Thursday, March 31, 2011

Little Fat Buddy

My forest is full of fatties! I showed you a little chubby squirrel a few posts ago, but I guessed that fat was just a trick of the way the little squirrel was sitting. Well, this one today is no trick at all! This squirrel is indeed fat fat fat.

I heard this little guy making a bit of noise in this tree and I quickly found him up there. He didn't seem to see me there because I kept my distance. That's one thing good about my camera; I can stay back a bit and still get decent pictures.

I've said before though that this comfort takes away a bit of the adventure that I got while needing to sneak up on the animals with my old camera. I got pretty good at it, and I'm sure I've lost some f that skill. but my pictures are better now, and I wouldn't want to go back.

I was able to enjoy watching this little guy in all his best poses. Yup, I identify him as a he because I am a he. You can call him she if you'd like. He. She. Both equally good. Anyway, I was having such a good time watching the little squirrel in such interesting poses.

Look at the way it is holding its paw up to its chest like that. The last little chubby squirrel did the same thing. Interesting. I wonder why they do that. I've seen the same pose from the first picture several times too. My little fat buddy here did both.

Oh no! He spotted me! He doesn't look any too happy that I've been eavesdropping on him, does he? These squirrels sure are a touchy bunch. I can't understand why they hate being stalked. Maybe they're all nuts.

I mean, you wouldn't mind finding some weirdo peeping in your living room window at you, would you? As an added fright, he begins taking pictures of you! Think about that one for awhile.

But then the squirrel got a bit of an itch. Everything was back to normal and I wouldn't have the squirrel cops sent after me. This was mostly because the squirrel finally realized I wasn't just a big dumb squirrel. I was just one of those snoopy giants that can't climb trees like squirrels can. So he ignored me after that.

And there he sat, ignoring me for all he was worth! I was now a nothing to this little fatty. That's okay. I watched this little squirrel for a few minutes longer before it scampered through the trees and out of sight. I then thanked him for the pictures and moved on to my next little adventure.

You know, I intended to post this one a couple days ago, but health still won't let me move forward as quickly as I'd like. The animals are all waking up for spring, so I am now getting plenty of good stuff to share. Hopefully the next post will come sooner. Talk to you then!

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Surprise Blue Jay

I've said in the past that blue jays were my nemeses. I don't really think I can truthfully say that anymore. I've since gotten some very good pictures of them in the past. And now I have a few more for you. And I even caught one on video! The video is a strange story.

Do you see what the blue jay is perched on? That is a nest, and I remember where it is! I hope I'll be seeing more of this bird in the future, and maybe even some little blue jays when they are big enough to come out. The nest is high up in that tree, but my hopes are equally as high.

And now for the the newest episode of Rat TV! I actually took this video a few days before I took the pictures, but I thin this might be the same bird. I got this from a different part of the trail, but I zoomed in to the general direction of this blue jay and its nest.

I was looking for a woodpecker that I kept hearing, so I zoomed the camera in to a far off part of the forest hoping to get lucky. And then in my view screen I saw a bird in the same general location that the sounds were coming from. I couldn't believe my luck! I thought I had actually found the woodpecker.

But then when I got home I was amazed to see this blue jay in the video. It is very hard to hold the camera steady enough at this distance to follow anything, but I did it for a few valuable seconds. I don't think it's the best video there ever was, but the story of my luck is amazing.

Here is more of the blue jay. It looked to be in the process of either building or fixing up the nest. It kept going back and forth, tweaking little things so they were just right. It's amazing that a bird can build something so complex as a nest. I challenge any intelligent human to do such good work.

This last picture was right before the bird flew off once again. It was busy and so was I. I had no idea how long it would be before the bird would come back, so I moved on my way as well. Getting pictures of a bird like this always means it's a good day.

This post was supposed to be up yesterday, but I forgot to write it. Really! I thought I already wrote it, and set it to post, but I discovered that morning I was mistaken. How's that for messed up? Now the mistake is corrected, and the thought of this error is funny. I hope anyone else's error can always be so amusing and in good cheer.

Have a nice day!

