And that's the essence of what an everyday adventure is anyway. And just to show you I didn't forget what I said... (In full Elvis voice) THANK YOU!!! Thank you very muuuch.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Squirrely Christmas Present

Here's a special Christmas present from me to you. This picture is for all of you who have decided to visit me on Christmas Day. Click on the picture to make it bigger for the best effect. Take a close look at Santa's reindeer. There's something very strange about them.

I guess this is what Santa Claus was  looking so closely at yesterday.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tracking A Christmas Mystery

After following all of those squirrel tracks yesterday I decided to find some tracks for animals that most people look for. I went to the back of the park to the meadow where I knew there would be some good tracks. This is where the deer live, and I knew I could find their tracks here.

All I had to do was go to the part of the meadow that's farthest away from the hiking trail. No humans go here so I knew the deer tracks would be here. It wasn't too hard to find the tracks when I got there.They were all over this part of the meadow.

The first thing I did was take plenty of pictures so I would have a record of the deer tracks. Then I took a very close look at the tracks to see if there were any fresh ones. How recently had these deer been here. There were some older tracks, but there were also some very new ones too.

I must have just missed a whole herd of deer by only a matter of minutes! I knew what I had to do. I was going to follow these fresh tracks to see if I could find the deer. As soon as I began following them I noticed something very strange. There were other tracks.

Somebody else had been over here even though I was the only human who ever really comes out to this part of the meadow. Whoever it was had very big feet, and he was here about the same time as the deer.

I continued to follow the tracks, and I saw that they lead right into the forest. The big footprints went right in after them. I really didn't want to follow them through the same path, so I went back to the hiking trail. It was going in the same general direction, but I figured My quest was over.

After I got into the forest I saw some movement far ahead to the right of the path. It looked to be over half a dozen deer purposely moving away from me through the forest. These were the ones that made the tracks I was looking for!

As they turned and cut through the forest in font of me I excitedly tried to get a few pictures, but they were very far away. I got a few bad pictures that showed deer, but it was very hard to see them through the trees. I thought I knew where they were headed, but I would have to run to catch up.

I did my best to run through the forest without alerting the deer that I was there. I thought my chances of catching up to them weren't good, but I still had to try. I stayed on the hiking trail, and that may have been my downfall because I never did catch the deer.

When I realized that they were long gone I slowed to a walk and sadly began to make my way back to the front of the park so I could go home. And when I turned the corner to the path that lead to the parking lot I found something amazing!

There he was! The person that was standing in the meadow with the deer! I recognized him by the size of his feet. There's only one person who wears this kind of red suit that I know of, and there he was in front of me. He didn't see me because he was standing there peering through the trees at a black squirrel. I guess he had never seen any of them before either because he seemed to be fascinated by it.

I got this one picture before he saw me standing there. After only a second he turned my way and then just vanished as if he were never there! The only thing I was left with was this one picture and a bad Christmas story.

Tune in tomorrow on Christmas day to find out why Santa Claus was so interested in squirrels. I'll have a special Christmas present for any of you who can find the time to stop by for a visit!

Merry Christmas everybody!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Squirrel Tracks

When it snowed last year I began to learn a lot about different animal tracks. I followed as many as I could, and I tried to see if I could find the animal that was making the tracks. I knew the animals for many of them, but I never caught up to them. One of the types of tracks I never considered though were my little friends the squirrels.

With that thought, I decided that this year I was going to make an effort to find the tracks of that mighty forest creature, the squirrel. The first thing I realized was that it wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be to find squirrel tracks. In fact, it was one of the easiest things I've ever done.

This top picture shows some squirrel prints on a fallen log. I like these because they came out so clear. The squirrel must have stopped right there. The really love standing on logs like this.

Here's a closeup of some squirrel tracks from when the squirrel was trotting through the forest. They look much different than the ones from the first picture, don't they? That's because this time the squirrel was moving. Many animal tracks look different when they're moving than when they just stand still.

Something interesting here is that squirrel tracks look very similar to rabbit tracks. That would make sense because they're both furry little rodents. In this forest the tracks are almost certainly from squirrels, although I've seen a few rabbits here as well.

I mentioned earlier that squirrels really like standing on fallen logs. If you really want to see some squirrel tracks just look at a fallen log with snow on it. You'll almost certainly find tracks on it, and they'll probably be made by a squirrel. Squirrels use fallen logs as little squirrel highways for some reason. It must be easier for them to travel this way.

The squirrel tracks in this picture were running right along the side of the human hiking trail. The squirrel traveled along the trail for a ways, then it jumped up on the wooden barrier to move off into the forest.

This park happens to be absolutely full of squirrels, and the tracks reveal that the squirrels go everywhere. I didn't find a place where there weren't squirrel tracks. Just take a look at the next picture.

