Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cooley Lake CA

Did not want to waste this beautiful day! It was about 60*, sunny and completely calm- conditions that are not too common.

The entrance road to the park is still iced over- as is the river and the wetland area. When the sun was able to peak from between clouds, you could hear the ice on the river fracture andd melt. On the more stagnant areas of the river, about 4 inches of ice blanketed the surface, creating a smooth, clean hwy for critters. A dog- looked to be a pet- strolled on by. It walked about 60ft from shore; avoiding the soft spots of the ice and the puddles that had accumulated on top of the ice. I feared for the dog as it seemed he could break through at any moment!

I carried my shotgun; Im still trying to get my goose for the season. THe season runs until the end of the month and there are PLENTY of birds still out there. I stuck to the fields near the river and dipped down to the bank once in a while. I shot at a couple - no luck!

The bank of the missouri is like a history book; a collection of artifacts from any year can be found in the held layers of the soft bank or mixed with centuries of human commotion on any sandbar. You can find light bricks of coal from the last few decades or magnificant pieces of timber from past centuries. Bottles, nails, china and shot shells provide a record of activity since the river saw it's first european settlements. Pottery and arrowheads display the long presence of native americans. Bones and skeletons of livestock tell of a century of floods and those of deer, bison and even elk have been coloured by hundreds of years of red clay.

I enjoyed shifting through the colourful rocks and crystals on the back when I was startled; POP!

I flinched to the close sound of a gunshot. It was not like that of a shotgun of even a rifle and I spotted a large man starring at me from near the boatramp about 500 yrds away. I thought he'd shot at me and knelt behind a beached boat on my sandbar. Crime is common near cooley lake. I glanced at him again- he shot his pistol in the air several times and a smaller man in a dark jacket appeared. HE was carrying something- a body? I couldnt believe my mind would come to the conclusion so quickly. Maybe he had shot in my direction because he didnt know I was there- its why he was starring at me after the shot. I flashed on a mob scene!
The smaller man through the large, limp object into the river and I snapped a photo through a hole in the boat. It made a recognisable thump in the mud. They began to walk up the hill and I scurried off the sandbar into the brush. I snatched up my shotgun and began slowly to walk toward the ramp to investigate. A last gunshot echoed across the river and I arrived at the boat ramp. There was no car and no people- I continued to the river. A trail of blood led me from a wet spot near the tree line to the body on the muddy bank. It was a dog. A young, beautiful bulldog with a shot to it's forehead and an exit wound in its neck. Its blood was absorbed by the snad and mud-
A sad sight, but it couldve been worse!
I went on with my day trip- Stumbled upon a large dead tree in a mitigation area. the ground was soggy and I noticed several green things near my feet. The sound of an ARMY OF GEESE silenced the river; they flew high above me... .I focused and shot at the lead bird. Of course I did not kill him!
A few seconds later I heard a small, violent snap of the branch next to me. Another. And a thud in the moist ground. My shot was raining down on me. The geese were fighting back! I covered my head for a few seconds, though I was never hit. A juvi eagle appeared over the treeline to my left. He flew a little higher and slower and slower. A final flap of his wings landed him on one of the highest branches of this large, dead tree infront of me. I reached for my camera and he paniced. A few strong, silent waves and he was again high in the air- traveling quickly in the direction from which he came. Another few minutes passed. I waited- enjoying the warm sun on my skin and the sound of birds and ice on the river. Woody- A pileated woodpecker mad his precence know on his undulating route to the same community tree. I heard his claws hit the hollow tree and he made his way to the top in a few short vertical leaps. He made a call and pecked a few times, adjusted his position and pecked again. Dissatisfied, i suppose, he fell from the brach; his face and body lit by the sun behind me. His incredible wingspan only appeared a few times before he was gone over the treeline. I thought I would call it a day, but found myself on the otherside of the property in minutes. A park-users car radio was just about the only thing to hear, but for the cattails and ice crunching beneath my boots. An arrow stuck in a tree.

The sun went low and I lay on the frozen surface of the wetland to snap a few shots of a sunset. My stomach was cold and wet on the melting ice and again I decieded to make my way home. The radio shut up, then blasted again. He left and I hung for a few moments before the sunset.

J smith park

Jerry Smith park offers a nice easy stroll on the natural side any time of year! Yesterday I was careful not to disturb the wet ground. The light covering of ice and snow had a chance to melt for the first time in a while on friday- even more so yesterday!
I stayed off of the main part of the prairie to avoid damaging anything- found some new parts of the area to explore in return! In an attempt to find a shed antler of the large buck I photographed earlier this season I wondered into a wooded area of the park. However, the only thing I found was a large dump. An old 1940's? car, a few engines, wagons, bottles and cans and everything else anybody would want to throw away were rusting in a shrubby ditch- I rummaged through some of it just to see what I could find. A few cool, rusted gears, some ancient coke cans and some tiny coloured medicine bottles were the only things I found of any interest. I salvaged an old pop can and a small green glass bottle- took some photos and notes and continued to the spot where I got that nice landscape on my last visit.