Nature Center Magazine - Your new starting place for nature!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Little Downy

It's been a busy week for me. Just for an update, I've had three visits to doctors within a week. It's nothing new. Just stuff from my car accident. To anybody who might see me, I look fine, but I'm still very far from okay. I'm getting better, but I'm not there yet.

Anyway, let's get on with my post. Above is a not very good picture of a Downy Woodpecker. I mentioned these little guys a few posts ago when I introduced a very similar bird, the Hairy Woodpecker.

The main difference between these two is their size. The downy woodpecker that we have here today is much smaller than the hairy woodpecker. If you see them side by side you might think one is a baby. The great thing is that I have them both here in the same forest.

This one above is an example of a Hairy Woodpecker.Take a look at his neck. It is longer than the smaller downy. He just looks bigger, doesn't he? And now you can compare their beaks in my pictures. The hairy has a much longer beak, about as long as his head. The downy's is comparably very short. Otherwise, they are almost identical.

And now back to the downy woodpecker. I've been hearing the tapping of these little guys for several weeks now. It could have also been the other guys, but it also could have been both. How's that? So I've been watching for woodpeckers for quite some time now.

As soon as I heard the knocking on this tree I began searching for him. This time I was lucky enough to see him up there. And yes, this one is a male bird. The red on the back of his head marks him as a male. The next picture shows that red very clearly for you. It's another one that isn't so good, but these birds are hard to get sometimes.

There's that little redhead. You may notice that the color in this shot is much better. That's because I was standing on the opposite side of the tree from where I started. The Sun helped me out a bt this time. The only problem was that this bird was very high up in this tree.

Soon after I took this picture the little bird flew away into the forest. I soon heard his loud tapping again, even though he was too far away now. Woodpeckers can make a pretty loud sound for such small birds. The first time I ever heard their tapping, I thought they must be huge.

I'll be back once again with another tale from the guy in the rat suit. Wouldn't you be really creeped out if you found out that I really do roam the forest in a white rat suit? You'll never know until you meet me out there.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Batman & Robin

The caped crusader is back, along with his faithful sidekick Robin, for another thrilling adventure in a world of mystery and suspense! ...Just kidding! No more of that Batman stuff for awhile. But I did bring along a Robin!

This one happens to be an American robin, which is different from the original European robin. This one actually looks more similar to Batman's Robin. Did you know that the character of Robin was originally supposed to be modeled after Robin Hood? The problem was that he ended up looking more like the kind of robin in these pictures. Maybe he was supposed to be both.

 Anyway, I promised birds, so that is what you're gonna get! This robin was waiting for me in a favorite tree of the bird community. The thing I like about robins is that they don't mind posing for my camera a little bit. This one waited for me, but seemed to be in a bit of a hurry anyway.

I had to chase him through the park to get more pictures, but when he noticed me he waited one more time before he flew away. And no, I'm not sure that it's a he. The eye rings are supposed to be a clue but I'll explore that at another time.

Right now I want to talk about spring. I don't want to brag (Who am I kidding? Yes, I do!), but I called it just perfectly! Spring came to my area right on time! Really! The official first day of spring was exactly when I said it would be, and all of our snow melted and we are now in spring mode! I'm good.

And there is Robin, watching for the next crime to fight. Here's another one. The first Robin grew up and became a crime fighter known as Nightwing. That's all I really know. I never had many comics; I just thought it was interesting.

So, did you like this rambling post about robins and spring and Batman and Robin? Like I said, that's enough of the Batman stuff for awhile. I'll end him if I have to resort to foul play! That's right, I'm no longer Batman. I'm... I'm... I'm the Joker!!! Ha ha, he he ho ho ha... HAAAA!

The End?

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Little Chubby

Squirrels are still mostly hiding so far this year, but the other animals are sensing the arrival of spring. Even so, I found Little Chubby here coming out for a look. This one was way up in a tree, not wanting to come down very close yet.

It seems strange to find such a fat looking little squirrel at the end of winter. Usually they'd be kind of skinny by now, and out beginning the look for food. But is this squirrel really fat? I think it's just a trick in the way it is posing for me.

