Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Cormorant's Return

I found one of my favorite birds not too long ago. I've seen these birds many times, but I've been waiting for them to come back. This bird is a double-crested cormorant. On most summer days there is at least one of these big birds somewhere on this lake. I've seen as many as three.

I didn't catch the cormorant at a rare time in the picture above. A cormorant will hold its wings open like that for long periods of time so it can dry them in the Sun. They have to do that because they don't have the same natural oils on their feathers that repel water that a lot of other water birds, like ducks, do.

From a distance these birds can sometimes look rather sinister or bat-like when they are perched like this with their wings spread open. Some people consider them to be pests, and they most likely are in some places. But there aren't very many of them in my lake, so they're just fine here.

The cormorant is perching on a piece of wood that's sticking up out of the water. This is a favorite place of theirs. A cormorant can almost always be found on something like this when it's not swimming. They are perching birds. I always try to get a look at this area when I first am able to see the lake. I'm always hoping the cormorants will be there.

This is what they do when they're not up on their perches. The cormorants will swim around the lake getting ready to find some fish to eat. From the land they look like little dinosaurs or lake monsters when you see them like this.

They will dive under the water for a long time trying to catch fish. One second you see them, and the next second they're gone. They eventually pop back up to the surface far away from where they started. They're actually kind of fun to search for when they do this.

Okay, that's my post for today. I had to do this one quickly because I was having quite a bit of trouble getting onto the internet since my last post. As soon as I was able to connect I began typing this post up. I hate when it has to happen this way. Now I have to go and see about Nature Center Magazine. I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stalking A Fox Squirrel

This is the little guy that caused all the trouble yesterday. He doesn't look very hidden anymore, does he? This little fox squirrel was quietly eating a snack while I stood there taking his picture from a distant hiding place. Just as he was so very hard to see for you yesterday, he couldn't see me very well either.

A camera with a good zoom lense can be a blessing and a curse for an everyday adventurer. My first camera made it necessary for me to get very close to every animal I featured here. It became an exciting game for me to see how well I could sneak up on any creature I targeted. That can also be a problem sometimes. Animals run away, and some bigger animals get angry.

With my present camera and its powerful zoom I am able to sometimes keep my distance. I still have to get the right position, but the game isn't quite the same anymore. My skills as a photographer get better while my skills as an animal stalker begin to stagnate a little. I'm still having fun though because I always have to keep my eyes open to new prey.

This is the part where I reveal where the squirrel was hiding in the picture. It was hiding right out in the open, but I did a mean thing to all of you. The picture quality just wasn't good enough to find this squirrel, and I knew that very well. The real game was for you to guess. It was a fun test of your deductive reasoning skills. All of you did well, and some of you even won the game. Let's find out who the winners were.

The Winners
Who guessed correctly? Who gave the funniest guesses?
Poetic ShutterbugWiseacre

I tried to get all the winners, but I'm not always perfect. Go visit their blogs. I know you haven't seen them all yet. These are each very good friends, and they can be your friends too if you give them the chance to know you.

Now we have a better look at where the squirrel was perched. He is right there to the right of that tree with the big hole in it. See him sitting on that fallen tree branch? Sharing these games gives you all a small sense of what it's like to be out there looking for animals like this. I do it every day, most of the time never knowing if there are any animals at all.

Most of the time I find nothing, but my searching eyes sometimes are able to spot a hidden little critter in the distant forest. My pictures are my prize for winning the game. My games are an effort to share my prize with you; to share the experience a little better. Then we can all find the animal, even if it might be so hidden that we can never see it at all. I hope you find this as fun as I do.

Nature Center Magazine - Emma is featuring a blog today for her Nature Site Of The Week that many of you know and love. Go and see for yourself who it is.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Game - Where Is The Squirrel?

It's time for another game where I ask you to find a hidden critter! The last game turned out to be a little too hard, and this one might be as well. But even a good guess might work. Clicking on the picture to make it bigger can also help. Goofy comedy guesses are also very welcome. Anyway, on to the rules of the game.

There is a squirrel in this picture somewhere. All you have to do is find it! You can also make a random guess. Then in the comments section describe to me where you think the squirrel is. There can be more than one winner, so make your guess even if someone else has the same guess. This is all just for fun, so there are no official prizes.

