Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Scream of The Birds

Yesterday I was sonically assaulted by blackbirds. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before, so I wasn't exactly prepared for it. I had to move fast. That's the only way I can say it in so few words, but there's more to the story, so let me tell you exactly what happened.

I was sitting there watching something terrible on TV when suddenly I heard a horribly loud high pitched screaming coming from outside. It could have been some kind of machine ready to explode or maybe a gigantic tea kettle going off, but I knew immediately that it was not either of those. It was birds, thousands of them.

It was the sound of very many birds singing, but I don't think I have ever heard so many of them at the same time. I looked out the window and I saw that every tree in town was covered with them. There must have been hundreds of thousands of them out there. I've never seen or heard so many birds in my life. My very first instinct was to run and grab my camera, which I did.

After I got back I began taking pictures. I didn't take many because I knew they'd all be too similar. And I also remembered to get some video, which interrupted my picture taking. I'm really glad I got the video because my pictures are terrible and they don't come anywhere close to showing the sheer number of birds.

But what kind of birds were these? After reviewing my pictures and video, I saw that they were blackbirds. I always thought that there would only be one kind of bird in a flock, but there were at least two different kinds of blackbird here.

Most of these birds were the standard Red-Winged Blackbirds that I've seen many times before. But as you can see in the circled area in the picture above, some had yellow heads. These are called, predictably, Yellow-Headed Blackbirds. I've never seen this kind before this. Pretty cool!

And now here's my video. I have to warn you before you watch this video that you will hear the loud scream of the birds when you click that button. So if you're in a place that needs quiet, then maybe you should wait until later to watch it. Even so, watch it now anyway, because it'll be more fun that way. So this is my newest episode of Rat TV. Let's see if you can watch the whole thing without turning the sound down.

I included these last two pictures just to try to give you the best view I can. This one above has some of the birds in flight. I think that's cool in pictures. I'm not sure any of the pictures are what I was hoping for.

Maybe I should have processed the pictures a bit to give them a bit of zing. I could have brightened them up a bit or done something even cooler. But I was in kind of a hurry to share this post with you. So you get the raw version this time. Maybe I'll make a special post with one fixed up picture just to see what it might look like. Maybe.

The darkness in the pictures is because it was a dark and wet day. We just had another blizzard the night before, and the temperatures were now too high for the snow to remain. It was still snowing while all the snow on the ground was melting away. I think spring may be finally here. (I keep saying that!)

This has been a longer post than I intended. I hope you were interested enough to be able to read it all. Even if you couldn't I'm glad you stopped by. And with that, I'll talk to you later!

Friday, April 13, 2018

This Is How I See Deer

It took me a few minutes of fumbling with my phone camera, but I finally got these pictures of the last two deer in a herd of about eight. I wasn't going to bother, but it looked like I had lots of time to get the pictures.

I saw the first couple of deer crossing the road in the distance ahead, so I slowed down the truck and finally stopped so they could cross the road. As I sat there waiting I realized I should probably at least try to get some pictures.

This was actually the second big herd I saw along this road on this trip. This was the first one I had to stop for. When I finally got the camera working I got these last two. Usually, I get nothing, so I never try. But I see so many.

After running alongside the road after they crossed, the deer jumped over the fence and quickly disappeared. Even though I sat there for quite some time this time, the crossing deer usually disappear very quickly. And once they started it was no different this time.

I see so many animals here, but they are usually on these busy highways. This road doesn't look like much in my first picture, but the cars go very fast here and it is a very dangerous place. This is the road my old family farm is on, so I know it well.

The road is curvy and full of hills, so you don't see other cars coming until they are right up on you. Stopping here is not the safest thing to do because the other cars like to drive way too fast here. It's been that way as long as I can remember, even before the road was paved.

For some reason, the animals only come out along the roads around here. I rarely see them anywhere but near these dangerous roads. This is why I don't get many pictures of them. This is not a safe place for animals or humans if you're not careful.

But any opportunity for some good(bad) animal pictures should be taken. So I took this chance. And I was able to share at least a couple of these deer with you. Hopefully, I'll have more chances this year. Now that it's warming up and the chaos of setting up my new business is winding down, maybe I'll begin to post more often again. We'll see.

I'll talk to you later.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Did You Think It Was Over?

Did you think winter was over? Maybe it is over where you are, but winter doesn't seem to want to let go here. These scenes in my pictures are from two days ago right in the middle of another big snowstorm.

I was just getting ready to do a few things around here, but the snow stops me from executing my evil plans. "Evil," you ask? Well, if you call cutting down a bunch of trees evil, then my plans are as evil as can be.

