Sunday, February 28, 2010

Attacked By Snow Fairies

You know, I try to mind my own business while I'm out hiking, so I didn't deserve this at all! So what if I pester the animals sometimes with my picture taking. It doesn't hurt them one bit, and I think some of them like the attention. I mostly just quietly walk around looking at the trees. So I ask you, does this deserve a vicious attack?

No sooner had I gotten into the forest than an army of rotten little snow fairies came tinkerbelling up to me. I say rotten now, but I used to think they were delightful little creatures. I loved the way they looked like little fireflies until you got a closer look at them, to discover their little fairy faces and angelic wings. Now they're just rotten little monsters. Do you hear me snow fairies! Rotten little monsters!

It all started out innocently enough. I was happy when I saw them coming towards me from what seemed like every direction. I took as many pictures as I could while I watched them approach. I assumed that's what they wanted. I mean, why else would they approach a guy with a camera who wasn't bothering anything?

Before I knew it, they began landing on me, one after another. Even that was fine enough with me until they began their awful attack. And would you like to know in what form that attack took? It was horrible and disgusting. If you don't want to know, you may not want to read any further.

I thought there was nothing wrong until I felt something wet running down the back of my neck. It was then that I slowly reached up and gently touched my hair. It was completely soaked! On nooooo! They were using my head as a toilet! I'll get you, you rotten little snow fairies!!!

I began swatting at them to try and get them to go away! Even after their terrible attack, I still didn't want to hurt them, only to get them away. Of course this didn't work even a little bit. They still kept coming at me no matter what I did. So I ran!

I ran and ran, but this only seemed to increase the fury of their attack! I had to get to my truck! I ran out of the forest towards the parking lot of the park while the fairies still came at me. Stupidly, I stopped to take a couple more pictures, and they swarmed me again.

I quickly realized my mistake and ran for the truck. I dropped my keys twice before I finally unlocked the door. My hand slipped on the door handle when I tried to open it, because it had become slippery with their awful emanations. After all of that, I finally was able to get in.

Luckily none of the fairies followed me into the truck. But after I got the door closed and I looked out the windows, I saw that the fairies were still trying to get me. They were falling out of the sky and crashing into my windshield in their efforts to assault me. I didn't want to stick around any longer than I had to, so I started the truck and drove back home.

After all of that, I now know why so many people don't like going out in the snow. The snow fairies will get you if you don't watch out!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Rat TV Snowstorm

I've been trying to avoid showing you too many winter scenes, but this one is fun. I went out for a short hike yesterday just so I could take pictures of a winter snowstorm. One of my first big triumphs with a camera was to take pictures of falling snow, so I do it as much as I can.

If you would like to know how to do it, all you really have to do is turn on the flash on your camera. You can still get snow in the picture without it, but the flash makes the snow glow. You can also play with a few more settings to get it to work just a little bit better, but that's up to you to do. I'm happy with what I have here.

Photos of snowfall aren't the only thing I have though. This time I have video!

I've been trying to remember to get some video of a snowstorm since winter began. I routinely go out in storms like the one I'm showing you here, but I'm so busy trying to get pictures that I completely forget the video. This time I didn't forget, so now I have a good snowstorm episode of Rat TV for you. I hope you like it.

There's one thing about a good snowstorm. Even if you don't like winter, studying a good snowstorm can be very interesting. A long time ago I brought you pictures of a snowstorm. Now I'm able to bring you full video and sound. The only thing left is to give you a blast of cold winter air when you visit here. One day it will be possible. Beware... Beware!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010


I know what your thinking. I really do. You're thinking, "More snowy winter pictures." That part is true, but there is more to the pictures today than just that. We have had our most constant snowfall of the winter these past few days. But before that, we had several sunny warm days in a row.

What does all of this mean for these pictures though? Well, it hasn't really gotten very cold, despite all of this snowfall. The sunshine we had went a long way in melting our previous snowfall. It was almost gone, but now it's back, with so much more. But this time the warmer weather has left us with some very wet snow.

For those of you who haven't really experienced much snow, it can go from being extremely wet to almost as dry as dirt. The warmer it is, the wetter it is. The snow isn't the only thing that can get wetter as it gets warmer. Ice will also do the same thing.

