Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Squirrely Christmas Present For You

Here's a special Christmas present from me to you. This picture is for all of you who have decided to visit me on Christmas Eve. Click on the picture to make it bigger for the best effect. Take a close look at Santa's reindeer. There's something very strange about them.

I guess this is why Santa Claus was looking so closely at those squirrels Friday.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Tracking a Christmas Mystery

After finding all of those rabbit tracks in my last post I decided to find some tracks for animals that most people look for. I went to the back of the nature park to a meadow where I knew there would be some good tracks. This is where the deer live, and I knew I could find their tracks here.

All I had to do was go to the part of the meadow that's farthest away from the hiking trail. No humans go here so I knew the deer tracks would be here. It wasn't too hard to find the tracks when I got there. They were all over this part of the meadow.

The first thing I did was take plenty of pictures so I would have a record of the deer tracks. Then I took a very close look at the tracks to see if there were any fresh ones. How recently had these deer been here? There were some older tracks, but there were also some very new ones too.

I must have just missed a whole herd of deer by only a matter of minutes! I knew what I had to do. I was going to follow these fresh tracks to see if I could find the deer. As soon as I began following them I noticed something very strange. There were other tracks.

Somebody else had been over here even though I was the only human who ever really comes out to this part of the meadow. Whoever it was had very big feet and he was here about the same time as the deer.

I continued to follow the tracks and saw that they lead right into the forest. The big footprints went right in after them. I really didn't want to follow them on the same path so I went back to the hiking trail. I was going in the same general direction, but I figured my quest was over.

After I got into the forest I saw some movement far ahead to the right of the path. There looked to be over half a dozen deer purposely moving away from me through the forest. These were the ones that made the tracks I was looking for!

As they turned and cut through the forest in front of me, I excitedly tried to get a few pictures but they were very far away. I got a few bad pictures that showed deer, but it was very hard to see them through the trees. I thought I knew where they were headed but I would have to run to catch up.

I did my best to run through the forest without alerting the deer that I was there. I thought my chances of catching up with them weren't good, but I still had to try. I stayed on the hiking trail, and that may have been my downfall because I never did catch the deer.

When I realized that they were long gone I slowed to a walk and sadly began to make my way back to the front of the park so I could go home. And when I turned the corner to the path that leads to the parking lot I found something amazing!

There he was! The person that was standing in the meadow with the deer! I recognized him by the size of his feet. There's only one person who wears this kind of red suit that I know of, and there he was in front of me! He didn't see me because he was standing there peering through the trees at a black squirrel. I guess he had never seen a black squirrel before because he seemed to be fascinated by it.

I got this one picture right as he saw me standing there. After only a second after turning my way he just vanished as if he was never there! The only thing I was left with was this one picture and a bad Christmas story.

Tune in on Christmas Eve (Sunday) to find out why Santa Claus was really so interested in squirrels. I'll have a special Christmas present for any of you who can find the time to stop by for a visit!

Merry Christmas everybody!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Wabbit Twacks

Do you notice how busy the trail in this picture looks.Judging by all of those tracks, there must have been a lot of people walking through this busy nature park. Right?

Actually, that's not right. Take a closer look at these tracks. None of them are from humans. I was the only person to enter this park since it snowed. Every one of the tracks in this picture are from animals, mostly rabbits.

So, what does this tell us about this park?

First of all, there are a heck of a lot of rabbits running around in this place. I already know that part is true because I've gotten my best rabbit pictures from here. If you come here at the right time you can see literally dozens of rabbits running around. Seeing that many means there could be hundreds.

The second thing it tells us is not many people like to come out to a place like this when it is cold and snowy. Obvious? My point here is that I like this kind of weather and I love being in a place like this all alone. So this is the best time for me to get back to hiking again. It all makes me happy.

Without the people crowding this place, the animals can thrive here. That's good for the animals, for me, and for you because I'll share the pictures of them with you.

