Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Little Flowers

Sometimes there's not really a story behind something I take a picture of. I was walking along and I happened to take a liking to this patch of flowers, so I took several pictures of it. Google+ did some automatic enhancements to it, which I'm not sure I think is a good thing to do to a person's pictures, but that's what they did.

I only have this one picture today because the rest were close to identical. You see one and you see 'em all. Another thing Google+ did was make an animation of several of these pictures. It came out so good that I thought about sharing that, but then I remembered how much of a pain animations can be for anyone trying to read a post.

I usually would be back here with a new post on Friday, but I'm going to be pretty busy the rest of the week, so I won't have another post up until Monday. I'd just write one early, but I wouldn't have time for any of the rest of the blogging stuff, so I'm just going to wait. Until then I'll be getting back here to read comments and do as much other stuff as I can. Talk to you later.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Just A Moment With A Robin

I had big plans. I had big plans to go out on the only sunny day of the week to get some great pictures. The only problem? Bugs! That's my excuse. As soon as I got out the door I was attacked by swarms of bugs. I hated it!

I did my best to get some pictures right here at home, because I've been getting some good stuff here lately, but those rotten bugs quickly chased me back into the house. I wanted to exterminate the lot of them. Bugs!

Eventually I decided that I might be overreacting, so I went back outside. I wasn't overreacting. Even though I was still being terrorized and tormented by the mighty swarms of bugs, I decided to get a few pictures anyway. That's how I ended up with these pictures of this robin.

At first the robin just wouldn't stay still, so I got this nice little action shot if the bird running to its next destination. I have to tell you now that I'm not claiming these are the best pictures ever to appear on the internet though. That kind of pictures just aren't my style anyway.

I try to get decent pictures, but what I'm really trying to do is capture the moment. I try to capture something I can talk about, even if what I say ends up having nothing to do with the pictures I'm sharing. How's that for logic?

The bird finally stopped for a little break. I got several pictures of the robin standing in this one spot. Unfortunately it was right between these light pole cables. A little cropping made the pictures slightly better, but still not the perfect shots I was imagining while getting them.

Soon the bird was off again, running to an as yet unknown destination. I like watching robins run along the ground. They seem almost as comfortable on the ground as they are in the air. You can't say that about many kinds of birds.

It seemed as soon as I started getting pictures of this robin it was all over. The bird ran too fast for me to continue. So this is what I have for you today. A few pictures in these short moments of a robin's life. Talk to you later.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rabbits And Other Stuff

I always feel like a happy little kid when I see a rabbit. I want to run over and pick it up and hold it. of course the adult in me tells me immediately to forget those ideas. I guess it's a good thing most rabbits are pretty fast.

You ever notice that many of us would like to pick up and cuddle a rabbit, but we'd never consider it if we saw a lizard? Lizards just don't seem very cuddly, do they? Rabbits on the other hand...

My uncle used to raise rabbits. He kept them in a giant pen out behind his house. I remember him showing me the setup he had. When we got out there I saw that the rabbits had been digging holes in the ground in there. I asked my uncle how he kept them from digging out and escaping.

He explained that the sides of the pen actually went down several feet into the ground. A rabbit will only dig a certain distance down with their holes. All you have to do is go down a little farther with the sides of the pen.

Many of the rabbits were down in the holes while we were out there, so I guess I only saw part of them. Rabbits have to live somewhere, so holes are pretty good. I think my uncle finally let them all go eventually. I never really saw them too many more times, so I'm not sure what happened to them.

My uncle and my dad used to keep the strangest animals around. My dad usually stuck to farm animals, but I wouldn't have been surprised to visit my uncle one time and find out he had a kangaroo or something like that.

I'm a little different than them. i like animals, but I keep most of them at a distance. I like having a dog around, and I've had cats, but anything more is just extra work. I get my fill of other animals by taking pictures of the wild ones.

But sometimes I think some of them sense I'm their friend. I've had all sorts of wild animals just walk right up to me. It's funny to find out that they're just as curious as I am. If you've ever had a deer try to coax you into coming closer then you know something weird is going on.