These dark spots on the lake are wet spots in the ice that have soaked through the layer of snow on top. This is strong evidence that it is very unsafe to walk out there. Cracks could soon form in the ice. Maybe they already have. This means that the warm weather has been very effective in melting the ice on this lake.

We only really have one more month of winter here. This melting ice could very well be a first indication of spring. All of the snow says that may not be true. But it still hasn't gotten colder, and winter is running out of time. A month from now the melting will be here for good.

Notice the darker spot on the right side of the melted area. That could very well be the first crack. Small cracks make big cracks. Big cracks make big fun on this lake, especially when it happens when someone can hear them. Yes, I said hear them. Being near a lake while the ice is breaking up can be very exciting. I'm going to try and record it for you this year.

These may be winter pictures of a frozen lake, but there is really so much more here than just that. The possible beginnings of spring. The potential for a future exciting adventure with an ice quake. And just getting to see the beginning of these cracks. There are wet spots all over the lake right now. Soon the whole lake will be wet again.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Pair Of Starlings

European Starling Pair
It seems that in the last little while I've gotten much better at getting photos of birds. Part of the reason for this is that I've worked very hard at increasing my skill level of spotting them in the trees, and getting clear pictures of them. The other part is that there are just so many of them right now.

The birds you see above are a pair of European starlings. I've shown starlings to you before, but I've never given you a pair of them, I think. These appear to be a mated pair. One is most likely male, and that would make the other the female of the two. There is only one question I have though. How do we tell them apart?

Female Starling?
The first thing I want to say is that was very cruel of me to leave you with that question as if I would provide you with an answer when you get down here. The fact is that I'm not sure I have the answer of which is male and which is female, but I'm going to try. Let's just see what I do have.

A male starling is less spotted on its underside than a female. They have less spots closest to the ground. As far as I know, males also have thicker throat feathers that they stick out for display purposes. I may be wrong that only the males have this, but let's go with that here. Now we'll make a guess as to which is male, and which is female.

Male Starling?
As you can see, I have labeled the last two pictures as female and male starlings. The picture at the top shows both of them. The one on the left has more spots, so I suspect that is the female. The one on the right seems to have less spots, therefore it appears to be the male starling.

The suspected male also appears to have a little bit more of a puffed up appearance around the neck, which also seemingly fits the description. This is my first attempt at trying to determine the sex of these birds, so I may be completely wrong. But I think I have logical evidence that points to me being right about this.

Here they are enjoying each other's company. They seemed oblivious to my presence. And why not? I was hiding behind a tree that wasn't really very close to them anyway. Starlings are a very common bird, but new information about them brings out something new and interesting. Which is male? Which is female? I made my guess with the best of my current knowledge.

What do you think? Are there any birders here who might know a little more about them? What about the rest of you? Does my theory seem to make sense, or do you think there might be a better one? Tell me your thoughts and opinions. Also, just to lighten the mood, what do you think of my cool starling pictures?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee
I found another new bird! This one is a black-capped chickadee! Just like I told you when I brought you the mourning dove, this is actually a common bird, but it's a new one for me. I've been seriously observing nature for several years now, and I'm still finding new things that seem common to some people. I've also found some things that are far from ordinary.

This should tell you that no matter how or when you start to do it, watching nature in all it's forms can bring you a great adventure. This bird is a new and exciting find for me, and tomorrow it will be a normal sight in my eyes. When that time comes there will be another new and thrilling adventure waiting for me to take it's place. The black-capped chickadee will then be a welcome old friend. Today it's still my exciting new discovery.

When I was walking along the path in this area I never expected to see this bird there in the tree. It's a path I've walked many times, and I've also seen many birds flying there, but they never remained so close. The last thing I saw here, in almost the exact same spot, was a small garter snake. That one happened while I was fleeing from a family of noisy little kids.

This bird brings back so many memories from this place. It really is a path I know so well. The only reason I noticed this bird was because I was already looking in that direction. I've seen many animals in that spot, and I was looking for more, just in case. This exact spot is in fact marked off as a bluebird sanctuary, even though I have yet to see one.

This little bird was hopping all over this tree in quick little motions. I was really having trouble keeping up with it with my camera. There were a lot of crowded together branches, so getting a perfect picture was out of the question. The important thing was that I got it at all.

I found it interesting that this was another bird that could cling upside down on the branches. There seem to be a lot of those. You might also find some very interesting things when you begin observing birds or any other wild animals.

