Monday, May 30, 2011

After The Rain

It's been raining here almost nonstop for the entire week. I said almost. It actually did stop a few times for very short times. One of those times I hurried over to the nature park because I knew what would be there waiting for me. The animals.

right after a rainstorm is the best time to see wild animals. This is when they come out to either travel or enjoy the sunny weather. And so as soon as I got to the nature park there was this white-tailed deer walking right at the tree line. I was only a little surprised.

I knew there would be animals, but I didn't know there would be a deer. And I didn't know he, yes it's a he, would be there right as I got out of my truck. I was able to use all of my techniques for getting close to a wild animal to get very close and to follow him for quite some distance. I got a total of 108 pictures of him, but I'll share these three.

Just to change the subject for a few sentences, I got my memory test back from the neurologist, and it's not too good. As I expected, the test shows that my memory is terrible now. there were other parts of the test that had to do with dexterity and some other brain things. I did fine on those, but not the memory part.

While that is bad, at least I now know that I haven't been imagining my messed up memory and headaches. Now I just need to find out if anything can be done about it or if I'm stuck this way. I still have trouble remembering things from one day to the next. Oh well. Back to the deer!

As you can see by the last picture, I was able to get pretty close to this guy. He only decided he was done with me when I got bored as well. Most of the time I can get the animals to be as curious of me as I am of them. I've had deer walk right up to me. One once even came to me for protection against two women who were watching it.

But see how the tail of the deer is up in the last picture? That's what deer do when they are getting ready to run. He didn't think I was so cool anymore. I stepped out in the open a little too much and let my body language become a little aggressive, and he didn't like that. He quickly ran into the forest.

I later heard him rummaging around in another part of the forest. But I haven't seen him since. It was a good day.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Greedy Little Squirrel

I'm going to tell you a story of one lone little animal and a bunch of big noisy geese. It all began at the beginning of the nature trail at a place called Berry Lake. About a half dozen geese were milling around a small furry animal for some strange reason.

The geese would take turns honking at the poor little creature. Each one would move in close, then the little furry critter would let out a squeal and the goose would move away. The geese all looked at the little animal with great envy, but the poor little creature held its ground. I wondered what the fuss was all about, so I moved in for a closer look.

And there I found a lone little squirrel hovering over what looked like a mound of cornbread. Some naughty human decided to feed these animals, and they were now fighting over their delicious prize. I didn't think this poor little squirrel had a chance at defending itself against the villainous geese. But the sweet little squirrel had a secret.

Only the little squirrel knew it, but the dainty little squirrel was really half greedy pig. Oink!

The geese only wanted their share of the yummy cornbread. But the greedy little squirrel was hording it, and he just wouldn't share.

When the big scary human in the rat suit moved in closer the sweet little piggish squirrel leaped to his feet! The squirrel would defend his food against anything or anyone. The human was at least smart enough to keep a little bit of distance because the kind little squirrel was acting very mean and aggressive now.

But even though the squirrel was determined to steal all of the cornbread for himself, he knew when he was defeated. All of those geese, and now a rat suited human were all too much to defend his prize against. So the cute little squirrel grabbed up as much of his prize as he could and prepared to run.

Before he left, the courageous little squirrel looked up at the evil human so he could smile in triumph, but his mouth was just too full of cornbread to pull off this feat. So the sweet little squirrel gathered as much of his dignity as he could muster and he fled into the trees.

The End

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Advantage Of Silence

I went to an old favorite nature park to be a little bit more by myself. I thought after a little while that I had maybe picked the wrong time. When I got to the creek two people came noisily up from behind me. This isn't a short walk, and I wondered why they would spoil it by making so much noise.

There are so many things to see for a person who remains silent. I waited about five minutes after the people passed me by, then I continued my slow journey. After about a quarter mile I heard some sounds in the forest to my left. I turned to see four white-tailed deer peering through the brush at me.

