Friday, October 31, 2008

Attack Of The Mutant Crows

I was listening to the radio in my car, and they had a breaking news story. "Mutant Crows Are Attacking People Throughout The Area!"

I coudn't believe what I was hearing. How could something like this happen on Halloween, of all days? Why would crows attack people? What was a mutant crow? Was my radio really on? Let's find out!

At once I looked out the window, and saw them flying around up in the sky. I hoped they weren't coming this way, but then they turned and came right toward me. I have to say, I was still skeptical. But then the massacre began!

They flew down and immediately started landing on people's heads. They began pecking at their skulls! It was horrible! People were running everywhere, but there was nowhere safe from these evil creatures. They seemed to be super intelligent and very organized.

They would fly in groups towards someone, and surround them. Then one would break off from the group and attack. The humans had no chance! The crows were far too intelligent, and they had us outnumbered! They kept on with the attack, and people were falling everywhere, with crows pecking at their heads. The situation was looking bleak, but the worst was still coming!

The crows started ripping people's brains out through their ears. It was a completely disgusting scene! I felt horrible for them. These people were laying there quivering, while the crows seemed to be enjoying an evil holiday meal. How could we end this?

Then someone had an idea, "Let's make a scarecrow!" That was a great idea! Scarecrows were the traditional boogeymen for crows. This would stop them! Everyone that was left went right to work making scarecrows with whatever they could find. Soon there were several of them up and ready. We would soon see victory!

The crows finally took notice of this, and flew over to see what was happening. We were all ready for them. As soon as they saw the scarecrows, they all in unison let out a large squawk. This was it!

Then they swooped down on the crowd. Our plan didn't work! We were now the target of their evil attack. Even the scarecrows weren't safe! They started pecking away at us, and it was too late to fight. It was all over now. The crows had won.

Even through all of this, and as I felt the pecking on my head, I wondered why they called them mutant crows. But as the light faded from my eyes, and the darkness began to close in, I looked up and saw the most frightening thing yet. Now I knew why!

The crowds of people were back up and walking, but they had been changed. They now looked only half human. The other half was crow! The very last thing I saw was one of the scarecrows. It now looked as much like a crow as the humans, and it was alive. It was looking right back at me.

Somehow I woke up! I wasn't dead! I thought I was done for, but I felt fine. As I looked around me, I realized that I wasn't where I was before. I was at home, safely in bed. It was only a dream. Man, was I relieved! That was a really bad dream! At least it's over.

If I go out today and this really does happen, I would like to be the first one to welcome our new mutant crow overlords. If it doesn't, at least I'm prepared.

So you think this story was bad? I'd like to see you come up with a better one in an hour and a half. Really! If you have one, leave a link in the comments section. I'll be sure to take a look.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is It Really A Squirrel?

That's what I wondered when I looked at this little creature that was perched on top of this big rock. Is it really a squirrel, or is it a chipmunk or something? It looked too small to be any squirrel I've ever seen. I thought maybe it was a chipmunk, but they don't have bushy tails.

That's why I didn't think this was a squirrel at first. It was only about half the size of most squirrels. I thought maybe it was a baby. It was the small size and the white belly that fooled me. I've never seen a squirrel like this before, and I haven't seen one since.

This post is actually an extension of a post from a while back. It was a good one that I wanted to update. Back then there weren't very many people to see it, but I really liked it. I'll put a link to the older post at the bottom of this one, so you can see what it was about. But right now it's time for some newer information about this little creature.

Back when I was looking at the totem pole in the picture above, and realizing how I needed to look a little closer at things, I spotted what looked like a little squirrel perched on top of the boulder behind it. If this was a squirrel, it was the only squirrel I've ever seen that has a white belly. Most squirrels around here are brown all over, but lately I've been seeing a lot of black squirrels.

It looked a lot like a chipmunk. The size was right for a chipmunk. It was really small. You can see exactly what I mean by taking a closer look at the picture above. It also had very faint stripes like a chipmunk, but you can't really see them well in my pictures. I was not at all sure.

After quite some time I found out that it was indeed a squirrel. It was an American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus Hudsonicus). The features match perfectly. This type of squirrel is very small, but bigger than a chipmunk. Their ears are bigger in relation to it's body than most squirrels, and especially in winter they have tufts of fur growing at the ends of their ears.

Something I didn't mention in the original post was that I had my little friend Alice with me. She's the one who first spotted this squirrel. She seems to have a knack for spotting the strangest things, so I take her along whenever I can. Since I just talked about the subject with someone, I'll say that she's more Wonderland Alice than Cooper Alice.

Anyway, when we tried to move a little closer to the squirrel, it ran behind the tree. I couldn't see where it went, even though I was closer now. We both thought we had lost it forever, but then it came sneaking back around the side of the tree. It had climbed the tree in an attempt to escape. It circled back around, and was now hanging from the side of the tree spying on us.

There it was, close up, looking right at me. I got a few more pictures before it scurried down off the tree, across the sidewalk, and into some bushes. Then I saw it once more before it ran off for good. I tried to get some of it while it ran, but it was really too quick for me. I remember the whole thing being another great everyday adventure.

An interesting note to add is that the technical family name for squirrels is Sciuridae. I read somewhere that both names come from the Greek name skiouros. That word is also thought to possibly be the origin of the word scurry. If that's true, it's a pretty fitting coincidence.

For me all these different squirrels have been pretty interesting. I wonder what kind of squirrel I might see next. Hopefully I can get pictures.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Homeless Problem Around Detroit

The homeless problem around Detroit has gotten out of control. Here you can see a family of bums lounging around a park. What's more shocking is that this is a suburb of Detroit. It's gotten so bad that there is an overflow.

Let me tell you, when you go to a peaceful park to relax, and you see these bums sitting around, it makes you nervous. Most of them are this ugly. Just looking at them is a nuisance. Can't they figure out a place to put them? Look at little Billy Bum there. He's so ugly he doesn't even look quite human.

We tried everything to get them to move along. We even tried throwing things at them. But all they did was sit there. How repulsive. I just couldn't believe they just wanted to be left alone. Their hobo clothes just screamed, "Mess With Me!"

