"PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — An end to winter's bitter cold will come soon, according to Pennsylvania's famous groundhog.
a recent stretch of weather that's included both record warm
temperatures and bitter cold, tornadoes in the South and Midwest and
torrential rains in the mid-Atlantic, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his
lair Saturday in front of thousands but didn't see his shadow."
Just a quick shot of the winter sky with my new Canon 60D. I haven't got to play with it much due to travel and then weather not being cooperative when I got back and life generally getting in the way. But so far, I like it. Here's why.
Another winter migrant from the Great White North....The Snow Bunting.
Snow Buntings are very hardy birds. Able to withstand temperatures of thirty below zero, they migrate more from food deprivation of seeds than from the cold. Too keep warm, these ground foragers would either huddle up together in weedy bushes or even burrow in the snow. Truly an Arctic bird!
Plumages differ with the seasons. In the late fall, both sexes will appear to have that have rich chestnut brown on the crown, cheeks and shoulders, black wings a white belly. When breeding season arrives in the tundra spring, males will have white head, shoulders and undersides with a black back and wings. The females would a similar coloration except for a mottled grey on the wings.
While wintering in Wisconsin, can be found foraging on the ground for seeds by the roadsides near agricultural areas and weedy grasslands as well as near coastal beaches.
Top picture was taken by the lighthouse on 10/28/2012 while was taking pictures of a Dunlin and a migrating Black Bellied Plover. A small flock of Snow Buntings landed in front of me from a nearby bush. The winds howled cold from the lake, freezing my fingers NUMB! It was really difficult to get many great pictures. The picture below I took from the Cornell Lab site to give readers an idea what the breeding season Snow Bunting looks like.
Here are some suggestions to help you pass the time.
Things you can do with absolutely nothing.
Push your eyes for interesting light show: (Amusement Potential: 1-5 minutes) See a variety of blobs, stars and flashes. Try to make out things - is your subconscious trying to send you a message? Can you control what you see by pressing different areas with different forces? Would it be possible to somehow see the same effects on TV? Or for that matter, watch TV with your eyes shut doing this?
See how long you can hold your breath: (Amusement Potential: 4-20 minutes) Not that much fun, but it sure passes the time. Play with a friend, or try to beat your own personal best. Some tips: hyperventilate before hand, and stay as still as possible.
Try to not think about polar bears: (Amusement Potential: 1-5 minutes) This is especially hard, because by trying too much, you remember what you were trying to avoid thinking of. If you try too little, you end up thinking about polar bears anyway.
Scratch yourself: (Amusement Potential: 1-3 minutes) Go ahead, scratch yourself now. Even if nothing itches, go ahead. Doesn't that feel pretty good?
Hurt yourself: (Amusement Potential: 1-3 minutes) What is pain? Why is it unpleasant? There's nothing physical about it - it's all in your mind. Plus, after pinching yourself for awhile, boredom will seem nice next to being in pain.
Try to swallow your tongue: (Amusement Potential: 1-3 minutes) There's not much to say about this one. It is possible.
Look at something for awhile, shut eyes, study after image: (Amusement Potential: 2-5 minutes) Another great time waster. It takes about 30 seconds of staring to create an after image, and the image is then viewable for about the same length of time. Fun to combine this one with pushing on your eyes. Get yourself as nauseated as possible: (Amusement Potential: 5-10 minutes) Best achieved by looking straight up and spinning around. Try to be so dizzy you can't even stand up. This is also entertaining due to the "makes boredom seem a lot better" effect (see "Hurt Yourself").
Things you can do with very little:
See what's in your neighbour's trash: (Amusement Potential: 20-30 minutes) You can learn a lot about people by what they throw out. You might uncover some dark secret about them. Plus, they might be throwing out something with value that still works, like a VCR.
Watch TV, repeat everything said in Italian accent: (Amusement Potential: 5-10 minutes) Sort of entertaining. Fun to pretend the people on the screen are actually talking that way.
Call up people who write editorials you disagree with: (Amusement Potential: 15-60 minutes) I'm surprised no one has thought of this before. Unleash your fury on the person who had the nerve to write a letter like that! I'm pretty sure it doesn't qualify as a prank phone call, too.
Make prank phone calls: (Amusement Potential: 20-60 minutes) Very entertaining, but requires discipline. Remember - vulgarities don't make a call funny, but getting the other person to believe a ridiculous story will. Even more fun if you get a bunch of people on the line using a Wonderphone and take turns making the calls. One to get you started off: Call McDonald's, try to make reservations.
Pretend all humans will die except for people in the room with you: (Amusement Potential: 10-20 minutes) What would you do if this really happened? Would the group stay together, or would there be factions? Who would join what group? Remember, there would only be power for a few days before the plants ran out of fuel or broke. To travel, you would always have to be near cars to siphon gas out of. Best to do with people you know.
