Wednesday, March 31, 2010

American Crow

 I've been wanting to get a picture of a crow for a very long time. I finally got my opportunity the other day. This particular type of crow is an American Crow. We just call them crows around here because they're pretty much the only kind in the area.

I've seen them very often for the past several years after I bought my camera, but I never have the camera with me while the crows are near. I also hear at least one crow almost every day, especially while I'm in the woods. Of course, being beneath the canopy of all the trees I'm never able to see them.

This time it was different though. I found two crows just standing there on the grass waiting for me. I got so excited that I didn't zoom in very close to the one in front. And by the time I remembered, it flew away and out of camera range. It must have been too smart for me.

Crows are actually thought to be a very intelligent bird. Certain types of crows supposedly have been observed making and using tools for things like fishing and other things. Some crows make their own knives out of pieces of stiff grass and leaves.

Crows have also been observed at street intersection dropping nuts down onto the street for cars to run over and break. When the lights change so there is no traffic, the crows will then fly down and retrieve their opened nuts. I'd say that's pretty smart. The intelligence of these birds has even been told about in fables and fairy tales.

On the darker side, as many of you may know, a group of crows is called a murder. Many of them have the reputation of scavenging dead bodies. They were thought at one time to carry disease, and they are associated with death.

This can be used in a useful way though. American crows are used to help identify West Nile virus. Crows can catch this very easily. And if crows die in an area, it is checked for the virus. That can help stop an outbreak among humans. Crows are not known to be able to pass it on to humans, even though humans can catch it in other ways.

A little bit of good information, huh? If you want more, a good web search can bring you a wealth of information about these very interesting birds. I also wrote another story about them that you might find very interesting. It was when I got a few very bad pictures of one a couple of them in the air. You can find that here: The Twa Corbies

I'll be back tomorrow for a short but special look at the night sky.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Time Of Chickadees

I finally went back! I finally went back to Woodland Hills Nature Park where I took a tumble down a hill last winter. At first I avoided the place because I was disgruntled about having that fall. Then I didn't go back because I knew from experience that there just wasn't much going on there in the winter. It really is a dull place for me in the winter. When the leaves are gone, it really exposes the place to the urban surroundings.

I say urban surroundings but it really is in the middle of the wilderness. The urban part is a freeway that runs a little too close to the place. The leaves of the trees go a long way to muffle the sounds of all the vehicles. Somehow warmer weather also seems to help that as well. It really is one of the most beautiful nature parks I've been to.

And that leads me to what I found there on my first time back since my accident. When I got deep into the first trail of the forest I began to hear birds everywhere. This has never happened before when I was at this place. This is usually a very quiet section of the park. The best thing this time was that the birds came close.

When I got a good look at the birds I found out they were black-capped chickadees! I'm just learning about these little guys, but I know they are among a lot of peoples favorite birds. They seem to be known for their friendly demeanor, and these that I met were no exception.

I've been encountering these birds everywhere my travels have taken me these past few weeks. They always seem to come up close to me. These in the pictures got the closest of all. I saw several in a small tree right next to me. The thick tangle of branches prevented me from getting pictures of more than one at a time though.

I was glad these chickadees were there on the trail with me. They really helped change my recent sour outlook of this park. I remember now that I have called this my favorite park in the past. It is still right up there. These sweet little birds helped me greatly when things seemed bleak. I'll have to move them to my favorites list too.

And lastly, I'd like to thank all of you who visited Nature Center Magazine for yesterday's official opening. It was a huge success! I expected maybe ten or twenty visitors for that first day. The total was almost two hundred! The site is still evolving though, so the best is yet to come. I hope some of you continue to see what we come up with.

Oh, I almost forgot! It's been a busy couple of days for me so I haven't had time to visit most of your sites. I'll change that later today when I get home. I don't like missing my favorite reading, so I'm looking forward to reading what you have to say!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Nature Center Magazine

It's time for my big announcement! I have started a brand new website called Nature Center Magazine! This website is a project that I have been planning for a very long time. The official debut for it is today, right now!

