New Baby

A new baby arrived at our place.  I believe it arrived yesterday.  It is not much bigger than a small dog, but much longer legs.

New Baby

I saw it yesterday for a split second as I was coming in the driveway.  It and it’s young mom were hiding in the cedar trees out front.  She took off but I knew to look where she had been and there it was — so tiny, barely standing.  I didnt stop because I didnt want to disturb them anymore than I already had.

I saw mom again last night right at dusk so I knew they were still around.  This morning I took my camera and binoculars and, from the porch, started scanning the places I had seen them and other likely hiding places.  No luck.

I went into the yard and checked a few places I knew the deer liked to rest behind the house and then as I came around the side of the house, the mom took off from another clump of trees.  I watched her for awhile, but she was putting plenty of distance between her and where she started.

I looked carefully through the trees and couldnt make out anything, so I slowly & quietly walked around the edge looking in the areas where the grass was matted down in the shade.  I didnt see the fawn anywhere.  Just as I was about to give up, I turned and there it was in the grass about 4 feet from me — just as still as it could be.  I took a few quick pictures and then quietly moved back to the house.

Sorry the focus is not better.  I had a very high shutter speed and wide open aperture so the depth of field is small and it looks like the autofocus zeroed in on the grass that was waving in the breeze.  Next time I will know to use manual focus.

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Unwanted Guests at Meyer Observatory

or Papa’s a Wuss

I arrived at the observatory this evening and went to open the door in the dark, just like I usually do. I reached to put the key in the lock and realized something looked different.  I quickly (I am sure it was even quicker than it seemed) backed up, turned the car lights on and repositioned the car so I could see this ….

Well I wasn’t sure what to do.  There has been a nest above the observatory door for awhile now, but I had never seen any babies in it.  I had seen a bird fly away from the nest as I would come and go through the door.

I grabbed my camera out of the car and took a few pictures.  Notice that there is another snake already at the nest.  I couldn’t tell until I saw the pictures, but it is eating a baby bird.  The larger snake was undeterred by my lights and just kept trying to make its way up to the nest.  I am sure the smaller one was gloating at the bigger snake and thinking, ‘not so big now are you?’

I looked around for a big long stick or something that I could run them off with.  These are Texas Rat Snakes, they are harmless to humans, but quite aggressive when challenged, so I wanted the longest thing I could find.  After some searching, I found a 2″ diameter, maybe 5′ long piece of schedule 40 PVC.  Not exactly the right choice, but all I had.

First I managed to run the bigger snake off the door.

Then I decided that the only way I could get the smaller snake away from the birds was to knock the nest, birds, snake and all off the siren.  When I did that, the snake turned loose the bird it was eating, it no longer had a bulge in its throat.  But after a moment it went after one of the babies and seemed unconcerned about me.  I kept poking at it with my unwieldy PVC until it finally also slithered off ….

But ….

it went straight under my car and didn’t come out the other side.  I couldn’t see it in the dark, had no flashlight, the keys to the observatory were in the car ….

This is where the Papa’s a wuss part comes in.  I wasn’t about to get too near the car without knowing exactly where that snake was.

So I took my long PVC and poked around under the car hoping to run the snake off, but never saw it come out.  I laid the PVC flat on the ground and slid it from the front tires all the way to the back tires and didn’t feel anything.  I went around the other side of the car and repeated this process and it was obvious this time that I was hitting the snake.

I managed to get an angle that allowed me to see a bit of the snake in light from the porch and determined I could get in the car.  I backed up and the snake looked so much smaller than during the face-off on the porch.  🙂  But, it was coiled and ready for business.

After backing up a ways, I took the PVC and harassed it enough that it scurried off.

Well, I knew I couldnt just leave the baby birds out there on their own, but I didnt know what to do with them.  I didnt want to touch them (I had heard/read that doing so would mean the mother wouldnt have anything to do with them) so I unlocked the door, went inside and gathered a box and a large dust pan.

When I opened the door to go back outside, there was the larger snake back up on the porch trying to get one of the birds.  After gathering my composure, I managed to run it off again.  I gathered the birds and nest into the box and took it quite a ways away, set it up on an electricity junction box and hoped that the mother bird would figure out what to do next.

As I walked back to the observatory, there was the bigger snake back on the porch.  I ran it off again and noticed that it just went behind a junction box on the side of the observatory.  After quite a bit of effort on my part, poking at it, it finally headed off into the woods.

Normally, I go outside every thirty minutes to check the sky conditions, temperature, and wind.  But I think I wont be doing that tonight.

Papa

GRAND children

The first picture of all the grandchildren after Cindy was born.  Taken back in January.

11 grandchildren

It’s Snowtime!

We got our second snowfall of the year today and the third for this winter.  That may not sound that exciting to you folks that live in northern climates, but it is a rare event around here.  I estimate we had at least twice the total snowfall as last time, but because it was warmer, the accumulation was not as much and so it wasnt quite as pretty.  Anyway, I thought I would post some pictures.  The first one I took out the back door this morning.  The other three Becca sent to me.  Wish I had been there, it looks like they had a lot of fun.

Papa

AutoStitch

I really like AutoStitch on my iPhone. It allows me to take pictures with my iPhone and stitch them together into a wider field of view. AutoStitch evens the lighting across the images and does an excellent job of stitching them together. It is well worth the small price I paid for it. Here are a couple of panoramas I have done with my iPhone 3GS.

The first was taken at DFW while waiting for the commuter jet to push back.  It was very low light just before sunset.

This is the result of 3 images taken through the window of the B767 while we were enroute from San Diego to DFW.  I was quite impressed by the result.

I didnt crop or otherwise adjust these results.  This is exactly the way AutoStitch created them.  You can click on the image for a larger version.  However, the size was reduced during the upload process.

For more examples, check out the AutoStitch for iPhone gallery.  There are some very amazing photos on Flickr as well.

3 generations

I looked out the window this morning to find some of our regular visitors quite close to the house.  I grabbed the camera and got the following pictures.  There is a yearling female, her mother and her younger twin siblings.  There was another doe and her fawn further off to the right.

I have posted more photos here.

3 generations

3 generations

One of the twins

One of the twins

I love this place

Yesterday morning I had the privilege of watching a couple of does feeding out in the front yard about 10 yards from the house.  I noticed that one of them had twin fawns which still have their spots.  I grabbed the camera and took the following photo through the window in the front door.  The mother had just stopped the two from nursing and stepped away.  I was quite pleased to get this picture under the circumstances.  You may click on the image for a higher resolution version.

At the same time there were a couple of finches on the front porch eating bird seed that had fallen out of the feeder and a humingbird at the feeder.  I am so thankful to the heavenly Father for this opportunity to witness the beauty of his creation.

Papa

Fawns in the front yard

Fawns in the front yard