Saturday, May 31, 2008

Camera Critter Sunday No. 8

When I lived in a nice place west of town and set back about 400 feet from the road in Juniper badlands, we had deer constantly hanging around the house. Of course, we fed them Purina Deer Chow and we could go about our normal business and the deer wouldn't bolt...they'd just lay there chewing their cud watching what we did.

After moving out of that place, I thought I would never get close enough to a Mule Deer to get a good shot again. That is until June 19, 2007 and this week's Camera Critter Meme.

It was near 100 degrees that day and myself and a friend went to a nearby state park called Smith Rock. As we walked along the roadway heading towards some Golden Eagle nests, we came across this Mule Deer resting in the shade. She let me get as close as my lens would allow (I had a 70-300mm zoom on the camera) and didn't bat an eye. She stared at me almost the entire time...but I didn't want a staring contest photo. So I asked my friend to cough and when he did, she turned to look towards him and I got this shot.

Both my friend and I spent a few more minutes imaging this cooperative doe and then headed off for the nesting cliffs. When we returned, she was gone. But we did enjoy our short time together with her.

Oh...and the eagle nests were empty when we arrived.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Camera Critter Sunday No. 7

For this week's Camera Critter Meme, I'll be a bit nostalgic.

Back in the late 70s, I came back from Europe to a changed family structure. My sister had found a new beau and with him came a love of Red Doberman Pinschers. When they bought a house of their own, they also acquired a pair of pinschers and began breeding them.

When I returned from one of my many trips to some strange, out of the way part of the world, I met the pair of dogs for the first time. They immediately took me and I to them.

My sister's house was on the south side of Chicago and although not a rough neighborhood, not many people wandered the streets and alleys of the area at night. However, my sister never feared to do so when she went for a walk with Rommel and Dancer.

Nor did I. I loved those dogs as if they were my own and during the week or so I was back in town, those beautiful animals treated me as if I was their one and only. They were so attached to me, that my sister once said Dancer (the female) would mope around the house for about week after I left and Rommel (the male) would be sad for about a day.

And I always enjoyed seeing their smiling faces when I returned.

The pair are long gone now, but I still miss them. The photo below is the only photo I carry in my wallet. Thats Rommel in the middle and Dancer on the right. And of course, me on the left.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Camera Critter Sunday No. 6

I like to tell people when they see me with my camera, that I shoot anything that flies, crawls or walks on more four legs or more. And I do...

I don't shoot people, but I shoot birds, bugs, butterflies, bees, beetles and many other things, including aircraft.

But this is a Camera Critter Meme and I gots lots of critters I can highlight.

Today, however, I am going with a butterfly. It is one my favorite butterfly shots. It is called a California Tortoiseshell and is common in the high desert of central Oregon. I hope you like.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Memes, Memories and Critters

I was going over the latest Camera Critter posts when one set my brain in motion and brought to the top, an almost forgotten memory.

It came from about six and half years ago. Earlier in the year, we had moved from Prineville, Oregon to Redmond, approximately 20 miles to the west. Our new place was closer to my sister which made my mother happy.

It was a nice place. The house was tucked back in the junipers about 400 feet from the road and on about nine acres of juniper and scrub land. To get to it, you had to travel a winding, gravel road which was cut through the trees.

One evening I was going to the store and driving along the driveway heading towards the main road. At one point in the driveway, I had to turn to the left, then back to the right. I had the habit of making the left turn, then looking to the right to make sure no one was heading my direction from the road. On this particular day, I made the left then glanced to the right. As I did, a large object streaked past the left side of the car and into the trees. I looked over, but didn't see anything, so I continued on my way.

When I returned home, I drove along the driveway to the spot I saw the streaking object and stopped. There was still enough light to see things, so I got out of the car and looked around. As I looked on the ground for tracks, I stopped, stared and blinked my eyes several times.

I was looking down at perfectly formed three-toed tracks about five inches long and three or four inches wide. I knew they were bird tracks, but what type, I couldn't figure out. I got back in the car and drove the 200 feet to the house and inside, found my nephew there watching television.

I asked him to come with me and we walked down the drive to the spot where I saw the tracks and I pointed them out to him. He looked at them and realized they were bird tracks also...large bird tracks at that. Puzzled, we walked back to the house. On the way there, I said, "They're probably Raptor tracks." Nothing much was said after that about the tracks, but I did tell my mom to keep an eye out when traveling the driveway and mentioned what had happened to me.