As you might have guessed, it's a website about nature. It's also something that will be different and much bigger than I can do here at The Everyday Adventurer. Nature Center Magazine focuses on nature from all around the world, not just my little corner of it. It will also focus on nature websites from all over the web.

Before I go on I want to say that this will not have an effect on The Everyday Adventurer at all. I will still be doing my normal posting here. Nature Center Magazine is a team effort. I already have a few members of the writing team, and I'm looking for many more.

The point of this new website is to help give other nature websites or the websites of any nature lovers get a little bit of recognition. I feel we don't get nearly enough, and I want to try and change that. For any contributors, this recognition will come as links to their own sites. We also have a person that does a focus on her favorite nature websites of the week. There will be more as time goes on and as new ideas are made.

Right now you are the first ones to know of Nature Center Magazine, but soon I will be going step by step in marketing this website to the entire world. This is what I hope will be the biggest thing I have ever done in my entire life. I'm going to do everything I can to make this the greatest nature website in existence. I have literally dozens of plans to do this, but I'm always looking for help.

As of right now, I'm sharing administration of the website with one other person. I'm also writing one article a week there, among all of the others. It's not quite like anything I do here. We already have several articles up, mostly mine, but most will be debuting this week. I hope to have some contributions or maybe even just helpful suggestions from people on the web I already know.

Whether you own a nature site or are just a fan of nature, you will be interested in Nature Center Magazine. Maybe you want to write something there that you either feel might not fit on your own site, or you just want to show off a sample of your blogging style and get a link to your site every once in a while. Or maybe you have just been looking for a good place to go to find the best of nature from around the internet. Nature Center Magazine will be the place to go. Take a look at it now:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Now, Then, And Tomorrow

No nature park stuff today from me. I always wanted to take a picture of the place in this picture above. It's just a place I pass by on my way to one of the nature parks. I see this place as I pass by, and I just think this scene looks like it comes from out of a fantasy land.

The lamppost, the bench, and the pine trees behind them. There's just something beautiful about it all to me. If you want some nature today though, look at the left side of the picture. There's a robin sitting there at the edge of the grass. The sign in front of everything almost seems to take away from it all, but it also adds something special. Here's what it says:

   This Federalist Revival House was designed by talented architect Marcus Burroughs for Kirby White, an executive of Ferry Morse Seed Company. In the 1930's Ferry Morse was the largest seed company in the free world. This house is considered the work of a master.
  Originally located on a five acre estate on Farmington and Eleven Mile Roads, it was completed in 1928. Kirby White, his wife Alice and five children moved in.
   Following the passing of Kirby White in 1933, a series of owners enjoyed the property. Eventually, sold to the First Presbyterian Church of Farmington, the land was needed for religious purposes by 1956.
   To preserve the integrity of this home for others to enjoy, it was relocated by Wayne and Cynthia Elliott. The house was moved one mile south on May 19, 1993. Here it was restored to its unique historic style.
MARCH 1998

How's that for a different kind of post from me? Actually, showing historical places near me was one of the kinds of things I had originally planned for this blog, until my love of nature took hold and pulled me along on the greatest adventure I've ever known. This is almost a look into the past for me. Tomorrow I'm going to attempt to expand nature beyond the limits of The Everyday Adventurer. Get ready for my big announcement!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Today comes something I very rarely do. I'm going to take a look at some nature of the smaller variety. There is a tree I walk past very often on my hikes. I'm usually looking for animals or large scenery while I go by, so I don't usually pay much attention to this tree. But today I decided to experiment with my camera's macro setting.

I decided to focus my attention on an area of the tree where the bark had been stripped away quite some time ago. When I looked up close I found something a beginner to the small parts of nature would find very odd. What I found were these almost perfectly round holes in the side of the tree. These holes would be the target of my study.

I can't say I have much of a conclusion to this study, only an interesting look at a natural mystery for anyone who sees it for the first time. What made these holes? Is it the holes that caused the bark to come off this section of the tree? Maybe one of you know the answers. Even if you don't, it's still fun to wonder.