And it won't be just rabbits, even though most of these tracks are from them. I saw squirrel tracks too, which are similar to rabbit. There were some deer walking this trail. And I even saw tracks from at least one coyote.

But there were other kinds of tracks I found on my next trip here. Those tracks were a bit confusing. I eventually found the culprit. The creature that made them was different than any other I'd ever seen before. I'll reveal what I saw in my next post this Friday. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Finding Happiness On A Winter Hike

I have a new attitude about the local nature where I live. It has taken me years to adjust from the plentiful trees in Michigan to the open areas of this part of Iowa. But I think I may have finally decided I like the way nature is around here.

Adjusting to the fact that there aren't nearly as many trees here has been a huge problem for me. All I have been able to think about was all those fields of nothing but grass. How would I explore in the grass? I felt so lost.

But then not too long before I discovered that my back was finally getting better, I realized that some of my favorite adventures from Michigan were from the few open areas of my old nature parks. Those new thoughts began to open something good in my mind. I began to realize that the same thing could happen here.

And then this winter as I began exploring my closest nature park I looked around and remembered that there are also some trees there too. There aren't nearly as many, but there may be enough. And there are other reasons I can like this much more than I thought.

One of the things I missed from Michigan was all of the squirrels. If you read some of my past posts from then you'll see that I'm somewhat of a squirrel expert. But here with no trees, there are also no squirrels. At least that's what I thought.

It took winter and the bare trees for me to discover that there are actually a lot of squirrels. I just didn't ever see them before because these country squirrels don't trust me yet because I haven't been to this park enough. I saw plenty of them on my most recent hike, but they stayed a little too far away for my camera. They will come closer with time.

So I'm happy to walk these snow covered hills as often as I can. I need to make new friends with the animals here. They will begin to come out the more I come to this place. Squirrels are curious little creatures. They won't be able to resist coming out to investigate this new two-legged creature walking through their home. Maybe the other animals will investigate as well.

Now that I can hike a little bit again I'll be visiting this little nature park many times this winter. Maybe my pictures might be a little repetitive, but my adventures will be all new. The adventure is the fun part.

I never knew this park was so busy with wildlife until now. In one of my next few posts I'll tell you what other kinds of animals I found here in this park. Maybe by then I'll even get some pictures of some, but the story is what's important. And for now, I'll talk to you later.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Back On The Trail

I'm kind of excited to be back out hiking again. Even though I was out on my nature adventures a lot during the summer I didn't do much actual hiking. It wasn't that I didn't want to go hiking. It was that my bad back wouldn't allow it yet.

I've told you in the past of how I've been working to strengthen my back enough to do at least normal activity. It's been hard the whole way. Everything I do seems to not quite work. But now I think I've finally begun to make some progress.

You may think it's the wrong time now that it's coming up on winter time. But I kind of enjoy winter. I know that during winter there will be nobody out there bothering me every few steps of the way. I like the solitude of nature the most. And I know how to bundle up against the cold.

I thought that I was making no progress until I decided to try once again to go hiking at a smaller nature park in the area. The last couple of years I haven't even been able to go as far as a normal person, but this time it was finally different.

I was able to travel through the whole park this time! So many times before I was only able to get to the end of the first trail before my back told me I had to turn around. And those times I was only barely able to get back to my truck completely exhausted. But this time was finally different.

Now I'm excited to get back out there and keep going. I have one problem though. The weather around here has been kind of bad since this big turning point of mine. We started out with rain that has now turned into snow. Hiking all of these hills is not a good thing when the trails are slick with moisture. I'll have to wait until the weather gets better.

The temperatures have taken a downturn with all of this foul weather, but that part is okay by me. It seems winter has arrived here now. I can handle it. I deal with winter much better than with my unreasonable dislike for fall. So I'm hoping to get very busy in the upcoming weeks and months. I can't wait to be out there again! I'll talk to you later.