I was among the first generation of kids to have video games while I was growing up. I loved playing them, but for maybe different reasons than other kids. I loved the adventure and the discovery of new things. Not too dissimilar, but I took that idea even further. The discovery was the thing for me. But it soon just wasn't enough. I needed something real. Nature is real. I'm telling you that this is even more fun than playing video games, because this is real!

I guess these are some of the thoughts that a new discovery inspires in me. What kinds of things go through you mind when you discover something new like this?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Summertime Goldfinch

American Goldfinch Female
The picture of the goldfinch above is from last summer at July 20th. I was determined to keep pictures of snow away from you today, so I thought I'd bring this past delight to you instead. I like snow and winter, but I know many of you just aren't very convinced by the cold winter months. So I have this American Goldfinch for you to look at while I tell you a tale of winter.

We recently had several days of warmth and sunny skies. This came shortly after our biggest snowfall of the year. Well, since this is still February, we can't reasonably expect the good weather to stay for very long. That beautiful weather left us today with a vengeance! We were able to top our biggest winter snowstorm of the year today.

It was all very close, but the evidence speaks for itself. We accumulated at least eight inches of snow today. I think it only affected the Detroit area of Michigan this time, so I think my friends out to the west of the state were mostly unaffected. This storm topped the other in more ways than one for us.

The piles of snow that the snow plows created are a lot higher this time, even though the other snow we had was melting away nicely. The temperatures are still a little high for this time of year, so the snow was very wet. Being out in this storm was almost as wet as walking in a cold rain, which is not at all fun.

Not to fear though, because the warmth is helping it melt extra quick. It won't go away soon, but the roads are already clear. Maybe I'll go and get some pictures from the snow accumulation today, but I still am not sure I'll share them. What do you think? Do you want to see more snow right now? Spring is only a month away!

Monday, February 22, 2010

My New Bird

I found something that is very new, at least for me it is. It's a mourning dove! These birds are very common, but this is the first one I've ever gotten a picture of. I've seen plenty of other pictures of these birds, but the adventure is the thing here. And any time I get something new it's a good adventure.

Whenever I go out I always look to the higher up branches of the trees. I've learned that even if there are no other exciting animals around there might be an interesting bird or two. Usually I'll see a small dark shape on a branch, and a slight movement. That's when I know I've got a bird up there. And then of course there is the sound of their voices cooing or chirping. I guess that's always a tip off.

Anyway, even if I don't see the bird very well I'll zoom my camera in close to it and begin taking as many pictures as I can. Most of the time the bird will turn out to be an American robin. Those are our official state bird, so naturally we have a lot of them. But sometimes I'll get even luckier and capture something I've never had before, like a mourning dove.

This particular mourning dove was actually hiding itself in a flock of robins. When I saw the first picture of the birds I found I figured I had more robins to share, but I was just going to keep them to myself this time. After all, too much of a good thing begins to sour after a little while.

But then as I got to this one I immediately noticed that it was different. I guess it's pretty obvious. It doesn't really look much like a robin when you see it up close. These birds seem to be colored just right for the grays and dull browns of winter. These past few sunny days have been very helpful.

Every time I see a new bird in the winter I wonder what I'll get to see next. Nature is just so full of surprises. I know I keep saying it, but winter is so much more full of life than we all realize. The only way to find out is to go outside and look. Do it however you can. You'll be happy you did.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Very Odd

I have an odd mystery for you today. But don't worry, I know the answer, and I'll give it to you at the end of the post. I found a very strange track while I was out hiking the other day. I've seen tracks like this before in different parts of this same nature park. They seemed very strange then too. Let's see why.
Cat Track
Dog Track

At first, second, and maybe even third glance the track at the top strongly resembles the cat track on the left. In comparison it doesn't really look much like the dog track on the right, does it? So that must solve this little mystery then, right? The track was made by a common ordinary house cat. Wrong!!!

Take a look at the picture below to find out more evidence to why this track is not what it seems. Very strange indeed!

Here is another picture of this track, but this time my own boot is next to it. I have to tell you that I have very big feet. My boot size is a men's 14. Huge, right? Now think about the size of that supposed house cat track. Melting snow can make tracks appear larger, but not by that much. That must be one really big cat that made that track! We now know that it was no house cat. But what is it? I've heard some pretty strange sounds out here at night.

