Friday, January 31, 2014

Some Winter Turkeys

I caught some of the local wildlife on camera from my truck, so I thought it was a good idea to share them with you. I hope both of our versions of good ideas match. These turkeys are pretty easy to get when they're out. All I had to do was stop the truck and start shooting.

I wish I could show you the full size of this flock. There must be about three dozen turkeys in it. It depends on the day how many I see. At times I only get to see about half a dozen, but at other times I see the whole flock.

These turkeys live at the edge of Sioux City, about at the area where the city turns into country. They mostly like to roam around in the cemetery where some of my family are buried. The cemetery and these turkeys are one of the first things my aunt showed me when I first moved here.

She was telling me that she thought it was a nice thought that maybe some of the people who were buried in the cemetery were reincarnated into these turkeys. She even named some of them after people she knew. She doesn't really believe it, but she said it's fun to think about it that way.

Even though I've known my aunt my whole life, I didn't know her very well until I moved here. I only ever got to visit here once every several years. Now she's one of my favorite family members. I think of her little story whenever I see these turkeys.

On one of my previous posts a month or two ago I said I thought I saw turkey vultures flying around the area where these turkeys live. It was kind of dark and I couldn't see them very well. They were flying only about as high as the tree tops.

I'm now sure that I was completely wrong. Turkey vultures leave this area for the winter, so it could not have been them. It had to be these turkeys that were flying around so skillfully. I never knew turkeys could fly so well. They were simply flying into the trees so they could get some sleep.

One of these days I'll get a few pictures of the whole flock of these turkeys. And I'll get some pictures of them in the trees, and maybe even flying. I pass by there quite often. Just yesterday I had to stop my truck as several of them were crossing the road.

There are many different flocks of turkeys in the area, but this is the one I see the most. Maybe I'll go out one of these times and look for some of the others. I'd be interested to know where they live. There are so many wild places here that I may never find out. I'll still look though because I like turkeys. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Posing Horses

For once I found some animals that were willing to cooperate with me and my camera. These horses were willing to pose perfectly and look right into the camera. After I got these pictures I now wait for all the animals to do this.

For those of you who don't know, the horses are standing in a cornfield. The reason the corn plants around them look like they do is because this is what they look like after the corn has been harvested. Then the farmers put the animals there because they love to eat what's left over of the corn plants.

The amount of snow you see in these pictures is deceptive. We really don't have this much snow. Even this particular cornfield has much less snow since I took these pictures. We even had a small snowstorm yesterday, but we still have nothing to show for it.

I drove by these horses a few more times since I took these pictures and they seem to be multiplying. I would swear that there were only three horses when I got the pictures, but now there are about seven. That third horse wasn't being cooperative, so I have two pictures. I'll talk to you later.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Finally Some Geese

I think these may be my first pictures of geese since I was back in Michigan. You can see that I wasn't really able to get very close to them. Back then I was able to walk right up to them and stick my camera in their goose faces.

This is good enough for now though. It's better than not seeing them at all. I actually saw a giant flock of them in Sioux Falls when I was there, but I was driving in the middle of the city so I couldn't get any pictures.Tough break.

Maybe the reason I haven't seen any of them around here is that they actually like cities more than rural areas. They've become addicted to some of the garbage humans throw out. That could be why so many people consider them to be pests. Only a guess.

Speaking of rare birds, a few days ago I saw my very first up close bald eagle. It was a very big bird. I learned that when you actually see a bald eagle you know for certain that's the kind of bird you've seen. It was beautiful. I've made mistakes before, but this time I was certain. No pictures again though because I was driving.

There are so many pictures I've missed because I was driving at the time and I was in no position to stop. That's when I see the majority of wildlife around here, and I really see a lot. I go home wanting to kick myself because of another lost opportunity. I guess that's the way it goes. I'll talk to you later.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Found A Giant Cow

Guess what I did. I bought a glow in the dark t-shirt and then I found a giant cow. I know it sounds a little strange, but I don't care. I do what I do. I actually go out and look for these things. You should have seen me jumping up and down for joy when I found this cow.