Looking at this next one, I soon realized the cruel error of my ways. Maybe they needed help, or something like that. Maybe they just needed some kindness. Who could do that for them? Not me! If you want to, go for it. I'm much too busy laughing at them. Don't you think it's funny? They forgot where their houses were. Ha ha ha!

This guy must have been sitting there on the curb for a very long time. I remember driving by a few weeks ago, and seeing him there in the same spot. He looks like he hasn't eaten for awhile. He's down to skin and bones! Well, maybe just bones.

If only he had gotten up and found something to eat. It doesn't seem so funny now. He must have been too lazy to move from that spot. I don't know why. That chair doesn't look particularly comfortable. At least go dumpster diving, or something! Wouldn't that be a sight when you go to throw out your trash?

Upon closer inspection of this last one, I saw that he had a few cameras with him. Maybe he's just a photographer with a lot of patience. He's still an ugly sight though. If he's not a hobo, I wonder if I am right about the others. Hmm.

After further inspection of all of them, I have to say that I must have been mistaken about the whole homeless thing. Anyone could have made the same mistake. I didn't know when I was throwing rocks at them, that they weren't bums. They should have said something. It's all their fault! I guess what I mean to say is, Oops!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In The Spirit Of Tag

WiseAcre invited me to a game of Tag. It looks fun but I'm not up to it yet. I decided to make a post in the spirit of things anyway. Here's a link to his post.

Here are the rules (Number 4 and 5 are where I stalled, because I don't know enough bloggers yet. I'm getting there)

1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

6 Random Things about me

1. The name "Ratty" is originally the name of my imaginary friend from my early childhood.
2. I'm a computer geek and a half, but I don't look the part at all. No one would ever guess.
3. One of the reasons I started this blog was to improve my writing skills.
4. My favorite baseball player was actually only a manager. Sparky Anderson from the Detroit Tigers.
5. I like to read a lot. I keep a book with me wherever I go.
6. Music is very important to me. My favorite group is Queen.

Here's the part that I had trouble with. Here's 6 Links (not tags)

1. Writing and Art - A new friend and a very good site. Her writing is fantastic, her art is heavenly.
2. Who with the Autumn night - Another new friend and fellow hiker and nature lover.
3. Dr. Fong's House Of Mysteries - Very strange, very strange indeed.
4. Poor Richard's Almanac - Lovers of Benjamin Franklin, history, and everyday life.
5. Nature's Wallpaper - Another person from Michigan, with some great photos.
6. Michigan In Pictures - More interesting pictures from Michigan

Not all know me, but I like to comment on their sites. I'm a fan of all of these. Some are becoming friends.

Relax, Take It Easy

In my short preview yesterday I said I would give the story about these particular deer, so here it is. You can see the picture above is from yesterday, but it's part of this story too. Not to worry, I have two more pictures below.

If you read some of my past posts, you'll see that I have had several deer sightings in my backyard recently. Since my last post about them, I've seen them a few more times. Those times I decided to leave them at peace. I didn't think I should write anything more about deer for a little while. But people seem to like them a lot, so they're back!

This time when I went out there, I was in a little bit of a hurry. I seem to be doing that too much lately. I think I need to slow my brain down a little... Anyway, I saw them out there grazing peacefully, and I couldn't resist interrupting that. Looking back on the whole thing, I feel like the one who was out there chasing and throwing bread at them. Read my older deer stories, and you'll understand.

I walked out trying my best to use my deer tips and sneak up on them. I walked right over to the treeline, and thought I was out of site. But there was one deer I just didn't see, and I was almost running towards them. I thought I was hidden by the trees, but that last one, in a herd of four, saw me as I hurried towards them. Oh no!

I did my best to recover as soon as I saw it, but I think it was too late. It started to move towards their usual exit area in the trees, and alerted the others as it went. When I got out where I could see them, they were already leaving. You can see them in the picture above actually running from me.

I did my best to keep myself slowed down, and in the process calm them down. It worked a little bit, but I think it was too late by then. They were already heading out. Even so, they did slow down just a little bit. They would stop, look at me, go back to grazing, and then start leaving again. They went through this a few times before they decided they had enough of me.

I thought I was getting so good at getting close to them that I could do anything. I forgot to use the simple rules that I wrote down. They only work if you use them. I forgot a few of them at first, and this particular little herd taught me a valuable lesson for it.

The first mistake I made was being in too much of a hurry. For some reason I've been in a rush the last few days, and I've accomplished nothing. Being in a big hurry doesn't do anything except cause you to make mistakes. I've always known that, but I simply wasn't paying attention.

I didn't even realize I was rushing around, until I started writing this. Then it all came back to me. In my hurry, nothing was going right, and I was actually making myself sick. I remembered what happened with the deer, and now understood what was happening. Now that I know I needed to slow down, things are becoming easier. Now I'm able to slow down enough to get some things done, like this little article.

I'd like to thank those deer for helping me to get myself back under control. It's amazing how all the deer I've seen have mimicked my own body language. These deer gave me a look at what I was doing. Unfortunately they can't read... I think. Who's to say they don't have internet in the woods?

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The Cosmos Rocks

Queen + Paul Rodgers rocks the USA! Their new album "The Cosmos Rocks" is out today in the United States. I've been waiting for this for a long time. You can find samples from the album at the bottom of this post.

I said before that this wasn't my usual thing to write about, but I don't care. Queen is the perfect hiking music. When I go out anywhere, this is the music I take with me. Queen has always been my favorite, and they deserve some mention here. And Queen + Paul Rodgers is the newest extension of that. I love all kinds of music, but they're the best.

The first Queen album I ever heard was "News Of The World". My cousin played it for me, and after hearing "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions", they were instantly and forever my favorite.

Later my parents got me "The Game" for Christmas, and I loved Queen even more, if that's possible. Unfortunately I was never old enough to get to see them in concert with Freddie Mercury. They stopped coming to this country when I could go. Any Queen fan can tell you why.

When I heard Brian May and Roger Taylor were forming a new extension of Queen with Paul Rodgers, I was ecstatic. They were back... Almost. No Freddie Mercury, but we all know that couldn't happen. That's all over now, but they're back!