It was approaching the same time of day, but I could not find the patch of grass that made the photo so cool. It was a nice visit- warm and sunny!


Rocky Point Glades 1-26-08.

Swope park. Rocky point; Blue River glades; Lake of the woods; The Zoo; LNC
THIS WAS AN ICE FORMATION ON A SMALL CREEK; Paper thin and melting quick! The blue river (seen here behind the Swope pool area) was completely frozen over! The ice was about 5 inches thick; it cracked and shattered were the river had dropped. I walked across slowly to see if I could... glad it worked !!!

MY area for the coming Blue River Clean up (XVII) is that between the Swope golf course and the Swope pool. It will be my first time leading a group for the event, though I have participated with the clean up for just about as long as I can remember! I walked the area yesterday to see what my group would be cleaning. It was not as bad as Ive seen many areas, but there was defenately work to be done! A dozen tires or so, a KC STAR newspaper dispencer, a handful of gas tanks and matresses and a couple of moderate garbage dumps seem to be the worst of it. There were some pretty interesting things burried in the confused trash piles, as there always is! Things like old steel kegs and a zillion playing balls were closer to the river.
I look forward to participating in the clean up as a group leader- this will be a nice, safer site to work on!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rocky Point Seeding

Yesterday was the warmest weve had in over a week! Temps a few days ago dipped down to near zero and highs hit only in the low twenties... Yesterday was our first above freezing. A small handful of volunteers met on the 'hill' of swope park-

We spread a large bag of seed on areas of the glade that seem to get more sunlight, and are therefore able to support the native plant life a little easier than those shaded ares under rock or canopy. Volunteers cleared the selected area(s) of large debris and raked the litter away. Usually, the rakes would also break the surface of the dirt in order to create a place to catch and hold the seeds that we then scatter on the bald surfaces; Yesterday the ground was frozen solid!

The seeds were a mix of native grasses like bluestem and indian and flowers/forbs such as coneflowers or sunflowers. We spread the seeds evenly and thick across the cleared areas before we stepped them into the ground and covered them up with the removed leaf litter.
To my surprise, there were quite a few green things under last year's dead stuff. Verbena and ragwort were still coloured from last year- wild onion? and the bases of some of the grasses are poping up for the comming spring - EXCITING!


The planet venus and its comerades at sunrise over tablerock lake at sunrise- Photo taken jan. 16 with my 300mm sigma. Mars was very low on horizon just a few degrees to the left.
ORIONS SWORD- same night, same lens. thought it was cool to see the different colours of the stars!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cool Rock!

My mother laughs at me when I become so excited about something as simple or common as a stone. This one was found in a small outcropping off of hwy 52 just east of cole camp, MO on Sunday. Im not real sure what it is- lead, magnetite or even iron? There are many small, square dark/metallic crystals inbeded in it's orange matrix. The rock is only about an inch in diameter, but is heavier than a ball-bearing of the same size. Its pretty cool looking- the only things Ive ever seen like it were pyrite or galena... it may be, but its different in that its the colour of a dark pencil lead.
each crystal is about .2 cm long- the largest is ~1.2cm

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Blue river

I got an itch to make it outside when the snow and clouds gave way to the sun yesterday evening. The roads were still a bit icey from the week's snow, but Ive never had too much trouble driving in ice. Jerry smith sounded nice with the clouds as fluffy as they were, but I changed my mind pretty quickly upon arrival; I couldnt get but ten or twenty feet up the entrance road! There were tire tracks in the snow that appeared to have no problem facing the hill, but my little truck, even with all the sandbags would spin out at the same point every time I tried. I gave up, and put it into reverse- backed up as slow as I could in hopes of avoiding the metal gate posts and the larg rocks that edge the entrance. WELL THAT DIDNT WORK!
I was driving home and spotted my old water quality monitoring site just north of 139th on holmes. I parked a made my way down to the bank of the blue river. It was extremely cold- about 16 degrees- and I found many brilliant ice 'sculptures' on the edge of the river.The till water would freeze, then be swept away by the rizing current. several small chunks of ice rushed passed me and took the larg ripple just below me. On the leaves which had been packed into the rip-rap bank, I observed many layers of ice. The layers started about two feet up and then another at 12 inches, 8 inches, 5 inches and at two inches above the waters current level. At the two inch mark there were zillions of bubbles trapped. At this mark, also was where I found that ice was thick and polished by heat and water. There were ice cicles connecting this layer to the waters surface. Only got a few pics because I was only there about 6 min- It was still better than nothing!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

JSmith Park

I watched the little kestrel go about his business. It was a male and he had all of the colour to prove it! He swooped and then rocketed into the air. He hoovered- little wings working as hard as they could to keep him where he wanted to be.

