Monday, August 31, 2009

Evil Bunnies

Well, I've been doing my polls for three weeks now, and some of the results have been surprising. After the first poll, we discovered that the majority of the readers here are female. That was kind of obvious to some of you already. It seems this website is also very popular among Martians though. Hello Mars!

In the second poll I asked what kinds of things you would like to see more of on this blog. By an overwhelming margin you all wanted to see more photos. I'm already way ahead of you. A little known fact is that I bring you an average of about 21 photos per week. That's a lot of pictures to look at. Just think of all of the things I've done to get these photos.

I have to be honest with you now. I personally found those first two polls to be kind of boring. I mean, you already know if you are male or female, or even an invader from Mars. And I obviously already post lots of pictures, and loads of writing to go along with them. So that one might have been kind of unimaginative. But then came the third poll.

I gave you a list of animals and asked you which one was scarier. I could say I was surprised by the results, but I really wasn't. In the past I had written posts about snakes where many of you said how much you hated those slithery creatures. Then when I wrote a post featuring spiders you demonstrated similar thoughts on these creepy crawlies.

The surprising answer was that more of you voted that you thought wolves were scarier than these first two. I didn't expect that. Maybe we'll examine wolves some time in the future. Then there was the last choice in this poll. It was the Evil Bunnies. These horrible creatures won by a landslide! Just by looking at the picture above, I completely understand why.

The only problem I have with the polls far is that not many of you seem to enjoy voting in them. I want have more fun polls as time goes on so more of you will want to vote. I have a few ideas of my own to fix this, but I also want to hear some of yours. Do you have an idea for a poll you'd like to see? Even if your idea is "Ditch the polls because I hate them", your idea is welcome.

Of course all other comments are also welcome. I'd also like to let you know that the white Evil Bunny photo above was not done by me. I don't know who to give credit for this photo, but there is also a video somewhere. So finally, watch out for those evil bunnies. They're everywhere. You don't want to be standing there minding your own business, and then hear a voice behind you that says, "Ehh, What's up Doc?"

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Letterbox

It seems I have found a treasure! I told you awhile ago that I bought a hiking GPS so I could enhance my adventures a bit. I soon discovered the world of Geocaching, which is a treasure hunting game using GPS. The further I looked into it, I discovered many different types of these caches. One type is what is called a Letterbox.

A letterbox is just a sealed container with a rubber stamp and paper to record your visit. There's usually no real treasure. You're usually given clues to find oneof these boxes. If you can figure it out, you'll find the letterbox. The fun is in the hunt.

Well, while I was doing a small bit of research on a normal geocache I was hunting, I came across the information for this letterbox. It happened to be in a place I sometimes go, and I recognized the place that they described. So I knew I had to search for this one.

When I arrived at the general location, I looked around for a few seconds. It took me only that long to instinctively know right where to find this letterbox. I walked right over to where I knew it had to be, and there it was as plain as day! The only problem was that any body would have been able to find it.

Part of the rules are that ordinary people, who they embarrassingly call muggles, aren't supposed to know about this stuff. I'm telling you about these things because I am a great rebel, the rule breaker of the ages, and an all around rascal! And nobody can stop me! So there!

Anyway, since this box was pretty much laying there in plain sight, I put it back and hid it correctly. Nobody would stumble upon it now! I had to do this while evading three other people who annoyingly entered my trail. After doing my duty I left the park. I've been back and found that it has since been hidden even better now.

So that's it. That is the account of how I found one small treasure. Soon I will become rich with all of these treasures. I will still behave the same as when I had none. That's just because I'm such a good guy. Thank you all. Thank you all.

(Do you believe this guy? What a jerk!)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Black and Blue

I have only one picture for you today, but it's an important one for me. This one was very difficult to get. I actually had about five of these but they are virtually identical so it would be redundant to show you the others.

This black and blue dragonfly is a very large one. It's fat and almost as long as my small finger, which is long. These dragonflies have been flying around the meadow areas of the nature park for awhile now. They loudly buzz past my head whenever I'm there. I try to get pictures but they very rarely stop long enough to try.