The deer were trying to be quiet too, but I was even quieter than them. My silence helped me discover this family of deer. I was able to get a look and a few pictures before they decided to get away from the trail. I am always quiet while out in the forest. It gives me an advantage over everyone else.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I bet when you saw the title of this post you thought I was going to show you a snake. Hah, but you're wrong! It's geese! I walked past dozens of geese at this new park, and I've never been hissed at so many times in my life.

These creepy geese seemed friendly on the surface, but they would get mad if you tried to get where you were going. Come within ten feet of them and they would begin hissing. My usual response was to look at them and firmly tell them to calm down. This would send them waddling out of my way, but still hissing.

This type were the worst culprits. If the geese had any goslings the hissing would begin much sooner, and it would last longer than the others. I never tried to get close to any of these poop machine geese, but it was sometimes unavoidable.

These angry geese made me long for my familiar geese of the closer to home park where the geese come up to me in a more friendly manner. Those old geese seemed to have moved on though. They were unfortunately put off by people and their dogs. Just like people though, some geese are good and others are jerks. And some are just worried about their safety.

This goose wasn't hissing, and I stayed very far away. When an animal has a nest you should respect their space. Her mouth is open because it is full of feathers. She plucks some of her own feathers to pad the nest to keep the eggs warm.

Here's a look at her doing just that. We also get a good look at the eggs here. This is the second time I've been able to see goose eggs. The other time was better but this was good too. I moved along quickly top give this mother some privacy. I didn't want her to start too. Sssssss!!!

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Covered Bridge

I got to do something I've never done before! I got to walk across this covered bridge! To some of you that may not seem to be much, but this is the first time I ever got to do this. I love bridges of all kinds, and I've long admired covered bridges, so this is a huge treat for me.

And that's not all. This bridge is at a new nature park I recently discovered! It's a small place that isn't as close to home as some of my others, but I've recently found myself passing by this place very frequently. I was just lucky enough to see the sign for the place the first time.

Then when I stopped here for the first time I saw this bridge in the distance! I was in heaven! I actually have several more pictures than I'm showing here because I took pictures at every step of the way. After all, this wasa huge event for me.

I came to the foot of the bridge and stopped to take it all in and savor the experience. There were birds all around, especially geese, but this bridge was taking almost all of my attention. For once, wildlife had to take a backseat to another interest. 

I took my first steps onto the wooden planks.

There were small birds flying around everywhere. They appeared to be barn swallows. I knew I had to be cautious with these birds because I know from personal experience that they aggressively protect their nests. And the bridge had a number of nests up in the rafters.

I got no pictures of the birds because they were flying around rapidly, and my interest was still exclusively in this bridge. I took the time to get pictures of the nests though. The wood of the bridge seems relatively new in here. Maybe this bridge isn't as old as I initially thought. That's fine with me.

I moved a few feet away from where the nests were to take some pictures of the inside of the bridge. This was an experience that I wanted to remember. Do you realize how much your daily worries seem to melt away when you are in the middle of an experience that you love? I had not a care in the world while I was standing on this bridge. I'm sitting here now with a smile on my face while I type this.

I walked slowly moving across the bridge until I got to the end. I would say that I regretted stepping off of it, but there were new wonders on the other side! And the feeling of walking the bridge was still surrounding me with a total joy. This is why I do what I do.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Forest Cardinal

This seems to be the season for cardinals for me. Maybe they just like me or something. I've seen so many cardinals in the last two months that I can't share them all with you. this one was a little bit special though, so here it is.

I was walking along the trail towards the back of the park when two birds flew in front of me lower than usual. It reminded me of the whole incident with two woodpeckers I told you about a few weeks ago. The woodpeckers were fighting, but I don't think that was the case with the cardinals.

I really only got these pictures of the male cardinal, but the female was there too. She hid on the other side of the tree. What I have always found interesting about these birds is that the male is so recognizable in his scarlet red suit, but the female is a grayish brown color.