If you look closely at the picture above, you can see that these holes are very small. They're about the size a small nail might make in the wood. They seem to be placed at random, so there is obviously no human intelligence involved here. I still wonder what made these holes.

Woodpeckers make holes, but I think their holes are much bigger than these. But why do they make holes? There are three reasons. They're digging for food. They're making noise to attract mates. They're digging a hole to live in as a nest. These little holes don't really seem to match what a woodpecker would do, but I had to start somewhere.

The only other thing I can think of that might make these holes are parasitic insects. Some of them are certainly small enough to do this. And there are plenty of insects that bore holes through wood, and for many different reasons. After this information though, I really don't know much more. Like I said above, I'm new to studying nature this small. I guess I have some further studying to do.

This is what I see every day as I walk past. The tree is right at the side of this trail. I see that spot on the tree every time, and I mildly think about it every time, but then quickly forget it when I hear a squirrel or something chirping at me. This time I stopped and took a closer look.

Even though I didn't learn the cause of the spot on the tree, or the holes in the spot, I feel like this little bit gave me much more knowledge than I had before, and a very good start on even more. All it takes is the idea to stop and look at a thing to begin to learn about it. This is also a small step to learning to be an expert on nature as a whole.

Maybe I'll never achieve expert status, but I'm just a little bit further today than I was yesterday. I'm glad I stopped to look at this tree and its holes. If you know the secret of the holes, tell me about it. Then I can take another step, and so will the rest of you who really want to learn.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Urban Deer Surprise

Today I have the first pictures of deer I've been able to get in quite some time. I found two deer out in my backyard with the geese yesterday. They seemed pretty hungry because they came up close to the house to eat some grass. Usually they only come out way in the back and off to the left where they don't get close to any of the houses.

These two really didn't seem to care at all. It was raining outside, and they were pretty wet. The geese were there too. The geese like the rain. They look up at it like they're having fun. That's also when they seem to eat the most grass. Maybe the rain makes it taste better.

I guess the grass must taste better in the rain because the deer really were enjoying it. They would look up every once in a while, but never at me. They didn't care that I was there at all. They wandered around for a very long time eating grass and enjoying themselves.

My big announcement is coming Monday!

I also have a new episode of Rat TV. That's a video for any of you who don't know yet. This is the first video of deer I've ever gotten! I'll tell you, I was very excited to have this golden opportunity. I hope it's working by the time the first of you read this post. It wasn't ready when I went to bed. It's a long video and it took a long time for YouTube to process it.

(I had to change some of the content in this post to get the video to show up. The page jump was interfering. If you want the original, just let me know, and I will post a link to it tomorrow.)

You can see the rain coming down pretty good in the video. The only reaction to the rain that the deer have is to lick it off their backs sometimes. Maybe they were just drying themselves, and maybe it's also a good way for an animal to get some quick water.
And that's it for today from The Everyday Adventurer!

My big announcement is coming Monday!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Two Geese

I'm sure there are more exciting things for me to write about for today, but I didn't want to forget about my two geese that live in my backyard. They have been staying back there for the past few years, but only in the warmer weather. They always leave in the fall, but they're right back there when spring arrives.

Sometimes there are more geese that come to visit and crap all over the grass, but these two are always the first to arrive and the last to leave. A big flock of geese can cause problems with anyone's lawn, but these two are just fine with me.

You can see that when I go back there they begin doing tricks for me. I'm guessing this one is the male of the two since males of any kind seem to be the ones that like to show off the most. Females do it too, but they're more subtle about it.

When he lifted his foot up, it was a very slow motion. First the foot slowly went up, and then his wing slowly came out. He did all of this as if it were a very complicated balancing act of skill that he was doing. Maybe it was. Who am I to say different?

He did all of this while his girlfriend laid back on the grass and watched out of one eye. I don't know why he performed this trick, but I've seen them do very similar tricks before. Maybe he was showing me how tough he was, and that he wasn't going to tolerate me getting too close. Maybe it was a welcome gesture. Either way, I decided to keep myself a short distance away.