This is the viewing platform at the end of the lake. You can see squirrel tracks running along the edge of the guard rail. I followed them as far as I could. They ran up to the little platform and through the fence. They then ran along the edge of the dam as far as I could see. They finally disappeared around a corner where I couldn't go.

Following these squirrel tracks was fun for me, but there were some even stranger tracks that I found a little later. I'll tell you all about that in my Christmas Eve post. I hope you like it. Christmas Eve is the special day for my whole extended family because that's when we all get together. Then on Christmas each individual family celebrates Christmas on their own.

I'll be back tomorrow to show you those other mysterious tracks I found.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter Snow

I want to show you some winter scenes from the nature park today. I'm doing this because I had the same opportunity to show you some spectacular fall pictures a few months ago, but I was so not ready for fall that I neglected to share them with you. One of those pictures came up on my computer background today and took my breath away.

I'm not going to do that for my winter photos. I don't want to let the beauty of winter go by without sharing it, so I have these for you today. Maybe I'll share the fall pictures with you in a few weeks anyway. There really hasn't been much snow here yet, but it's enough to cover the ground now, and it's not going away.

This first photo was taken at the front of the park, right at the point where I walk around a bend and can't see the parking lot anymore. This is the first place I begin to feel that I'm away from civilization. If I were to turn around here we would see the very spot where I saw my first male deer only a few weeks ago.

Here is a typical trail in this forest. I was really surprised to see how white the trails were here, considering there wasn't really much snow out here at all. I'm not sure there was much more than an inch of snowfall, but the forest floor was covered, and it hasn't gone away yet.

Usually whenever there is snow or rain of any kind These trails seem to shed all of it very easily. They made the trails only a little over a year ago, and they made sure that moisture of any kind runs off of them easily. Even when it's pouring rain the trails stay dry enough to hike. I guess nobody told the snow to stay off the trails.

I really don't know where I got this picture, but it must have come from somewhere near the front of the park at that first trail before it branches into two. This thick brush in the front of the picture is only at that front trail, and it's very hard to get through. I've never tried to do it, but one of these days I'm going to go for a journey into that part of the forest.

This is a picture of what the lake looks like right now. It's the first time I've seen it covered with snow. Always before there has either been only ice or water. The white of the snow on the smooth surface of the lake makes everything look so clean.

The best thing I've noticed about winter is that my pictures seem to come out much better. The light seems to be distributed more evenly. Look how blue the sky looks in the picture, while the ground and everything else is still bright enough to see clearly. This never happens in the summer. Back then I only get either the ground or the sky to come out right. Not both.

I hope you liked this post for today. I'm working on something special for Christmas Eve right now. It will be a little more creative than this one, and totally unique. I'm not sure if it will come out right yet, but if it does everybody will have fun with it. I know a lot of you may not be able to read it that day, but it will be worth going back to later. In the meantime, I'll see you tomorrow with my regular post.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ice Squirrel

I decided to bring you another picture of a squirrel wandering around out on the ice. I got this just yesterday in the morning, and the sun was shining down on him in just the right way. It made this squirrel seem as if he was glowing! I had to share this one just because of the way it came out. Click on it to see it bigger for the full effect.

I wonder if this was the same squirrel as the other one from a few days ago. I took this picture at almost the same place as the pictures of the squirrel I got a few days ago. This is the only one I got this time before the squirrel disappeared behind the tree, so if you want more pictures like this take a look at the other post of the squirrel, you'll like it.

This is a short post today because in case you haven't noticed my presence on the internet isn't what it should be right now. I've been very busy lately and I haven't had much of a chance to get on here for long enough to do much at all. Every time I get on for a few minutes I get interrupted by something. Hopefully everything will calm down after Christmas. I'll still work hard never to miss writing a post though, so I'll have my next one up bright and early tomorrow.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I See A Robin!

When you look at this picture what do you see? The shadowy form of a bird? Obviously, that's what it is, but I see a little bit more. I see an American robin perched in that tree. That's not a remarkable bird to see here, but I was glad to be able to see it and know what it was.

I don't know when this happened but I have gained enough experience that I can identify one of these robins just by looking at its shape. All I saw in that tree was this shadowy shape, but the robin was clear in my mind. That thought was kind of a revelation for me. I really never thought I'd be able to do this.

Here is a little better look at this American robin. You can identify it by its rusty colored red breast, and that white ring around its eye on that black feathered head. You can't see it in these pictures, but the rest of the bird is mostly black, with a little white at the base of the underside of its tail feathers. I was able to write that description just from memory.

Identifying a robin may not seem remarkable to some of you, but think back when you didn't know this bird on sight. Or maybe another bird that you have recently learned to identify. I think I've been able to know when I see a robin for a long time now, but I guess I just took it for granted. I never thought about how much I've learned to be able to do that.