Tomorrow I'll reveal where the squirrel is. I'll also list any winners. And I'll also list whoever leaves the funniest guess whether it's right or wrong, but keep it clean. I know you can think of something funny; most of you are very creative bloggers. I hope you all have fun with this one. And good luck. Make your guess.

Nature Center Magazine - We have even more fun with squirrels today! Our Cool Nature Video is called Chipmunk Fishing. This one is a very funny video where a young man named Jon actually goes fishing for chipmunks. Don't worry, no chipmunks are harmed. Go see if he catches anything.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Huge Mistake

Where do I start? I guess the beginning would be as good of a place as any. I'm about to tell you a story that I never wanted to reveal to anybody. Why? Because I feel foolish that it even happened to me. I was beginning to think I was a great adventurer, but then this happened.

I arrived at the park happy to be on one more everyday adventure. I moved onto the entry path, and was about to cross the bridge that leads to the forest when I saw a big creature standing there to the right of this small structure. It took me a second to realize that I was looking at a great blue heron that was in a very odd place.

Being quick with my camera, as always, I began taking pictures at lightning speed before it could decide to fly away. The only problem was that it had its back to me. I took a few steps forward before I thought maybe I should try to get this at a better angle. So I backed away as stealthily as I could, and I walked around a bug shrub on the side of the bridge to get a better look.

I came at that heron from the side of the bridge, not even worrying about the snakes that live down in this area. Happily there were none there this time. They would only be garter snakes anyway, so I was in no danger. And the very small runoff creek was mostly dry today too, so I was doubly lucky.

I was in a very good position now because the heron was concentrating very strongly on something else, so it had no idea that I was there at all. I was going to be able to sneak right up on it. Yes! I began stalking it like a graceful cat. I'd be right up on it, getting pictures the whole way before it ever knew I was there!

Then I got closer and found out what I was blinded to before. The reason the heron never seemed to move was because it was fake!!! I was tricked by a fake heron! I immediately felt so embarrassed that I looked around to see if anyone saw this whole episode. When I saw nobody else around I quickly resolved to never speak of this event. Why would I ever tell a living soul of this?

The reason I'm telling you about this now is because of exactly what happened. It's because of the fact that I was embarrassed about it. I'm revealing even my blunders because if I do that then I will never be self conscious of myself in such a bad way. I never want to let embarrassment affect me. I only want confidence to remain. Telling any story like this will only make me stronger.

So now I invite all of you to go ahead and laugh at me. I mean it. I deserve it for this because I think what happened is honestly and truly funny. Laughter doesn't hurt one bit; it only makes us happy. I know I would find it funny if it happened to someone else. And if you'd like to share one of your blunders too, go ahead. We will all get a laugh out of it, and we'll know we are laughing with another human being. I think you'll feel better for it. I feel better for this.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Forest Ninjas

I often refer to black squirrels as ninjas of the forest or forest ninjas. A ninja, at least in our popular stories of today, usually dresses in black to conceal his movements, and moves with great stealth. The best of them give the illusion that they're invisible to the rest of us. They carry out their mission without ever leaving a trace.

Well, a forest ninja, or black squirrel, has many of these same qualities. In the deep forest these black squirrels are very difficult to ever see. A humans eyes have enough trouble, and a camera always has a lot of trouble focusing on these stealthy little creatures. Getting a photo of a black squirrel when the leaves are on the trees is one of the most difficult things ever to do.

Take a look at the photo above. There is a black squirrel there, but he is not the easiest thing to see. Go ahead and click the picture if you need to see it better. The light has many shadows lurking in it, and the black squirrel uses it well.

Here's another picture you might want to click on to make it bigger. Go ahead and get a closer look. The squirrel is actually easy to see here. But are you really seeing a whole squirrel? What you really see is only a black silhouette. The squirrel is so dark that he has become only a shadow. Almost invisible. Like a ghost.