I also came within a day of calling them out to bring me a truck full of gravel to spread around the front of my property. Now I think I'll wait until I'm sure winter is over as much as it can be.

But there's good news! I think we will see the end of winter here in less than a week. The temperatures are getting ready to shoot up about twenty or thirty degrees in a few days. I don't think it will be able to snow anymore after that happens. We'll see if I'm right.

So while I'm waiting, I'm not really doing much nature stuff. I'm a little distracted anyway because my new business that I've mentioned in the past is going full swing right now. After months of setting things up, I've finally begun operations. This is the fun part.

Even though the snow is kind of beautiful to look at, when you read this the snow should be mostly melted. It didn't last long. It's still pretty cold though. And I did at least get a few trees cut down before the snow started.

But I have even better news. As soon as it warms up the very nearby river should be just about ready to flood. It's almost over the banks now, but as soon as they release a bit of water from the dam up north several towns here will be flooded. Mine sits a little too high for water to get in here, but the roads will be blocked by water almost all around. The back way will be clear though.

I'll try to get some pictures of the high water as soon as I can. I have a few bad pictures ready, but I'll see if I can get some better ones. Then I'll get some even better ones if it does flood. Don't miss it. It should be interesting. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, March 23, 2018

My Creek

In my last post I promised to show you a little bit more of my property this time. This time I'm going to share a few pictures of the creek that lies right on the southern edge of my land. This small creek divides my land from the farm down the road.

I'm not sure you can see from the pictures just how deep the creek lies at the bottom of this gully. I guess it would be called a gully. It's really deep whatever it's called. The sides are very steep so I don't go down there to the water very often.

My neighbor and I shared a garden at the back end of my property a few years ago. He did most of the work. I supplied the land. We decided to put a small pump in the water down there that would supply water to the garden. I sent him down there to place the pump in the water. He had a devil of a time trying to climb back out. I'm not sure he's been back down there ever since.

I've been down there a few times. I took better routes to get back out of there, but it's never been easy so I generally stay out. The other side is even steeper so the creek is basically just mine. There aren't any houses nearby the other side anyway.

There is only a small amount of water running through my creek. That's actually not too bad. Most creeks around this area have dried up years ago. I see old creek beds like this just about everywhere I go around here.

Rivers and creeks here work a bit different than they do back in Michigan where I used to live. There the waterways sat in gentle dips in the surrounding land. Here the running water cuts out the land straight down from where it began. Most creeks and rivers here sit at the far bottom of steep gulleys like this one.

I took these pictures right before another big snowstorm here. Winter doesn't want to give up. The snow is mostly melted again after that, but we'll see what happens in the upcoming days. I do think spring might be finally here all the way this time.

I've been out walking my property to see which trees I need to cut down. I love trees but some of them are in the wrong places. I try to leave most of these near the creek up because they keep some of the wind from getting too bad here. It also helps that I'm surrounded by mountainous hills on two other sides.

I'm going to try to get back out to the nature parks for my next post. I'm feeling a little better, so it's time to get out and start moving more. Between time for clearing trees I'll hopefully be exploring a few nature trails looking for good pictures to share. Maybe I'll find something fun to show you. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Out Back

I sometimes forget that there is a lot of nature very close to me, so after remembering this, I decided to get a little more local with my pictures this time. These pictures today are from the very back end of my property.

One year my dad planted the whole field back here with potatoes. He had a nearby neighbor help with that. The neighbor had no idea what to do with so many potatoes because he is from a country that doesn't really eat potatoes very much. Being Irish, and from around here, my dad loved potatoes more than any other food. He ate them all.

I've been letting things grow a bit back there because that's the way I like it.Most of the junk is left over from my dad. He loved junk. He always found creative ways to make just about anything useful.

A couple of years before I got here my dad had cows back here. He eventually herded them all to a farm he had in South Dakota, so I never saw them. They were probably all turned into steaks by the time I got here.

I don't do much with the land out here. That's mostly because I grew up in the city. I'm used to a lot less land. I don't want to try to be a farmer so I let the land go kind of wild. I do cut a lot of wood though. There aren't lots of trees in this part of the country, but there are plenty for what I need.

I mentioned my dad a couple of times because I can't help but think of him whenever I walk around the far ends of this property. This was his place. I don't know that he particularly loved this property more than any other he had, but it was his. It was where he chose to live his last days. So it will always make me think of him.