So there you have it. My post today was slightly different. But aren't they all? I told you I talk about whatever I'm thinking at the time. I gotta say though, that post the other day about chasing a tree was a stretch. Talk to you later.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Elusive Blue Jay

Some days it's hard to make myself go out to a nature park. It's not for any reason other than there is so much nature right outside my door. Just the other day I was sitting out front with my camera and this blue jay came flying over for me to take a few dozen pictures.

I can't tell you how hard it was to narrow the good pictures down to three. I had a dozen until just before I wrote this post. I chose these three because they each had a special quality I thought was good for sharing.

It was such a strange occurrence for me when this blue jay came over because I've almost never had any luck getting pictures of them in the past. In years past I've documented right here on this blog my feeble attempts at getting pictures of these birds. I still remember one time how I was so excited to get one terrible picture of a blue jay's tail.

This bird in my pictures today just flew over and landed on the road in front of me. It was like it wanted me to see it there. It didn't take long before it flew up onto the branch it's perching on here. I knew even then that I was going to get my pictures.

I did have to get up off my chair to move to a better position. The Sun isn't always my friend out there. I had to walk over to the middle of the road to begin taking my pictures. The blue jay sat there really nicely letting me take all the pictures I wanted.

So it seems that the blue jays in Iowa are either friendlier than those in Michigan or they just personally like me better. Whatever the real reason, I'm glad this one bird was so patient.

I'm just glad there wasn't the big chase I would have had in the past. It was always so hard to follow these birds for what seemed like hours only to come away with absolutely nothing. I can't even remember the sheer amount of times I went home frustrated, even though I had plenty of other good pictures.

But that's all changed now. I have a feeling my luck has now changed with these birds. Now if only the rain we've been having would let up so I can go back out and get some more pictures. It's looking like Thursday will be the only good day for a couple of weeks. I'll have to make sure I don't miss it. Talk to you next time.

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Leaves

I'm a little late with these pictures, but not by much. A few posts ago I showed you some blurry photos of this very same tree branch with some new leaf buds on it. What? You don't see the branch? That's because the big ol' leaves are in the way!

That's right! we have leaves on our trees around here now. That means we're special. Or it could mean that it really is spring now. The horrible heat wave we're having could be another clue to that. Luckily, the heat wave is just now ending.

These leaves made it through pretty well though. I was able to get some much better pictures too, once the camera had something to actually focus on. I probably could have zoomed in a bit closer, but I'm pretty satisfied with what I have here.

Now this is the part where I would usually tell you how I stalked and snuck up on the subject of my pictures, but I have to say that it just wasn't very difficult this time. I really did try. I crept around the tree, stuck my head out to see if they would run, and then eased out into the open.

Nothing. No movement at all. They just don't seem very afraid of me. Oh sure, the branches rocked back and forth in the wind just a little bit. But that's not what I would call a reaction. Maybe I'm just losing my touch.

Now that I think of it, I don't really remember any trees or plants shaking their branches in panic and running around in fear. Ever. So maybe I haven't lost my touch at all. Honestly, I didn't even know I had a touch until now. I guess we learn something new every day.

There's a bit less going on in the background of this last picture. That makes it a bit easier to see the leaves. I like how they have a lot of red in them. These new leaves are also quite a bit shinier than they will be as they grow. I never really paid much attention to those little details until now.

I haven't been out to take a close look at these leaves for a few days now. Maybe they look different. Maybe the red part has already turned green. Maybe some of the shine has been lost already. I'm sure there are some differences, especially after a day and a half of rain.

So it's back out to get more pictures for me, not just leaves. So I'll be back next time with something new and exciting. Talk to you later.

Friday, May 17, 2013


I've seen a lot of rabbits around here, but I've never gotten any pictures until now. They really like to come out at night when you can't really get any pictures of them. And most of the time I see them in the day, I'm out driving without my camera. They're tricky that way.

But this lazy little guy decided he wanted to rest for awhile not too far from where I was already taking pictures. This is the part where I'd usually tell you that it was all because he wanted to be a star, but I really can't do that in this case.

You see, even though he was right out there in the open, he was still sticking mostly to the shadows. That doesn't really make for very good pictures with those kind of conditions. Not at all! I think the experience was successful because of Isabella.

She was the one who spotted this little rabbit first. You'd think she would have been jumping up and down barking at it, only to scare it away. No, not her! You see, she is a hunting dog at heart. When she sees a wild animal she gets really quiet and she slyly concentrates on her target. Isabella stalks wild animals just like a cat would.