Even the eyes are black on these black squirrels. They are very hard to see when they hide. I think that's why they seem to thrive in certain small areas, but are never seen in most others. This is an example of a very specialized creature. Most squirrels are a shade of brown, and that serves them well. But these black squirrel forest ninjas have their own special color. They demonstrate more of the wonderful variety of nature. I'm glad they exist, aren't you?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Three Goose Families

I thought for awhile there maybe I frightened a few people off with my post yesterday. Admittedly it wasn't my usual fare, but I will definitely be writing more things like that in the future. It was the first time I've ever truly brought some of my real opinions out into the open rather than hide them deep down in the content to be wondered about. But today it's back to something more normal from me.

Nature is my main passion here anyway. And boy do I have nature for you today! About a month or two ago I was complaining that all of the geese have disappeared from my normal haunts, but I recently found out I was dead wrong about that. They weren't gone, they were only hiding better than before!

Last year there were two families of geese on my favorite small lake that formed a bigger flock together. Well this year there are not two, but three families of geese out there on that lake! They are proudly parading their young ones back and forth, up and down that lake.

To be honest, there is one more family, but not as many babies. One family has six young ones. The other two have two each. That's one less baby, but two more adults this year. I don't know where they were all hiding, but they make the same areas their home now. I wonder if any of these are my old pets from last year.

I suspect these families were hiding at the other end of the lake, the place where no humans go. I always watched for them there, but I never saw them at all. But I could only really see that from the edge of the hiking trails. Maybe I needed a further adventure.

All of that doesn't matter now anyway, because they're here out in the open now. Some of the babies are even changing their baby fuzz to legitimate adult style feathers. They don't fly yet, but I've seen these same families out across the road that runs parallel to the river, but not too close.

Here's some of those teenage geese now. I mentioned a short while back about baby swans not being ugly ducklings, but take a look at these goony birds. I guess they're like any teenagers. They are going through an awkward stage before they truly look grown up. So have some sympathy for them in their awkward time. They'll be leaving the nest all too soon.

Many people consider geese to be pests, but I personally love these noisy creatures. They're such friendly sociable creatures. Their intelligence is debatable, but they are certainly friendly. I think these are the birds that are thought of when someone says the term bird brain in reference to a dimwitted person.

I still like 'em anyway. Geese are such fun creatures. They're my friends.

Nature Center Magazine - We have a new Free Wallpaper for you today. Others offer free wallpaper too, but not this good.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Ultimate Choice

Every one of us chooses the world we live in. If you think little of yourself, then you will think little of the world around you. Do you think of man as an evil being that is here to destroy all that is around him? Then you must first think of yourself as the same. We each have a choice we must make.

It would be a very bleak and dark place if we thought there was no hope for humanity, if we thought of ourselves as inherently evil. The one great thing about humans is that we have the power of choice. We can choose what we think of ourselves. Are we really here to destroy all that is around us? Are you?

Or are we here to do the best good we can? I know I am. None of us are perfect creations, but that is what makes us special. Each one of us is different. There can be no perfection; only goals of improvement to achieve. We all want to be better, but does that mean we are not good now? No. But what does it mean?

It means that it is our choice. We can be whatever we want to be. We don't have to make ourselves out to be monsters. We can be glorious beings that have the power to transform all that is around us into something great. How we do that depends on each one of us individually.

There is no one way to make things better. The ways are unlimited. That's what is even more special. As long as we do what we think is best, and try our best, the world around each of us becomes our own individual paradise. Of course, nothing is ever perfect, but that is why we keep on trying. Without the need to improve, we would all whither and die. Living is our ultimate goal, so we continue.

Living to the best of our ability can bring us to a fairy jungle garden. We can imagine that the most fantastic creatures live there. These creatures are our friends as long as we treat them with the same respect that we expect for ourselves. Some of them are other humans, and some of them are different creatures of all kinds.

But remember that there is also danger there. To treat others with respect, we must first respect ourselves most of all. It is the only way we will understand how to treat all of the others. We must think of ourselves as the greatest creations that have ever existed, and then strive to be happy. That will then project automatically out to all others around us.

That's when everything will seem like fields of grass and flowers to us. The world is what we make it. It can be good. It can be bad. We have the choice to decide. That choice will never go away. It can be a burden to some, but a privilege to others. It can set us free. We are all destined for freedom. We only have to make the right choice.

And that's my completely different post for today. The message was always there. I just brought it to the front this time. How did you like it?