I think I'll have to remember that when I look at other animals. When did I learn to know that I was seeing a robin? Or another animal? When did you? Did you ever really think about how far you have come since you've been watching things of nature? I'm beginning to understand it a little bit.

(The poll results are still living in limbo while I sort out everything in my mind. They'll be coming, but I don't quite know when yet.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Almost Winter

I'm back to give you something I haven't given you in awhile. Nature photos. Just nature and nothing else. No animals of any kind this time. No strange little jokes about taking over the world, maybe. I'm going to show you some scenery from my currently favorite nature park.

This top picture shows a well defined nature trail that winds right next to a good sized slope that leads down to the lake. Walking over to the edge, we would see that it is way too steep to travel down that way without a lot of effort. I haven't done it yet, but I will one day.

You also get a good view of the lake, and a pretty good idea of how big it is. It's not a very big lake, but it makes up for it with the amount of animal activity that it has. I think that's why I like this park so much; there are just so many animals here. And just when I think I've seen them all, something new shows up. I'm getting to that point again now.

Here is a view that I haven't shown you since the middle of last winter. There was snow everywhere then, but I was still very fascinated with this place. I had just discovered this park, and I couldn't wait for the weather to warm up to explore the place.

That walkway and that platform down there is like a playground. I wrote about it back then because I was so delighted to find it. It's like a bridge but better in some ways. It's the fishing platform where I take a lot of pictures from. I've had very many good water bird sightings from there.

The sign says Carpenter Lake, if you were wondering. I was standing right behind a bench that is there to look out at the lake. A nice peaceful spot.

I keep trying to get a good picture of this big old tree, but I still haven't quite found the one I'm looking for. This tree marks the place where I first begin to feel I'm truly in the forest. In the spring this whole area is under water. That's when the frogs come out. You can hear what sounds like thousands of them. I'll record them for you next spring.

That's it for this time I guess. One of these next times I think I should show you a short video of what it's like to walk through here. In the meantime I still have to make my plans to TAKE OVER TH... Just kidding. Maybe next time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Walking On Water

Have you ever seen an animal that could walk on water? I think I have brought you something completely unique today. Do you see that animal in the center of the photo? It really is walking on water down there. Well, the water happens to be frozen, but it's still technically the truth, kind of.

The animal may look a little strange in this first photo, but what you are looking at is a fox squirrel that decided it would like to try and see how thick the ice is. I guess it's plenty thick enough to hold up a squirrel and maybe a small person, but I don't think anyone should risk that quite yet.

The one question I had while I stood at the top of the slope and watched that squirrel carefully creep along down there was, why was he taking a stroll on the ice? I stood there and watched as he made his way toward the shore, stopping sometimes to check the ice a little closer.

Here he stopped with his nose right on the ice. He didn't seem to be very worried that the ice might break under him, but he was being very careful not to let his feet slide out from under him. I don't think I've ever seen a squirrel walking around on the ice of a lake before. It must have been done before, but who has ever seen something like this?

What was he doing?

I think I finally solved this little mystery. It looks as if this squirrel was looking for wetter, more liquid spots on the ice so he could get a drink of water. It looked like he was kneeling down and licking the ice so he could get a drink. That's a very smart idea for this little squirrel.

I watched as he finally turned and moved back to dry land at the edge of the lake, only to venture out once again. The last I saw of him, he was walking up the middle of the river that feeds this lake. This is the first squirrel I ever saw that liked the ice this much, or I guess at all. That's one strange squirrel.

I wish I had time to get a video of this squirrel, but I can't always do it. I'm just happy I was able to get these pictures. They're some of my new favorites. With that, I am out of here for today. I'll be going back to work on my evil plan for world domination until my next post. I wonder if that will ever work out for me...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Did You Find It?

It seems that my games are just too easy for you. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I think I'll have to make the next one just a little bit more of a challenge. Easy is fun, but sometimes a good challenge makes the solution to a game even more satisfying when you find it. Yup, the next one will be a bit harder.

As you might have guessed, the picture above is the bird we were all looking for. It is indeed a heron. It could indeed be an egret, but an egret is just another kind of heron. The strange thing about all of this is that this bird was able to hide from me much beter than it hid from you.

When I actually took these pictures I was so busy concentrating on the cormorant that I never saw this other bird there. I wish I did because I would have considered it an even greater prize right then. The cormorants were out there almost every day, but these birds were much rarer for me. The funny thing was that I did see it earlier but I thought it was gone.

Here's the same picture I showed you yesterday. I circled the heron for you so you could identify it even easier. And now you know for sure that it's right where you thought it was. You won! Go ahead and pat yourself on the back. You deserve it. Go on, I'll wait... There you go. Isn't victory satisfying?