The cow was this statue standing outside of the Dean's Foods factory in Sioux Falls. I know I'm mentioning Dean's Foods, but don't think this is an add for them. I love things like chip dip, but their chip dip tastes like turpentine to me. So I avoid most things with their name on it. Maybe I'm missing out on something good though. I don't know.

I can't say I disagree with everything they do. I don't even mean to sound like I'm bashing them. It's just the mood I'm in. I'm sure their products are just fine, except their chip dip. And I really like this giant cow statue they have. So now maybe I'm a fan. I'm going to purposely look for one of their products and try it just because of this cow.

I actually drove past this cow once before I got the idea to get a few pictures. When the idea hit me I did a u-turn in the middle of traffic and zoomed back there to get a few pictures of this giant cow statue that everyone else was ignoring. I don't care, because it made me happy just to see it.

That's my giant cow story. I'll talk to you later.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Falls Park

This will be my last post for now from Falls Park in Sioux Falls. I don't have a video this time, but I have a couple of interesting pictures. These pictures didn't really fit in with the videos so I thought this separate post would work well for them.

Whenever I visit a new park I take a picture of one of their signs at whatever entrance I'm at at the time. I like to show these signs but I'm not always able to do it. I don't think I did last summer so I decided this post was the perfect place for a sign. 

If you look very closely you can see a man standing there on the ice below the falls. He was down there taking pictures. At first I was kind of annoyed that he was down there in the way of my pictures, but then I realized that his presence would give you a good idea of the actual size of the falls. That wouldn't happen without the ice.

That guy being down there made me think for a second that maybe I could go down there and get some pictures like that. But it took only part of another second for me to remember how afraid I would be that the ice would break under me. I would probably have been just fine, but the thought of falling through the ice still terrifies me.

My last picture shows a nice wide view ofr the falls. You can see that the snow isn't very deep. Most of the white you see is really ice from the falls. Water comes out on the right side of the picture, but it's not nearly as much as from the main part of the falls on the left.

I wish I could linger on these falls for even more posts, but that would get boring after too many times. So I'll move on to something else in my next post. Falls Park has become one of my favorite places. I tell anyone who will listen that waterfalls are one of my favorite things, and these are the only ones I've ever personally seen. I feel lucky to live so close to them. I'll talk to you later.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Bigger View Of The Falls

I'm back with a rare weekend post. This is another one from Falls Park in Sioux Falls. This time I have a little bigger view of the falls for you. I have two pictures and a video. The pictures give you a still version of what you will find in the video in case you don't want to sit through the video.

Something I didn't do when I visited these falls last summer was to go into the building at thye far end of the park. It was clearly open for visitors, but I had my dog with me so I couldn't go in. I left Isabella behind this time for just that reason.

I felt really guilty leaving er behind, but I can't bring her along for every trip. The only other way to be able to go into the building would be to leave her in the truck by herself, and I would feel worse about that than just leaving her at home where she's comfortable and she feels safe. So at home she had to stay.

So I was able to go into the building. I didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be pretty good. What I found in there was a shop where they sold t-shirts, postcards, and all sorts of other trinkets for the park. In other words, my kind of stuff!

I looked around for a bit until I got to the t-shirts. I try to buy at least one t-shirt from each place I visit. I noticed that they were only $10 at this place so I bought two of them. Now I have two more t-shirts to add to the million that I've collected.

So this episode of Rat TV shows the bigger view of the falls. Everything is white from the snow. There really is only enough snow here to make everything white. It's actually more than where I live because there are o0nly white patches around me.

In an unrelated event, it's been very windy around home for the past few days. I have two big trees right in front of my house. Guess what happened. That's right. A big branch from one of the trees broke and fell right on my roof. Now I have to figure out a way to get it off, and I'll probably have to trim the tree a bit so nothing like this happens again. Fun fun fun.