Nature Center Magazine - Did you ever wonder what what Idaho has to offer a nature lover? Whether you did or not, you can find out today. You might be very surprised.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Lovely Little Damsel

It's time for me to get small again. After yesterday's bit of insanity, I'm back to the normal world. But it seems the normal world has been a bit on the buggy side for me lately, and today is no exception. That's why I'm featuring these pictures of this Damselfly I was lucky enough to get recently.

I've been specifically watching for bugs on my recent hikes because they are some of nature's sometimes unappreciated creatures. Besides, I've been seeing so many of them. It seems only right that I get as many pictures of these small animals as I can while I have the chance.

These may be my most excellent bug photos yet. I'm very proud of them. As with all of my pictures, you can click on them to see them at full size. You may use them for your own personal use, as long as you don't alter them in any way. These aren't the original photos, but the originals are sometimes available upon request. Requested photos will possibly be made available as Free Wallpaper at Nature Center Magazine.

When I was taking the pictures of this lovely little damselfly, I noticed that it was looking right back at me a lot of the time. It can be kind of disturbing to have an insect turning its gaze on you, but it's also very interesting when they do it. And I guess they are probably disturbed when they see a human so focused on them as well.

Oh, a small bit of info on these little creatures. Many people get Damselflies confused with Dragonflies, which can be quite understandable. They really do look similar. I'll give you the easiest way to tell the difference. When they land, a dragonfly holds its wings out from its body, to make the shape of a little cross. A damselfly holds its wings in the same direction as its body. You can see in the picture that the wings run parallel along the back end of this damselfly. Pretty easy, huh?

Notice how I even got some pictures from the other side of this little beauty? It's still looking at me too. This damselfly was very interested in these leaves that it kept landing on, and it was willing to risk my presence to stay on them. I got to walk all the way around this cool critter while it kept coming back.

The last thing I want to bring to your attention about creatures like this is the cool metallic look they have. I always thought it makes them look like something robotic from a science fiction movie when you see them up close. Wouldn't it be something if there was a little man in there flying this creature?

Check out Nature Center Magazine today for a bit of interesting nature news.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Revenge Of Flynn

I just had the strangest adventure of all time! I was on a routine hike through the forest, at least I thought so at the time. Then I saw a squirrel in the distance of the forest. Well, I figured I hadn't had any good squirrel pictures to share in quite awhile so I stood still hoping for the right opportunity. That's when the weirdness started!

The squirrel turned and looked at me, so I thought my hopes of getting the picture had been ruined. But that's when it happened. That crazy squirrel came running straight for me! I had no idea what to do! And I equally had no idea what this squirrel was going to do! Why was it after me!!!

I then remembered that if an animal was running towards me that I should stand my ground. Running away would be a bad thing. So I waited right there to see what my new adversary might do. He obviously was coming for me though, so I had second thoughts about not running. But when he got close enough to pounce on me, he suddenly climbed up on a fallen branch and held up his front paws! He was holding something very odd!

Click To Enlarge
I thought at first that he was offering this odd silver object to me, but he held it up and close to him. What was that thing? Then as he looked right at me, pointing that little silver thing towards me, he began to chuckle in a high pitched little squirrely voice. Oh no! He was a demon sent to kill me!!!

To my surprise I heard him say in that very strange high pitched voice, "Hold still now..." Then there was a sudden clicking sound and a bright flash of light from that silver thing, and I was momentarily blinded! Oh lord help me, I've been shot! ...Oh wait, I felt just fine, but there were still bright spots of color in front of my eyes.

When my sight returned I saw that strange fox squirrel trotting leisurely away into the forest. I called out to him, asking who he was. He paused and looked back at me, and said, "Flynn, simply Flynn." Then he ran off farther into the forest, and was gone.

That was a name I knew from the past. That little rascal Flynn had gotten his revenge. I remember taking a few pictures of him nearly a year ago, while he stood there bragging about riding dogs and rescuing damsels from certain death. I never mentioned his power of speech, in fear of being thought crazy. Nah, nobody would ever think that.