I have gotten a few very bad shots of them in the air as they slowed to look back at me. I don't think you'd like the pain those would give your eyes, so this one is what you get. The most frustrating part of chasing these particular dragonflies is that there are literally dozens of them whenever I see them. They are harder to chase down than any bird.

I just happened to get lucky while walking into the park and this one landed right in front of me. It seemed to be inviting me to take its picture. Isn't that how it always works? I took as many pictures as I could, and it didn't move at all. Then as I was taking my fifth one, it flew into the air and I got nothing else.

There you go. Only one picture. A short story. But a very big accomplishment.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Common Milkweed

Here comes the pods! I've been showing you the blossoms of the milkweed plants throughout the summer, and now I'm going to show you the really interesting part of this plant. This is the phase of the milkweed plant that I was first introduced to. I'm going to show you the pods.

The seed pods of the milkweed plant have possibly inspired horror movies. The most well known is The Invasion of The Body Snatchers, where evil replicas of familiar people hatched out of these coffin sized alien space pods. The pods bore a resemblance to these milkweed pods.

These fresh milkweed pods really do look alien and strange. That's why I like them so much. Inside them are thousands of seeds that are attached to fluff. When the pods burst open, the seeds and the fluff float into the air and are carried by the wind to a distant location so the plants may spread across great distances.

As far as I know it's only Common Milkweed that has these pods. Others only have the pretty little flowers with the evil looking fangs on them. I just read, right before I typed this sentence, that small insects can get caught in those fangs and die. So the fangs are more real than I ever imagined!

But we're talking about the pods today. Some people claim that some parts of this plant are edible, but I'm not so sure about this. Everything else I've read say it's poisonous. Maybe parts are and other parts are not. It is claimed that Native Americans used an extract of this plant as cough medicine.

People used to use the fluff from these plants to stuff pillows. And more recently the same fluff has been used to stuff life jackets. Milkweed is the favorite food of Monarch Butterflies. They and their larvae are both very poisonous as a result. The same goes for the Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle that I featured yesterday.

Another creature that eats these are Small Milkweed Bugs, which I have also featured in the past. That was probably right before anyone really read this blog very much. I used to write very many informative posts about these plants. Some weren't so informative. Those last ones were just strange.

Anyway, take a good look at the pictures I have for you today. I've given you a good look at a few milkweed plants with some very fresh seed pods on them. They're very interesting plants. If you would like to learn more about them, a search of my blog and a read through of a few old posts will give you plenty.

HEY YOU! Vote in my pole! There are only a few days left and the votes are very low. It's not like you're voting for President, so voter apathy doesn't need to apply here. Just kidding. This is one of the fun polls, so go ahead and vote.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle

I have something very strange for you today. I found this bug climbing on a milkweed plant. The very same plant where I got some excellent pictures of a bumblebee. When I first saw it I thought it was a ladybug/ladybird. The only problem with that theory was that this bug was about twice the size of one of those, and the spots were also much bigger.

I thought maybe it was a mutant of some sort, but in my heart I knew that was wrong. I really had no idea that there could be another bug that looked so similar to a ladybug, until now. The question for me though was what was the identity of this odd bug?

Well, it took me a long time to learn what it was, but I finally found out the name of this mysterious bug. The bug is called a Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle. I guess the name helps explain why this beetle was climbing all over the milkweed plant. But is there more information about this beetle?

First of all, there are four species of bugs related to this one, but only one is located north of Mexico, and your looking right at it. It is known for its distinctive black and red/orange colors, and its well developed legs. If you look at the ends of the legs you can see that there are hooks that help it grasp onto the leaves of the milkweed plant.

You can find these on roadsides, meadows, and wetlands in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. They mainly eat swamp milkweed, but other types of milkweed plants are also fair game for them. You'll see them from late spring through the fall. Their red or orange color is directly attributed to the milkweed they eat. Monarch butterflies and milkweed bugs are the same in this regard.

It seems as if I'm not the only one who thinks this beetle looks like a ladybug. They are frequently mistaken for a large mutated ladybug. Most people with knowledge about bugs know exactly what they are though. It seems I am now beginning to be one of those bug people, so I know what these are too.