That whole routine helps a lot when I'm trying to get pictures. She doesn't move very much, so I can steady my camera pretty well when I take my pictures. I don't think I've ever had another dog that helped me with my pictures like she does. Honestly, she's the only dog I've had since I started taking pictures, but that's beside the point. She does things right.

Anyway, there was still the problem of this rabbit being in the shadows. That's why I didn't see it first. When I finally was able to locate it with the camera, I had to block out all the surrounding sunny areas, which isn't always easy. As you can see though, the pictures came out okay.

To tell you the truth, I did have to enhance the pictures slightly. They were a little grainy because of the surrounding light and shadow. I always open them in Gimp when I need to do this. I've learned to do only the fixes that are necessary, without altering them too much. Pictures end up looking better that way.

That's all there really was to the event with this rabbit. Getting pictures of any wild animal always happens so fast. I get as many as I can before the critter takes off and hides. There are rare cases though when I get to take as many as I want, so I end up stopping just to give the poor scared creature a break. It was about half of each with this rabbit.

Wow. This post really ended quickly for me. I always want to go on and on, but I know there's only so much to say in each post. So I guess what I'm really trying to say is that I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dandy Lions

Have you ever had days when you were just plain bored? That's how I've felt recently. I have plenty to do, but none of it seems good enough. I want something more, and I don't know what that is. I think this is maybe a result of the lack of my head medicine. Who knows? It's kind of frustrating.

I cover some of this boredom by writing on my blogs. I could actually be writing a new post here every day again, but I'm not sure very many readers are ready to keep up with that yet. And there's also the problem that I'll inevitably have to take more of that medicine again. That will slow me down a bit if it is indeed part of this problem. It's all kind of interesting if you really think about it.

Anyway, let's get to the pictures I have for you today. Above is a patch of dandelions from my front yard. They're sprouting up all over around here now. I really love spring. You might notice that there is plenty of gravel there. I don't really have much of a lawn, just patches of grass, weeds and dandelions. That's how it works around here. But let's get back to these dandelions.

My next picture is the same patch of dandelions. I saw those big beautiful dandelions out there and decided to get a few pictures, but I was being lazy and waited until later in the day to get those pictures. By the time I got out there the dandelions had all closed up. In fact, I could actually see them closing as I was taking the pictures. Pitiful, just pitiful.

So my answer to that was to wait until the next day to get some better pictures. This time I didn't wait all day until I went out. I hurried out there first thing before these little flowers all went to sleep. My very first picture today is the result of this. The same patch of dandelions from different times of the day.

Let's change the subject again. I like doing that. I've been uploading all of my pictures to Google+. I think a little update is in order. I discovered that G+ actually has a monthly bandwidth limit, and I came up right against it. I can't upload any more pictures, even here, for a month. Luckily I have ways of getting around this, so I'll still have plenty of pictures for new posts.

I also have so many good pictures to share that I can't blog fast enough to share them all right now. Like I said, I'm not sure many people are ready to keep up with that yet. And I don't want to burn myself out either. I've only been back this well for a short time now. I'm getting a good fill of nature though.

And so we come to the end of my post. I can't just ramble on forever, no matter how much I'd like to. So it's time to go. What a great day! I think I'll go outside. Talk to you later.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Those Yellow Eyes

I can't believe it took me so long to do it, but I finally found the secret. I've had these birds practically swarming around here for awhile now, and I wasn't sure exactly what they were. I have to admit that I didn't think about it too much because it seemed so easy. But nothing is ever easy, is it?

I've been hearing these birds in the trees, with there oh so familiar, but ugly, sound. I've watched them fly from tree to tree. I've watched them dominate the area around me with their numbers. I've watched them walk their funny little walk along the grass. And I've taken it for granted that I just knew what kind of bird they are.

Yes, it seemed so easy at the time. But I was wrong. I knew they were familiar, but I wasn't quite getting it right. To be fair, it's been three long years since I've done a post about these shiny eyed black birds. So much has happened since then.

