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Thursday, May 20, 2010

A walk In The Park

Come Along For A walk In The Park

Today I realized another benefit of writing this blog. Today my writing forced me to go out to the park and take some pictures. I got the idea for this post, and the only way to do it right was to take my camera, and actually go out for a walk. It is hard to get moving, even to do things I enjoy. I realized when I was finally at the park 2 hours later than I had expected that I would not have been there at all if it were not for my idea of writing this article.

Come along with me, and look over my shoulder as I explore. It is a beautiful, warm, sunny day. I have no idea what, if anything, we will find this morning.

My first stop is to look for some Yellow Ladies Slipper Orchids. These unique flowers are always a rare treat. They are well worth fighting with the always present mosquito or two.

Next was a Fringed Polygala. This little evergreen beauty is only about 2 inches tall, and easily missed. I am happy to have found it in full bloom.

It looks like this is going to be a great walk for finding some rare and beautiful plants in bloom. Here are some Dwarf Dandelions. These are not like the weeds in my yard which were brought here from Europe to use in salads, and escaped all over the place. No. These tiny yellow flowers are an actual native of the area. They are only a few inches high, with a little rosette of basil leaves around the bottom.

Here is our destination. I came out here to check out the den that something has been digging under this fallen tree. The den appears to be from a common Groundhog, but his back porch is very nicely landscaped with some wild Blue Lupine.

I am going to head over to the pond, and see what we can find. When out for a walk you can never tell if you will see a deer, or a turtle, or just the sunshine and blue sky. If you don't go, you won't know. Hah! Those are words that have on occasion gotten me covered in mud, or worse. I am going to take a picture of the pond, and then walk down by the water to see if anything interesting is there. There should be some more Blue Lupine blooming up on the ridge.

Try to move quietly, even though I am carrying about 15 pounds of camera and tripod, with extra lenses stuffed in every pocket. Not too fast as I move up near the water's edge.

SHHHHH! Did I just hear something? Look how blue it is!

Now, I gotta stop and tell you. Snakes are very silent animals most of the time, but they also make a very distinct sound as they slither though grass or leaves. Once you have heard it a few times, you learn to recognize it. Kind of like gently dragging a small piece of clothesline through the leaves, and being careful that nobody notices.

That was the sound I just heard.

...and then my bvFTD symptoms came into play.

CRAP! I took dozens of pictures of this beautiful Blue Racer, and did I ever get one with his tongue sticking out? NO! This is the closest I got. He looks kinda stoopid, not like the great predator he is testing the air for prey.

In my post about Dysexecutive Syndrome I explained a little about my difficulty with inhibition, and initiating an action. Here is a great way to Frakkin well test it. I was so frustrated I could have just spit. This guy was posing for me, and sticking his tongue out a couple inches, and waving it around testing the air. If I moved my arm, he would stick his tongue out. If I just waited, he did the same every few seconds.  I was too late every time! I tried anticipating him, I even tried some random shots. I could not initiate the action of pressing the shutter button any faster than I could push the space-bar on that stupid computer at the Psychoneurologists Evaluation.

In any case he got tired of waiting for me to get the picture of him sticking his tongue out. He had done it now about 30 times, and it was time to move on. So he did. He is FAST! The snake is a Blue Racer. They are rare, and have a very limited range. This one is about 3 1/2 feet long, and in wonderful healthy-looking condition. He raced into the little stand of willow trees, and the next thing I knew he was up a tree. Whodathunkit?!

Well now, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Climb the tree growing in the water, and get away from the stupid human creature. Har! Bad plan! Unknown to this poor snake, there is a Redwing Blackbird nest about 3 feet from where he decided to hide in the tree. Redwing Blackbirds do not tolerate snakes coming around their nests to eat their chicks for lunch. This snake was big enough to easily capture and eat an adult bird, but it didn't matter.

The bird, in the upper left of the picture, was flying at the snake, in the lower right, and the snake was striking at the bird, and I was standing less than 10 feet away. It was nature at its best. That Blackbird attacked so furiously that he knocked that Blue Racer right out of the tree!

Again, bvFTD strikes!
The action was way to fast for my impaired initiation of action to push the shutter button fast enough to get the picture of the bird attacking the snake. I have taken pictures of fast action many times in the past with no difficulty, but now I am incapable of it. Funny how bvFTD crops up in the oddest places - even on a walk in the park - but that is what this blog is all about. It is always with me.

I got one last picture of the Blue Racer as he slinked off under the watchful eye of the Redwing Blackbird. He was moving so fast I thought I missed him. This was just a "luck shot".

Whew! That was exciting!

Check out the Birdsfoot Violet, and the Puccoon as we head back to the car.

What a great way to spend a couple of hours.

Thank you for coming along with me. Your comments are welcome.


  1. Great pics whether you are as fast on the trigger as you used to be or not. You've got a great eye for nature and it's beauty.

  2. sorry you're not the fastest gunslinger in the west anymore poppabear, but it was still solid work. I saw a coopers hawk dive bomb what imma guess was a vole maybe last week when I was gettin chinese. Just flew through the parking lot about 15ft from me, wings back, and dropped into the grass and away with dinner. Makes me miss the park

  3. Thanks for the comments Ian and Matilda.

    Next time a Cooper's Hawk grabs a Vole... I want to see a picture!

    I am free for a walk in the park just about anytime ; )