So what do you think of this swamp milkweed leaf beetle? Would you mistake it for a ladybug? Does it look as cute as a ladybug? Or do you think it looks like a scary looking interloper? Those hooked feet might sway your answer a little bit. I wonder if a ladybug has hooked feet like that.

This is one of the many interesting bugs I have found on my adventures. I have yet to feature the others. I'd like to determine their identities first, but I'll show them even if I don't. This one happens to be one of my favorites. Would you like to see more photos of this bug? Give me your thoughts.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Bird Is Back

I told you about a month and a half ago about a little yellow bird that I was chasing. It turned out to be an American Goldfinch. I didn't get the kind of picture I hoped of this bird, but the chase had been exciting. Well the bird is back, and so is the chase!

I said bird, but there were really more than one, a lot more. I was at the same place where I saw the bird the last time, near the dam at the back of the park, and I saw another one zoom through the air right past me. Then something strange happened!

Another one followed the first one! And then another and another! They went right over to the weeds next to the dam. I just knew I was going to get my picture. I walked as stealthily as I could over to where I saw them land. They saw me immediately and they all flew away. I ended up with nothing!

After I realized they weren't coming back I dejectedly walked towards the meadow area, and away from my chance of getting my picture of this goldfinch. I hoped because there were so many of these birds that I would have another chance next time, but I knew it was over for now.

Then as I arrived at my destination and turned the corner something magical happened. On a small branch up in a very close tree I saw another goldfinch sitting there waiting for me! I was quick with the camera this time, so I got several shots before it flew away. Not the best but good for now.

Even more important was the fact that I had seen where the bird flew off to this time. I thought maybe I was going to get another chance at it. The bird flew very near a fallen tree at the edge of the meadow, and I thought I could see it on one of the branches. I quickly made my way over.

As soon as I got there it flew away. But then I looked at the branches of the dead tree again and saw yet another one of these birds perched there. This one appeared to be a little different than the other one though. It didn't have that characteristic black cap! What was going on here?

It turns out that this new bird may be a female. Only the male has the black cap, and this one definitely did not. So not only did I get another photo of an American Goldfinch, I also got both a male and a female. I'd say that's a pretty good adventure for one day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Cormorant's Prize

On the day this happened I almost didn't even go near the water to see it. It just goes to show you that you should explore as much as you can, wherever you are. If I hadn't decided to move down to the water near whee the crown of people stood, I would never have seen this great event.

But what am I talking about? I'm telling you about this cormorant, of course, and the fact that there is something in it's mouth. What? What is in it's mouth? It's a fish that this little double-crested cormorant has captured! I thought I had seen everything with these birds, but I saw it catch a fish!

When I arrived at the back of the park there were about four people already there. They were standing and sitting at various places of the dam's viewing platform, looking out at the lake. I avoid people whenever possible when I'm on my trails, and that's just what I intended to do on this day.

When I saw all of them there I thought I would just skip my usual stop at the viewing platform, and go check out the other side of the dam. Maybe I would see something interesting there. Maybe the geese in the water and all of those ducks wouldn't miss me at all. Yup, that's what I was going to do.

But then after I was finished watching the water flow off the dam, and I was walking back, I had a new thought enter my mind. This was my park, my trails, my dam, my viewing platform, and my lake! These people would just have to make room for the rightful owner of this park, and nature in general. So I walked over to get a better look at the geese.

It seemed to go much more smoothly than my subconscious mind had indicated just five minutes before. I don't think anyone else even knew I had arrived, or they were trying even harder not to be seen themselves. Intent on further ignoring them I stood at the railing and began taking pictures of the water birds.

That's when I saw this lone cormorant pop up to the surface of the water with a fish in its mouth! It was also oblivious to all of the humans loitering about. It didn't even notice the crowd of other birds swimming around it. It had a great prize, and nothing would stop it from enjoying its new found victory.