Okay, here is another track from the same type of animal. This one looks a little bit different than the first one. The toes seem to be a little bit more pointed. That's partly because you can see the claw marks at the front. If you go back to the first picture you can also see claw marks. What does that tell us?

This last picture's track is from a dog. I wanted to show you this so you could see what a typical dog track looks like. It resembles the illustration of a dog up further on the right. Not all dog tracks are exactly alike though. Notice how pointy the toes seem to be. That's because a dog's claws stick out wherever it goes.

So what is the identity of our strange creature that made our mystery tracks? It's not a cat. Not a house cat. Not a mountain lion, or a bobcat. Even though it somewhat resembles a cat, the identity of our creature is just an ordinary pet dog. Cat tracks never show claws. The tracks are odd for a dog, but that's exactly what they are.

Snow can sometimes distort the tracks we are seeing. Other times it's just the way an individual animal steps down. Tracking an animal sometimes takes a little research to get it just right. After learning about them, you can identify even the strangest tracks in a matter of seconds. That's what I did.

Tracking animals, even pets, is one of the most fun parts of winter. I could give you a hundred mystery track posts like this, but I'll limit them to just a few. I always wanted to be able to identify animal tracks, just like the heroes on TV and in the movies. A cowboy, an adventurer, a detective. I can imagine myself as all of them when I'm out there.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Beautiful Day

When I got to the nature park I was surprised to see only one other car there. On such a beautiful day as this there is usually a crowded parking lot, which almost spoils it for me, but I can handle it just fine. As I entered the trail I looked to my right to see a woman coming out of the forest. She was the owner of that one lone car, and she was on her way out of the park. I would be all alone!

I had to turn away from the sun to get most of my pictures because of the extreme angle in the sky it sits at this time of year. Towards the sun are only dark pictures, and away from the sun are the most spectacular scenes of the year. This one above was taken from just around the bend from the parking lot.

This next one was taken at the far back of the park. I was standing on the viewing platform of Carpenter Lake. The dam is behind me and exists as an extension of this platform. It's sectioned off by a huge fence so nobody can get to it. The lake was my goal for today, so I left the dam forgotten.

You can see that despite the warmer above freezing weather we've been having the last few days the lake is still very frozen. The layer of snow is not as thick, but the ice is solid. Even though the trees are bare of any green this time of year, one beauty is replaced by another. This blue sky is very difficult to duplicate with my camera at this place in the summer. The light is just too intense then. Now it's perfect.

This last one is back towards the front of the park. I used this one simply because I like the colors. The tree line is a warm golden brown from the slanted sunlight, and the sky is a brilliant blue. The clouds only serve to enhance the beauty of the rest of the scene.

I left out many other photos, including very many forest shots. I simply wanted to show you these open skies today. This is almost as open as it gets for me, certainly at this park. There is one other park where the sky looks bigger. Maybe a similar day will take me to that place. I hope it will come soon.

I'll be back tomorrow with something completely different!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Look To The Sky

American Robin
Well, would you look what I found! I came across a small flock of robins yesterday, and this one just happened to stop for a short rest at the top of a very tall tree not too far from me. Since I've been on sort of a bird theme this week, I decided to show this one to you today. You might want to click the picture for the full effect.

I couldn't actually see this robin as clearly as the picture shows it, but I saw a flash of white under three flock members' tails as they were flying above me. They were moving fast, but the unusually sunny winter day gave me a very good look at them. I knew by that white color under the tails, combined with their black feathered bodies, that they were robins.

After yesterday's post with the blue skies, today coincidentally cleared right up and the sky turned a brilliant bright blue too. It enabled me to get some spectacular pictures while I was on my little hike. I'll bring you more of that tomorrow. I have some more surprises as well, but I always get a lot of good surprises when I'm out with nature.

I have a little bit of extra business to get to today as well. I have a short list of blogs here. They are all excellent blogs. I visit them routinely. They have each recently given me awards because they like my blog, The Everyday Adventurer. I think I like each of these at least as much. Despite a little extra time lately, I'm still having not much time to work with, so I haven't been very good at passing along their awards. But I still want to acknowledge each of them. Please visit each of their blogs. I know you'll like them as much as I do.

Allotments 4 you
Equine Epiphanies
My Quality Day
Penniless Parenting
Life is Just like that... 