Even if it is just a trick though, that chubby look makes him look like a mini groundhog, but much cuter, doesn't it? Maybe the squirrel is huddled up because it's cold. I tend to doubt it because it has been getting very warm around here.

When I took these pictures a couple days ago the ground was still covered in snow, but now it's all almost gone. Spring is arriving right on time, and more importantly, right when I predicted it! By the first day of spring we will have no more snow on the ground.

And here is the squirrel a little farther away, but with the traditional skinny spring look. I knew the little squirrel was faking! I guess I deserved it for walking around the forest in a rat suit. Yes, my days as Batman are over for now. I like adventure more than the Batman thing gave me, and it's more fun and dangerous being a mouse... er, rat anyway.

Quite a few years ago there was a commercial for an old video game called Phoenix for the Atari system. The game was about mutant birds attacking. Their slogan was "The Birds Are Back!" I haven't seen any mutants recently, but maybe you can guess what I'll have for you next time.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Great Animal Tracker

So there I was, just entering my normal nature trail when I found some odd dog-like tracks. I'd normally ignore them because this particular park allows dogs, but there was just something different about them. Oh sure, they look like the tracks of a dog, but it was their pattern that interested me.

I didn't get the proper pictures to demonstrate this, but most dogs that are with humans travel in a meandering chaotic pattern; the same as an exploring puppy of any canine creature might. Dogs are like eternal puppies, considering humans their adults. But creatures like coyotes, wolves, and foxes act like adults when they are grown.

These tracks travel in a straight line with no thought of exploring every tree, bush, or interesting smell. And they are also traveling the deer trail, not the human trail, which almost no dog would do here. This is why the tracks are so intriguing to me. But just what exactly are they? I can't say I know, but I can guess.

First, notice in the bottom left of the picture. That's the edge of my boot there. See the print I left before attempting to move my big feet out of the picture? This snow is deep, but the print shows that the snow is hard enough that I didn't sink down. The animal track did, so it's obviously at least a few days old.

But what is the animal track? Well, it still could be just a normal, everyday dog. But I'm going to go with my fantasy and a little knowledge and guess either a coyote  or a fox. The tracks are smaller than what a wolf might make, and there aren't any wolves around here. But we do have coyotes and foxes. And they have both been reportedly seen in this exact spot of this park. Yup, I talk to people here all the time.

This is the very same direction these two types of animals have been seen going by those I have talked to. The one problem is that I have very little experience with these tracks, and both leave very dog-like prints. After some study, I think they look maybe different than coyote tracks; very much like fox tracks, but a bit bigger. So they're either a dog by itself, or I'm not experienced enough with this type of track yet. You decide.

And what do we have here? Wabbit twacks! Uh, rabbit tracks! The rabbit came through here after the canine animal, but obviously before me. The tracks sink in too much for such a small animal to be here very soon before me, but they show that the snow was harder than when the bigger animal came through.

That straight line of the rabbit tracks is similar to the straight line that the other creature left. I didn't get the whole line of other creature's tracks because the sun was shining in exactly the wrong direction. My shadow would have gotten in the picture in the other, and that would have been just unforgivable.

It's just... If I show you my shadow then my secret identity would be revealed, and we just can't have that. ...Well, I guess I can tell you. I will finally reveal myself to you. I'm... I'm... I'm Batman!

See you next post! Same bat time, same bat website!

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Return Of My Geese

Finally, my geese have come back to Carpenter Lake! Many of you don't know why I say these are my geese. Some of you long time readers understand why, but I'll go ahead and tell the story.

You see, it may not be these exact geese, but it might be. I watched these geese from all the way back when they were still eggs to when they grew up and flew away. I missed seeing them hatch, but I came very close. I watched over them and their mother every day back then, while their father looked on to make sure I wasn't a threat.

Then one day after a huge rainstorm the mother and the babies were gone. The only thing left were the remnants of the hatched eggs. This innocent animal watching adventurer was heartbroken. But then a couple weeks later the whole family was back, swimming around in the lake! And I got to watch all the rest of their development.

That first year I actually watched what I believe was the mother and the whole original family fly onto the frozen lake. When it got warmer there was the mother on the nest. I've watched them fly in each year since. Here above are the footprints of them from their landing this year. They didn't stay long yet. Soon this lake will be their home once again.