I finally got to see them in concert, and it didn't hurt that Paul Rodgers was there. I always liked his music, and I had several of his albums. Free, Bad Company, The Firm, they were all good. I have to admit, it just wasn't the same without the greatest singer of all time, Freddie Mercury, but they were back! The concert was great, and I got to be right in the center with a great view. It was almost as if they were there just for me. I waited a lifetime for that!

Now today, their new album "The Cosmos Rocks" comes out here. I have to admit I already heard it, and it's great! I keep hearing people complain that it's not Queen without Freddie. They're right, it's not Queen. It's Queen + Paul Rodgers, a new extension of Queen. If they could make it Queen, they would. This is still a great combination! These are three of the most famous and greatest musicians in the world.

I've heard this music. I've heard every song. It's now one of my favorite albums. I know others that weren't even the biggest Queen fans, who've heard it and want it too. I'm going to buy this album as soon as it's available to me. You should too. I'm telling you all to go out and demand "The Cosmos Rocks".

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Monday, October 27, 2008

A Short Preview

Today's post is just a short preview, because I am extremely busy for some reason. I'll be back tomorrow with more of the story about this picture.

These were more deer that showed up in my backyard. They seem to really like it back there. I've mentioned it before, but this encounter was a little unique nonetheless. See you tomorrow with more.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Elusive Black Squirrel

There are several different kinds animals that I have been trying to get pictures of. Some with no luck at all yet. Yesterday I came across one of the main elusive little creatures that I've been after. It was right in my backyard. It's a Black Squirrel.

Until I moved to the area I'm living now, I've never seen a black squirrel. I didn't even know they existed at all. I remember when I was a kid there were squirrels all over our neighborhood. None of them were colored black. They were all a reddish brown, and they were bigger than these new black squirrels I see now. I now know that they were called Fox Squirrels.

I didn't know there were more than one kind of squirrel. I only ever saw the fox squirrels throughout most of my life. Starting just a few hours ago, when I was looking for information on the black squirrels, I found out that there are all different kinds of them. I actually have another post from a while back with a third kind. I put the link below. I know what that one is too now, so I'll have to make an update on it in the future.

Where was I? Oh yeah, black squirrels. Since I moved to this suburb several years ago, I've seen mostly these black squirrels. They're smaller than the fox squirrels I always knew. I was fascinated with them, because as I said, I didn't know they existed before. When I got my camera it was one of my first goals to get a picture of one of these. I actually wanted both kinds.

That was easier said than done. You would be surprised to find out how hard it is to get a picture of a squirrel. After I got the camera, there have been almost no chances to get a picture of a squirrel. I have a few, but no black ones. These are all over my neighborhood, but not when I have my camera. The fox squirrels around here seem to have been pushed away from the neighborhoods, but they are abundant on any of the nature trails I go to every day.

Even with the black ones roaming around here, I never saw one at the right time. I wanted to get a picture of one badly. Then yesterday when I looked out back, I saw this one playing around back there. I made sure I had my camera and went out and used my deer technique on it. It works on other wild animals as well.

Well, I made my way towards this little squirrel, and took as many pictures as I could. As you can see though, the pictures are more than a little fuzzy, because I didn't quite get close enough. Maybe I was too excited, and was in too much of a hurry. The squirrel was really small, so it was hard to judge how close I really was to it. I actually got very close, but things just seemed to happen too fast for me.

In the end, before I could get any good pictures, it ran off as quick as can be. I hope you can see it in the picture. I caught it in mid stride. Not great quality pictures, but cool nonetheless. I wish I could have gotten video of that. It was pretty funny.

Maybe next time I have a post about black squirrels, I'll have super wonderful, clear and up close pictures for you. And maybe some more detailed information about their origins. This time it was just a great adventure just to get that close to it. I got my first pictures of a black squirrel, so I'm happy. And that's all that matters.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Live Every Day To The Fullest, And Never Look Back

I found this on one of my hiking trips. It's just some graffiti that somebody wrote on one of the railings of a wooden fence. The fence is there to keep people from falling down a steep slope, while looking at the forest from a resting place in the nature park.

When I looked at this graffiti, I thought it summed up what I've been trying to communicate here on this blog. Then I thought, they shouldn't have written all over the fence. Oh well, what's done is done. I still like what it says. It's a great goal for all of us to shoot for.

But be honest. Is there anyone at all that lives every day to the fullest? I have to admit, I don't. But wait, you say. You're supposed to be The Everyday Adventurer, and you don't live every day to the fullest?

Well, no. I'm not sure that it's possible. Sometimes everyone says to themselves, not right now. Shocking, isn't it? Sometimes you just want to sit around and do nothing. My mom always told me something like that, but I always tried to argue about it. After thinking about it, I thought maybe it's sometimes a good thing to take a little time to be lazy. I don't know if that's exactly what she meant, but it's the way I think it.

I need to say though, even though you can't live every day to the fullest, I think it's something to shoot for. If you try your best, maybe that's good enough. Maybe that's really what it means. The fullest you can do every day. Not a jam packed day, just an overall enjoyable one. Maybe a little rest is part of that.

I'm still not convinced. Sometimes my day doesn't feel very full, and I don't really even try. If I look back, I end up with a guilty feeling, as if I cheated myself out of something. How can I live every day to the fullest with an attitude like that? I don't know, but maybe I can still try. That's what's really important. Do your best, even if it's not good enough today. Some days it will be good enough, and then you can erase all fear and doubt.

In the end, I realize if you think of the slogan on the fence as an encouragement, and not a command, then you will understand it better. There are a lot of good sayings like that one, and their meaning and intent are frequently misinterpreted. When you get them right, then you're on the correct path. What do you think?

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Where I Like To Go

Today I thought I would post a picture of a map. It's not just any map. It's a trail map of Orchard Lake Nature Sanctuary, one of the nature parks I like to visit. As a matter of fact I just took this picture a little while ago.

This map is a sign posted in the middle of the park. You might see it in a few of my other posts. I always thought it was a nice colorful map of the trails, and kind of helpful when you're out in the middle of a hiking trail.