It seems that most males in the world of birds and mammals are considered to be the prettier ones compared to the females. Male peacocks for instance. Or male lions with their big mane of hair. But what about humans? Do they buck that trend? I'm not so sure.

Most male mammals are marked by a bigger body with more hair, and some have a sort of distinctive decoration, like a bull's horns. But what about humans? We don't consider males to be the pretty ones. But I wonder what other animals think. Maybe we all have it backwards. Maybe human women trying to make themselves pretty is all for nothing, never coming close to the beauty of men. We men have the ability to grow a beard for decoration. Do women? (Go ahead and think up a few evil jokes now.)

Or maybe it's the other animals that we are wrong about. Most females of any species are finer boned than males. Humans consider that to be a sign of delicate feminine beauty. I'd bet that other animals feel the same about females of their species. We see the male decoration of other species as beautiful, but maybe they see those decorations as big and obnoxious. Exactly as we think of male humans.

So think about this when you see a beautiful cardinal or a peacock. Maybe the female of their species has the real beauty. Maybe it's the male. Or maybe they are each special in their own way. Think about all of this for awhile. Compare human and animal traits. This kind of thing really made me wonder about our perception of beauty.

What do you think of all of this? Does this change your opinion about what beauty really is? Because I am male, I still consider females to be the more beautiful humans. But now when I apply those traits to other animals my perception has changed a bit. I now see the beauty of a female bird that I used to think only had a dull brown color.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Welcoming Squirrel

When I came upon this squirrel he seemed so happy to see me. He came running up and quickly began posing for pictures. You can see the big happy smile on his little face. This is how many of the animals greet me when they see me with my camera.

I've been mentioning this for the past few days that the animals come running when they see me. They really do sometimes. I don't even bait them with food or anything like that. Go back and look in my archives to see even more proof of this. Some have even literally climbed up my legs. Those were not little animals like this squirrel either.

Many of you remember those. It was about six friendly raccoons, and I had to run about half a mile to get away from them. They were no danger. I just didn't want them to follow me out near the street, so I ran deep into the park to get away.

Here is the squirrel standing there in a thoughtful pose, gazing out into the forest. He was really taking his job seriously. He must have heard what Flynn the famous squirrel did about a year ago and he wanted to try and duplicate it. But there's no duplicating Flynn. He's one of a kind.

And there he is in a more serious pose. What a ham! Squirrels are the little actors of the forest. These guys will do anything for attention. Unless you're a dog. Woof! They don't like dogs much. I do.

Okay, that's enough of this nonsense for today. I'll be back soon with something amazing. I have pictures of space aliens! Just kidding. But I will be back soon. And I do have pictures of... something.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Nuthatch and Annoyance

So there I was, peacefully taking pictures of this little white-breasted nuthatch when I was rudely interrupted. Another person came stumbling loudly around the corner of the trail and the nuthatch, which was so comfortable with me, fled from this interloper.

At least that's how I saw it at the time. In truth, the other person didn't know what I was doing, and he was minding his own business. I actually like seeing people at these parks I visit, but only at the right moments and the right amounts. When I found this particular park a few years ago it was virtually empty, but now it's full of people walking their dogs.

This is not a good environment for a person trying to enjoy the quiet and trying to get loads of pictures. I love this park and I really don't mind the people, but I've been thinking that it's time to visit some of the other quieter parks a little more often. This one has been just so darn convenient for a quick walk though.

This was one of the last pictures I got before I began to rush in an attempt to get all I could. I quickly lost the bird as it flew back into the forest. On most days this place is like a cornucopia of animals for my camera. And the trails are never muddy. Never.

So what should I do? Continue to endure constant interruptions, or travel the very muddy paths of another park? That is the problem I am now facing. Maybe I could do both. I've been hesitant to go very far this year, but I also feel the need to push myself. I guess every day is a new adventure.