Many people around here consider geese to be awful lawn crapping pests, but out here where they belong they are a glorious beauty of nature and a fun comical sideshow. Geese are some of my favorite animals because they are so easy to photograph. They will even pose sometimes. And some of them even come over when called.

I wrote a few strange posts awhile back just for fun calling the geese my evil minions. If you want to read any of my past goose stories the handy dandy search box on the right is perfect for finding them. For me, the return of my geese gave me fond thoughts of the past. What does this for you?

Rat Tales - I have an all new episode to my newest story up today!
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Squirrel's Tale

Hello everybody! Feeling good? Okay. What do you see in the picture above? If you answered a tree you would be very correct. But wait, there's more! You see it, don't you? The squirrel. There is a squirrel in the picture. It's really just his tail, but he's there.

Right in the center of the picture, sticking out of that knot hole in the tree is the tail of a squirrel. We have found the doorway to his home. Are you wondering how I discovered this? No? Not even a little bit? I'll tell you anyway.

I was walking along the nature trail minding my own business, and the business of every other living creature in the forest, when I heard a commotion from the area of an old fallen tree that still had some dried out leaves all over it. Well, wouldn't you know there was a squirrel in there!

And so this brings us to a new episode of Rat TV! This video shows the whole story of what happened. ...Watch it anyway. It's not that long. The story is really more interesting than this little interlude I'm doing makes it out to be. Okay, I'll get back to it.

Anyway, I heard this rustling sound and found a squirrel climbing around in the branches. But I wondered just what he was doing in there. It was only after he came out that I found out what he was up to. The squirrel was picking the old leaves off the dead tree.

It appeared that the squirrel needed some more leaves for his nest inside the tree. Maybe he was getting cold, so he wanted some more insulation. Or maybe his bed was a little too hard, so he got the leaves to soften it up a bit. Maybe it was both. Maybe I just like to hear myself type. Clickety clickety!

And this is where I found the squirrel. A fox squirrel, by the way. Maybe you can see him in there if you look closely. Maybe not. You'll have to watch the video to see him more clearly. You get a good look there. When he left the branches he had the leaves in his mouth, and he went running towards his tree house.

He saw me, but it only took a few seconds for him to ignore me again. Even so, he was up his tree quick as a flash. I soon lost him about halfway up. Then I got lucky and caught that picture of his tail with a few wildly directed aims of the camera. It was a good day.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hairy Woodpecker

I found a new bird! At least it's new for me. Well, kinda new anyway. This bird is called a hairy woodpecker. They are the identical big brothers to downy woodpeckers, which I've featured before here several times in the past. The problem is that I didn't know the difference between the two back then, so a few of those downies may have been hairies instead.

So now that raises the question of what makes them different; and you are curious now, aren't you? The simple answer is that a hairy woodpecker is much bigger than a downy woodpecker. Seeing them together is the only way to see that difference unless you've seen as many of them as I have. The easiest way to tell them apart though is their beak size.

Take a look at the hairy woodpecker in the photo above. His beak is about the same length as his head. The beak of a downy woodpecker is much shorter than its head. That's how you know. And notice I said "his." That red on the back of his head tells us that he's a male. Females don't have the red; only the males do.

There are other smaller differences, but the ones I told you are more obvious and they're good enough to use every time. Did you learn something new? I've wanted to share this information for a long time now, but I didn't have any hairy woodpeckers to show you until now.

This is the only bird I got pictures of during my latest nature trip, but I heard many of them. Blue jays seemed to be everywhere, but I could only hear them. They seem to like avoiding me for some reason. I also heard some chickadees, cardinals, and several other types, but I saw almost nothing.

The forest is waking up and getting ready for spring here. The animals are everywhere even though they're not ready to be seen yet. Soon I'll have more pictures than I know what to do with. For now, I'm happy with what I have. I'd say I did pretty well for someone who can't get out very often right now.