Okay, now that I've thoroughly driven you crazy I'll reveal just what kind of bird we have here today. Have you guessed it? This bird is a common grackle. It's those yellow eyes that give away its identity. I mistakenly kept calling it a cowbird, but something kept pecking away at the back of my mind telling me I was wrong. Back to those yellow eyes. Cowbirds don't have them.

That's when I hit the internet to find out exactly what I had. My search eventually brought me back right here to my own blog. It was here that I found the identity of my prize of the day. I have actually been able to use my own site as a field guide. Cool, huh?

Going back to my old post about these birds has brought so many odd thoughts to the surface. Do any of you remember when little Alice was my sometimes hiking companion? Alice has now been replaced by Isabella. Isabella has the same curiosity, but she talks much less. And they both like to chase rabbits. Some things never change.

I've realized how good it can be to sometimes take a look back at the things you've done. I like going back and randomly reading some of my old blog posts. You should try it too. We can all learn from our past.

I'm never really impressed with the things I've done until I take a look back at them as an outsider. I write a humble little blog, but not many people have the ambition or drive to do such a thing. Some of you do it too. You should be proud of yourselves. I am.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Birds And Hard Drive Space

I've been in the process of uploading all of my nature photos since 2008 to Google+. That has been sometimes hundreds of photos a day from then till now, especially the first few years. It's really going to save a lot of hard drive space for me when I'm finished.

The best thing is that I have checked several times, and as long as I stick to the size limit, I can upload as much as I ever want. The only little problem is that I forgot to set the right size in the settings in Picasa on my laptop for the uploads, so those photos are costing me. I'll have to correct that.

Okay, that's enough for the geek fun today. I really can't help it sometimes. It just comes bursting to the surface if I don't keep my guard up. See? I can't stop! Nature. I gotta think about nature. These birds are what I intended to talk about. Are you wondering what they are? 

Many of you have guessed that they are mourning doves, and you have indeed guessed correctly. I checked their necks for little black collars, and they have none, so they are not Eurasian collared doves, which look very similar. Do a Google or Bing image search. You'll see the difference.

When I saw these two in the far off tree I was hoping for something a bit more exotic, but my eyes fooled me, and they were just mourning doves. They looked yellow to my eyes for some reason. The camera reveals all though.

Maybe I'm giving you the wrong impression though. I'm still excited about these mourning doves. I really didn't expect them to be mourning doves, that's why I mentioned the others. So it's good to know these are here. The only problem is that I'm coming to the end of my post. I could go on, but I'm sure we all have things to do. Like me. I'm eagerly waiting to read the cool comments you're likely to leave for me. Talk to you again then.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The True Sign Of Spring

I've been waiting for this moment for a long time now; well, at least since it got warm around here anyway. I've been watching for the leaf buds to come out on the trees, but I gotta say they weren't in any hurry at all.

Last year we had full leaves on the trees at the end of February. Now it's already May, and we're just seeing the first signs of life on these trees. Isn't it interesting how much things vary from year to year?

Can you imagine how proud I must look sitting here at my computer sharing these out of focus pictures with you? Sitting here with a big wide smile on my face. Yup.

I even used manual focus to try to get these to come out okay, but that didn't seem to help at all. These buds were the ones behind the buds I was pointing the camera at. You don't want to see those. Trust me, this is the best I got.

With the combination of my camera not seeing the right thing and my eyes not being quite good enough to see through the view screen, I'm not too good at taking pictures of small things very often.

Still, these were the best I got, and they are the first buds of the year for me. I'm posting them for that reason alone. Yup, I'm proud of them.

Now you know why I don't take pictures of plants very often. They just don't hold still as long as animals do, at least not for me. I say it must be the camera. Oh sure, other people get better results with the same equipment, but I still say it's all the camera's fault.

And besides, the pictures aren't what's important with my posts anyway. It's the stories. The pictures are just here to illustrate my strange little stories. Sure, I like the pictures, but I like the stories even more. Words are how we communicate. Anybody can point and shoot, but words are how we express our creativity.

I love being a storyteller. The stories don't have to be fine art. All they have to do is give a bit of entertainment and then be forgotten. The words will usually be quickly lost, but the feelings they give will linger throughout the day.