After he decided that his performance had the desired effect, he walked off to my right and began searching the grass for a snack. After he got a suitable distance away the female goose got up and began to follow. They always stay together. They're not always found in that same spot, but they never stray too far from each other.

Just as it's only really a guess as to which one is a male and which is a female, it's also only a guess that these are the same geese from years past. But I think the two guesses are good ones, just as I think the two geese are good ones. It's really kind of fun having them so close to my home... As long as they don't invite their friends over for a party!

My big announcement is coming Monday!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Primitive Cave Drawings, Here?

I mentioned the other day something odd about seeing some primitive cave drawings on one of my latest adventures. Well, it's completely true! I found them in what may seem to be the most unlikeliest of places too! I would have never expected something so strange in such a place as this! Let me explain what happened.

There is a nature park I learned about last year while looking for geocaching sites on the web. It happened to be amazingly close to my home, so I knew I had to go there. Another nature park is always welcome for an everyday adventurer. The only problem was that when I got to the approximate location I could not find the park at all!

I saw what looked like a path going down under the road, but this was from a very busy highway with no parking for a very long ways. So there was no way to be sure the place was even there. I went back home and searched the web for a way in, but found nothing whatsoever.

Finally, about a week ago I found some better directions on the web. I drove to where I hoped to find this place the very same day. It turned out to be on the other side of the highway all along! And here it is, a place called Valley Woods Trail. It's a trail that goes along a quiet river, but surrounded by the hustle and bustle of urban surroundings in Southfield, Michigan.

I decided to take to the left of the trail when I got down the slope into the park. I figured it wouldn't go very far that way, so I would get it out of the way first. It was shorter than the other direction, but it was much longer than I expected. I may have walked at least a half mile.

I soon went around a bend and discovered that this trail went directly under the highway from where I had been searching. This highway is called Telegraph Road for any of you who might be curious. A very well known road in these parts. And that path I previously thought was the entranceway into the park was indeed a way down there! But let's get on to what it was that I found...

When I got under the highway, I felt like I really was in a cave or a tunnel. I have to say that even though I was so near such a busy highway, I didn't really hear the traffic very loudly. The acoustic nature of this park seems to muffle all of the noise very well.

It was when I looked to my right that I discovered something odd!

There it was! A drawing of a buffalo! Just like a caveman might make! This buffalo looked to be stenciled to perfection on the side of the support wall under the road. Just like when looking at a cave drawing, I wondered who put this there and why they did it. To me, it was just plain fascinating!

But that wasn't all!

A few feet farther down the tunnel there were more cave paintings. This time it was caveman style drawings of humans, and they were carrying axes. Three of them, and they were all different colors this time. Was this done to enhance the fun of the nature trail, or was it just graffiti put there by amused kids? Either way, it was an excellent idea.

Looking at the drawings from a little bit farther away, you can see that the cave dudes actually appear to be chasing the buffalo. I guess that is just like what a caveman might draw too, isn't it? The whole idea that someone would put these drawings here is interesting and humorous and fun all at the same time!

But I wonder... How long ago was this done? Who were the artists? And what became of them? And will those cave dudes ever catch that buffalo?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Saga Of The Mink And The Geese

I left you yesterday as a mink that had run across the opposite shore of the lake slid into the water while trying to avoid some very interested geese. I really didn't know what this mink was up to when he got in the water. I thought maybe he was planning on attacking the ducks that were swimming with the geese. Minks like to eat ducks sometimes, but they like fish even more.

Well, as I said, the mink slid into the water, and the four geese and the two ducks gave it a wide birth that time. It seemed to go right for the ducks, and their was a lot of confusion and flapping of wings! The geese and the ducks quickly fled as the chaos continued! Being as inexperienced with video as I am, I missed this part of the action completely.

This video is slightly over 5 minutes long

When I finally got the camera pointed in the right direction, the mink was just coming back out of the water, and onto the grass of the shore. It shook itself off for a second and then turned to reveal that it had caught something! It could have been either a fish or a crawdad; I couldn't see it well enough to know.

