Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Otter Popped Up!

What a surprise it was to see this little guy come along. I had been driving along a nice little road which followed the lakes shore. As I drove past I couldn’t help notice the reflection of the birch trees in the still mirror like water in a small opening through a field. So I parked the car and walked through the grassy field to the shores edge. I only had zoom lens and didn't have a wide angel, but I decided to take four pictures of the scene and would later stitch them together. (Noting to myself to go back with my wide angle lens cuz it really is quite pretty) While I was there I was also looking around for wild life, and at first I didn't notice anything, not even birds, no duck, geese nada. Then all the sudden I looked up, and saw the cardinal in the tree above me. He hopped about on the braches as he checked me out, and then flew across the water to the little island right across from me. Then I noticed the female; they landed on a fallen log and looked so pretty together. Just a bit too far for a photo though. I stood there and just watched...I slowly started to notice a few other birds flying around but nothing that came close enough to capture. It was right as I was getting ready to go that I saw it. I saw a head moving through the water, at first I thought it was a beaver, it was a ways away, but was coming in my direction and swimming along the shores edge. I squatted to get low to the water and waited. He didn't see me, until the moment I took the picture. He heard my camera as I snapped the photo. I took him by surprise too. He stopped right there in front of me and popped his head up to look at me more closely, then sort of circled around and went on his way....soon after, so did I.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

If Only . . . . .

If only that tree was not in the way! If only the bird spotted a fish on my side of the tree...If only I could catch fish this easily...If only I had brought my tripod...If only I had set my shutter speed faster....If only I could eat fish whole...ok well not really but man this could have been a nice series if only he was fishing the other direction. Darn Tree. This is by the way my very first image where I bird catches a fish; when I was panning him as he flew off the tree branch he was sitting on, I really thought he was going to go up; I was hoping to get a nice shot of him in flight...but to my delight, I got to see him hunting for his breakfast then got to watch as he swallowed it whole. Previous shots I captured him throwing something yellow up; liquid type stuff...sort of gross but interesting non the less...

But at least nothing was in the way of this Red Winged Black Bird as he flew towards me to land in the tree behind me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pileated Woodpecker

I just shot this pileated woodpecker; I was making lunch and then wandered over to the window and saw him. Ran like a bolt of lightning to get my camera, changes lenses and then snuck out the back door and around the side of the deck. Man I keep thinking wish I had my new lens; I hope I see him again. This sized woodpecker and this varietal is not as commonly seen as the others…. My new lens should arrive on or before Friday; I'm hopeful that there will be a noticeable difference in my images. There better be.

I just ordered a new "L" series lens, 70-200 f2.8 IS II USB, if it is all they say it is, I'll be posting a review rating it a 5 star as well :-) I can't wait to get it. I also ordered a 2x teleconverter. Oh My....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

This is Buddy

I have never seen a horse roll and scratch its back before; it was just like a dog would do, even the shake afterwards. He rolled back and forth several times, Sparky just did the same thing while I'm writting this message. Too cute! Buddy struted his stuff before he took a roll in the hay and dirt. Gotta just love this guys tail!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

First Images of Blue Birds

It's been over a year since I've lived here; I've seem many, but never around the house usually it's just been glimpses of them as I'm driving by fields or walking the dog. This morning I decided to go over to Lake Emily, a nearby lake, and see what bird activity was going on. The first birds I saw were Robins, they were busy hopping around a grassy picnic area plucking worms out of the earth. Even got a picture of that with worm in beak. Then I saw several geese in the lake slowly paddling along and honking occasionally.

Then I started to walk a path that follows the lakes edge over to the beach area. Well, I saw blue and stopped in my tracks. I couldn't believe it, didn't even think I'd see them there so this was a very nice surprise. I quickly aimed the camera and took a few pictures, but I was so far away I knew they weren't going to be very good; I spotted a rock under a tree near the fallen branches they were perched on while they spotted their insect prey. And of course I scared them all off. Well I waited, and waiting, my butt got sore sitting on the rock it was pointy not flat, my knees got sore too in the squatted position and my foot even fell asleep waiting. I argued with myself wanting to move on, but the other part of me said no, just wait a few minutes longer and they'll be back. So I did, and so did they. Unfortunately they didn't come as close as I had hoped, but I was still excited about getting to see them as close as I did. I really had to crop into the original picture to get these compositions.