I'm still not posting much because I injured myself right after my last post. All I was doing was moving furniture around in my living room and I hurt something in my back. The pain made me sleep for two straight days. Now I don't feel it unless I move too quickly. So I'm staying kind of close to home until I feel just a little better. I'm almost there.

I've only shown you a little bit of this place out here. Since I can really only get around close to home right now, I'll show you more of this place in my next post or two. I try not to reveal too much about my own stuff because that's kind of boring, but I have some cool nature stuff out here. I'll share more of it when I talk to you later.

Friday, March 2, 2018

A Snowy New Adventure

I finally have some new pictures from a brand new everyday adventure. It was only a little difficult walking through the deep snow, and only because I'm not used to doing it. But I had such a great time.

When I got out there I remembered how much I love going to the nature parks. Some of them are still closed around here until spring, but they'll be opening up very soon. It's warming up fast, and I think the snow will not last much longer.

I also have the interesting experiment in photo editing for you that I've been doing lately. I decided to take these snowy photos and put them through the editor and see if I can improve them a bit. Let's see how I did.

The top photo is the one I changed a little with some small edits. The second one above is the unedited photo. I brought out the detail in the whole picture, especially the snow. Now you can see all of the footprints and other details in the snow. And I also brought out a lot of detail and some color in the trees and other vegetation.

I think overall the newer edited picture is easier to look at. I saw the detail while I was out there. Now you can see it too.

So, what do you think? Do you like the first or second picture more, and why?

I did the same exact thing here with these next two pictures. I saved my exact editing process from the first photo and used it on this one as well. So you can see the results in the picture above. The last picture is the unedited version.

You might be able to appreciate these last ones more after clicking on them to see the larger versions. I like the detail I made with this one, but I'm not sure about the deeper shadows. Maybe I should have turned those shadows down a bit. They look nice on the original full-size unbloggerized photos that I can't share though.

I won't torture you with the details of my photo edits every time. I just thought it might be interesting this time to do this with some new pictures. So enjoy this type of post while it's here. I may do it again when it's appropriate, but I'll go back to regular stuff next.

And I'm not quite ready for my incredible stunt that I hinted at in my last post. I thought about doing it on this last outing, but in the end, I decided to wait until some of the snow melts. I think that won't be much longer. I hope you'll like this stunt as well as I think I will. Maybe some of you will try to duplicate it once I do it. I hope so. I wish I could tell you what it is! Soon...

 I'll talk to you later.



Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Current And Beyond

As you look at the picture of my dog Isabella, (such a wonderful dog), you might be able to understand why I haven't been posting anything. If you haven't guessed, it's because this picture is what I have to post. I've been kind of unsuccessful at getting good new nature material to post.

Every bit of ground surface around here seems to be covered in super-slippery ice, which I encountered the hard way the other day. It didn't feel very good when I crashed to the ground.

But today I was finally able to dig out my ice cleats from their elusive hiding place in my garage. It took me forever and a day to find them. So I'm going to go back out there with some good traction attached to the bottoms of my feet this time. Hopefully, I can have something good by the end of the week.

And finally, I have a cool new idea for a nature post that maybe nobody else has ever tried. I'm not going to reveal what it is until it happens because I want to be the first one to do it. And I'm not sure how entertained all of you will be by it, but I will find it to be revolutionary. I'll reveal more when I actually do this amazing stunt.

So with that, I'll talk to you later.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Another Look At My Glorious Past

The weather around here has not improved at all. We've gone back into the deep freeze again. I think today might be the day we finally warm back up a bit. I probably could have gone out in the deep cold, but to be honest I just plain didn't feel like it. I've really felt the cold a little bit extra this year and I don't want to bother with it. It's been making me extra grumpy and not fun to be around anyway.

So I decided to dig around in some of my old pictures again. This time I only did two, but I also included the originals so you can see the difference in my editing. The originals probably didn't need to be edited, but I'm just having a little fun. Both versions are here forever.

The picture at the top is my edited version and this second one is the original. You can see that this one is a little bit duller than the newer one. Both good enough pictures, but I think the top one is a little better. What do you think?

The same goes for these next two pictures. The top is the edited version and the bottom is the original. Like the first picture, I fixed up the shadows a bit and I clarified the picture. You can see that the one above has a little extra sparkle. With this one, I also straightened it out a little.

Editing these pictures indulges my love of nature and my love of computer technology at the same time. And looking at these makes me want to get back out and explore a bit. Now that it'll be warming up a little I think I'm going to try out one of my nature parks.