Several days later, I was again traveling the driveway, this time in the late afternoon and as I headed towards the main road, I caught a glimpse of something large moving in the trees to my left. I stopped the car and couldn't believe what I was seeing.

There in all his splendid glory was a male Peacock, strutting around like he owned the place. I put the car in reverse and backed down the driveway, went into the house, grabbed my camera and called for my mom. We went out the back door and there in an opening just past one of the sheds, was the Peacock. I took a couple of photos and mom and I watched him, speculating on where he came from.

We decided he came from a place called Petersen's Rock Garden which was about five miles or so to the south of us. He could have actually come from any where, but the rock garden was the only place we knew which had Peacocks running loose.

Well, we started to see more and more of the Peacock and found he enjoyed eating the food we put out for the deer and birds. He would come right up the to house and scare everything away and begin eating out of the tins and feeders we had around the house.

For the rest of the time we lived in that house, the Peacock was a regular visitor. It would come by and if no food was found, squawk and continue on. If animals were eating, it would fan its tail and flapping its wings until they ran off and he would go in and start eating. Mom loved watching him as he strutted around the house. Although he had no fear of coming close to the house as the window shot above shows, we couldn't get much closer than 20 feet to him outside before he would turn and run.

When the place we lived in was sold, we moved into town to an apartment buildings. On visits to my sister who live about a quarter mile to the north of us, we would see the Peacock across the roadway, in the trees strutting about. Every time I saw it, it would remind of that first time I sort of saw it.

Then one day while visiting my sister, my mom asked if they had seen the Peacock lately. They hadn't and there was a reason for it. It had been shot. The bird we had enjoyed so much when we lived in the area, was considered a nuisance to the new people in the area. It made too much noise and tore up too much stuff in its search for food. So one day, the neighborhood was made a quiet place again.

The Peacock has been gone for years now, but I can't help but think the problem others had with it, was caused our willingness to feed and keep it around. I sure hope they didn't consider the dozen or so deer who hung out around our old place a nuisance also.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Camera Critter Sunday No. 5

I thought for this week's Camera Critter Meme, I would do it about my favorite bird.

I remember the first time I saw one of these birds (at least the first time I paid attention to what I was seeing). I was living in Prineville, Oregon and out sitting on the front porch. In a tree across my landlord yard, I could see a yellow spot moving around. So I went inside and got my binoculars. When I came back outside, I saw the bird fly from my neighbor's tree to a tree near me. I put the binoculars on him and WOW! Beautiful bird! He had a paper wasp in his bill and was looking right at me. I watched him until he decided he wanted to fly away. From that moment on, he was my favorite bird.

Several years ago I was at Crane Prairie Reservoir, which is south of me. I sat down at a picnic table and was getting a drink of water when one of my favorite birds landed about twenty feet away on a rock. I lifted my camera, took a couple of shots, then put the camera down. A few seconds later, the bird took off, and flew directly towards me. I was amazed when this beautiful bird landed within three feet of me...right next to my camera. It proceeded to walk over to my Canon, cock its head from side-to-side, up and down, then it turned to me, stared me directly in the eye, blinked and took off for a nearby tree.

Last weekend I was out on a walk-about photo safari and I came across three or four of my favorite birds hanging out in a couple of trees. I climbed the hillside, stood, and took several photos of the nearest one. So now, without much more fan-fare, may I present the Piranga ludoviciana, or Western Tanager.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Camera Critter Sunday No. 4

I always have my eyes working overtime when I am out on a photo safari. If my eyes aren't scanning back and forth, up and down, wherever I walk, I'd miss a lot of photo ops.

Take this week's Camera Critter Meme.

I was at a lake area north of where I live (Lake Billy Chinook for those interested) last August and was hot on the tail of a whiptail lizard. As I pushed my way through sage and other weeds, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a color which didn't fit.

Glancing over, I saw this Soldier Beetle having fun at the end of a twig. I decided the lizard could wait and squatted down to watch this fellow. He totally ignored me while performing interesting and comical feats of acrobatics at the tip of the sage plant. He also ignored me as I snapped away.

I now present the best from the acrobatic soldier shot.