I'll be right back here tomorrow with something new.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Met A Little Chipmunk

Chipmunks are some of the most wonderfully curious little creatures there are. I saw this one run behind a fallen tree while I was walking past. Knowing their curious nature, I stopped and waited for the little fellow to come back for a better look at me.

Sure enough, back he came! He popped right back up on the top of the log and stared right at me. From these pictures I now know that he also had a little snack there. But he was content to stare right into my camera. He never moved a bit while I took a few pictures.

The only problem was other people. After my third picture someone came walking past. Upon seeing this other person, the little chipmunk scampered away never to be seen again. I waited there in vain hoping for a return, but knowing it was not going to happen. A chipmunk is usually only curious once.

If you know the right way to react to wild animals you can get very many good pictures, even if you're not much of a photographer. Always stay calm, and move slowly. Stop if they see you or are looking in your direction. This works for all the little critters, and most of the big ones.

And never get too upset if you don't get the shot you wanted. There are always more animals. As you can see by these pictures of the chipmunk, I can get animals to come right up to me. It's all a matter of attitude. I use tricks like this that I've learned on all animals. All animals. They all come.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wood Thrush

I have a few things to mention today. The first thing is this little bird in my pictures. I believe it is a wood thrush, but I'm not at all sure. there are just so many other birds that look similar. After a long search I determined which bird it was by a close look at the beak.

There are still other birds with similarly colored beaks, but this one seemed to match the best, so I decided it was a wood thrush. If anyone knows that I'm wrong then I'd love to know it. Things like that help us all learn more. But even if I am wrong, this is only one insignificant blog out of thousands. I'm just happy I found this little bird.

Oh. I found this little bird while it was close to the ground. It was hiding from a hawk. Many of the animals were staying close to the ground while a hawk flew over the forest. I guess it's safer down there while under cover of trees. That tactic doesn't seem to work as well out in the open. At least it didn't for that snake from a few posts ago.

Many of you may have noticed my absence from this blog and others the past week. Ever since my now long ago car accident I am very forgetful. If something is not right in front of me I will forget it ever existed, even important things like my blog.

The neurologist I see recently gave me a memory test that I'll learn the results of next time I go back. I'm hoping that maybe that's the start of my memory returning, but I'm very doubtful. Along with my memory goes my positive attitude sometimes, so I stay away from the internet during those times. I say this so you may ignore any negative things about my health that I mention. I'm mostly okay.

What I really care about is this wood thrush. I'm not sure if anyone can imagine how good I feel even looking at the pictures from when I visit nature. Going to these places is just exhilarating. I had actually forgotten most of my last few trips until I began writing this post.

There were a few good sightings that I've had, and I also got to do something that I've never done before! I can't wait to post about that! Most of you will think it isn't much of course, because it really isn't. But I'm still very excited.

Is anyone else geekily awaiting that new Blogger interface like I am? 

Until next time, Batma... uh, Ratty, signing off!

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

This Is No Mallard

I was passing by the vernal pond in the nature park the other day when I saw what appeared to be a mallard duck thrashing around in the water. Through the trees it appeared that the duck was hunting some of the thousands of frogs that live in this swamp.

It made a big splash and then I heard some high pitched squealing coming from that direction. It sounded as if the duck had captured something. This caught my interest so I took a few pictures through the trees. I didn't really get a good look at this bird though. I assumed the whole time that it was just another mallard, which I've seen here before.

But then when I got home I got a huge surprise. This wasn't a mallard at all! This duck had fancy white stripes, a cool Darth Vader helmet, and red eyes! I thought maybe it was someone's exotic pet that had escaped. But then after some quick research with one of the listed nature guides at Nature Center Magazine I found out this was a Wood Duck.

Frogs aren't listed on the diet of these ducks, but it had indeed caught a frog. I'm still wondering why. This is the first time I've ever seen a wood duck and it was the only one in the vernal pond that day. I've never seen it again. I have trouble describing how exciting this has been for me to find this creature.