Nature Center Magazine - It's the day of the week that Emma brings you another Nature Site Of The Week. Go take a look. Maybe it's yours.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Stalking My Prey

I am the great hunter. I prowl through the forest searching for anything I can catch. I am light on my feet, and I don't make a sound as I stalk gracefully and stealthily in attack mode. I crouch down with my weapon in position, ready for anything. Then I see my target, sitting there quietly and unknowingly on an old fallen log.

I point my weapon at it, and then, FLASH, I hit my prey right where it counts! There is no movement whatsoever as I now confidently approach, but I know there still might be others. I then pounce into action! I'm upon this little morsel before it knows I even exist! This mushroom never suspected I was coming.

Yup, that's what I said. Mushroom. It's a strange looking fella for being a mushroom, but a fungus is a fungus, and among us. That rhymes, or my name isn't Slippery Sam. Oh, wait, my name isn't... Ah forget it! You all know my name is Ratty, and I claim to be a human that dresses up like a giant mouse. No wonder I never show any pictures of me!

All I have for you are pictures of animals and other cool beasties from the world of nature. And this time I have this strange mushroom. These things seem to like my forest. At one time I knew just what this one might be, but I'll just be content to show it to you today. Who needs all that technical mumbo jumbo anyway?

What we all really want is the strange fantasy land that we sometimes call nature. Oh, by the way, this is a closeup of that strange mushroom. Nature can be a fantasy land for anyone, or it can be anything we want. You can go out there and imagine it to be anything you want, because it has everything.

I sometimes pretend I'm a wild predator, out there to hunt the other cute little animals. They don't like that, but I find it amusing. Sometimes I pretend to be the main character in one of those shoot 'em up video games. My camera is the gun. I have to use stealth to shoot my targets. Getting what I want helps win the game. And sometimes it's just me, enjoying the peace and harmony of nature and all its creatures. Ain't Nature Grand?

Nature Center Magazine - Some of you have requested it, so I have a Cool Nature Video this time like never before! In this video I finally give you a glimpse into what a typical day with Ratty is really like. This is a look into my own personal nature fantasy world. The main character may be familiar to many of you. Can you guess who he might be?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Flower And The Wasp

One thing I've been trying to do recently is keep things small. What I really mean is that I'm looking for the little things that make nature great. This time I was able to find two little things that make an everyday adventure very pleasant indeed.

The first thing you might notice in my pictures today is the bug that is crawling around on that white flower. The bug appears to be a type of wasp. Now wait. Before you think of the urge to run from a stinging little monster, there are a few kinds of wasp that are harmless to us humans, and even to those of you readers of the feline variety. This may be one of those.

The other thing you are sure to notice is the daisy-like flower that the little wasp is sitting on. This flower and all the others in these pictures are actually called Fleabane. There are two kinds of this plant in my area that I know of. One is Daisy Fleabane, and the other is Common Fleabane. This plant is one of those two, but I'm not good enough with plants yet to know which one. Maybe you know.

Here you can see that the wasp and the flower have become fast friends. They are helping each other survive. You can see the yellow pollen all over the bug's legs, and even on a few other places. They both get to benefit from this. Aren't good friends great?

Sometimes it's the little things in nature that make me happy. Watching a bug crawl around on a flower can be fun and relaxing, especially if you know the bug is there to help the flower. I like to think that all living things are trying to help in some little way. These two help each other. And maybe we humans are in some way the caretakers of the whole planet.

I'm sure there are other caretakers on Earth too, but we are one kind of them. I personally think we are doing a good job. Why? Because we are still alive. All of us, no matter how little some of us think we care, do little things to try to help our world, even if there are mistakes sometimes. I try to look for those little things, no matter how small. It makes me feel good when I find what I'm looking for.

This wasp will soon fly away to another little flower that's no bigger than the cap on a bottle of soda pop. The other flower will gratefully accept its payload of pollen. The wasp may never even know that it's helping the flower. All it may know is that it's collecting valuable food for itself and its young. But its small actions of its own survival are greater than it knows.

I guess our planet really knew what it was doing when it created both of these living things. There is a harmony there that we, being more of the living beings created on this planet, may never full understand. I wonder what purpose the planet created us for. We'll probably never know, just like this little wasp.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I seem to have found a form of life I've never seen before. Don't be mistaken, I've seen similar sights in the past, but never anything quite like this one. The only problem is that I don't quite know what it is. You see them in the picture above. They appear to be some type of parasite that is growing on this small tree.

