Solo Saturday

The Sinister Mr. was doing his own thing this weekend so it was all me on Saturday and I had great luck! When I go out picture hunting I really do behave more like I should in that I move quietly, no noisy clattering, no shiny stuff, no sudden moves and I move slowly and stop often to look around and break my tunnel vision. I do all this to not startle anything before I can see it and to just be respectful since I am the one intruding on  them. I leave with everything I bring in. I user a longer lens and will beg off of a shot if I notice a critter in distress of any sort. I like to think that I get paid back in spades for my patience but even if I skunk out I still have a nice, zen, nature walk I can be OK with.

Bill has pointed out that I have better luck without him on some of my adventures because I’m not running my gums chatting at him or looking to see what he is doing. This sounds like permission to ignore him so I will wholeheartedly agree with his very technical assessment. The little tree swallow bopped around posing for me and then the pelicans looked like they were having some sort of scrimmage while the cormorant cheerleaders egged them on. The herons kept a good eye on it all like a long skinny sheriffs. That’s it! Blue herons are now Flying Barney Fifes!!

Spinning Wheels

I was a bit disheartened because while I have had some great inspiration and good opportunities I have been skunked when it comes to what I deemed to be a “show off” worthy picture the last week or so. When I thought through how I have spent my time I was much happier. I invested in a wonderful tripod I have been fiddling with. I have spent many hours learning my camera remote, speed light and light diffusing options and practicing portrait photography on myself and the Mister as well as clicking all over various tutorials and editing software. I am having so much fun learning, revising and utilizing my new tools that I can’t be disappointed. Then, of course, there’s the fact that even if a picture is not s good as you can get it, sometimes it really is just catching the moment because it made you smile, and that is the essence of what it all is anyway. Putting yourself in the opportunity to catch a feeling, emotion in an image to represent your history. Yeah, I’m good with that.Armored Shell Division Sun Mobilization

Lake Pepin in Spring

You may recall that a nice woman recently asked if I liked birds, she also steered me in the direction of a local birding group and also gave me a heads up that there were white pelicans on Lake Pepin as part of their migration. To see one in the wild would be a treat so Saturday we threw all the gear in the truck and went looking. We found them hiding on the Minnesota side  and caught up with them eventually. Eventually being 3 more scenic outlooks and two more pee breaks since my essential “gear” is sweet tea. I’m never without it. Seriously.  They were a bit hard to photograph as they are large birds and cover ground quickly but they are just so COOL! They’re huge! We saw quite a few eagles too.

We had such a fun time exploring, even finding a sweet spot to put in for kayaking, that we went back on Sunday but on the Harley. It was a grand experiment, what gear can I pack and I really wanted to see if I can take a decent picture from the back of the bike. I took my backup camera and the 50mm/nifty fifty and indulged my unhealthy obsession with barns and rural decay. It gave me so much freedom that it was wealth worth the slight adjustments needed-like not falling off the back or making the Sinister Ginger Mister pissy. We even managed to stop back at Nelson’s Creamery, in Nelson (whoa) for ice cream. You may recall we went there previously and I have decided the place is even more awesome than I acclaimed earlier. Rum cherry. Just saying.

We took in a lot of pretty scenery, a lot of wild life and wildlife. Smelled  the intoxicating scent of fresh-cut grass, grills and smokers and a the heady aroma of the woods and wet fields. Weekends like this last one are what make Mondays worthwhile. Of course I rushed home and aired out the camper since I know this isn’t even the tip of the adventures for 2017.

Good Neighbors

Every year our little Roberts, aka Bobtown,  has a festival like a lot of other small towns around Wisconsin looking for an excuse to get out, gorge, play ball and listen to music and parade downtown Main St. on your best tractor, float and classic car-it’s excellent and a huge slice of Americana after the suck of winter.  This was brought to mind when I was going to the gym the other morning and side-tracked to take pictures along the little lakes on the way. I was respectful of a walker, did my happy neighbor wave and when she caught up with me still behind my lens a bit down the road she asked if I was “into birds”? Uh YES! They are some of the best and most challenging models.

She was kind enough to invite me on to her property around the corner where I could  get pictures easier and see the wildlife. Well, ok – trust goes both ways and I was respectful as all get out. After 40 minutes of nirvana of finding out I could access what I always could see but not reach with my lens because it was on private land and that it had an abundance of critters, all posing for me!  April Fool’s Day idjit, I forgot my memory card and didn’t have spare equipment – I was just going to the gym, remember? No pictures for me 😦

I went back early the next weekend and brought the hubby along to help me out and see what I was so happy about! Below are a few of the pictures from morning.