And even with all of the warm weather, spring wasn't quite really here. The plants coming back to life are the first true signs of spring. This is what I'll remember for the rest of the year, the first day I saw green on the trees.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Predictable Robin

An American robin is always easy to spot. Any time you see a bird wandering around on the ground around here, you know it's got to be a robin. I almost never see any other birds on the ground. They're usually perched in a tree or some other high up place. Not with robins.

In most years I would have already given you several posts featuring robins, but this is actually my first robin post of the year. I've seen plenty of them, but I haven't even taken their pictures up until now. It has been all because of the medicine I take for my head. It takes the pain away, but also stifles almost all of my creativity.

So, why am I writing a lot now all of a sudden? I'm embarrassed to say it, but it's because of pure laziness. I needed to refill my prescription when I went into town to go to the grocery store, but I forgot. When I realized what had happened I just didn't feel like going back.

After a few days my head began to clear up. The good thing is that the pain isn't as bad as before, so I'm going to limit how much of the medicine I take to see if that works better. Neither extreme situation is tolerable for me. I don't want the pain, but I also don't want the frustration I had while fully on this medicine. So I'm going to try to be somewhere in the middle.

Right now instead of wanting to write, but feeling myself being held back, I feel the need to write pulling me along in a tidal wave. I have been writing obsessively for the past week. It will eventually slow down at least a little bit, but I'm happy with it all right now.

At least now I can write about this robin and the words just flow right out. I can't even describe how much I missed being able to do that. My usual writing style is that I just think and type at the same time. Everything that goes onto the page is the instant thought that I just had. I try not to take much time to think about things. I just type my first thoughts. It works well that way.

That's how I can have my first pictures of a beautiful American robin, and then not actually say much about him. I'm really still thinking about him, but there are so many more thoughts coming through that I have to write them first. I hope it's just as good this way. Talk to you later.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bratty Ratty

I've been in a bit of a snit for the past few days. Because of that, I took a day off from everything, even blogging. What got me pouting like a bratty little child? It's that mean old winter! It just won't go away.

It was looking like spring was here all the way, but winter came back to dump a few more inches of snow on us once again. I was told that it hasn't done anything like this around here in the month of May since 1947.

So we get another week of cold weather before it's going to warm up again. And I have to look out my window at the wet, slushy snow all around my yard. One of these days spring is going to get here to stay. I just know it.

Even with the cold weather, I'm seeing birds coming around from all over. The big bird in my dark pictures is one of three turkey vultures that were flying around above my house. They come around here pretty often. There have even been big predator birds hunting right on my property.

The thing I like about living here is that even if I don't feel like going out to a nature park I can wander my own property to find plenty of nature. It's a big place. My dad really did choose a good place to live. He had been trying to get me to move here for a long time. I'm glad I finally did.

Okay, I think that's enough for today. I think I'll go back to grumbling about the cold weather. I'm glad it'll be better in a few short days.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Junky Junco

I tried. I really did. I tried to get some pictures of this junco in a more nature filled setting, but it was just having none of that at all. I originally spotted this little bird on a tree near my house, where it would have made just a perfect picture, but the junco just didn't want to stay put.

It then flew over into  some weeds where I thought it might be okay, but not as good as it was while it was on that tree, nope. As soon as I aimed my camera at this little creep (Is that too mean to call it a creep?), it flew away once again.

But then it flew over to a table where my dad used to keep various pieces of junk. I've never really had the heart to clean it up. My dad really loved his junk. The first thing he would do after buying a piece of land was to compile a junk pile.

He usually had plans for all of that junk, but a lot of those plans would fall by the wayside when he would come up with new plans. I should say that when his plans would come together, he would come up with something brilliant. He was working on some very good alternative energy experiments before he died, the only one finished was the outdoor wood furnace I've shown you.

But with all of those other plans comes a lot of old junk that was useless to anyone but him, and this little junco. This bird seemed to love the old junk on that table. It said proudly on an old piece of wood that was full of doorknobs. Don't ask me why anyone would install half a dozen doorknobs in one piece of wood. I have no idea. 

But once that junco got there it seemed to me that table of junk had a use after all. It turns out that it was a good place to rest for that little bird, and a good place for me to get its picture a few times. I guess in the end that it's a pretty good deal.

These are actually the best pictures of a junco I've ever had. Even though it would have been nicer to get them in a more natural setting, I'm still glad I got them. Talk to you next time.