And after I was done there, I decided to keep on walking, I saw some other birds I'm not sure what they are called, like the one below, and I saw several red winged black birds, woodpeckers, chickadees, crows and then I spotted the Sand Hill Crane. The sun coming through the wing was a nice surpise, I did make this a little more dramatic by using the flashlight lighting effect which darkens the edges and brightens the bird. (same thing is on the middle blue bird)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Beer Bottle Label

On Easter Day we had a beer and wine making party with two other couples; it was a great day in all with a BBQ braut lunch and a very good Ham dinner with all the fixings. But the main event of the day was brewing three batches of beer and two batches of wine. The wine this time was a first; but if it turns out well; there will be more of that in the future; as it was quick and easy and much cheaper than buying from the store. Update on the wine in about a month or so.

I created a beer bottle label last night; sent it off to the brew masters to get their opinions and see if it will be one to use. Here it is:

Monday, April 5, 2010

Booming Prairie Chickens

I had an unexpected surprise and opportunity on Easter Morning! It was something I had on my list of things to do in April. I got an invitation to go to Buena Vista Grasslands to see the Prairie Chickens Boom. This booming is created by sucking air into the two orange sacks on either side of their neck. This mating ritual and the booming sound and other sqacks they let out attract the females and then the males fight and defend their territory. Females choose the most impressive male during this time to mate with. We saw only 7 birds; they were all male. I might try to go back in another week or two and see if I'm lucky enough to see the actual mating take place.

We had to stay inside blinds the entire time. We woke up about 3:30 and left on our way at 4AM. Got there and with flashlights and forehead lights we walked about 1/2 mile in the dark to the blink area. It wasn't really that dark as we had clear sky and most of the moon shining down. One of the guys who I went with is a very serious and professional photographer and had made a motion detecting camera and brought his own blind so his 8 to 10 inch lens could fit through an opening. He had a 500MM lens with a tele-converter on. I was impressed but when I picked up his tripod with camera on it; the weight would kill me; it was very heavy, and the desire to have one quickly went away. Don't get me wrong, I still want a new and more powerful zoom lens, just not that big. Might settle for the 400MM or even 300 with t tele-converter.

So here are a few of my best shots...These were taken just as the sun was rising. I did take a video with my camera's as well, but I'm not sure how to reduce the file size and get that posted. I'll play and see if I can get it up here soon.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Birds in Flight

This morning I went back out to where I had saw the two cranes yesterday, but as I had guessed they were not still there. So, I went to another nearby lake called Collins Lake and on the way over there I came across this wetland area (fist picture below note: the cranes in this picture are cut and paste out of the third picture below. I just felt it needed birds). Birds and frogs were singing like crazy; all the red winged blackbirds were everywhere but off in a distance; I could hear so many of them but only saw a few. Then I continued down the road and arrived at the lake. Just as soon as I got there, the two Sand Hill Cranes flew over my head. I had time to snap three pictures (one of which is the third image below), then the geese on the other side of the lake started honking; funny how you always hear them first. I quickly zoomed in and panned them as they flew then all the sudden both of them like rolled back showing their bellies.

The bird in flight that I missed this morning was a very large looking Eagle, I pulled over on the side of the road just as he turned to circle and headed off into the distance. Hopefully I'll have other opportunities to capture the Eagles around here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Shall We Dance - Crane Magic

I had a very exciting morning today! I saw these two sand hill cranes and passed them on the way home this morning, thought to myself; 'turn around ... go back ... the lighting is perfect' so I did. I changed my lens to the medium lens I brought as I thought to myself, ‘why didn’t you bring your zoom lens, darn you’ then pulled up slowly and parked on the side of the road.

Four of us went out this morning, we met at 7:30am just a few miles away about 10 minutes from the house. We took pictures of two barns before work this morning, and I also took pictures of this little swinging bench seat built and secured in an arbor. I had seen that there last time I drove past and wanted to see if Clayton would be able to build us one. Then on the way home this is what I saw. The barns were nothing compared to these, that is for sure!

Laurie and I had just been discussing my video capability in my camera; I could just kick myself in the butt right now. Because I just got so excited about seeing the way this guy was jumping up and down and he did this repeatedly even, and I didn’t video tape it!!!!!

I've concluded, after several other people mentioning this, that this would be what they call the ritual mating dance of the Sand Hill Crane!
Beautiful; it was just incredibly beautiful to watch. I've posted a slide show as well if anyone wants to see 45 pictures flash by and watch as he dances away; you can almost hear the music play while you watch .... This first image make me feel like he's singing an Opera


Still want to see more? ok, click here to see the slideshow of about half of what I took