Okay, I have a lot more good pictures from Falls Park, but they're kind of unrelated to the videos I've already posted. I may do another post with just them, but I may skip them altogether. I'm not sure yet. One way or another I'll have a new post in a couple of days. I'll talk to you later.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sioux Falls In Winter

I visited Sioux Falls last summer and saw a waterfall for the first time in my life. That was a wonderful experience. But I was sitting here this winter wondering what might those falls look like in this deep freeze we've had this year.

Everything was frozen over almost completely, but there were a few small places where the water was flowing. There must have been a lot of pressure behind all of this. I guess the water still had to flow somewhere.

I took a lot of pictures at the falls, but I don't like showing too many at a time. The problem I have with this is that I won't be able to share them all. My solution is to show you the ones that show you the most specific parts I'm talking about.

Maybe I'll do multiple posts about this so I can bring more of these pictures. With this post I'm just focusing on the main section of the falls. I will show more in another post. In the picture above you can see the visible flowing water there. It's actually bigger than it looks.

When I visited these falls last summer I took a video to share with you so I figured I'd do the same thing this time as well. This colder episode of Rat TV may not be as impressive as that summer version, but it's every bit as interesting.

I always make sure my videos don't last very long, this one included, so you don't run off into the night screaming nooooooo. So you can easily watch this video in less than a minute. It's not mandatory that you watch it either, but it's more fun if you do.

I have another video coming in my next post that shows the bigger view of the falls. I also have the pictures to match it. Hopefully I'll be able to describe my experiences there a little better in that post as well. And the best way I can think of to close this post is just to say I'll talk to you later.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Good Nature Rest Area

Some of the places I go that look wild at first aren't really completely wild. I showed you some landscape pictures in my last post that I took from right in front of these two benches. This is also kind of deceptive though.

These benches and the sign are the only things around here. To get to them you have to squeeze through a tight entranceway in the fence. There's really nothing else around here for miles. The sign is the only thing that tips you off to this place from the road.

You can stop just about anywhere on the long country road that goes by here and get good pictures. But this happens to be my favorite place there. This is where I go to search for buffalo. I really look for them as I'm driving up and down the road, but here is the best spot.

It looks like this could be an ideal place to relax and view nature from, but it's not all wonderful. The first time I came here one summer, I sat on the bench on the right and ended up with several ticks running up and down my leg. I guess it pays to be careful with that.

I stopped sitting on the benches partly because I'm now paranoid about ticks and partly because I just don't feel a big need to sit here. I move back and forth to finds a good spot where I can take my pictures. I don't usually move too far from the benches here though.

Mostly, even with the threat of ticks, this is a nice place to go to get a few pictures and watch for buffalo. I've seen evidence that they've come right up to where the benches are. One of these days I'll come up here and find them waiting for me. One of these days.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Hills In Winter

I thought I'd show you what it looks like around here right now. I didn't shoot these pictures with HDR. I wish I had now because the others came out so much clearer that way. I think I'll probably do most of my scenery pictures that way from now on to see if that makes them better.

You can see that we don't really have much snow here right now. I'm not sure why. There is plenty of snow north and south of us, but not here. Maybe it's just been too cold to snow. This has been the coldest winter ever in my lifetime.

I'm ready for the cold to end, but I don't need winter to end just yet. Oh sure, I like the warmer seasons better, but I've been doing just fine with winter this year. I've been able to get out and get some pictures pretty often, and some of the upcoming ones are kind of interesting.

I've taken so many pictures that I can't post them fast enough. I've tried to blog a little faster lately, but I just can't quite keep up with the number of pictures that I have. I need time to write and visit a few blogs along the way. One way or another though I'll get all of thew pictures I want posted.

The place you see in these pictures today is the same place I posted the pictures of last summer. This duller brown is a good contrast to the green fields that I posted then. I'd link to the post if it was easy to find, but I'll just leave how it looked up to your imagination.