Maybe in my next post I'll be back to my nature loving self with lots of brand new pictures. They'll look snowy, but snow is good too. I'm excited just thinking about being back out there now. And with the warmer weather, I'll be in a little better mood. Now the neighbors don't have to hide from me. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Things I'm Doing Because Of Bad Weather

The weather around here has improved a bit but the effects of the bad weather have lingered. We have such deep snow that some of the roads are not drivable. That keeps me from some of my favorite nature spots. That deep snow now has a hardened sharp crust on the surface that hurts your ankles when you sink down in it. That keeps me from hiking my nature parks. So now I'm not sure what to do for my nature adventures.

Maybe that's all a bit of an excuse, and maybe I'm a little busy with other things too, but I think I'll wait till things improve some more to go out to some of these places. Until then I do have a few ideas. Today I'll bring you one of them.

I've been looking at some of my old pictures from about ten years ago. I miss those times a lot. I decided to revisit a few of them. What I did was put a few pictures in my favorite photo editor and play around a little. Some are very good and some aren't so good. Let's see how you like them.

Some of my changes were kind of subtle, but they really did a lot if you look closely. I guess maybe I should have shared the originals too so you could see the difference. I decided not to do that so even my bad edits might look better.

This one of Carpenter Lake may just be my worst one. I think it looks okay here by itself, but I'm not sure I made it better than the original.

I think this last one looks good, but I may have over-edited it just a little (a lot). I wanted the bridge to stand out more than in the original. I think I accomplished that, but it looks a lot different than the original photo.

I decided to learn a bit about photo editing because I've never thought my pictures measured up to those cool looking professionally done nature pictures I see on the Bing homepage. I know they didn't get the look of those pictures straight out of the camera. Lots of editing had to be done. I want to do it too. Maybe I can eventually make a masterpiece.

This isn't my only idea. I have a pretty good sized nature area that I own myself right outside my house. The first six months that I was here I used this area for my nature photography. It worked out just fine. Maybe I'll share a few pictures of my own property for you for a week or two while I wait for conditions to improve. And there will be other ideas too. I'll talk to you later.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

This Is What A Blizzard Looks Like

It took me long enough to finally come back, but this day we had a huge blizzard was pretty much my only opportunity since my last post to get any pictures. After I thought the deep freeze was over it came right back. It wasn't quite as cold as before, but it was still too cold to go out.

So after several other unrelated misadventures, the weather finally began to improve. Just when I thought I'd head back out to a nature park for a nice winter hike, there was news that we had a terrible blizzard coming. That was the end of my plans.

So on the day of the blizzard, I decided to take a few pictures in spite of this big storm. I had to use my phone to take the pictures because my big camera isn't water resistant. The phone is. I made sure the flash was on so I could capture the falling snowflakes. I didn't anticipate what really happened.

The snow was coming down so much and the wind was blowing so hard that I couldn't see individual snowflakes, and neither could my camera. What you see in the pictures is exactly what I was seeing while I was out there. It wasn't good at all.

I had the wind at my back while I took the pictures, but I had to turn around to get back to the house. If things would have been even a little worse I could have gotten lost just this short distance from my house. Needless to say, I only took a few pictures before I went back inside.

It's now been a few days since this blizzard, but they're just now opening all of the official places, like schools and the nearby freeway, back up. It takes a lot to close down these places here in Iowa. The snow is too deep at the nature parks to go hiking so I'll have to think up something else for my next posts. Luckily it's not going to get very cold again, so maybe the snow will melt quickly. So that's my news for now. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Night and Day

Problems problems. This new year is kicking off with a bang for me. We've been down in the deep freeze around here with record low temperatures. For several days the average temperatures were around -20 Fahrenheit (-29 Celsius). And right in the middle of it all, my computer's hard drive died.

Because of the deep freeze I haven't been able to go out and get any new nature pictures for a new post. So I've just been sitting here waiting for it to get above zero degrees so I can even pretend it's safe to go out for long periods.

And when my hard drive died it took a lot of my important stuff along with it. I had backups for some of it and some things are lost forever. Right now I can't do much of anything until the new hard drive I ordered gets here.

But now the temperatures are beginning to rise just above zero so I'll be able to go back out to my precious nature trails. And my hard drive should be arriving today sometime. So I'll be back up and running(walking) soon.

Until I get everything in order I thought you might enjoy a couple of these pictures I took of my front door window. As you might have guessed by now, this is clearly a frosted over window. I'm sure I didn't have to tell you that part.

The last time I took pictures like this was when I first moved here. They're not much, but they might be better than pictures of my fat old gassy dog. The dog pictures might be fine, but just feel lucky you don't have smellevision. Anyway, these are my super-fantastic pictures for today. I'll talk to you later.