Saturday, February 28, 2015

Better Pictures Of A Junco

I know I said awhile back that I was through with bringing you pictures of the Juncos for awhile, but I forgot one major thing. The first post I had Juncos at the feeder the pictures weren't really very good. Since then I've gotten these newer pictures which I think are much better.

These pictures are perhaps some of the best pictures I've taken at the bird feeder. It really helps that I've cleaned the window that I take these pictures through. I have enough pictures of this Junco that you get a very good look at it in several little Junco poses.

Again I didn't do any writing in between each picture like I usually do, but I don't really have much to say about these pictures. They're just this little Junco posing next to the feeder. The one problem with having the feeder is that there's just not much I can say about what the birds do there.

In my other nature adventures I can tell you an interesting (at least to me) story of the chase of the animal or the back story of the place I visited. With the feeder it's mostly the same thing. The bird came and then pecked at the bird seed for a few seconds and then flew away.

Sometimes I'll share a story of the interactions between birds if I can. It actually can be interesting observing their behavior. The thing I've discovered the most so far is how possessive these Juncos are of my feeder. I wonder how the bird interactions will be when they leave in the warmer weather. I'll talk to you later.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Jack In The Pulpit

Today I have some more lost pictures from my past. I took these pictures of this Jack In The Pulpit plant back in 2010. I intended to write a post about it when I got more information about the plant, but the draft of the post got left by the wayside and then forgotten as the years went by. I just recently found it sitting there waiting.

I remember back then I was looking to try to learn more about interesting forest plants. Animals were easy, but plants don't move around, so they're a little harder for me. The thing was though that the paces I used to visit had many interesting plants to learn about, so I began to learn little by little.

Jack In The Pulpit was one of the plants on one of the signs that were scattered around in my favorite nature park. So I watched for it whenever I'd walk through that place. On this particular day I found this lone plant sitting there by itself with a shaft of light illuminating it through the trees.

I don't really have much information to share about Jack In The Pulpit except that it is poisonous. There is an interesting Wikipedia page about the plant if you'd like to learn more. I figure there's not much point in just repeating what it says there for you. If you want to learn more you'd probably rather go to a good source like that one.

The thing I find interesting about the plant is that overlapping top that flops over. it covers the inside parts well. That must be why it grows like that. It reminds me of a flower, but green. I don't see the beauty of flowers like most people do for some reason. I'm mostly interested in their different shapes. Sometimes I feel like I'm missing out.

I remember walking around the plant to get several good angles for my pictures. As always I took many more pictures than I'm sharing with you. I always just pick out the few best ones and leave it at that. There's really not much more to do than that.

Going back and looking at these pictures reminds me of how much I miss those old parks I used to visit. So much seemed to happen there. I discovered something new every day. The parks here are a bit different for me. I haven't discovered just what to do here yet.

I remember seeing the many squirrels I'd meet at the old parks. They were always up to some mischief. I could watch them all day. There were small herds of deer there too, right in the middle of the city. They were so used to people that they would never run far when approached. So many other things.

But that was years ago now. I have new adventures and more interesting places to find here. I'm excited for the future, but I still do miss the past. I'll talk to you later.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Nature Museum In The Courthouse

Once again I have one of these rare posts with too many pictures for my taste, but it had to be done because these pictures all go together. I never consider my pictures to be great art, but maybe more like the fast food of the photography world. You don't want to eat too much at a time so you won't get sick, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

I took these pictures from inside the courthouse of a town in Iowa. It's a little one room museum in there. there were signs that said to turn off your cellphones, but I whipped out mine and used its excellent camera for these pictures. Unfortunately the flash went off every time. I still don't know how to turn that off when I need to. But I got the pictures like a thief in the night.

That makes me an outlaw, a bandit, a dangerous desperado. In fact, you might get into trouble just by reading my blog, so I suggest you run for your life and burn your computer at the soonest opportunity. Maybe not. It's not as if anybody came up and chased me out of there. They didn't see me do it either though.

I have several animals here. I'm not going to say much about them. They're all animals that can be seen around here. The one above is a white-tailed deer. The one at the top is a badger. I'll let you figure out the rest. They're pretty easy, most of them.