If you look at the distances on the bottom left, you can see this park is not the biggest place in the world. But it's a fun place to get away from everything. This is one of the quietest parks of them all. There aren't very many animals to be seen here for some reason, but I still like it here.

Even without the animals, there are plenty of things to see here. You can go and get a view of a lake. Only one. The other is maybe a little bit of false advertising. You go to the viewing area, and there is nothing there except a view of a road.

The twisting trails make up for the bad lake view though. There's plenty more to see here, including some very interesting and unique looking trees. There are a few really creepy looking ponds. And an old rest area that I'm not sure what it is used for now. Maybe just a nice stop on the way.

This map shows just one of the places anyone can go to have a nice everyday adventure, and forget their problems for a little while. You don't have to make it a big project. You can even stop at a place like this on your way home from work. It's big enough to give you a great time, but not so big that you've lost any time from your long busy day. Maybe your day wouldn't seem so busy if you tried going through a place like this.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What's Growing On This Deer's Chest?

When I was taking more pictures of a herd of deer, I noticed something strange growing on one of them. There is a strange large growth on the front of the chest of one of these deer. I'll say right now that I don't know what it is. If anyone has a clue, leave a comment and tell me about it.

I don't know if it's some kind of injury, or a growth, or something else. The deer appears to be okay otherwise. It doesn't seem to be in any pain or discomfort, but who knows? How can you see subtle signs of anything like that? There was nothing outwardly wrong.

Honestly, it looked like a kind of fatty growth to me. I don't know if that's normal for a deer or not. Maybe it's a common thing that happens to deer. I searched everywhere I knew of on the internet, and came up with nothing. I asked a few people I know, who are hunters, and they had no clue.

If it was uncommon, I hope it's not a contagious thing. It didn't appear to be. None of the others had that problem. I just don't have much of a clue about this. I'm still looking for any answers I can find. Does anybody else know anything about this? Again, if you do, leave an explanation in the comments section. I'd appreciate any help you can give with this.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Strange Frontier

Into the shadows, from out of the light. Into the darkness, and into the night. Now we've reached the borderline, you can start to smell the fear. People say it could never happen here. But this is a strange frontier.

Here I am again, The Everyday Adventurer, out in the wilderness. I'm standing on a trail in the middle of a meadow, looking at a fork in the road. Should I follow the path of light, or should I follow the path of darkness?

The path of light turns off to the right. But there's no one here to let me know it's the right path. Why should I go on the right path? I'd have to change my direction, but the main trail seems to go that way. I can see that it's well lit. That makes the chance of stumbling and falling a lot less. No mistakes are a good thing. It's pretty safe if you think about it.

I could go through there, and I would have a safe and easy journey. Just think about it. I would be able to negotiate that path quickly and easily. I could see everything easily, and I probably wouldn't run in to anything out of the ordinary. Then I'd be back out and home in no time at all.

The path of darkness is straight ahead. It seems to be the direction I'm already going. It would be so easy to keep going that way. I could almost close my eyes and let myself drift along right into there. The only problem is it goes into that forest. I can't see what's in there. It looks easy at first, but if I made a mistake in there, who would save me?

What would I find in there? It looks like a great mystery. It would be very hard to see in there, but it's very tempting. I could go in there for just a little ways. I could turn back any time I want. There might be something strange and mysterious in there. Something hiding there in the dark. Waiting for me. It might be fun.

Hmm, which one should I choose? The darkness or the light? These are difficult questions, but I think I've made my choice. Here I go!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What Is It, and Is Something Living There?

As I was out in the forest on another everyday adventure, I looked to my left and saw a strange structure. It was made of bunches of tree branches. I've seen this thing before and wondered about it. Every other time, I quickly forgot and moved on. But this time, I was really wondering about it.

It's like so many other mysterious things you might see along your way. Did you ever wonder if that face on Mars was really a face, or just a trick of light? What were the Nazca Lines really made for? Is there a Loch Ness Monster? Does Bigfoot really exist? Well, here was my own personal mystery.

I really don't know how this thing got here. Is it just a natural occurrence? How could something like this happen naturally? Or did someone or something make it? Really. Is it man made? Was it made by some kind of animal? If it was made by an animal, what kind? These possibilities made me instinctively keep my distance. Maybe next time I'll go have a look, and get some closer pictures.

From where I stood, it really looked to be some kind of shelter. If it was made by human hands, how long ago was it made? It doesn't look new. Was it here for years, or even decades? If they were humans, who were they? Why would they need a shelter in a hiking and nature park like this? This place isn't far from civilization.

Maybe it was a homeless person looking for a place to rest. If so, it wasn't a very good one. If it were me, I would look for somewhere a little less conspicuous. Maybe they were rounded up immediately and hauled off. I guess that's one possible case, though I think it's improbable.

Maybe it was an animal. The only other alternative. If it was, what kind of animal could do it? It would have to be able to grab these branches, and move them around. Not many animals can do that. What animal would have the intelligence? Beavers make their own dams all the time, but this is no beaver dam, and there is no water to dam anyway.

There is one other alternative that I hesitate to mention, but here goes. Bigfoot. I mentioned that above. A Bigfoot would have the ability, the intelligence, and the reason, to do this. The only problem is the same as that of a homeless person. It would be too easily detected.

Then again, it depends on when this was made. It could have been made when this place was not a nature park. That would remove the detection problem, and reopen every possibility above. Very interesting. What do you think?

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Images Of The Fall

Here I am, The Everyday Adventurer, hiking along a nature trail at one of the nature preserves, in the middle of the fall. I am writing this article just hours after I was there and took these pictures. I told myself a long time ago to try to capture my thoughts as quickly as I could after a hike.

It's a hard thing for me to do, because my mind is still focused on nothing but the beauty and solitude of nature. My thoughts stay silent, even to me. When I am out there, I am so at peace with myself that the idea of anything but silent observation eludes me. It takes a long time for me to come back to this reality. I really need time to sort my thoughts out. Maybe this is a beginning.