The green color of this parasite blends in well with the leaves, but the odd shape really makes these things very easy to spot. I can tell you one thing for certain. My policy of not touching anything was in full strength when I was looking at these awful parasites.

They almost look like pointy seeds or something, but I've never seen any seeds grow on leaves in that way. This is the kind of thing I imagine seeing in a horror movie. The dumb guy touches one of them, and then they inject themselves into him and devour him from the inside out. Disgusting!

As you can see by this next picture the whole tree is covered with them. I looked closely, still not touching, to see if these were made by some of the insects that were crawling on the branches. There were a few ants crawling around, and a harmless looking spider.

I attempted to get a few pictures of the bugs, but that's when the mosquitoes struck! It was very hot out there, and I was sweating profusely. That's like candy to a mosquito! Every time I stopped walking the mosquitoes tore me up! So the mosquitoes are to blame for my lack of pictures of the other bugs.

After all of that, I figured I had overstayed my welcome in the forest this time. I quickly fled from the mosquitoes, the parasites on the plant, and any other parasites that might be lurking in the dark. It just goes to show you, it's better to at least attempt to escape parasites when they first show up. They come in large numbers, and they're totally relentless. I hate parasites!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A New Perspective

I walk past it every day. I don't know why I never try it. It sits there waiting patiently for me, but I only notice it when it's too late. I've looked at it countless times, but I never once considered approaching it. Well, never, until this last time. I finally did it!

Now, what I'm about to say may seem like such a small thing, but in my mind no new adventure is a small thing. And what adventure am I talking about? It's this trail in front of us in the picture above. It leads straight down to the edge of the lake. I finally decided to take a walk down this very short trail. But why did I never do it before?

It's because of this. The structure you see in the above picture is the fishing platform. I have often called the walkway that leads to it my own playground. I love places like this. It's like a combination of a walking bridge and a viewing platform. Actually, that's exactly what it is. I find it fun just to walk down that walkway to this platform, hearing the hollow thump thump thump of my footsteps along the boards.

And it has such a great view of the lake. I have shown numerous pictures from that very place. And I've also looked over and seen the little path at the edge of the water and thought to myself that I should walk down that one day. But being on the platform, I have already passed that little path.

But this time I decided to take the path. now I have an all new perspective. This path shows me a view of the lake that I have never seen before. I'm now down closer to the level of the water. Being on the dirt in a way makes me feel closer to nature than standing on a wooden platform. I'm glad I did this.

This all may seem like a very small thing, but it's the small things that take us closer to our goals. If you take a few small steps through the front door of your house to the outside, then you will have taken a giant leap to the world of nature, even if you live in a city. Inside is a completely different world than outside. Taking a few small steps in a different direction can give you an all new perspective too.

Nature Center Magazine - Come see what the new Free Wallpaper is today. If you don't come look you'll never know what you've missed.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chased By A Butterfly

This butterfly wanted desperately to land on my head! I was walking out of the nature park when it came flying aggressively towards me. Now before you tell me that butterflies are harmless, I know they are, and I fully agree. But it's a little unsettling when a creature seems so determined to have contact with you.

I saw it come flying down towards me from the sky in front of me. It was flying in a direct line towards my head. I make it a habit never to touch the animals if I can help it, so I ducked quickly so it would just fly past me. But then it did the oddest thing!

It flew right back around in a tight circle and tried to land on my head again! I did another quick duck and it actually changed direction to try to catch me anyway! It was very determined, and this whole thing became an odd dance with me trying to fend of this butterfly without touching or hurting it! Me being chased by a butterfly would have been extremely funny to any onlookers.

Finally, it looked like the butterfly had given up, and it flew off into the forest. I just began to turn to continue my hike, but the butterfly came zooming back! This time as it flew towards me, and got close enough to try for another landing, it suddenly did a climb up to the sky. Then it did a loop, quickly diving back down towards the ground, and it landed right at my feet! The pictures you see here are the only proof I have for this strange tale.