It rained most of the morning and the snow had only stopped about an hour before I got to the park. The sun came out quickly and many interesting clouds were formed and illuminated in time for sunset. I saw no other critters until the drive home- a dozen deer or so in a field.

The park was still blackened from the falls fire and the breeze kicked up the scent of smoke. Little green things are beginning to sprout from the burned grasses. The bare ground is full of bones, scrap metal and all sorts of other skeletons- those of creatures, buildings, tools and motors.

A small group of burnt egg shells were spread out over several yards of a black hill- they were larger than a chickens, and more round. Here is one seen aside a nickel for size comparison. Turkey? Dinosaur?
The eggs (or any ground-type nests) were not harmed during the burn, but were probably left over from the 2007-season hatch. Im not sure, but I think that this occurs in early summer every year.

It was a beautiful evening- the prairie is just as colourful as it would be in summer or fall!

I came over a hill on my way back to the truck- I mounted the camera to my eye and became lost in the viewfinder. The sounds of traffic and that of the helicopters circleing the park diminished and the powerlines and houses in the background seemed to disappear. A slight frozen wind blew from my left and the grasses danced and whispered. I was in a prairie!.. I was in the right place at the right moment and tried my best to capture it on 'film'.

Monday, January 7, 2008

january heat

Its been a hell of a weekend! ... weatherwise, at least. We made record temps. yesterday, nearly 63* and today almost 69! A moth harassed the porch light for a few moments tonight- backdroped by a spectacular showing of lightning. Tornados threaten the central parts of Missouri as well as the rest of the midwest and snow is in the forcast within the next few hours. Can you say 'global warming'!?
I took a sec. to try to shoot the lightning, but had no success. A few minutes ago, near 10:30 I steped outside. It was very warm and the top of every pine tree whiped around in the wind. Air near the ground felt fairly still and the yard was quiet for a few seconds. I looked up a great elm tree and noticed a few stars peaking through the clouds. The clouds seemed to move at an extraordinary pace when I had the still tree in the foreground. I snatched up my camera and set it atop the tripod.
A bright flash of lightning lit the sky every now and then, casting a strait beam of light that revealed the topography of the floating cieling. It was beautiful, and because the clouds moved so quickly, it seemed like a great photo opp. I took (4) 8 sec exposures. The photos came out nicely, but the clouds were far too bright and they glew pink and yellow with the city lights. One exposure came out softer than the others and had a white glow. I suspect that I had caught a glimpse of lightning and the last exposure was a 3.5 sec one.

There are two stars poking through the darker patch in between clouds on the left side of the tree. Photo could be pretty cool woth some editing!

Saturday, January 5, 2008


I was up on the hill the other evening- SHowing a friend and doing a photo shoot. It was about 3pm and the sun was becoming low, I only took 3 photos of the area- There was still a lot of snow on the rocks and in the shade- The air was cold and the wind made it colder. - enjoy the photo!

Cooley Lake CA

IT was a warm one today! almost 60* and windy-
Last nights rain showers and this morning's snow melt wet the ground and roads. Then entrance road was still iced over- patches of snow still cover the lower spots of the area- those same spots that hold the leaves that fell a few months ago. The river was high and the current road swiftly- the waters surface is smothered in small 'iceburgs'- large hunks of ice that have been carried from the once frozen surfaces of the back-eddies. The ice crashed and crunched close to the shore and againt the dikes- with itself and with the rocks. Where it accumulated, in the shallow areas and in slower water, the sheets and blocks of ice created all sorts of beautiful noises.

Many tiny sparrow-like birds darted and bounced among the brush on the first level of the bank. It was as if my mother and I were herding them up stream. One of the birds perched on a thin twig only a few metres in front of me- I took a small group of photos and then of a few passing mergansers. Two large eagles danced in fight across the river and down a little bit. They disappeared soon after I noticed them.

Thousands of snow geese flew high above us. There gigantice V's would not have gone unnoticed by anyone in the area- Their noise was intense!
Hundreds of canadas- groups and flocks of mixed sizes and species flew low across the river. Similar flocks of Mallards flew down-stream. They, when the geese were not heard, made their own symphany of qucks, wings and all sorts of vocals.
I shot at two geese today- I know that I hit one, but niether fell. I felt bad about injuring the bird, but I am confident with my shot, and no one can kill every bird. We cut through a crop field. The egdes had been dozed and the ground was bare. Along the egde- in the last of the wet snow I observed a trail left by some sort of large mammal- cat or dog. The prints were in a strait line, and youd have to work to tell which prints were made by the left or right side of the creature. " MOuntain Lion" I teased. My mother investigated the tracks and took my statement seriously for a few minutes before she was able to convince herself that it was impossible.

The tracks were about 3.5" in diameter- a little longer than they were wide. The pad was huge and I found no evidence of any claws. The only reason why I concidered that they were not those of a large cat was the stride- "There is only about 18" between tracks" my mother noticed. She told me that the stride was much too small to be a lion. I dont know- maybe it was!