The cormorant usually avoids the other creatures around it when it's here in the park. But when there is a good distraction, even the closeness of the crowd of other creatures can't deter it. I like the way this bird does things. I seem to have seen this behavior somewhere before.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wildflower World

Today is a day for a quiet look at the world of wildflowers. The words and the stories will wait until tomorrow. I hope you enjoy this relaxing look at nature.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Yum yum! Nice ripe tomatoes. ...Uh, wait. Just kidding! These plants look kind of like tomatoes here, but that is very far from the truth. They are much smaller than a tomato and I don't think they're very edible. They are actually berries. As you may have guessed by the title of the story, this plant is called Winterberry.

I have wanted to write a story on this plant for over a year, but until now I haven't known what it was called. If you think I'm still mistaken just let me know what it is. Once I began taking pictures of my adventures I quickly noticed a few types of plants, like these, that stood out among all the rest. I always stop and look at them.

These plants are scattered around many of the nature preserves I like to travel. These particular pictures have been waiting for about a month in my ready area so I could write about them. I just wanted to give you at least a little bit of information about them before I presented them for all to see.

These winterberry shrubs are also known as Michigan Holly. That's for a very good reason. They're a member of the holly family. They're not an evergreen like other holly plants though. As soon as it begins to get cold the green leaves will turn yellow or black and eventually fall off the shrub. The berries remain though, which is why they are called winterberry.

In the places I go these plants are most likely strategically placed to attract birds. And they do that very well. That is one of the first things I noticed when I saw these plants. The birds seem to love eating these berries very much. That makes two benefits to looking at these beautiful plants.

Identifying this plant has been a particular triumph for me. Like I said before, I have been wondering about them for over a year now. It seems the deeper I travel into the world of nature the more I learn. I knew virtually nothing about what I saw when I began, but now I can identify so many different things.

The great thing about this ongoing discovery of nature is that I am still just beginning. There is so much more for me to learn, but I now could teach people so much that they never dreamed of. Who knows? One day I could take people on tours through these places, and teach them about many of the wonderful things along the way.

But I guess that's a dream for another day. Today I'm just happy that I have learned about my old friend, the plant called winterberry.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Running Rabbit

There is a place on the hiking trail where I don't ever expect to see any animals. I don't know why, because I've seen birds here plenty of times before. I've also seen a few interesting bugs. I guess it's mammals that I'm thinking of then when I think I won't see any animals.

This place is at the front of the park, right at the entrance to the forest. There are big turns on the trail that hide the parking lot behind a good sized group of trees, and the little area forms a small meadow there. When I think about it, it's really a great place for smaller animals to hide.

But I was still very surprised when I had just emerged from the forest on my way out of the park. If you haven't guessed what happened yet, I guess I'm just going to have to tell you. I walked around the first bend of that twisty turny(that's right, I said twisty turny!) trail, and I came right up behind a little brown rabbit resting on the trail.

I was as quick with my camera as I could be. I really wasn't prepared to see anything, so the camera was only ready to get pictures of scenery. I had to take the time to zoom it in to get a decent shot of this little rabbit. By the time I was ready, which was only a matter of seconds, the rabbit was already running.

I was lucky enough to get three shots of the little rabbit before it disappeared into the grass on the right of the path. All three pictures came out good, which is very unusual when I have to rush like I did. I wanted to get some closeups of the rabbit, but I guess it wasn't meant to be this time. These three action shots may be better anyway.

This was the first time in a year that I saw a rabbit on a hiking trail. I've seen plenty of them, and I even have some closer and more detailed pictures of one, but never on the trails. In fact, this is only the second one I've ever seen right on the trail. The other one was because of the magic of my little friend Alice, but it seems I've been developing my own magic now.

There goes the rabbit, racing around the track! That was one of the exciting things of the day for me. I love the adrenaline rush of trying to keep up with a fleeing animal. A hunter has this same rush, but my animals are left unharmed. I have the advantage of being able to stalk these animals again and again.

This little rabbit is the last mammal I've seen so far, until my next adventure, of course. I wonder what I'll see next. Will it be as fun as this was? Will I put myself in danger, like I have on a few other occasions? Will I find a sad scene of a hurt or dying animal? Or will I find a happy family of a mother and her babies? Read and find out!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fawns Of The Meadow

I'm not going to give you a big story today. Instead, after checking the poll results so far, I'm going to give you extra photos this time. Each one of these photos has a fawn(baby deer) in it. They're all doing what fawns do when they're let loose to play in a meadow. I'll tell what they're doing, with a short description under each photo. Let me know what you think.

