Category Archives: Wildlife

Still Testing the New Camera

Actually, I’m not really testing the Nikon. I’m playing. Testing sounds more mature. My kitties have been photographed so often that they believe the camera is part of my face. As it turns out the Nikon B500 is a pretty impressive camera. It takes great photos and is far easier on batteries than my Kodak. Unfortunately, the autofocus performs almost as badly as the auto focus on the Kodak CD1013 so I’m struggling with focusing at long distances. There has to be some trick to getting the Nikon to focus on the distant bird, and not on the tree behind it. I’ll have to spend a little less time taking photos and a little more time searching the Internet for answers.

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Not Just a Tree Rat

When I was about ten my mother and I would sometimes take an afternoon and walk across town to visit my elderly, Aunt Edna and Uncle Ed. While mother sat in the kitchen and chatted with my talkative aunt, I would settle in on the metal, porch glider beside my uncle, with  his huge, black dog resting at our feet. There we would slowly rock back and forth and talk about nothing in particular as we watched the wildlife in the yard. (Birds, squirrels, and the occasional cat)

My Great, Uncle Ed was a man of many unusual talents. Unguarded valuables seemed to stick to his fingers and vanish without a trace. He could avoid work while appearing to be busy. He could lie far better than he could tell the truth. I wouldn’t have trusted him with my meager allowance, and I would never have repeated one of his preposterous stories as gospel, but unlike a lot of people, I liked the cantankerous, old villain.

It was Uncle Ed that gave me my first close up look at squirrels. Ten of them to be exact. Skinned, gutted, and pasty white they floated in a kettle of salt water upon Aunt Edna’s  old, gas stove. When he proudly lifted the kettle’s lid to show me the results of his morning, hunting trip, I gasped in horror.

“Uncle Ed, you’re going to eat rats!” I exclaimed. Needless to say, my reaction took away a little of the old man’s joy. No, I’m not emotionally scarred, and I am not anti-hunting, but every time I hear a person say that a squirrel is nothing but a tree rat, I see those naked carcasses floating in that pot. Sure, if you take away the soft fur, the fluffy, twitching tail that curls in question marks as a squirrel watches you through the window, if you take away that feisty personality and funny, expressive face, you may have something that looks like a mere rodent, but you don’t have a squirrel. Not the whole squirrel at least.

The squirrel’s intelligence always leaves me in awe. They can get past some of the most advanced, squirrel guards, raid candy machines, and train humans to do their bidding. They can lope across high wires and leap incredible distances onto branches that wouldn’t hold a song bird. They can fall from the treetops, leap to their feet and bound back to the tree to try again. They are gentle mothers, fearless combatants, and brimming with attitude. They can bury a nut and find it three months later under six inches of snow, when I can’t even remember where I put my car keys five minutes ago. A squirrel is not “just” a tree rat. A squirrel is one of God’s more miraculous creations, placed on this earth not only to fill a nitche in nature, but to entertain us and teach us to take a chance, have fun when we can, and always prepare for tomorrow.

Sue

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First Wildlife Photos With the New Nikon

 

I got a few moments this morning to take a couple of bird photos with the new Nikon Coolpix B500. I have pretty shaky hands and didn’t use the tripod so I expected them to be pretty bad, especially since I had to zoom in. So far it’s proving to be a good little camera. I can’t wait to see how well it does with the tripod.

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Putting a Myth to Rest

During daylight hours, she lurks beneath rotted logs, and in darkened caverns, but at night, unseen to human eyes, she comes out to hunt. Sometimes seen in aged wood piles and collapsing houses, the giant, forest spider is a rare site. She feeds upon anything smaller than itself, including small mice. This story doesn’t appear unbelievable if  you live in the tropics, but giant spiders in the North Eastern United States? If you tell someone that there are spiders with a four to six inch leg span living in our area, they will raise an eyebrow chuckle and say something like: “Aaa Hum… Sure… Right, and how big was this spider actually? Three quarters of an inch, I bet… Afraid of spiders, are we?”

But those of us who live in or near the forest just smile, because we know something they don’t know. Spiders grow larger where man does not intervene. This little darling is not as big as she looks, she’s actually bigger. With a four inch leg span and a body as thick as my thumb, this sweet girl is not yet fully grown. (We’ve seen them far bigger!) Found sauntering across my dining room in the middle of the night, she is solid proof that her kind actually exist.

She was safely released deep in the forest, where she will find a mate, eat him if he’s not very, very careful, and raise plenty of giant, baby spiders.

This big girl is not a myth.

Sue

For those of you who refused to believe: See, I told you so! Now, who did what with that can of spider spray?

 

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Hey! The Feeder is Empty… and Broken.

Before daylight this morning I was awake. Not that I am an early riser. I hadn’t been asleep. It was just one of those nights. I’m not sure what drew my attention to the window, but out by the pond was a large black shape that I was sure hadn’t been there the night before. Family members often go up to the pond just to sit and look out at the water. It was probably just a lawn chair, I decided. Then the lawn chair began to move. I watched for a few moments, then raced upstairs to shake my sleeping husband.

“Wake up!” I commanded, “There’s a bear cub in the back yard!”

Of course, by the time I drug the poor groggy man downstairs and to the window there was nothing to see in the darkness but darkness, but dawn brought another sight.

This little lady was perched on the lilac bush with her beak almost against the window. As she peered into the human world inside, her loud “Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!” announced that all was not well, and she wanted her people to know about it! The feeding shelf had been licked completely clean and was hanging precariously by a mere corner. It looks like it’s time to change the location of the feeding station for the summer.
Sue

(I’m not sure if I have the birds and squirrels trained, or if they have trained me. If that feeder is empty they always find a way to tell me about it. )

 

 

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The Fledglings have Landed

Well, the kids are back early, and they are regretting it. Usually the Red-winged Blackbirds return to our area in great flocks sometime in April, but yesterday as I was attempting to capture bird photos through the snowflakes, I caught sight of two pairs. (You never realize how irritating snowflakes are until you try taking photos in a snowstorm.) These gung-ho youngsters obviously decided their fuddy-duddy elders were being too cautious and struck out on their own. One  bird still had his baby tufts.

Sorry, kids. We’re having a second winter up here.

Sue

 

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Return of the Ice Age

When I went to bed last night it was spring. Where did this come from???

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