While the mink laid down to enjoy its freshly caught meal, the birds all swam to my right up the lake, so they could stay away from the crazy little mink. I had my camera full focused now, and I watched the mink leisurely devour its meal. I finally turned the camera to see what the birds were up to, when the mink all of a sudden got up and headed back for the water!

He slid back in, and this time I just barely got it on video! The mink bobbed around in the water for a few seconds, but then dove under and disappeared. This is when I lost all sense of direction, because the mink seemed to be gone. But meanwhile, the geese were becoming very irritated with the little mink's shenanigans!

When I finally found the mink again, it was swimming as fast as it could, up the lake and away from the birds! With the two ducks in the lead, the four geese gave chase! It may not look quite as exciting in the video because of the way I was fumbling around with the camera, but it was really a thrilling chase!

The mink finally made it back to land with another prize in its mouth! The ducks pulled up short, while two of the geese stopped at a point where they thought the mink had exited the water. They watched very intently for the mink to try to come back! Meanwhile the other two geese saw the mink again, so they swam a little farther forward.

This second pair of geese watched the mink running and trying to hide in the tall grass, while the first two geese stood guard where they were before. The little mink decided that the water was no longer the place for it, so it ran as fast as it could up the side of the hill, and away from the geese! It finally ran behind a fence and out of sight. The chase was finally over.

The geese were now satisfied that the dangerous little mink was gone, and the mink was well hidden, but with another prize to eat before it decided what to do next. As far as I was concerned, this adventure was over. It was now time for me to go hunt eagles and other exciting beasts with my trusty camera in hand.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What Is This Mystery Creature?

I left you yesterday with a picture of a mystery creature. Today I'm going to reveal the identity of that creature, and the first part of the exciting event that it created. Read on to find out what it is. This will take a story so you can find out just like I did. Let's start from the beginning.

It had been a quiet idea at the nature park, so I wasn't expecting to see much at all. I heard a goose honking down by the dam, so I figured I'd go down there to see if one of them was doing anything at all interesting. When I got down there, I noticed that there were actually four Canada geese and two mallard ducks swimming around together by the opposite shore of the lake.

As I began taking pictures of them, I noticed what looked like a big oddly colored squirrel come trotting along the shore from the left side. I kept thinking it was a very odd looking squirrel, but what else could it be? The geese also noticed this creature, and they were watching it very closely!

The odd little creature began to creep toward the right, trying to seem very nonchalant to the geese, who weren't buying it at all. It hesitated while watching the geese, but then made a run for it past them and off to the right! I had no idea what it was trying to do, but I was now just as interested as the geese were. I wondered if maybe it was planning to attack them, or maybe the ducks.

The oddly colored creature, that I still thought must be a squirrel, slowed down again as it got past the first pair of geese. It seemed to be trying to hide behind the taller grass that happened to be there. The creature was nervously watching the geese, and it was clearly after something, but I just didn't know what yet.

After another second or two the creature noticed the second pair of geese that were also there, and it decided that it had better keep moving up the shoreline. It made a run for it with the geese still intently watching! This all was actually happening in only a matter of a few seconds, so I was not nearly as prepared as I would have liked to be for what happened next.

When this creature, which I still thought was maybe a squirrel, made it past the geese, it quickly moved towards the edge of the water and very smoothly slipped right in! No squirrel would ever do something like this! I now knew this was no squirrel at all. I had only two guesses. It could be an otter, or it could be an animal I researched a few months ago, a mink.

It definitely was too small to be an otter, so that only left one possible identity for this little creature. This creature is a mink! Now you know the identity of this little mink. For those of you that guessed it was a weasel, you are partially correct. A mink is actually a kind of weasel.

But what happened when the mink slid into the water? Did it swim away? What did the geese do? Come back tomorrow to see what happens next. This is going to get very exciting, and I even have video of this event! You won't want to miss this!!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Where Do I Begin?