This wood duck may amaze some of you and to some of you it is old news, and today it is amazing to me. I've seen some amazing things these past several years that nobody else can even imagine, and I'm still just a beginner at some very ordinary things. All still hold my fascination.

Nature never ceases to amaze me with the new and different creatures that it presents to me. Always when I think I've seen everything I'm going to see something like this comes along. I don't think I've ever gotten bored exploring nature. Every other thing I've done has eventually resulted in boredom at some point, but not nature.

I'm glad I discovered this. I can go to the smallest nature park, or even go behind my house, and find some new wonder to marvel at. And today I even discovered a new small nature park! I'll have pictures as soon as I can, and for now I'm just enjoying my latest discovery, this cool wood duck!

Is there a sighting that you've had over the years that still holds your fascination? I really want to know about it.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Hawk Eating Its Prey

I gave clues. I even openly mentioned that it was near. But I didn't come right out and say that a hawk had come down into the forest and actually caught something... Until now!

I was hearing the hawk all day while I was at the nature park. I wondered if I would get more than a glimpse. I even told a few other people that I met that the calls they were hearing were from a hawk. But I never believed I would have the opportunity to get pictures.

While I was almost out of the park I saw a huge bird fly up from the ground. At first glance I thought it was a great blue heron because of its huge size, but I quickly realized that it was a red-tailed hawk. And it had something in its talons. It had captured another animal.

The huge size made it look as if the wings were flapping in slow motion as it rose from the ground. But then the bird quickly landed in a high branch of a big tree. What I thought I had lost in my haste to get a picture was now a new opportunity.

I quickly began taking as many pictures as I could as the huge predator began devouring its meal. The bird had been much closer to the forest than I realized before, and now I realized why all the other animals were staying so close to the forest floor that day. I thought they were being overly nervous, but they knew that this monster was coming for them.

And what poor innocent creature did the huge flying beast finally capture and make into its meal? Its prey this time turned out to be a garter snake. A garter snake is one of the most harmless creatures out here. It's also a predator, but sometimes even chipmunks are predators. Poor creature. But then again a hawk has to eat too.

This last picture is not quite adequate to show it, but this is closer to what my eyes saw when I looked towards the bird. The camera sees much better than I can. I'm glad I had it with me to share this exciting event. There were many more pictures, but I like these the best.

No further pictures can capture my excitement and wonder, but my words can help. I get excited with the smallest sighting, but this was something extraordinary for me. To see a bird like this in flight is wonderful, but to see it this close is something special. This is one reason why I love nature so much.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature! We just finished the video documentary on the amazing intelligence of crows. If you didn't see it then you missed something great. Today we bring you our favorite nature site for this week. Take a look.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Random Fascinations

I decided to show you some random stuff I found today. This is a very good thing because I originally planned on making each of these an individual post. Instead I'm going to take the lazy way out.

The bird you see above is about the size of a sparrow. I'm guessing that it probably is some kind of sparrow, or at least is maybe related. What I find interesting about this bird is its yellow shoulder marks. And I know I've seen this type of bird somewhere before, but after a preliminary search I decided I'm too lazy right now tofind its identity.

So why am I bringing you these geese? They are just two geese standing on top of Carpenter Lake Dam. Well, What we have here are geese doing what geese do best. These poop machines are showing why so many people around here dislike them.

I still like them though because rain always cleans the dam and they don't fill this nature park too much with their droppings. My friends the geese. They love what they do.

 S is for snake, but after about one tenth of a second I knew this was not. What it is is a twig that looks like an S. So S is really for Sharkbytes because it was her that first looked for letters in nature, and now I do it too when I see something even close. Go visit her blog when you're done here.

My last little prize for you today is this little chipmunk. This is my first chipmunk picture of the year! This little fella thought he could hide from me, but no little critter can long evade the watchful gaze of an Everyday Adventurer.

That's right. I can watch them like a hawk. (That's a clue.) Keep watching!