The butterfly then waited there on the ground while I began taking the pictures. I began to think maybe there was something wrong with the creature, but its behavior while it was on the ground seemed normal enough. And what is normal? Well, that would be sitting there slowly moving its wings while also slowly turning in a circle. Watch a butterfly some time; you'll see.

It was now that I remembered seeing this same type of butterfly last year. This butterfly has a wingspan of about 3in/7cm, so it's a good sized butterfly. The one last year was much bigger, but it was the same kind.

The only real problem I have is that even though I know this is a fairly common butterfly, I can't find out what kind it is. I've looked through so many pictures and guides that my eyes hurt, but I never find this kind. So does anyone have an idea of what kind of butterfly this friendly little creature might be?

So there you go. A strange story and a mystery to go along with it, plus some closeup pictures of a butterfly. I guess that makes a story that at least I think is entertaining. And that's good enough for me. I'll be back next time for another thrilling story of creatures and things.

Nature Center Magazine today brings you Copas, with his look at the State of Hawaii, and a good sampling of the nature you might find there. Don't miss it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Hungry Heron

One thing I really enjoy is getting pictures of a creature that I've never quite gotten before, despite numerous opportunities. This Great Blue Heron is the one I was finally successful with. I actually have had a lot of sightings and even pictures of these creatures that I've shared right here. But this is the closest I've ever gotten, and the first time I feel mostly satisfied about these birds.

Did you notice I said mostly and not fully satisfied? Well, that's because of where I took these pictures. Oh, it was indeed a wild animal that could fly away and everything like that. It was only that in this place the animals are a little more used to humans than where I usually go. It's not a big problem, but I was more than a little conscious of that fact. And I have to add that this heron was finally frightened away by a woman with a loud mouth.

But before all of that, I was able to get some very good pictures of this magnificent bird. I was at the edge of a pond behind the nature center at Kensington Park when this heron flew over. It never came very close, but it also never saw me. And I watched something fascinating. Take a close look at this bird's neck. It's a little fat for a heron.

I want to let you know that I'm showing you these pictures in reverse order, just for the purpose of suspense. You might also have to click the pictures to enlarge them to see everything a little better. These birds seem to be very good at blending in with their surrounding.

Now, after you've done that, you can see that in the picture above his mouth is open. Yup, you might have already guessed just what he's doing, especially if you cheated and looked at the picture below first. If you didn't, let's all go ahead and look at it now.

Do you see what's in this heron's mouth now? This was the whole purpose for this bird coming to this place. It was hungry. That's a fish in its mouth! I don't really know why, but I think it's one of the most interesting things to watch a wild animal while it's eating. I think it helps us to get to know the animal that much more.

And this bird is no small creature at all, no. It has a wingspan of about 6 feet or 2 meters! That's a pretty good sized bird. If you've ever seen one in the air, the first thing you think of is a pterodactyl; you know, a big flying dinosaur. It really looks a lot like one, and the huge size helps that idea along. It's really amusing to see one of these birds flying overhead while you're driving along the road.

Okay, I think that's enough from me for today. I got to whine a little bit, I got to complain, I got to exaggerate, and I got to cheer. What else is there but to say goodbye, for now. See you next time!

Nature Center Magazine has some excellent nature photography tips from Steve of Out On The Prairie today. I think you should go take a look. It'll make you happy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Strange Forest Cardinal

Sometimes you find certain animals in the strangest places. I found this male cardinal in the very middle of the forest, walking around on the forest floor. It was one of the oddest experiences I've had. I knew there was a bird in that area, but I had no idea what I would find or where I would find it.

Even though the pictures look sort of bright, it was actually very dark in the forest where I was. I kept hearing a bird call that sounded different than I've ever heard. It was an odd pinging sound. I've heard cardinals before, but they never sounded like this. I knew I was hearing a bird, but I thought it was a new one for me.

The sound echoed through the forest in a very eerie way that made it hard to tell just exactly where it was coming from. I knew the general area, but I couldn't tell really from what height it was coming from. Then I began hearing small rustling sounds on the ground. I guess that may be why I didn't know the height, because it was so unexpected. Usually only robins go to the forest floor.