I'll be back tomorrow with some very beautiful scenes from yesterday. You don't want to miss it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Come Back To Me

Geese In Flight
The scene above is three geese flying into the evening sky, from the very end of last summer. Don't worry, I haven't run out of current adventures to bring to you, but I said back then that I was saving some of my best pictures for you. I want to make sure you get them before the winter is done. Maybe I have a few winter gems I'm saving for you when summer is at its hottest.

I've been thinking about my friends, the long lost geese, for quite some time now. In years past my geese would stay around here all winter long. This year as soon as it got cold they all disappeared. I'm sure they're not far away, but they just aren't here where I am, and I've missed them ever since they went away.

It's hard for me not to miss some of them because I watched them since they were just eggs. I watched them as their mother and father watched over them so diligently. I watched as these little goslings grew into adult geese over the summer. I watched as they took some of their first flights. And I even remember seeing them for the last time.

I miss my little gaggle of geese that I watched for the beginning of their lives. I miss them now that they've gone away. I wonder if I'll ever see them again. Will they recognize me as they did so long ago? Come back to me, my little lost geese...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Found A Nuthatch

"Here he is, take a good look at him!" That's a quote from an old cartoon I used to like when I was a kid. It came from a woman who would walk up at random times throughout the cartoon and ask the narrator of the cartoon, and ask in a very pitiful voice if he had seen her lost little boy.

After becoming irritated by the interruptions, the narrator yelled at her, "No lady, I have not seen your little boy!" As soon as he was finished, the lady pulled the little boy from behind her back and said, "Here he is, take a good look at him!" It was a funny ending to the cartoon. I always loved that.

But how does this relate to the nuthatch in my pictures? This is the critter that I was asking you to find in yesterday's game. Here he is, take a good look at him!

I'm going to give you the solution to the game a little differently than I usually do. In past games I would show you the same picture, but with a red circle around the hidden critter. This time I have a similar picture, but shot from a different angle. This angle reveals that the critter is a bird that's almost in the very center of the picture.

The bird is slightly higher up in this picture, but if you go back and look at yesterday's picture you should be able to see him now. He was a little lower than right in the middle, but still hidden very well. Like I said yesterday, he was hidden right out in the open. It's obvious when you finally see him.

Here's a much closer look at him so you know exactly what a nuthatch is. It's a little bird with a blue gray upper body, a black cap, and a white belly. This one is particularly a White-breasted Nuthatch. I checked, and they do look slightly similar to the Eurasian Tree Creeper, with similar behavior.

That last bit was in response to a particular comment in yesterday's post. Some of you got the location of this critter exactly right, even adding some valuable information. Other guesses were delightful in their humor. Some of you didn't quite find the bird, but you made excellent guesses that I thought of as well while I was searching the photo.

Your comments really do help me, and anyone else who cares to read them, learn so much about nature. All of us combined can learn so much. Thank you.

Now for a little bit of information. These birds like to hang out in deciduous or mixed forests. They can be found in much of Canada and the United States, except for the most of the Great Plain states. Nuthatches have a habit of creeping headfirst down a tree trunk, then stopping to look around with their heads held out at a 90 degree angle.

They can be found all year round, mostly staying in pairs. They also seem to be very social birds, joining mixed flocks of chickadees, woodpeckers, and kinglets in the winter. And they are very frequent visitors to bird feeders.

Okay, that's enough of that! On to more pictures!

I told you yesterday that I had some stunning pictures. I think some are more stunning that others, but I like them all very much. This one above is one of my favorites, even if it's not the clearest.

-Nature Center-
And finally, this last one had to be fixed up a bit. It doesn't look great when it's expanded, but I did what I could to sharpen it a bit. I liked the bird's pose too much to leave it out. I hope you liked them all as well as I did.

This has been an extra long post from me this time. I considered breaking it up into two, but I already promised some of these pictures. This also gives me something fresh and new to bring to you tomorrow. Being able to see the birds is one of the good things about winter. But I'm beginning to see the first little signs of spring already.

I'll be back tomorrow for another thrilling episode of The Everyday Adventurer!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Game - Find The Critter

I was looking through some very recent pictures today, and I ran across this one above. It took me the longest time trying to find the critter I was watching while I took this picture. After I got done playing my little game of hide and seek I thought maybe you would have fun with it too.