This first fawn appears to be smelling the flowers, but I suspect he is really looking for a tasty little snack.

This fawn's mouth is open because it is in the middle of chewing its breakfast. It is leasurely walking to the next place it thinks something might taste good.

The fawn in the middle of the picture is curiously watching me, trying to figure out what I'm doing. They kept checking me out every few seconds. The one on the left and behind it is having fun running and playing. They were not at all afraid of me.

Here is a good close up of one of the fawns. It is standing right at the edge of the forest. I really love looking at the spots on their backs, and the other little details that I never noticed before.

Here's a shot from a little farther away. This fawn is walking to catch up to its mother, where she is watching me to make sure I don't try anything.

Here's the first fawn again. It looked up at me from its flower. Doesn't that face just look so innocent?

And there it goes! It must have decided it was too close to me and not close enough to its mom. The fawn isn't running very fast. It's only a slow trot. This is a good view that shows why these are called white-tailed deer.

This is the most different post I have ever done for a Friday. What do you think?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Deer In The Mist

I promised to tell you the strange story of my encounter with the deer I've been showing you for the last couple of days, so that's just what I'm going to do. Maybe I should have done this first, but that wouldn't have been as much fun, now would it? Well anyway, here we go!

I had just walked to the edge of the meadow, and I didn't really expect to see much of anything here this early in the morning. I thought I'd go ahead and take a few pictures since it was so misty here. Maybe I could get a few nice ones together for a small post for my blog, even though it was kind of hard to see. After I had taken several shots, I noticed something big moving in the meadow.

It was a deer, and it was walking towards me! How could I have missed it before? Then a little to the left I saw four more, and some of them were young ones! I thought to myself that this must be one of the luckiest things that had happened to me yet! I was very excited as they came forward. That's when I began to realize that they were walking right towards me, but they weren't stopping!

As the deer moved closer, they were looking right at me. My mind began to race, and I lowered my hand that held my camera. The deer slowed to a stop less than thirty feet away from me. The one on the left lowered its head at me, and then back up as if to tell me to back off. Then the one on the right repeated this action.

My courage was beginning to leave me, but I quickly grabbed it in a stranglehold and stood my ground. These two deer were making threatening motions at me, even though they were the ones that moved towards me. I had done nothing to them! My stubbornness took over, so I made the same threatening head bobbing motions right back at them. What would happen now?

I checked around for a small tree to hide behind just in case one of them decided to charge me. But instead of making them angry, my actions seemed to have the opposite effect on them. They decided it might not be a fight they wanted, but they still weren't afraid. They made no more threatening motions, but they didn't move away either.

Deciding that we could coexist in the meadow, the deer went back to grazing. There's plenty for them to eat here, and they weren't going to give this up so easily. Even so, every once in awhile one of them would look up at me to make sure I didn't try anything evil. I was busy taking pictures of them though, and they didn't seem to mind that too much.

While all of this was happening, the little ones had disappeared into the background. I lost track of them during the short tense situation. I guess they all knew exactly what to do if things became dangerous. None of them were very afraid of me, but they were just taking normal precautions. I was definitely not going to make too many quick moves. After awhile I slowly moved away to get pictures of other things. The deer stayed in the meadow.

You might think that deer wouldn't react like this, but these are city deer. They behave slightly different around here. If I had become too threatening, they probably would have run from me, but I was only after photos anyway. This wasn't the first time I've had a tense situation with a herd of deer in this park. But it was the first time the deer actually came to me to try to chase me away. I guess they really like their meadow very much.

The End?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Game Results - 5 Deer

Again today I have a few things to take care of. First of all, I'm going to reveal what it was that you were looking for in my In The Meadow game from yesterday. There were exactly five deer roaming around the meadow that day. Two of them were adults, and I believe they were both female because I got a reasonably good look. And the other three of them were young ones. The picture above explains it all.