Where do I begin!!! So many things happened to me, and Ive been so many places the past few days that I just don't know where to start. I discovered two new nature parks; one was huge, and one was surrounded an urban setting. I've met people, seen fascinating animals, and beautiful scenery. And I feel so overwhelmed by it all that I have to sort it all out in my head before I tell you about it.

The one thing I want to tell you about is something I didn't get on camera, and I feel like kicking myself for it! It was in the middle of the evening, and the last wonder I saw so far. I took a short drive over to Heritage Park, the place where I showed you the hawk circling over my head. I didn't take my camera because I was only planning a quick drive through the front of the park.

But as soon as I turned into the main road there, I saw what I thought was another even bigger hawk flying around very low! I knew I should have brought my camera! Honestly, I wouldn't have been able to get the pictures or video from my truck anyway. I wondered why it was flying low, and later on that little drive I found out why!

I drove up to where the barn is, and as I was coming back out, I saw what looked like a huge, dark bird standing in front of one of the buildings! The first image that came to my mind was it was dark like a cormorant, but this one was a bird of prey. I looked a little more closely, and I began to think it might be a very big black cat, but it was too big. Like I said before, it was the middle of the evening, but it wasn't really dark yet. I looked again, and I knew that this was no cat!

I thought maybe it was the hawk, but it was bigger than even a red-tailed hawk. I have checked and checked as many pictures as I can find, and I'm now convinced that this bird was a juvenile bald eagle! I watched from my truck as this huge bird devoured its prey. The eagle was eating a squirrel. The squirrel looked tiny compared to this gigantic bird.

This looks just like the bird I saw. It is a juvenile bald eagle.You can find the original picture here.
Maybe this bird was an eagle. I don't know if eagles live around here or not, but this really was one huge bird! I saw the squirrel a couple of times because the bird lifted it up a few times as if it were going to fly it away to somewhere else. The bird was nervous because of my presence, and it kept looking over at me. This bird was so big that it was scary, and it was less than twenty feet away from me!

All I can think right now is... Oh my lord! An eagle! A real eagle!!

I finally decided to leave it to its meal, especially since I didn't have my camera anyway. I may have just seen the only eagle I will ever see in my life, but I didn't have my camera! Stupid, stupid, stupid! This should tell you to always take your camera with you!!!

The funny thing is that the eagle, which I originally thought was a hawk, may not even have been the most amazing sight I saw today! The past few days have been a full tilt flurry of sights and sounds, events and places. I saw action, drama, comedy, and anything else you might imagine. How about something as strange as cave drawings? Yup, I saw them!

Here's just a hint of one of the major events...

These two geese are watching something! I know what it is, but I'm not going to tell you yet. Why would they be doing something so strange? Find out in the upcoming days!

What is this creature in this last picture? Is it even real? Maybe it's only a stuffed animal. Is it a squirrel? Maybe it's a puppy. It could be a fox. Surely not a cat. What if it's a bear cub? I'm not going to tell you right now, although you're perfectly free to guess. When I tell you the whole story you are going to be utterly amazed!!!


That's all I can write for now. My mind is a whirlwind of thoughts and memories, and I feel as if it might explode!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Early Spring Frog Sounds

I have a wonderful video today for you. I hope it makes up for the lack of the ice quakes this year. Ever since the first spring I started going to Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve I began hearing the sound of thousands of frogs in the vernal pond near the front of the forest there.

The first time I heard the sounds I was confused as to what they were. I thought maybe they were coming from a strange kind of bird. That may sound silly, but I was erroneously told at the time that there weren't many frogs here in Michigan. I have found out since then that that information was very false.

As the vernal pond grew with passing early spring, the number of frogs grew by the thousands. I would hear the sounds, and I wanted so badly to be able to share them with everyone here. I had no idea that I already had that capability. I thought it would never happen. But now it has!

In this new episode of Rat TV I bring you the sound of at least one early spring frog. It is coming from a surprising place though. I expected it from the vernal pond in the forest, but there are other wet areas in this park too. This one is out at the front near the parking lot.