Now for the rules. All you have to do is examine the photo above until you find the critter that is hidden there. Then in the comments section describe where you think it is in the best way you can. Even if somebody else already picks what you think is the correct guess, you can still choose that same one. This game is only for fun, just like all of my others. So there are no guaranteed prizes, but there is a fun feeling of satisfaction if you guess right.

The game this time could be incredibly easy or incredibly hard. It took me some time to find the critter, but when I found it I discovered that is was obvious. I hope it is a challenge for you but you can find it in the end. I'll reveal where the critter is tomorrow along with a fun story and some stunning pictures. I'll even tell you the identity this critter. Happy hunting!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Summer Green

After many days of winter pictures and stories I thought a nice look back at the full green colors of summer would be nice. I thought it was time to come down from my heavenly white snow pictures to show you this scene from last June. There's more to this picture than even that though.

This was taken on a day when very many things happened to me, so this little sighting was overlooked very easily. Since that time, I bought a zoom lense for my humble little camera so I could see distant objects more clearly. But I must say my camera did a pretty good job without any extras just the way it was back then.

Take a look at the middle of the picture, right at the top of the trees. There is a bare tree with no leaves that towers above the others. You can see in this picture that there is something up there in that tree. It only looks like a black dot in this picture, and that's just what it looked like to my eyes that day too. But what could it really be?

Looks like my little camera did a pretty good job of seeing that far away bird. Even though the bird looks very much like a hawk in this picture, I believe it is much smaller than a hawk. Of course I could be wrong about that, but I seem to remember thinking this bird was only about the size of a robin. It really does look like a hawk to me though. Hmm, maybe.

I do have to confess that I doctored this last picture just a bit. I didn't do much. I just brightened it a little bit and gave it slightly more blue, because taking pictures of the sky can darken things a little too much at times. I wanted summer cheeriness, and this did the trick.

That's it for today. I posted these photos just because they grabbed me when I saw them. Doing things like this by an impulse is usually the best way. It brings out the very first thoughts, which are usually the truest. I think being able to write without thinking a lot about it is the best way, and I obviously do that quite a bit. That's all folks!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Walking In Heaven

What else could it be? I made a comparison the other day about a little bird that looked like it was standing on a cloud. But little birds aren't the only ones that can walk through the clouds. We usually have images of people or angels when we think of the guys that sit around on the clouds of Heaven.

But what if Heaven came down to Earth? What would it look like? Now before anybody gets too excited, I just want to say that I'm talking about the cartoonish Heaven of TV or fantasy, not the religious one. I'm not sure any of us could even begin to imagine that one. But what about the place where angels float on clouds? What would we see?

Just imagine if the clouds all floated down to Earth, and we were able to walk upon them and see some of the most amazing creatures walking or flying there. I guess it would turn the ground silvery white and fluffy looking, with a little bit of mist floating around. Some of the cloud stuff would even stick to the trees and anything else that's around.

There wouldn't be crowds of people, because in Heaven there is plenty of room for everyone. And it wouldn't be completely empty, of course. There would be a few other travelers of the clouds to talk to every so often. And there would be plenty of fun hidden places to explore. Some of those places would open up into great meadows where little white fairies flutter by.

What an amazing thing to see if Heaven came right down to me. I'd be happy all the time, but only as long as I dressed correctly. I'd be so embarrassed to be seen there looking too out of place. Of course, nobody would judge me for it. They would just simply try to help me find the right heavenly garb, because it really is more fun if you dress the part while you're in Heaven.

But I guess none of that could ever really happen, could it? I guess it's just an odd fantasy by an everyday adventurer looking for Heaven.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fun With Robins

There is just something about the robins around here that I like. It could be that they let me easily take their pictures, which is a main one. It could be that they like it here all year long, just like me! Or maybe it could be that they seem to really like the forest,b again just like me!

Robins can be found just about anywhere at just about any time here. I've seen them out in the open, and I've seen them in the deep forest. I've seen them sitting in large trees. I've seen them in small ones with a lot of branches, just like these. I've also seen them just walking along the ground. Everywhere is fine with them.

One of these birds in this tree could very well be the same bird on a cloud I showed you yesterday. The robins really like this tree, along with the other trees in this section of the forest. I know that if they are around I only have to look into the branches of this very tree to see at least a few of them.

I know most people here in the United States know robins for their red breast, but did you also know they have a white circle around each eye? They also have a snowy white section under their tails. I guess these are just a few of the obvious details about American robins.