Let's try. I explained yesterday about moments like this one. The forest was so quiet, and I was so alone, that I was at total peace. What eventually shook me out of my silent rapture, was the sound of a lone woodpecker. It didn't break this wonderful feeling, it only enhanced it.

Can you see the distance of the trail in front of me? It's the same behind me as well. I was completely alone. I could have yelled out loud, and no one would have heard me. I was totally and completely free! The air today had that fresh fall crispness to it. The trail was covered in a bed of fallen leaves and pine needles. I'm glad I was able to capture this.

Both of these pictures show the beauty of the fall out in nature. Look at all the different colors. This is the only time of year to see that. This is a magical time. Fall is when nature begins it's long sleep. The trees begin to shed their leaves. The animals begin to migrate to warmer territory. Other animals begin to prepare for a nice restful hibernation. Sweet dreams.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Camera

This is a picture of the camera that I use. It's a Canon Powershot A590 IS. It's the very first camera that I have ever owned. I only ever used another camera a few times before in my life. I think I made an excellent choice for my first camera. I did a lot of research before I settled on this one.

I asked several people what camera they had, and what they liked about it. I asked them what they thought I should look for. Then I went on the internet and read about cameras every chance I could get. I checked for the best of what was current and available at the time.

The first thing I needed was something easy to use. Since I had no idea how to use a camera, I had to be able to figure out quickly. On the flip side of this, I wanted something that wouldn't be a disappointment after I did learn how to use it. It had to have enough features that beyond being easy it was a good camera that made good picture quality.

The next thing I had to find was something inexpensive. I wasn't going to spend a load of money on something that I might get bored with. This was going to be difficult. This camera is a very good price, and I got a better deal than most on it. If anyone wants more technical information on it, I made links to the website of the camera above.

I've had an even better experience with the camera than I hoped. It's been a great accessory on my everyday adventures. And I use every picture I take as desktop wallpaper on my computer. Nature pictures are my favorite, and these are all mine. I made a great choice!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Hiker's View

I haven't seriously talked about hiking in a while. Usually I have a picture of an animal, or a strange story to tell, or some other distracting thing I found. This time I thought I'd show you what I see on a nature trail. This is what a normal everyday adventure is like for me.

Do you know what it feels like to be deep in the forest, and know you're all alone? I know what it's like. It's one of the most peaceful feelings in the world. All your worries from the city are gone for a while. You only have to think about the wonderful things around you.

The feel of the dirt path under your feet. The smells of the forest. The beautiful sight of the wilderness all around you as far as the eye can see. The air itself is just different than it is anywhere else.

One of the best parts of all this is following the trail, and discovering what's around the next bend. You don't know until you see it. What if you saw an interesting fallen log? You might even get to see a deer close up. Or you might discover a hidden river.

Right now during the fall, the air gets just a little chill to it that makes it that much more fresh smelling. The light becomes a little bit darker. And the green of the leaves on the trees becomes every shade of red and orange you can think of. These colors can be some of the most beautiful things you ever saw.

The fallen leaves on the trail make a nice crunch under your feet. Sometimes that's the only sound you hear. If you stop, you can hear the sound of silence. Maybe the greatest sound of all right then. Maybe a bird might give a loud chirp, and you imagine that sound could travel for miles. A squirrel might scamper past you on the trail, or skitter up a tree. It's fun to watch them try to hide from you.

Did you know that each kind of tree has it's own unique fresh scent? When you walk through the forest, the smells will change periodically. You'll never know how wonderful that can be until you try it for yourself. Sometimes you'll recognize the smell, sometimes you won't. It's always good out here. Nice and quiet.

Think about what a whisper sounds like out here when it breaks the sound of total silence. You can't quite imagine it properly until you actually do it. Go ahead... Try it.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Protector Of The Herd

I told you yesterday how I used my 10 tips to be able to get close to a herd of deer, and get several pictures of them. They eventually did get tired of me. When they finally decided to leave, something happened that I never expected.

I saw them begin to ease their way to the edge of the trees. It wasn't a sudden thing. They went slowly, one by one. In the middle of this, two deer that were already close to the trees, actually looked in my direction and took a few steps towards me.

This seemed to be a signal for the rest of the herd to leave. The others slowly filed out behind the leaders. These two seemed to be standing guard against any threats or intruders, like myself. They didn't see me as much of a threat, because of the techniques I used to put them at ease. They still decided that they wanted no interference from me or anything else when they left.

This was an actual aggressive action by the leaders of the herd. I certainly wasn't going to interfere. I never expected any of them to be this brave. I also saw some amazing intelligence in those actions.

I thought even though a herd stuck together, that when they were threatened, it was every deer for itself. This herd was organized and intelligent. This looked like a routine that they had done before. If you think about it, it's something human beings might do in a mildly threatening situation such as this.

If you're one of the bigger adults in a group of people, and your friends are being threatened in some way, you might stand in front and tell the others to get behind you. Then you would tell them to slowly move away, while you keep watch on the threat. You're not actually being attacked, so the situation is not urgent, it's just a precaution so there are no problems.

I just found it amazing that any other animal would think like this. Such a human thing. Other animals and humans have more things in common than we usually think about. Who would have thought we could be so similar? Funny, it's almost like we're all related in some way.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

How Close I Got To A Herd Of Deer

When I was told that more deer had come back to my backyard yesterday, I assumed it was only a couple of them. I walked out hoping to get a few good pictures, and was astonished at what I saw. There weren't only a couple deer, there were five. It was a whole herd!

I went out there and used all of my 10 tips from yesterday, very successfully. If you haven't read them already, I recommend you do, if you want to have an experience like this one. You can find a link to them at the bottom of this post.

The first thing I did was walk over to the tree line, and use it as a cover to get closer before they could see I was there. The trees wrap around a corner back there, so it makes an ideal place to hide. It got me within thirty feet right off the bat. This may have been all the closer I really got to them, but the other things I did, kept them from running as soon as they saw me.

When I cautiously walked out into the open, they were of course, immediately on the alert. I kept my back to them and moved very slowly to the side, so they wouldn't think I was coming towards them. Even though they were still nervous about me, it kept them from deciding to leave.