When I heard the frog, I quickly walked over to the area the sounds were coming from.  They are very loud throughout the video. Unfortunately there is no video of the frog itself. I have actually never seen one of these frogs. They hide very well when I get close. You'll see and hear in the video that the frog stops its noise when I get close.

One other thing that happened was that I startled a bird that was also hiding nearby in the weeds. Only a very transparent shadow shows. You probably can't see it even if you look closely, but the bird passed right in front of the camera. I spotted the shadow in the original video.

This is not the most exciting video, but I hope you enjoy the frog sounds.

And this last picture is for those of you who are video challenged. This is where the frog was hiding. The bird flew from the weeds on the left to pass right in front of me. I saw no sign of the frog, but it sure did make a lot of noise.

I'll be back tomorrow with something very surprising!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Finally A Blue Jay

I finally got a few decent photos of a blue jay! He doesn't look very blue in the pictures though. I guess the blue of the sky and the blue of the bird worked together to throw off the vision of my camera a bit. It doesn't matter because I still got the pictures!

I really didn't know what kind of bird it was that I was seeing when I took the pictures. My usual method is that when I hear a bird, I stop and stand as still as possible. The less movement there is means that there is less chance of scaring the bird away. It doesn't always work out though.

I then scan the trees the best I can to try to find where the sounds are coming from. I have to hope the bird keeps singing so I can eventually see it up there in the trees. This is maybe the most difficult part because the bird could be behind a branch or farther away than it seems.

The only thing to do is hope that you see a little bit of movement on a branch somewhere among all of that tangled mess. Then you have to hope that the bird decides to stay in one place long enough for you to get your camera focused on it. Another very hard part.

You might think you're home free now. Nope, not at all! You've already found the bird with your eyes, but now you have to find it all over again with the viewer on the camera. It's a little easier because you already know where to look, but it's usually hard to pinpoint the bird with the camera even then.

After you finally get the bird in the middle of the viewer, you have to hope and pray that it doesn't decide that at that very moment it's a very good time to fly away. I've had that happen to me more times than I can count. The best thing to do is start clicking as soon as you can see the bird in the camera.

I always keep my camera in continuous shooting mode so that I can hold down the shutter release button only once to take several shots. In my opinion, that is the only way to get good photos of a bird. It's the only way you can keep up with these speedy little creatures.And you can end up with some spectacular shots that way too.

After you do all of these things, you will begin to get some good bird photos. You'll find that most birds stay in one spot for only a few seconds, so you have to be very quick in every step. This is the way I finally got these clear pictures of this blue jay. You can do it this way too.

Whenever you see pictures of a bird in flight, or with its wings spread out, the photographer usually used continuous click mode. Try it out for yourself if you haven't already done so. I'm sure you'll be able to get some good results with a little bit of practice.

And remember, this doesn't just apply to bird pictures. You can use this for anything. Like I said before, I always use my camera this way. You need it for good nature photography. I've done some pretty good stuff with a camera that most photographers would laugh at.

Try out these tips and tell me how it goes for you.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Going Quackers

One of the first things that happened when the ice on the lake began to melt was that the ducks came back. The ducks like to stay at a section of thelake where humans have a very hard time getting to, so I had to do my viewing at a distance. You can see the fence that blocks me from getting all the way down there.

That's all okay with me though. It means that the ducks feel safe enough to stay there for a long time. They'll be hanging out down there until winter comes again at the end of the year. Not many others will get any closer than I was when I took my pictures, but I know how to sneak down there.

And now for the real reason I've brought you the subject of these ducks today... I have an all new episode of Rat TV! In this thrilling episode we see the ducks playfully interacting with each other. There's one problem though. One of the ducks seems to be either an outcast or just a trouble maker.

You will see as something comes over him, and then he seems to bother one of the other ducks. A third duck swims over to give him a good scolding. The trouble ends there, but it seemed to cause quite a flap. After that the ducks return to their peaceful, but seemingly chaotic swimming patterns.