But then I spotted a flash of red in the shadows behind some of the plants. I had to tell myself more than once that I was really seeing what I thought I saw. Not only was it a cardinal, but it was spying on me from behind the plants. I actually watched as it would hide and then peek out at me. It did this several times.

Here it is peeking out at me. I guess now that I write this that it might be assumed that the bird was somehow injured, but that never occurred to me at the time. It acted perfectly healthy, and it even flew around a bit. No injury there.

I still kept watching for that pinging sound though. It didn't sound like it was coming from the floor of the forest. I kept looking up into the trees. Finally, a I studied this cardinal some more, I saw that it was indeed the creature that was making that odd sound. It was somehow projecting its voice up and away from it. Maybe more deception?

It seemed after a few minutes that this cardinal was making these sounds for my benefit. I don't know whether it was trying to communicate with me or it was trying to trick me into going away. Either way, it kept looking at me as if it was talking right to me.

After awhile it finally grew tired of this game and flew away to another part of the forest. Maybe I missed something significant here. Maybe it was a magical bird that wanted to grant me a wish or give me riches beyond my wildest dreams. A once in a lifetime chance, and I blew it by not being smart enough to understand a birdbrain. Oh well. Better luck next time with the next magical wish granting bird.

Nature Center Magazine - Find out what site Emma is featuring today in her Nature Site Of The Week. I know you're all nature lovers, otherwise you wouldn't be here. So go see what she has for you. Don't miss out like I did with that bird.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chasing Bluebirds

Do you know how hard it is to get a picture of a simple little eastern bluebird? Well, for me it's almost impossible! You wouldn't believe how much time I spent chasing this one and many others before I was able to get these two obstructed view pictures.

I think these birds were teasing me, because whenever I'd get close enough to see them they'd fly off to another tree next to the one they were in. They never did fly very far away, but just far enough for me to not be able to see them. The frustrating thing was that I didn't have to get very close. My camera can see a long way. But I did have to be able to find them through the leaves.

As you can see though, all I have to this day are exactly two pictures of this one bluebird. This was definitely not one of the three that was laughing at me in their little birdy voices, but these pictures from the past are at least better than nothing. I'm not saying these are not good, but I was hoping for the spectacular shots that make you go ooh and ahh as soon as you see them.

Still, I'm not sure there is anything better than getting lucky enough to capture a bird in mid-flight. Especially one that has such a brilliant blue color. Bluebirds really are very beautiful creatures. I think even though I don't have the great pictures to share yet, I'm just glad I've had the privilege to be able to see a few of them up close.

What better way to spend a day than to chase bluebirds from tree to tree? I don't think I've ever had it any better. Ahh, the joy of being an Everyday Adventurer.

Nature Center Magazine - My newest Cool Nature Video shows the birth of a giraffe.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Baby Swans

The first time I've featured swans here and I hit the jackpot! Not only do I have adult swans for you, but they had babies with them! I went to this place with the intention of seeing swans, but I had no idea that I would get to see little ones too! Can you tell that I'm excited about it?

I didn't want to disappoint anyone with only the babies so this first picture has the whole family in it. Let's rundown a few things about a family of swans. An adult male swan is called a cob. An adult female swan is called a pen. And the little baby swans are called cygnets. And that's your swan lesson for the day.

I have to tell you something that might sound unbelievable. This is the very first time I have ever seen baby swans. That's right, I've never seen any before these. But now that I have, there is something I remember from childhood that just doesn't seem right.

It was the story about the ugly duckling. Many of you know it, but let me give you a refresher. There was an ugly duckling that was big and awkward compared to all of its brothers and sisters. It always felt bad because of this. But there was a secret about this ugly duckling. It seems that it had been somehow switched at birth. And it grew up to find out that it wasn't really an ugly duckling at all. It was really a beautiful swan.

Now tell me something. Do any of these little cygnet swans look ugly to you? They look like beautiful little fluff balls to me. I'm not sure there is anything more beautiful than a baby. I don't think these could possibly be considered ugly, even if they were ducklings.

What more delightful sight can be seen than baby animals with their parents in the wild? This is the kind of thing that just makes me smile. New life, with new hopes and dreams, and the innocence to know no limits. That's why we all smile when we see babies. We see that fresh new hope too.