The thing I needed to do now was to get some pictures. This is the hard part, because I needed to get my arms up to look through the camera's view screen. I said in my tips that they see raised arms as an attack posture. I had to be very careful here. This was the moment where I could ruin it all.

I needed to put these deer at ease just a little bit more, so I stopped and examined the ground, while keeping watch out of the corner of my eye. When they began to ignore me, I slowly turned towards the deer. This put their guard up, but I had to get my pictures.

I slowly raised the camera to my face, as the deer got even more nervous. A few stopped what they were doing, and looked right at me. Others kept right on eating the grass around them. It was working! I started taking my pictures while examining the deer for their reactions. When they became too afraid, I stopped and went back to looking at the ground.

I repeated this several times. Going back and forth from taking pictures, to appearing to examine the ground. It worked great! Eventually I did wear out my welcome with the deer, and they wandered into the woods. They didn't run though, they just slowly walked away, little by little. Maybe they were repeating my actions.

The point is I didn't frighten them very much. They saw me as only a minor threat. I never said I could keep them there forever. No one can do that. I said I could get close to them, and I did that in an extremely successful way. You can do it too if you follow my tips.

Another great time for an Everyday Adventurer. Now go out and have your own exciting adventure. I believe in you!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

10 Tips To Get Close To A Deer

I've been taking a lot of pictures of deer lately. As I've encountered them more and more, I've learned a few techniques that help me get pretty close to them. I've learned some of these from other sources, and some I figured out from experience. Some of these are a combination of both.

I want to tell you that I am not a hunter, I only take pictures. If you're hunting deer, there is probably another set of rules. This is for deer that are roaming slightly populated areas, and are already a little used to humans. I'm sure many of you have seen these in your area.

This is a simple list. It's not meant to be the ultimate answer to getting closer to a deer. It's meant to get you started as a beginner. I've done all of these things myself, and they work. So here it is. Let me know how you like it.

10 Tips To Get Close To A Deer

1. Be Quiet - This is the first thing you should know. You probably don't need me to tell you this. Deer are already nervous, and the slightest noise might send them galloping away from you. So keep quiet. Don't talk loudly, and try not to step on anything that would make a noise.

2. Walk Slowly - This is the first thing to remember. Take your time. If you move at a slow pace, they won't be as quick to run away. What would you do if something came running towards you? It would obviously startle you. You're not in a hurry anyway, are you?

3. Move With Your Back To Them - This is one of the first extra things I learned. I watched a man do this while taming wild horses. The trick is, if you have your back to them, they think you're walking away. It helps them think you are leaving. Now they'll be less inclined to be afraid and run away.

4. Don't Look Directly At Them - If you look off to one side, they won't think you're interested in them. When you look at them, look out of the corner of your eye. You can still see them. You don't want them to see you watching them. To a deer, it's only predators that watch them. If you appear to be looking somewhere else, they won't think they're about to be your next meal.

5. Walk At An Angle To One Side - This one is a continuation of the last two, but it's equally important. You don't want them to see you moving directly toward them. Again, they think only a predator would do that. If you move at an angle to the right or left, they won't realize when you slowly move closer.

6. Keep Your Arms Down - Another thing I learned from the horse guy. If you keep your arms down, you look a little smaller. If you raise your arms, a deer doesn't see just arms. A deer sees a pair of claws, and a big cat ready to pounce. It's an instinctive thing for a deer to think of raised hands or paws as a danger sign.

7. Periodically Stop And Examine The Ground - This one helps to slow you down, and it helps you look as if you're uninterested in them. When you do this, you appear as if you're slow and stupid. Watch another person that does this naturally. What does it make you think? Slow and stupid means you're not a cunning predator looking for a meal. Try to see if they're getting more panicky and ready to run. Stop and do this whenever they look like they're going to run. You'll get better at judging when to do this, the more you do it.

8. Keep Your Head Down - The things on the list before this can help with this one, but it's important to remember. If your head is looking at the ground, it's not looking at the deer. That puts them at ease, and you can get even closer. Remember, you can look at them out of the corner of your eye, and see them just fine.

9. Try To Look Small - Everything above will help make you look smaller. I have actually gotten down on my knees to get pictures of a deer, and it worked amazingly well. The deer calmed down and started grazing on the grass in front of it. I was only ten feet away.

10. Hide - This last one may not always be compatible with the others. But if they can't see you, they're less likely to run. I used the cover of trees to get close enough to walk right out among the deer in the picture above. Then I applied the other techniques to keep them from running away.

That's it. I've used all of these tips in the last two weeks, and they all worked well for me. I've seen other people do the opposite, with terrible results. These are all mostly common sense, but if you keep them in you head as a list, you're more likely to remember. Try my tips out, and when they work for you, come back and tell me about it.

Examples Of Me Using My 10 Tips

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why I Return To Sumac Pointe

Sumac Pointe is a small park for hiking, so why do I go back? I go back because it has a great view of the water. This park is actually a small peninsula. It's surrounded by water all sides but one. You can relax and watch the water here, after a long day. I'll describe it a little bit.

This time I drove around the circular driveway to the second parking area. When I got out of my car, the first thing I saw was this wooden fence. There are several places to walk to the water, but I chose the one by the fence.

Over here, all of the pathways to the edge of the lake are bordered by large trees. I like the trees. They always give me an extra sense of peace, and they do a good job of muffling any noise. You get an extra sense of solitude when you make it over to the lake, and the trees separate you from the rest of the park.

From this part of the shore there are so many things to see. In the picture you can see a dock across the lake from you. I like the way it also seems so isolated and peaceful. I wonder if there is a way I can get to it. I'm not sure who it belongs to. I'll have to go over there some time and check.

To the right of the picture is Newburgh Road. You can watch the cars go by from here. That seems like it would interrupt the peacefulness, but it doesn't. The road is far enough away, that it just adds to the atmosphere of this place.

At the part of the road closest to the dock, is the bridge where the road goes over the river. The lake is actually man made from a dam further to the west. It drains into the Rouge River at the bridge here. Sometimes when the water is really high, you can't see where the water goes under the bridge.