Now on to the winners of this game. Pretty much everyone guessed correctly that these animals are deer. The other part of the game was that you had to find out the correct number of animals. It wasn't quite as easy as some of the past games I've had, but maybe that made it more fun. But who guessed everything correctly? And the winners are...
  1. Poetic Shutterbug
  2. Elizabeth Barrette
  3. Julia
  4. Anonymous
Check out the comments to see how close each one of the winners' guesses were. Then go and visit their blogs and leave each one a nice comment. I know the ones with blogs very well, and they all have really good websites. I don't know who Anonymous is because that name is so common, but Anonymous, like the others, deserves congratulations for winning.

This second picture shows one of the two adults with the three fawns(young deer). These last two pictures are mostly here to give you a better look at the deer. I have some even closer shots of them, but I'll show you those in an upcoming post where I'll also tell you the story of the encounter I had with these five deer. It was actually very strange and even more interesting.

This last photo of the deer shows both of the adults with two of the fawns. One of the fawns is standing just behind the adult on the right. I think both adults are female. I had a good long look at both, and I shamelessly checked for the identity of them both. You can laugh about that, but I was just being a good reporter by checking my facts.

Now on to my last bit of business for the post.

I have received two awards, and on the same day! The Humane Award was from Glynis. You can find her post here. The Humane Award is to honor certain bloggers who are considered, kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in blog activities and always leave the most supportive and encouraging comments.

The Kreativ Blogger award is from Jen(JStantonChandler). You can find her post here. In this one you share seven facts about yourself and then pass it on to seven other people. You can find more details in Jen's post. So go read it!

The thing many of you don't know is that I'm a notorious award cheater. I always fail to follow rules. I have my reasons. For one, I develop a terrible writer's block when trying to share things about myself. So read my blog and I will reveal these things little by little. It's easier for me that way.

Now, the last several times I received awards I failed to acknowledge them in a post here. I had been letting my outside world's troubles seep into this blog and I was feeling overwhelmed, so all I had room for was my usual nature posts. I wanted to show my appreciation to the people who gave them to me, but I just didn't have it in me at the time. So I want to give the Humane Award to all of the people who gave me awards in the past.

Now here's something a little different. I give the Kreativ Blogger award to the winners of my In The Meadow game. They're listed towards the top of this post. It's not seven, but that's my choice. For the winners, you may do what you like with the award. You can follow the rules that can be found at Jen's blog. Or you can admire the award right here, and leave it at that. It's your choice, and your award. I hope you like it.

Okay, this was a much bigger post than I intended. I'll be back tomorrow with my next post, and I'll be reading all of yours some time later today. Talk to you then!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Game: In The Meadow

I have two things to do in this post today. The first thing I want to do is show you a picture of the meadow where I saw all of those flowers that I showed you a few days ago in my post Flowers Of The Meadow. I didn't show it to you before because I wasn't sure I had any pictures that showed the whole meadow, but still showed the flowers.

Well, the flowers are probably difficult to see here too. Mainly because it was very early in the morning. The sun had just begun to come up, and many of the flowers had not opened up for the day yet. There is also a heavy morning fog that obscured everything. But all is not lost.

Even with these problems, I still wanted to show you the pictures from this time because something very special happened. I had an animal encounter in this meadow as I was taking these pictures. I will begin to tell you more about it tomorrow, but for today I want to have a little game that involves the next photo.

Now for the contest. In this picture above there are animals in the meadow. What you have to do is guess what kind of animal they are, and how many are there. I can tell you that there are more than one animal, and they are the same kind. You can see them a little bit now, but you will only be able to get a better look if you click on the picture to expand it.

This game is a little more difficult than the last one, but just remember, it's only for fun. There's no stress involved here. Guess whatever you want, even if someone else already made the same guess, or even if you don't really know. Guesses are fun! Also, I really have a very good reason for having a game this time.

When I first saw the animals out there, I had a very hard time seeing them all. In fact, I didn't even know they were there until I took my fourth or fifth picture. They actually revealed themselves to me first. I'm hoping that playing this game might help you experience the same thing I did. So make your guess and share it in the comments section, or just share your thoughts. Have fun!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Black-Crowned Night Heron

It's amazing what things you can find when you consider time. Usually when I go hiking it's either late in the morning or in the early evening, or anywhere in between. There is plenty of daylight during these hours, so I get to see very many good things. But recently I decided to finally take Rainfield's advice and try going very early in the morning.