I wish I could have gone back and turned that flash off. The pictures would have come out much better. It wasn't that dark in there and this phone's camera works well in low light anyway. I didn't even know the flash would come on until it started doing it by itself. I'm more used to a regular camera, but I didn't have that in there with me.

I would say that I'll go back and take all these pictures again, but I probably won't go back in there. It was fun but these things you see were all that was there. It was a good little adventure for one time but I've seen it now. Still, I like a good museum, especially a nature one.

The thing I like about living around here is that there are plenty of places like museums and landmarks worth looking at. There weren't many where I lived before. Here even in many of the small towns you can see some good sights. I've been traveling around looking at places like these since I came here and I've only scratched the surface. I'm looking forward to seeing lots more. I'll talk to you later.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bird Watching Bella

Alright, so I already did a post of Isabella looking out the back window. But I never showed you what she was always watching. Isabella watches the birds as much as I do. If she's not at the window when the Juncos show up she rushes over to see what they're doing, like with this one.

At first I thought she was watching these birds for the same reason I was. but I have learned very much differently. When I was out of the room I kept hearing Isabella barking and growling at something. I kept wondering what it was, but she would always stop when I'd come back. Then after awhile I caught her.

She's been barking at the birds when they go to the feeder. She seems to think they're not supposed to be there. She hates that they're invading her back porch, and she thinks eating from that feeder is something they're not supposed to be doing. She's trying to protect the house from them.

I keep trying to tell her that they belong out there, but I don't think I'm convincing her. All she knows is that they're out there messing around and I'm putting up with it. She keeps quiet when I'm in the room so she won't get into trouble, but she doesn't like these little invaders one bit. I guess dogs will be dogs. I'll talk to you later.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Female Cardinal And Junco Sharing the Feeder

I thought maybe I should show you what happens when one of the Cardinals shows up at the feeder. Every time any bird comes to my feeder the Juncos come around hoping to shoo it away. The Cardinals are too big to be scared away very easily.

Usually the Juncos aren't very brave where the Cardinals are concerned, but this little guy wanted to prove the point that the feeder belonged to him. He wasn't going to leave as long as the Cardinal was there. The Juncos never get this close together even with other Juncos.

I usually have something to write between every picture, but what was there to say? I wanted to show you the pictures, but I've already told of this struggle between the Juncos and the other birds. I had many other pictures as good as these but I needed to stop before it got out of control.

I take so many pictures of these birds that it's hard to choose between just a few. It's just so easy to get them right now. I've never had it this good with birds. I should have used a feeder a long time ago. Back in Michigan I had neighbors who would have stolen a feeder. Now it's easy.

I still like getting birds in their natural habitat. It just seems so much better that way. That's the way I always did it before, and I got some good stuff. I'll have to look extra hard for them when I'm able to get back out again. I'll talk to you later.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Juncos Sharing the Feeder

I hope I don't burn you out on these Juncos. But I have a point to this post with more pictures of them. You see, there is more than one Junco at the feeder. That is a rare thing. I'm kind of surprised they got this close to each other at the feeder.

What happens is that whenever any other bird gets near this feeder all the Juncos show up to claim their territory. There seems to be about four of them. They don't like each other using the feeder either. When one gets to the feeder another will ruthlessly chase that first one away and claim the prize.

When the cardinals come to the feeder all the Juncos will show up and hang around hoping the bigger Cardinal will go away. They never openly threaten him, but they hang around making it well known that this feeder belongs to them.

I was surprised that these two Juncos didn't chase each other away too fast for me to get any pictures. The one at the feeder must be a little more dominant. But the second one was persistent. The first one eventually left its spot on the side of the feeder.

I was lucky enough to get a picture just as the first bird left the feeder. The second Juncos persistence paid off. The feeder now belonged to it. I didn't take any more pictures once there was only one Junco. I've shown you enough of those kind of pictures for now.

I have to say I'm going to miss these Juncos when the warm weather gets here. They are winter birds so they'll be gone in another month or two. All of the other birds I've seen so far stay all year around so at least I'll still have them. I'll talk to you later.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Time Traveling Black Squirrel

It sure doesn't feel like it was very long ago but I guess it really was. These pictures of the black squirrel are from 2010. I remember the day I took them now, but I lost them before I could post them. I have no idea how it happened.