I am glad this lovely woman was a good neighbor and shared! Extra bonus I discovered there is a local birding club so I can learn about new species and resources. I never did make it to the gym but I was so happy I got my butt moving that morning and just went with the flow.

Backyard and Lazy Days

Some days you just need to unplug and do what you want to do instead of what you feel is needed or must get done because no one else is going to do it for you. Sometimes its actual adulting but sometimes when you think about all the stuff you MUST get done, you realize you created the stupid list and will it really end the world if you don’t do a load of laundry right now?

I’m usually my own victim of creating too much stuff to do and then I swing too far the opposite direction but frankly I’d rather have a messy house than a pissy family. So long story short, sometimes I compromise with myself and edge out time to ‘fiddle’ or such or go play with the camera. After a series of misadventures on Saturday, Sunday saw me in my pajamas well past lunch and trying different camera settings and such in the backyard. Who knew Wisconsin birds were such brave little flying super models?!

I was working on macro pictures on the woodpile next to my birdfeeders and much to my delight, they (birds, not wood you sillies) kept sneaking up on me to check out what I was doing. I got such enjoyment paying hide and seek with the chickadees that hours flew by only broken by the dog who would trounce over and give me a nudge to make sure I didn’t forget he was there and make sure I was still breathing-probably in that order as we almost missed feeding time. I jest but there is no bigger actor or drama queen then a Labrador at past their dinner time. So below for your amusement are some flying feather hams and sparkly wood. I have shuffled them into the Wildlife section as well.

 

Day Trip to Menomonie, WI

We are getting pretty good at these little 1/2 day hops in any direction. This time I thought we should go East and I wanted to check out the Red Cedar State Trail and my back-up destination was Hoffman Hills Recreation Area. http://wisconsintrailguide.com/bicycle/red-cedar-state-trail.html  Also, yes, I always have one main point of interest and at least two back-ups scouted so I wouldn’t have wasted a drive in case of closures, constructions or general suckage.  This was a double whammy as the Red Cedar is on my list of rivers to kayak so we could check it out and the put-ins and outs. It was a short adventure, albeit a lovely, flat trail, well maintained with a soft clay like surface and ideal for runners and bikers that did parallel the river. It was pretty boring for us slow bipeds-Plan B!

Hoffman Hills Recreation Area: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/hoffmanhills/

This is a neat little 707 acre area with a 60 foot observation tower. I would highly recommend a late Spring or peak Autumn visit for leaf watchers and bloom voyeurs but if you a bird brain like I am the meadow and prairie trails look to be prime for bird watching in the summer. Either way, we enjoyed a nice PB& J picnic in the truck as it was a bit cold yet and wandered our way up to the tower. The trails were well marked, nicely mapped and divided into ‘Easier’, ‘More Difficult’ and ‘Your Momma is a Mountain Goat’ aka ‘Most Difficult’. It was late so we wussed out on the easiest and really enjoyed the diverse topography and variation of timber as we hoofed it up. Spectacular 360 views for about 20 miles make it worth while and I plan to go again! Check out some of the snapshots from this weekend below. My favorites will be sent over to www.fineartamerica.com/renata+Johnson by this weekend and sorted into their respective galleries on here but I have an oil painting to start for my favorite daughter and psyanky eggs to make! Love the creativity of Spring.

 

 

Don’t Overlook Wildlife Areas

This last adventure was chosen by the mister who had a good idea and was determined to set me on some wildlife not of the aviary persuasion, namely deer. I was game, pun kind of intended, and we tromped of to a local wildlife area. I was pretty keen on this as I wasn’t prepared to people at the State and County Parks or go back to the rivers quite yet.  The area he chose was heavily wooded but also interspersed with a lot of clear, open wetlands and marshes so I had high hopes for a diverse afternoon! WI DNR Wildlife Areas

I’ll jump ahead and say that we saw lots of fresh deer sign, everywhere, the four-legged car diving wily nitwits stayed just out of sight snickering like it was hunting season. It was windy enough that all but the hardiest of robins stayed inside watching HSN. Patience, patience, patience, ran through our heads like a mantra however we went almost 5 hours without seeing another  person, the sun was shining, the air was fresh, woodsy and had that little bit of bite to keep you moving along and any day in woods is a good day to me.

Then we heard, loud, echoing, coming from all directions, one single strange call on the edged of a marsh… Hear What We Heard

We scared up a sandhill crane, the first I’d ever seen or heard quite so close. Herons, yes, sandills within a mile, not so much. That made the trip even better and I’m determined to go in the less traveled areas a bit more and see what else is there. Also, 5 miles logged in heavy boots, sucked but I was thankful for the ankle support as there weren’t trails, benches, outhouses or other amenities so if you go a bit wilder too – go prepared.

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