It was also the day of the last big storm that inspired me. The forest was so dark that it was a little spooky in there that day. I react to a scare like that a little differently than some people. I was absolutely thrilled and exhilarated! I decided right then that I had to have more of that! But how could I duplicate that fear, and maybe make it even more intense? Hmm...

I've got it! I decided to go to the only one of my nearer parks that are open before 8:00 AM. I have gone twice now. The first time just after sunrise, and the second time it was just before. The second time was the best because I got to see some amazing things. You'll here about some of them in the next few days. But first I just have to tell you about this bird in my pictures here!

This bird is a Black-Crowned Night Heron. I saw this bird in the same place both days I came here so early in the morning. I have never seen it at any other time. This is one benefit of going to a place at different times. It makes it seem like a completely different place, including many different animals, like this wonderful bird.

On both days I found this little heron perched on an old tree branch that was barely sticking out of the water. It's just to the right of the fishing platform. I really never expected to find anything when I went down to the lake, but I was hoping to get a few scenery photos there in the dark. So you can imagine my surprise when I found this guy just sitting there waiting for me.

At first I thought he was sleeping there, and maybe it was his chosen sleeping spot, but I actually stopped by the fishing platform twice on this last trip, and I found him there bent over trying to catch fish. Maybe he woke up since I saw him an hour before. He even turned and looked at me once before turning back to trying to catch his breakfast.

These birds are called night herons because they are usually nocturnal, but they can come out during the day too if the fishing is good. They have the widest range of any heron, and they can be found throughout most of the world. So look for a black-crowned night heron near you. You might get lucky enough to see one.

This bird in my pictures looked to be about 1 1/2 ft long or 46 cm, maybe longer. I have read that adults are typically about 2 ft long or 64 cm. The first one I saw was bigger than this one. This one might look small, but it's actually a very big bird. These birds probably look a little lighter in color, but remember that it wasn't really daytime yet when I took the pictures.

Just remember, this is the kind of thing you might see when you decide to challenge your fear. So go for a nice dark hike. But you should know that there are many unexpected things in the dark. Some of them might make your fear come to life, so always let someone know where you are.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fuzzy White

I find some very odd things on my everyday adventures. The plant in this picture is something I've never seen before. Maybe one of you knows exactly what it is, but it is completely odd to me. This is the kind of thing that makes an adventure fun. Discovering something new.

This plant is in a very wet area. The whole place is like a big swampy pond. As a matter of fact, it is in the same area where I came upon the hundreds of ducks I showed you a few days ago. I was looking at this plant right before I reached the area where the ducks live.

When I first saw this, I thought it was some sort of strange pine cone. The plant doesn't look like any kind of pine tree to me though, so I'm sure that's wrong. Maybe it's a kind of pod or something. I didn't know it until I looked at the pictures, but the white color is from the fuzz that is growing on it. Underneath that fuzz it is green.

I would have picked one and took it home and cut it open or something, but I always worry that an unfamiliar plant might not be so good to touch. Who knows? Those little white hairs on this plant might be sharp and poke right into my skin or something. That would not be fun trying to dig them out.

I might just be paranoid about things like that, but at least I'm uninjured. I've done very many foolish things on my nature trails, but my main safety rule is to keep my hands off of unfamiliar things. Last winter I was caught in a freak winter storm where I saw a tree fall in front of me on the path, and it only excited me more. But I still won't touch a strange plant.

Here's a more pulled back view of the whole plant. I think it might be a bush of some sort, because it isn't very tall. On the other hand, it is taller than me. It might be a tree that has a lot of close branches. I guess I might learn the identity of this plant one day, but it will be purely by accident. The one thing I know for sure is that I'm not going to touch it.

Thinking about a few comments from yesterday's post, I thought about showing a few pictures of the meadow today, but wider shots just don't show the flowers very well. The taller weeds seem to hide them in the photos I already have. I'll have to go back and try to get a few better shots that include the flowers. Then maybe I can show it to you. I don't touch the flowers either. I guess it's a phobia.