I was recently going through my posts list on Blogger and I found these in the drafts list. I was amazed by what I found. I guess I was posting so much stuff back then that these just got lost in the shuffle. Back then I was posting something here every day.

I remember finding this squirrel up in the trees that day. I marveled at how high up in the tree it was and how it could cling to such small branches. It seemed like those small branches wouldn't be able to hold it's weight, but they did just fine.

I don't think these others are the same squirrel as the first one. There were so many of these black squirrels running around through that forest back then. The great thing about that place was the great variety of squirrels to be found. It had everything.

I remember this particular black squirrel above. it was kind of slithering down the side of the tree. Squirrels are funny little creatures. There's no telling just what kind of goofy thing they might do next. And each one has its own little personality.

This was an early March day. The buds were just barely starting on the trees. you can't really even tell by most of these pictures. back then I'd go out in all kinds of weather and all year long. I remember one time going out in the rain to check on the goose eggs I'd been watching.

The most elusive of these black squirrels, which I don't have any pictures of today, were the ones with white spots on them. These black squirrels are really black colored gray squirrels. When they are black they sometimes also develop white spots. Some of them can even be fully white.

 I've learned quite a lot about squirrels over the years of my blogging and nature adventures. That's why I miss them so much. today I only see a few fox squirrels here and there, but I used to see many different kinds every day. Those were the good old days. I'll talk to you later.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Now I Have A Male Cardinal

Just a day after the female Cardinal came to my feeder this male Cardinal showed up. Now you can see the difference between the two. The female is that brown color, while this male is a crimson red. Male birds often seem to be more colorful than the females for some reason.

This male has been coming several times now so I'll have to get some better pictures than these. This was the first time I was able to get any pictures at all. The first time I tried I found out my cameras memory card was full. By the time I got the camera ready again the bird had gone.

Even so, I was able to get these pictures and more when he came back. I was so disappointed that first time, but glad when he came back shortly after.

This male Cardinal seems to rule the roost around here now. The Juncos are a little afraid of him, but they show up every time he comes to the feeder. I'll have to see if I can get pictures of the little drama that happens when several birds show up at the same time.

I'll be focusing my posts on activity at the feeder for a little while because my truck's in the shop. I can't go on any adventures for the time being. They have to replace the transmission, which is going to cost me about $2,500. I knew it was eventually going to happen, but it still hurts.

I still have some stuff I want to show you from my last couple of little adventures, so I'll mix those in too. But I'll have a lot of stuff from the feeder. I hope you'll like that stuff. At least I'll be showing lots of wildlife. Those are always my favorite kinds of posts. I'll talk to you later.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Female Cardinal At The Feeder

I finally got another kind of bird at my feeder other than Juncos. This female Cardinal came on the day it first began to snow. I was beginning to think that I was only ever going to get Juncos, so I was very surprised to see this Cardinal there.

I've had pictures of Cardinals before, but I've never had a female Cardinal. I think I saw one once, but never had a chance to get the pictures. And I really haven't seen birds here in Iowa much until I got this feeder. Just seeing this second kind of bird makes me really glad I got the feeder.

For those of you who are wondering how I know this is a female, you can tell by the color of the bird. A male Cardinal is very different. He is red all over, about the same color as her beak. The male is considered to be much more beautiful than the female, but right now this female is the most beautiful bird I've seen.

The feeder looks like the birds have really eaten it down a lot, doesn't it? The birds didn't do that. I got up a few mornings ago and found it in the middle of the yard chewed up like that. Evidently my neighborhood squirrels tried to carry it off.

Another few days and I had to get another one of these bell feeders. This time it wasn't the squirrels. My dog went out there and knocked this one under the porch. I was lucky enough that I had already bought the spare feeder a day before, so it was a quick replacement. That's how I'll keep doing things until it gets warmer.

After seeing this new bird though I'm very encouraged that I'll be seeing more. Now I'm wondering what might come next. I can't wait!

I'll talk to you later.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Junco On The Porch

It seems like this little Junco keeps coming back all the time. maybe I'm wrong, but I'm guessing that this little bird is the same one that keeps visiting me almost every day. This time it was hopping around on the porch looking for bird seed that was dropped all over.

I took lots of pictures this time, and many of them turned out really good, but you'd get bored if I posted every last picture of one bird I had gotten. Believe me, I was very tempted to give you eight or more pictures of this little guy.