The trees wrap around you on the left and the right, so you can't see the other parts of the shore. It gives you and extra sense of being alone. There are picnic tables to sit on, or you can sit on the ground if you want. If you prefer, go ahead and stand. However you like to relax.

Sometimes an everyday adventure is just around the corner. You don't have to walk a great distance to get there. Sometimes walking isn't the point. Maybe you might just want to sit and look at the water.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

A Twisted Tale Of A Twisted Tail

Some Pig! What a pig! Look at the muscles on that pig! That one looks like it's a strong pig! And it's really friendly too! Who could ask more of any pig! I wonder if it's related to Spider Pig.

I'll tell you, if I had a pet pig like this one, I would ride it to work every day. That would save some gas! Or it could pull a little cart for me to ride in. Wouldn't that be a sight? A pig pulling a cart with a white rat in it. I could feed the pig leftovers. No more paying for gas! Except maybe from the pig.

Do you ever wonder what a pig like this is thinking? I know, me neither. Really, I think this pig might be worried that Jack the Farmer might want it for a meal. That would be a shame if such a great pig ended up as bacon and pork chops. I'll have to try and talk Jack out of it. Maybe he could trade another cow for something else to eat. That usually turns out pretty well.

I do have to say, it is a friendly pig. It looks like it wants somebody, anybody to feed it. You have to get that big somehow. This pig not only tolerated, but welcomed gangs of evil little kids. It went over to them, and just loved it while they pawed at it and petted it. I think the pig was in heaven. Who would have thought a pig would act like that?

I did have a pet pig when I was a kid. We used to keep it in a pen out in the back. There used to be a garage there, but my dad tore it down, which is another story entirely. It turns out the garage, and the land around it, was full of poisonous snakes. There were a lot of them where we lived then. Pigs like ours, would kill and eat snakes. That's why we really had the pig.

When we moved away, my dad gave our pet pig to the neighbors. We didn't mind too much. The pig had to live somewhere. Then my mom told me that they would probably slaughter and eat it. What a sad day! I felt terrible. My poor pig! I bet the pig felt worse than I did. I'll always remember that pig.

There you go. I just gave you a twisted tale about a twisted tail. I hope you liked it. ...Oh, one more thing. If you have a pig of your own, give it a hug for me.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

What Are These Blood Red Bugs?

I was taking pictures of these milkweed plants while I was out on another everyday adventure. I've seen these particular plants before, and have talked about them here in the past. I wanted a small update for myself, because I've always liked milkweed.

When I got back home and examined the pictures from the day, I got a little surprise. That seems to be happening to me lately. I was checking out the pictures of these milkweed plants, when I saw these little blood red bugs crawling all over one one of them.

I examined this picture very closely. I zoomed in to see as much as I could. You can see the discoloration of the pod that they're on. I'm assuming it's either dead or dying. In one place to the top of the group of bugs, one is seen boring right into the side of the seed pod. A little on the lower end there is a bug already embedded in the pod.

What were these bugs? I was fascinated by them. I was, and still am, a little repulsed. They're feeding on, and even destroying, my beloved milkweed plant! I had to find out what they were! I decided to search everywhere I could, with every resource I had. I think I found the answer!

These bugs are called Small Milkweed Bugs (Lygaeus kalmii). I wasn't at all sure at first, because the pictures I saw didn't look quite the same. The pictures I found showed something that was more orange and black, instead of these blood red things.

As I did further research, I found that these are the only insects that eat from the pods. They like the taste of the seeds apparently. I also found out that the nymphs (young ones) are red just like in my picture above. As they grow older, they grow more orange and develop black areas.

These bugs can be found in large numbers on milkweed plants. They mate right on the plants. They also feed on the seeds late in the season, which would be right about now in October. They also suck the nectar from the flowers of various herbaceous plants. In the spring they are also reported to be scavengers and predators, since milkweed seeds are scarce.

The only thing that confused me was that these appear to be nymphs. I thought before that I would only see them earlier than now. But I found out more.The adults lay their eggs on the milkweed in the spring, and they have sometimes more than one generation in a year. That would likely solve my nymph mystery.

As to the noticeable red coloring of the small milkweed bugs. This coloration and the fact that they don't seem to move around very quickly, tells us something about them. After feeding on the poisonous milkweed seeds, these bugs have themselves now become poisonous. They are immune to any poisons from the plant, but any potential predator is not. The red coloration is a warning for predators not to eat them.

Well there you go. That explains what these blood red bugs are. This article is now the best place on the internet to find information on Small Milkweed Bugs. I have gathered together more information on them than any other website. It's my gift to you. If you can show me otherwise, I'll post new information and give you credit.

Another mystery solved by The Everyday Adventurer. I'm just like Scooby Doo, except with an eye patch. (That last part was for Alice.)

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Something Watching Me

Whenever I go hiking on a nature trail or in the forest, I hear animal sounds of all kinds. Sometimes I'll hear scurrying sounds. Sometimes I'll hear the different cries and calls of the forest animals. Usually when I get close, the sounds stop.

When those sounds stop, I know something has detected my presence. Usually I never see what that something is. Creatures in the forest are very elusive. They almost always see you before you see them. That gives them an initial advantage over you.

It can be very frustrating when you're walking around with a camera, and you hear a very busy forest, but you never see anything. Other times you'll see a few animals running away, and you never have time to get a picture. That's the breaks. You'll have to accept that animals are good at getting away. It's how they survive.

There are some occasions though when an animal thinks it's well hidden, but you can see it spying on you. Their curiosity has gotten the best of them. Maybe they're checking to see what kind of threat you are. You can get some interesting pictures in situations like this.

I was walking along a nature trail, where there were a lot of birds and other small animals. I was trying to be as quiet as possible, but they knew I was there. They were determined not to let me get any pictures of them. I had to resort to something a little creative.

So I stood still, and waited. I scanned the trees for the smallest movement. I kept my movements very slow and deliberate. That will usually lull an animal into thinking you are less of a threat. After a few minutes I saw what I was waiting for.

There was a small bird looking out at me through the brush. It knew I was there, and was watching me to see if I was dangerous. I had my camera ready, and zoomed in to get as good of a shot as possible. I saw through the viewer that it was looking right in my direction. You can clearly see the shine of it's left eye.