Oh. We have the identity of the tree from my last post! Out On The Prairie was on the right track with his answers, and Sharkbytes knew exactly what it was. The flowers are actually old seed pods from a tulip tree. I knew I had seen these fake flowers before somewhere. They were on Sharkbytes' blog. Take a look here.

The hairy woodpecker has been my best find in quite some time now. I have more things coming in the near future for you, so expect me back soon. So make sure you comer back next time. I have such sights to show you!

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Strange Flowers Of Spring?

I'm back again with something that's sort of new to me, and sort of old. These weird flower type things are growing towards the top of a very tall tree. I saw them last year at this time too, in that same tree, but I had a less powerful zoom lens back then. So they were left forgotten, with maybe a few bad pictures.

The really funny thing about the pictures today is that I forgot I had taken them. In fact, I had forgotten I had even been out there. It was only a few days ago. So I was assuming that whole time that I had nothing to bring you. My real problem since my car accident and bump on the head is that I forget so many things very easily.

The few times I've been back to posting more often has always ended so far because my memory looses its grip on what I was doing. As you've seen, I can go days or even weeks without a new post. I still like writing this stuff, but it is still hard for me. The good thing is that as bad as I just made it sound I have actually improved quite a bit, so I know there will be a day when I'm back to normal. But let's get back to these strange flowers.

As soon as I saw these up in the tree I remembered seeing them last year. What I actually saw were these little white gleams up high in the trees. I wasn't really even sure that I would be able to get good pictures this time, but my camera was able to zoom right into them. You don't know how happy I was at the time.

The funny thing is that what I was really looking for when I spotted these things was birds. The animals are coming back out! I heard birds all through the forest that day when I got these. And there were even some squirrels screeching and yapping throughout the forest. All of those cool animal sounds made me extremely excited about the coming spring.

And I want to say again for all of you doubters, SPRING WILL BE HERE IN LESS THAN A MONTH!!! As a matter of fact, I will even go so far as to say it will be here in less than two weeks. So your still not convinced of my awesome predictive powers? Just to prove it to all of you I will predict it down to the very day! Spring will arrive on March 20 2011, 7:21 P.M. EDT. How's that?

I had many of you fooled, didn't I? Now if you check it out for yourself you know why I seemed so sure about it before. Besides, my local temperatures are about to go up by 10 degrees on average every day. Spring is coming. All of our snow will melt. The animals will come back out. And they will play baseball. Go Tigers!

So are these strange flower looking things the first flowers of spring? I doubt it. I'm not sure they're really even flowers. I tried looking them up in a little field guide to trees that I have, but I found nothing. Maybe it's the guide. Maybe it's me. That's why I feel more confident looking my stuff up on the web. There's not much about trees there either.

Oh, a couple of things before I go. I finally remembered to finish my next story over on my Rat Tales blog! For any of you who like amateurish horror, you'll find that my rat tales are a tasty treat. The other thing is that Nature Center Magazine has undergone a redesign. This news is a few days old but it's still news. We get quite a bit more visits through search engines there than through blogs. And I'm proud of the new look. I designed it myself!  :)

See you next time!

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Perfect Pose

I told you before that my next subject stood there posing patiently for me, and that's exactly what he did. The only thing you can depend upon to be that patient is a snowman. I usually ignore things like this but somebody did an exceptional job on this snowman.

Oh sure, some of you say that he doesn't look very human or anything like that. But he doesn't have to because he's a snowman. You can see his eyes, nose, and mouth very clearly. He even has hair on the top of his head. That's something that not even all humans can say they have. And even though they're not much to look at, he has arms of a sort. Can you see any more cool things about him?

The amazing thing about him is that you can still see all of his features clearly from the side view! I walked over here just to see if I would, and I was kind of surprised. Then I began to hallucinate that he might be alive, so I said hello to my new pal. But this cold hearted snowman just stood there ignoring me. That's when I stormed away in a huff.

That's all okay though because this guy will melt away soon enough, and then I'll have the last laugh... uh, and the first one too. Hey, so I'm a bit off. My head still hurts a bit, so I have a good excuse for being one card short of a full deck. But there's one thing I can absolutely guarantee. SPRING WILL BE HERE IN LESS THAN A MONTH. I have spoken!

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