I mentioned yesterday that I found the heron in this picture by accident. You see, I have a program that rotates my computer's desktop background between all of the pictures I've taken. This one just happened to come up. I happened to look at it and I saw that other bird lurking back there behind the hanging branches.

The surprise of seeing that bird hiding back there was what convinced me to make a game out of it. I guess I should have known that if it was that easy for me to see the bird then you would get it without a problem. I guess its back to the drawing board. My evil plan of world domination will have to wait until the next game.

Do you see that almost white colored blob floating there in the middle of this picture? That is the same hiding bird, only this time it was flying right past me. It was maybe fifteen minutes earlier, and I was standing right across the lake from where it was hiding in the other picture. If only I would have waited.

This story is told so I guess that's it for today. I'll be back tomorrow with something more current. In the meantime I'll be coming up with a new plan to TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!! Haa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Game - Find The Bird

After thinking for quite some time that it has been long overdue to have another game here, I couldn't come up with one no matter how hard I tried. Then as I looked at this picture that magically appeared as my computer's desktop background, I found the right game for you. It's, uh, in this picture!

I know! I didn't believe it myself when I first saw it, but this picture from last summer makes an excellent game. What is the game? Well, there is a bird in this picture and I want you to find it. No, it's not that cormorant that's sitting right in the middle of the picture. There is another bird in this picture. That's the one you need to find. Let me tell you how the game works.

There is a second bird somewhere in this picture, one that is not that cormorant. What you have to do is find that bird, then you have to possibly guess what kind of bird it is. You can click on the picture to get a better look. After you think you've figured it out, just leave a comment telling me where the bird is and what the bird is. To make it a little bit easier, I can tell you that I have featured this hidden bird a few times before on this blog.

You will definitely know if you see this bird, so you don't have to worry that the game might be hard. You also don't necessarily have to know the technical name of the bird, just describe it if you have to, I'll know if you got it. If somebody else already answered the same thing, you can still answer it too. Remember, the games here are just for fun, they're no big deal. The most fun though is to play, and for everyone to see what you've guessed.

That's the game. If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them promptly this afternoon. I'll see you here then.

(One final note. I'm postponing the poll results until some time this weekend. The poll results posts are difficult for me to write, and I just don't have a lot of time right now. I'm trying to catch up with everything on here right now, like comments, and I've been very limited on time. Missing just one day here puts me very far behind, so I'm desperately trying to catch up. Hopefully I can get caught back up within a few more days.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

European Starling

On a clear day the birds come out. We don't have to many of those right now, clear days or birds, so I have to take advantage of the situation whenever I can. I was lucky enough to find this European Starling right outside my house. It's the first time I have been able to do that. They usually fly away too soon.

I've seen pictures of these starlings before but I never thought I'd actually see one. When I walked out my front door I heard birds singing in the trees. I still didn't expect them to stay long enough for me to get any pictures, but as I got closer to my truck I realized that they weren't leaving.

I was lucky enough to have my camera already in my hand because I was headed to the hiking trails. It was easy enough to turn on the camera and start taking pictures. The only problem was that I forgot that I had the lighting set for taking pictures in the woods. After several pictures I changed the setting.

I decided that since this was the first starling I've seen I'd do a little bit of research. I thought I'd find some of the regular fun bird information that I find all the time, but what I really found wasn't necessarily very good. These starlings aren't considered to be very nice birds at all.

It seems that starlings are immigrants to this country, like most of the people here. As their name indicates, they originally come from Europe, where over hundreds of years they adapted to living in and around human settlements. In  1890 one hundred starlings were brought here and released in Central Park in New York City. Since then they've spread over most of North America.

These birds allegedly group together in large hordes and have the capability of ruining everything in their path. They steal the homes of other birds, they eat and spoil the food of cattle, they damage crops, and they are very difficult to drive away. That's not a pretty picture at all. But their is a good side to them.

Insects. Insects are considered to be much greater pests than these starlings, and the starlings eat them. They eat insects like locusts and ground beetles, which cause much more destruction than them, so the final verdict on these birds is that the good they do outweighs the damage. So I guess there is a happy ending to the legend of these birds.

You might have noticed that these last two pictures are a little brighter than the first two. As I said above, I had to make an adjustment with the camera. The first two pictures were good so I decided to include them anyway. You can get a good look at the birds by clicking on any of the pictures though.

And finally in this last picture you can see the bird from the back. Notice all of the tiny white speckles all over it. This is what always fascinated me about starlings. Maybe that's how they got their name. All of those tiny speckles look like stars at night. Maybe. Maybe not.

I told you yesterday that the poll results had a small chance of being delayed again. That small chance turned into this flock of European starlings, so hopefully I'll have the poll results tomorrow. I also have some other things to catch up on around here, and I'll see if I can do that in the next few days. Talk to you then.