I hope you enjoy my duck video along with their fun quacking sounds. That's it for today from The Everyday Adventurer!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Big Fat Goose Egg

Leprechaun Wednesday
This is the story of something very strange that happened to me, and the little weirdo that I met at the nature park. I gotta tell you, it seems like something almost identical to this story happened to me about a year ago. I guess I'll never learn...

It was another quiet day at the nature park today, but it was okay because I like days like this. I thought maybe I'd go down and check out the newly thawed lake, since there didn't seem to be much other animal activity either. There weren't even any geese swimming around, so I decided to just relax and watch the water.

After awhile, I noticed the geese were all over at their nesting area, further up the lake. Usually they come over to beg for food, but they seemed strangely quiet today. I decided since they wouldn't come to me, I'd take a few pictures of them right where they were then. They wouldn't get away that easy!

As I was looking over there to decide where best to point the camera, I noticed something odd. There was a glint of the color gold in the weeds, just to the right of the geese. At first I thought nothing of it, but as I kept looking, I noticed that the gold seemed to be in the shape of an egg.

Then I started to put two and two together. The only problem was that I kept coming up with five. I remembered the story of the goose that laid the golden egg, but I knew it was only a fairy tale. Fairy tale or not though, I seemed to be looking right at a golden egg myself.

My mind started to race. I began to think to myself over and over, "Gold! Gold! GOLD!!!" I needed to climb a hill to get close to that end of the lake and the golden egg. So I ran up the hill so I could get what I now convinced myself must be an actual golden egg.

I reached my destination, and I was now standing at the top of the hill looking far down at the place where the geese were nesting. I guess I was going to have to climb down there if I was going to get what I decided was now rightfully mine. I was going to be rich!

As I began to move forward, I felt a push from behind! I now found myself tumbling all the way down this thirty foot slope. I think I landed on every tender place on me that there could be! What seemed like hours took only a few seconds, and I had bounced to a halt at the edge of the lake.

I was surprisingly unhurt. After I stood up, the first thing I did was look back up the hill to see who pushed me. It better not be a squirrel! I quickly saw that it was no squirrel. It was a little guy dressed in green that I encountered about a year ago.

As he looked down at me, he yelled, "I know what yer after! That's my gold, and you better stay away from it!" I wasn't going to take that from a runt! No leprechaun could stop me. I turned toward the golden egg, with the intention of claiming my new prize. As I looked for it again, I quickly realized that it was gone!

The geese were still there though, and they didn't look happy with me. I was done starting wars with animals a long time ago, so I turned and quickly left them in peace. I went as fast as could, right back up that hill. I was going to get that leprechaun this time!

I finally made it to the top, and I stood there trying to catch my breath. Then I saw the little jerk leprechaun standing a short distance away grinning at me. He had the egg! That egg was almost as big as him, but he held it as if it weighed nothing. He was bouncing it from one hand to the other.

I wanted to get that egg! I had to catch him and take it from him! I quickly( well, almost quickly) moved towards him, and he turned and ran! He was heading straight for the tree that he jumped into the last time I chased him. I made it in there before, so I didn't think he could escape like that. I just wish I could remember what happened after I got in there last time.

I was right behind him as he made his way toward the hole in the side of the tree! He dove in and quickly disappeared. Then I leaped towards it, knowing that I had him now, and with a loud crack I slammed head first into the side of the tree!

I laid there for a minute realizing that the cartoons are right. You really do see stars when you crack your head. I slowly sat up trying to focus my eyes. I noticed that I was several feet away from the tree, and I couldn't quite stand up yet.

As things started to come back into focus, the leprechaun came back out of the tree. I thought maybe he was going to make sure I was alright. But then he did something else. He turned away from me, dropped his pants, started laughing hysterically, and he was now moving his butt from side to side! The little jerk mooned me!!!

I was furious! I started to get up, but my legs were still limp from my collision with the tree, so I flopped back down to the ground. The leprechaun, still laughing at me, then slowly raised his pants and calmly walked back into the hole in the tree. I knew I wasn't going to catch him now, so I was left with nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. A big fat goose egg. Oh well, there's always next year.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!