Here's a fine example of a curious critter. This little chipmunk was very interested in me for some reason. The only problem for me was that it was scurrying around very quickly. It was running around all over these fallen trees, and I wasn't fast enough to get a picture.

Every time I would lift my camera it would disappear. Then when I would put the camera down, there it was again. It must have popped up at every place on these logs. It was like playing camera whack a mole. I don't know why it found me so interesting, but I'm glad it did. It came back one too many times, and I got the picture I wanted. After that, it was gone forever. Maybe it wanted to be a star.

You know, I like getting pictures of animals right out in the open, where I can see them clearly. A picture of a whole animal like that looks pretty cool. And when you show that picture to others, you can pretend you are an expert animal photographer.

Sometimes though, I would rather get a picture like the two above. Maybe I can't pretend I have psychic, animal mind control powers. But I can tell anyone that's listening that I had a great adventure, and I have the pictures to prove it.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Why Do The Deer Keep Coming Back?

I've seen deer in my backyard three times in the last month. I'm sure they've been here more times when I wasn't watching. I didn't really see them at all during the summer, but last spring I saw them once. That's quite a while between visits. I wanted to find out what was bringing them back now, after being gone for a whole season.

One thing I need to explain is that I don't live out in the country, where you would expect to see wild animals. I live in a suburb of Detroit. It's a pretty populated and busy area. We do have a lot of forest area here, and plenty of places for them to hide. The pictures I've shown on this blog so far, have been taken very close by. The pictures in this post are from my backyard just a few days ago.

I've explained before that I've seen several different wild animals back there recently. Some, like the deer, that you wouldn't expect in a populated area like mine. I've seen in the news in the last several years that as urban areas expand, the animal population loses it's natural habitat. There are only two alternatives for them. The first is for them to just die out. I'm sure they don't want that one. The second is to adapt to the new environment.

That second reason is part of what I've been seeing with these deer. Last spring I saw a deer running across some people's front yards. I remember thinking at the time, what a sad thing I was seeing. I remind you this is a suburb. Those houses were close together.

Recently the police have had to step in to do things to reduce the local deer population. Too many deer in this area means that they will be running out in the roads. It's inevitable that some will be hit by cars. My sister hit two of them this year. The chances of a person in Michigan hitting a deer with their car in the next year is 1 in 78. Michigan is second only to West Virginia, where the chances are 1 in 45. These chances are even greater in October, November, and December. Why?

Well, these three months, beginning with October, are the migrating and mating season for deer, known as "the rut". The deer obviously will be on the move. Here in Michigan there are Deer Crossing signs posted anywhere there is a larger deer population. I'm sure it's the same for other states. In my area there are a lot of these signs. If you see one, try to bit a bit more careful than usual. It might save the deer and you.

An onset of bad weather can cause deer to begin moving, just as a human would run for cover. We've had a lot of rain lately. After that rain is when the deer usually appear. During a heavy rain they will be somewhere under cover. But in a light rain or mist, they will come out, probably because they are uncomfortable.

Now as you would imagine, these deer are hungry, and have to eat something. As most anyone who has heard of deer knows, they eat vegetation. That's where my backyard comes into all of this. I said before that there are plenty of forest areas around me. As you can see in my pictures, there is a forest right behind me. That's the source of my returning deer.

When I saw this deer, it was part of a group of three. They were all grazing at the edge of the forest. They appeared to be trying out the grass and the bushes back there. Those must be pretty tasty to a deer, because they always come back. Mine seem to be the same ones in the last year.

In summary, it seems to be a combination of over population, loss of natural environment, and their migrating and mating season. My backyard specifically seems to be a good place for them to pause on their journey. It has a good food source, and a good place to hide and rest.

So there you go. That's why the deer keep coming back.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

What Does It Look Like When Geese Land In The Water?

I went back to Heritage Park, thinking I was through posting pictures of geese. I drove past the place I saw them before, and they were gone. As I looked to the left, I saw that there were a few still there. I turned towards the parking area to get to some of the hiking trails.

On my way there, I noticed about a dozen geese swimming in the pond at the front of the park. Then I looked around and saw them everywhere else too. Ahh, this is where they went. I had been thinking about getting some pictures of the pond, but I've had other things to do first. Until Now.

When I parked, I quickly walked over to the pond and began taking pictures of these geese. I wasn't sure if anything would make it here, but I like the geese, and I wanted the pictures for myself. If you want to see more, you'll have to let me know.

As I was taking my pictures, I looked to the left and saw more geese flying in. As I've talked about before (Here and Here), it took me quite some time to get a picture of any birds in flight. So you can imagine my joy at seeing this.

I turned my camera towards the birds that were flying in and started taking as many pictures as I could get. This time I got a whole flock of flying birds. It was my lucky day! It's hard to see them in this picture until you click on it. Then they are clearly visible.

All I could think about was that I got the picture of the birds flying to the pond. It was getting much easier to do now. I kept on taking pictures of them as quickly as I could, not thinking about what I would see next.

I saw the ducks actually hitting the water! I never expected to see this. And I thought when it happened, I didn't get the picture. I didn't find out until I got home and checked my pictures.

This is an amazing thing to watch, and as you can see, I have the whole small flock landing in the water. So now you can see the various stages of a bird landing in one photo. They spread their wings to slow themselves down. Then they lean back, and stretch their legs forward. And they go feet first into the water.

Here's the last stage of their water landing. The geese are leaving a wake behind them as they glide to a stop. This is another picture I didn't realize I had, until I got home. I watched as they all came to a complete stop and turned around and swam the other way.

It's amazing to think about the similarities between the landings of birds and planes. If you've ever watched a plane land, it's almost an identical thing. Except their wheels come down, instead of feet. It's something not many of us think about until we see it for ourselves.

These pictures show an amazing sequence of what a water landing for geese looks like. The only thing better is actually being there and seeing it as it happens. I'm telling you, it's a great feeling to see something like this. Especially when you didn't expect it at all.

What will come next for The Everyday Adventurer? Find out tomorrow!