I have to tell you that it certainly helps that I've been keeping the dog's nose prints cleaned off the door window. These pictures came out nice and clear, especially compared to the first pictures I got of this bird on the branches at the back of the porch.

The Junco hopped around on the porch for a long time before it left. It was even joined by a second one for a few seconds. Those two seem to be together because that second one frequently joins this one. I'm sure this is the same bird I've been seeing all along.

I do hope other birds will come to the feeder to share the food, but I'm happy this one keeps coming back too. I think maybe small birds like this are what my particular feeder is intended to attract. I'll do a little research before I put up the next one so I can draw a better variety of birds.

I also hope when warmer weather comes around that the birds will still visit. These Dark-Eyed Juncos only appear to be winter birds around here, so they will leave with the warm weather. Maybe other kinds of sparrows will replace them. I can only wait and see. I'll talk to you later.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Dog And The Squirrel

Lots of nature stuff has been happening around my house recently. I've been seeing birds, rabbits, and all sorts of other things as well. I don't necessarily have pictures of everything, but I've had some fun. Here's the story of just one of the little incidents around here. 

My dog Isabella was outside barking at some unknown thing, as usual, when I heard another sound coming from out there. It turned out to be the sound of a chattering squirrel. I went to the front door to see what was going on and saw the dog looking up into one of my big trees.

I went out onto the porch and looked up into the tree to see this angry squirrel looking down at the dog. The squirrel was chattering away at her while she barked back. For some reason my dog and squirrels love to get into arguments.

I have a post from a few years ago where she and a squirrel are arguing. I even have a video I shot that day if you'd like to see this funny incident. It's always possible it's the very same squirrel. This is the same tree that older squirrel was in.

Isabella has had many adventures with the squirrels in my two big trees out front. She's always arguing with them or chasing them. She's never been able to catch any of them yet, but she sure does try, and they sure love to antagonize her. They all may be the very same squirrel.

Anyway, today's squirrel finally got tired of chattering and began to think better of it. And besides, I was the only one left on the porch to yell at. So it did the only thing it could think of. It tried to hide behind the branch it was sitting on. I felt sorry for the poor thing so I went back inside.

But the story wasn't quite over.

You see, Isabella is a very intelligent dog. While I was taking my pictures, Isabella ran over to the base of that tree and waited for the squirrel to come down. Luckily for the squirrel it was smart enough not to fall for that trick, but it hasn't been so smart in the past. Isabella knows her stuff. She's a very skilled hunter.

She lurked around the base of that tree until it was apparent that the squirrel wasn't coming down. The good thing for the squirrel is that it can travel through many trees from this one. it used to be able to travel a very long distance until my neighbor cut down a few of the trees in the back. The squirrels can still get pretty far.

Oh well, if I keep rambling on I'll never stop, so I guess I'll leave it at that for today. I'll talk to you later.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Trumpeter Swans

I recently went on a little adventure to a place called Chris L. Lloyd Swan Restoration Refuge. I didn't know what to expect before I got there because I've never been there before. I actually passed the place by at first because I missed it at first. When I realized that I had just seen the sign I turned Around and went back.

It's a small place at the side of the road. There is a large pond with some Trumpeter Swans and some Canada Geese. The birds stayed at the far side of the pond the whole time I was there. They were sitting at the edge of the ice near the water that was bubbling up at that end.

One of the things I didn't notice until I looked at my pictures was that the male swan has an injured wing. Actually I don't know which one was male and which was female or if either was either. I just keep assuming that the standing bird is male and the sitting one is female.

This one above is the one I think is the male, standing there trying to look dominant.

This next one is the one I think is the female, simply because she's lying there looking a lot more easy going. Maybe I'm wrong about both of them. Does it really matter?

And finally here they are both together. Behind them is the only place on the pond that isn't covered with ice. The water is bubbling up pretty hard back there which tells me this pond is artificial.

This wasn't the only destination on this little adventure so I'll have more posts from then. None of the other things are like this though. This may have been the best part of the trip. I really like the swans.

At the end of the trip my truck overheated so I had to go back home. Now the truck is in the shop getting fixed once again. It's a good truck but I wish I wasn't having so many problems lately. The truck's not the only thing. I'll talk to you later.