This is the place where I come up to look for the wild buffalo. I come here many times that I'm out. One of these times I'll see them.It's a beautiful place even without them, but I'm still hoping to get lucky one day. That's my story, so I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

They Ran Away From Me

I found this sheep farm as I was driving down the road the other day. I thought to myself that I don't have any pictures of sheep yet so I stopped and got out of the truck to get some special pictures. The sheep were hanging around near the fence so I just knew this was going to be a great time.

I lifted my camera, and that's exactly when it happened. Those rotten sheep ran away from me! I didn't do anything special to make them run. All I did was lift my camera to my face. Just standing there seemed to be okay with them, but that camera made them head for the hills, literally. Look in the background. There are the hills.

I started out with the intention of getting some good closeup pictures of sheep, and what did I end up with. This picture of a bunch of sheep's butts. So what did I do next? I decided to share this picture of my misery with you. Hey, at least I got a picture of sheep. I'll talk to you later.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Trying Out HDR Photos

I decided to try out the HDR setting on my camera the other day. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. What this setting does is take a few pictures with different exposures and then combines them for a picture with extra detail.

When this is done right your pictures can seem to pop right out of the screen. I'm not really sure I did it right. Actually with my camera you can't do it really wrong, but I think my subjects maybe weren't quite right for this kind of photography.

I think the pictures turned out fine enough, but they aren't quite what I was hoping for. So, what was I hoping for? I'm still not exactly sure. Maybe these are just fine and I'm just nitpicking. Sometimes I think my problem is that I'm really never happy with the pictures I take.

The pictures do really seem to capture the colors of the scenes the way they looked when I was there. You can see in the pictures that the sky was really clear that day. It was very bright outside, and maybe that caused the negative effect that I feel I am seeing. And maybe I'm just imagining the whole thing.

I'm going to try this HDR setting again, but I'm going to choose some different subjects for the pictures. Maybe I'll choose something like a barn or a farmyard scene. That might work better than these cornfields. I think the cornfields are kind of ugly this time of year anyway, in one way of thinking.

I know I seem negative about the whole thing. That's just the way things come out with me sometimes. But the whole experience was a positive one. I was able to begin trying out the different features of my camera, so I'm gaining so new knowledge. And I've been getting more pictures, so I've been having a lot of fun. That's always a good thing. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, January 3, 2014

There Are Dinosaurs Here

This dinosaur can be found not too far from where I live. Technically it's a stegosaurus. You may have guessed by now that it's not real. How observant of you! I have no idea how the dinosaur got there, especially since they died out quite a number of years ago.

Maybe there is a story behind the dinosaur being there but I don't really even know who to ask about it. It could be the mascot of some company right there or something like that. No matter the reason, it's F U N fun. I'll be you never thought a dinosaur could be found near all these Iowa cornfields. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I Think I Found A Bald Eagle

I found this bird while I was out driving around. I thought it was a hawk when I first took the picture, but I've never seen a hawk with a head and neck of that color. The only other bird that comes even close is a bald eagle. I think this must be a young one that hasn't turned all the way white on the head yet.

I wish I could have gotten a little bit closer than I did. my truck's window was still broken so I had to get out. That didn't make the bird happy at all. It only tolerated me for a few seconds before it flew away. I like getting out of the truck to get some of my pictures, but I'm glad I got that window fixed.

I did get a few pictures of the bird flying away. This was the best of the bunch. Catching a flying bird on camera is not an easy thing, and I'm happy every time I can do it. I was hoping the bird was going to land on another nearby tree, but it circled it once and then flew away. I'll keep watching for more of these birds.

I'm actually kind of excited even if this isn't a bald eagle. If it is, then I've seen my first one close up. If it isn't, then I've seen an all new bird I've never seen before. What could be better than that?

The only thing I could want more right now is to be able to get back out to the nature parks and do some hiking. I can't really do it right now because they're open to hunting until spring. I don't want to take the chance of some idiot shooting me even while wearing an orange suit. In the meantime I'll be driving around looking for good stuff. I'll talk to you later.