I could go on all day with information about them, but that's better served by a more technical site than this one. I'm mostly just here to share my fun with you. Little bits and pieces of information along the way are the best way for me to do things. The most fun way for me to do things is to say, "Hey, look at that bird!"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Robin

A robin in the snow was what I was greeted with when I went to my nature park after the big snowstorm. It was happily eating something tasty from the snowy ground. I don't know whether it found a nice fat berry that had fallen from a tree or if it was just eating the snow for a bit of moisture.

I have to say while looking at the picture that it appears to be a bird sitting on a cloud. There is a similar view that some of us have of heaven. We think of angels with their large wings lounging around on clouds. They will sometimes fly back and forth from one cloud to another to have a pleasant conversation with each other.

I decided as soon as I saw what I had found that I just had to bring you a video of this little bird enjoying itself in the snow. This episode of Rat TV is a short one, but that's all that is needed for us to observe this little bird. See if you can tell what it is eating. I'm not sure myself.

This picture above is what I actually saw with my own eyes while I was there. I could never get much closer to a bird than this. I did my best to get as close as I could by trying to hide behind that tree that's just to the left of the bird. But I got no closer than this.


I really didn't know at first if it was a bird or a fallen leaf from a tree, but as I got closer I knew it was a bird. I guess it must have been the fact that it was moving that really tipped me off. Leaves haven't ever really been known to have little yellow beaks either, I guess. And that's another solved riddle from Ratty the super detective!

And here's a final look at the little robin. This is another scene that just wouldn't quite be the same in warmer weather. I'm telling you, if you dress warmly enough, going out for a winter stroll is one of the most exhilarating things you can do. The key is to cover your face a little bit. You'll be toasty warm the whole time your out.

If you go out often enough you'll get to see things like this little bird. It might even decide you are familiar enough to be a friend. You never know what might happen unless you try. And for those of you who just can't get out you can always come here, and I'll be your guide through all the lovely winter places.

That's all folks!

(I had big plans to be on the internet reading blogs all day yesterday, but my internet connection was unbearably slow. It was a big chore just trying to write this post. Hopefully it'll be better tomorrow. I'm missing all the good stuff!)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Now It's Really Winter

Yesterday we got eight and a half inches of snow. That's the same as about twenty one and a half centimeters to all of you who are outside The United States. Up until now we've had a mild winter where I live. Now with this last snowfall winter is really here.

Winter was very easy before this, but now it looks a little more like it did last year. This big snowfall was probably inevitable. And who knows, we might get a lot more before winter is done. And I have to say that I still enjoy it! I've been waiting for this to happen, and now it's finally here!

I wanted to know if I'd still enjoy winter this year, even after we got a good amount of snow accumulation. I do. I really do! It may look bleak and cold in the pictures, but there is so much to see that you'll never be able to see at any other time of year! Just the animal tracks are worth it. We don't see the animals, but we see where they go!

In all honesty the snow on my short hiking trails is very deep right now, and it is very difficult to walk through without the proper equipment. I only use my boots with some ice cleats strapped to them. I usually won't slip and fall, but I'll still sink into the deep snow. Sharkbytes can tell you what you should really use for walking in the snow if you ask her nicely.

Nature Center

In just my boots the snow is difficult to wade through. I got tired very quickly as I slogged through these trails of my smallest nature park. The only solution was to walk a little bit slower and to step in the few footprints that were already there. I also took breaks frequently, but my ankles still ached from my trek through this deep white stuff. It was absolutely great! I loved it!

This last picture is the meadow area in the back of the park. This is the first time this year that it looked this white on the ground here. The tall grass grows in tight clumps back here, and in the winter it looks like small hills all over the meadow. It takes a lot of snow to cover those hills. This time it was enough to do it.

When I was a kid my state of Michigan was known as The Winter Wonderland. It seemed to slowly lose that nickname over the years as the winters slowly got milder. I remember one year that it was as warm as spring most of the winter while it was cold all around our state. It seems that in the past several years winter is making a comeback.

I loved those warm years, but I always missed our winter wonderland. Now that it's back I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can. Spring is not very far away, so I have to appreciate this while it's still here. This extra snow will make spring even better when it gets here. Spring, winter, I love them both. And then comes summer, and fall, and...