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Woodland Cardinal

I almost forgot about this cardinal that I found at one of my favorite nature parks. This place I visited was actually the very first nature park I've ever been to, and it's still one I like more than most.

The cardinal was sitting in a tree right out at the parking lot. I saw it almost as soon as I got out of my truck. I took a lot of pictures of this bird, but the day was a bit gloomy so this is the best I got. I didn't want to leave this beauty out though.

The odd part was that after getting these pictures of the cardinal right off the bat I didn't see anything else on my trip through this park. It 's about a two mile walk to the back of the park and out again.

It wasn't a bad day or anything like that. that's just the way it is at this park. I usually don't see much wildlife there. Sometimes I hit the jackpot though. The best thing about the place is the walk. I just enjoy it so much walking through there, and there are no other people around.

I think I usually see at least one animal there, but I've also had some of my greatest encounters there too. It's the place where six baby raccoons came up to me in the most friendly manner I've ever seen. That encounter ended with me running about a third of a mile to get away from them. It was for their own safety.

But this time it was just a relaxed trip with this sighting of a cardinal. Nice and quiet. It's what I like about this place, and nature in general.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Battling Woodpeckers 2

Yeah, I know, these pictures are not very good. I even had to fix up two of them a little bit. what they are really here for though is to show you the further battle of these two woodpeckers. You can see by the ruffled feathers of the one on the left that it was pretty worked up about something.

These birds flew away from the walking trail about twenty feet to this tree where they continued their fight. They chased each other around this tree back and forth. The pictures were very hard for me to get because I was looking right into the Sun. It needed to be done because this was a very exciting event.

This second one shows the other bird a little better. She doesn't seem to be quite as ruffled up as the other one, but in the next few pictures both of them look a little rough. I wish I knew what they were fighting over.

There are woodpeckers all over this forest, and they all have homes all through here too. It may have been a dispute over territory. I've read that even males and females will fight over food, even when there's plenty. These appear to be both female.

I had a bit better position here. The birds were completely ignoring me so I soon began to wonder if they might also be ignoring any predator that might come along. There are plenty of those in this forest as well. It's not a safe place for two fighting birds.

Here they are both ruffled up just a bit. And what is it I began to hear in the distance? It's the call of a hawk! I hoped these birds would decide to break off their fight and listen to the approaching danger. Hawks love this forest as much as I do. Plenty of small animals. And this hawk sounded like a big one.

I began to suspect that maybe the birds were hiding from the hawk instead of fighting, but then I remembered their fight in the air when I first saw them. The hawk was circling very close now to this small forest. The birds quickly disappeared, and I had more adventures to discover. I wondered what I might see next.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Battling Woodpeckers

This post will have to be a two parter because there are too many pictures and these birds did this all in two parts. If you look closely at this first picture you will see two female downy woodpeckers. They are females because the lack of red on the back of their heads.

When I first saw them they were in the air fighting only about six feet off the ground, very low or about the height of an adult human. I wasn't sure if they really liked each other or were really angry at each other until I could find that red spot, or lack of red. The lack told me what they were up to.

In the picture the two birds still seemed to be staying close to each other and watching the other very warily.Each kept circling around their tree and trying to get into a good place to get an advantage over her opponent.

At one point they were both on the same tree. Look very close. At the time, I was sure the bird behind the tree here was a male because of the way she kept flapping her wings. I thought it wa a male making a mating display for his new girlfriend, but boy was I wrong. I guess this was more likely a display of aggression.

The bird in front was just trying to avoid the fury of the second bird. Here she is trying to look around and see what her attacker is doing. All of this happened about 6 paces in front of me. The pictures aren't the best only because the birds were moving so fast.

So what do you think? Let me know if you think I'm wrong? Maybe I just missed the red head of a male. maybe this really is a display of avian amour and not feathered fury. I've been wrong plenty of times before. but maybe I'm completely right.

More pictures of this fight are coming tomorrow.

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