Step off a curb with eyes shut, imagine it's a cliff: (Amusement Potential: 2-5 minutes) To get any benefit out of this one, you have to have a good imagination. Don't step off immediately, build up to the jump. Study the ravine below. Feel the winds at that altitude. Step off and... AHHHHHH!!!!!
Burn things with a magnifying glass: (Amusement Potential: 5-30 minutes) Ants are always fun to use for this, but burning the face of someone you don't like, under some circumstances, can be just as entertaining.
Things you can do with another person:
Have a water drinking contest: (Amusement Potential: 5-10 minutes) While the competition is fun, you probably won't feel too good afterward. To give your event an old western theme, slam the cups upside down on the tables after you have emptied them.
Stare at the back of someone's head until they turn around: (Amusement Potential: 2-5 minutes) This works on the "I have the feeling I'm being watched" principle. Conduct an experiment--does this really work?
Have a "Who is less competitive" competition: (Amusement Potential: 1-3 minutes) Trying to win at this will make you lose. Trying to lose makes you win which makes you lose. Not trying at all makes you lose which makes you win which makes you lose.
Pick up a dog so it can see things from your point of view: (Amusement Potential: 3-5 minutes) Think about it: your dog has only seen the house from a viewpoint from 6" to 2' high (15 to 60 cm for all you metric fans). It's never seen the tops of counters, what you keep on your desk, the tops of shelves, etc. Try looking at things from its point of view, too.
Pull out a hair, stick in someone's ear: (Amusement Potential: 1-5 minutes) Best done to sleeping people. Added challenge in having no one else around, because then you can't blame it on anyone else. Try to beat your record number of times before the person catches on.
Pour water in hand, make sneeze noise, throw water on back of person's neck: (My persoanl favorite) (Amusement Potential: 5-15 minutes) Always a good gag. For an even bigger reaction out of the person, act like you're not sorry at all for what they think you did. Comment instead on how big that sneeze was or about how there was a lot of mucus in that one.
Hello, my waterlogged wonders.How are you?Rain and/or snow today, then back into the deep freeze.Oh my.No wonder that winter weather depresses people.I get depressed just writing about it.Well, January is all but gone.One more month and we can see daylight.
Spring is coming, I hope.
The Super Bowl is this Sunday.Who cares?If the Packers are not in it, it means little to me.The Harbaugh brothers are coaching opposing
teams, but, again, that doesn’t pique my interest.I may watch/hear part of it if it’s on TV
while I’m doing something else.Some
people watch just for the commercials, but those will all be out on YouTube the
I read in the Journal Times about Racine
probably taking 785 streetlights off of the grid to balance the budget.How can City Hall justify that after all of
the money they’ve wasted on Mr. Mayor Dickert and his pet projects?It’s beyond ludicrous.Mr. Mayor breaks the law, but we have to pay
for it.That’s immoral.
Junior informed me of his latest career goal the other day:
professional wrestler.Oh dear.I asked him if perhaps a degree in accounting
or computer science or something else might not be a good idea just in case the
wrestling business doesn’t pan out.I
don’t think he heard a word I said.He
already has his professional wrestling name and personality picked out: Zoltar
the Zombie, who will eat “brains” during interviews and such.My, I’m so proud of my son the zombie.What’s nice is knowing that he changes his
career goal at least once a week.Tomorrow he may want to be Zoltar the zoologist.
Finally, here is a video with suggestions on beating the
That woman is so cheery that I get nauseous.
Thank you so much for stopping by this week.I’m delighted to have visitors to my blog,
irregular and otherwise.Please stop
every week and see what Madame Zoltar® has to say.
Guys, my husband and I worked very hard to make things work on Jacato Drive. We decided to let someone else give it a try. Well, last night there was a horrific fire there. If you can find it in your hearts, please try to help these folks out. My heart hurts ... We worked so hard with tenants... Gave people a chance. No, we didn't get rich...far from it...but, in the end I felt we helped decent people who had little in the way of money get on the right track. It isn't always about money.
While we were at Richard Bong State Recreational Area the moon was coming up. It was so pretty and it looked like a pretty Fall moon with the tree. I could not resist taking a picture of it. I hope everyone enjoys the picture.
I was thinking of doing a "profile" on the Common Goldeneye, the Snow Bunting or a Snow Goose next, but in the light of recent sightings at Richard Bong State Recreational Area, I settled on the Short Eared Owl.
The Short Eared Owl is a medium sized owl that thrives in grasslands, open meadows, tundras and prairies across most of northern North America and Eurasia. Often first seen at dusk in a low to the ground in a moth like flight over the grasslands in search of rodents that make up the most of their diet. Its plummage is a tawny brown with streaks on its pale breast. Although relatively small, they do appear quiet large in flight. Their broad wings them look that way. While flying, one could see the buffy brown color with light and dark spots under its wings. They are partially diurnal and be seen hunting at dusk and in the late afternoon on cloudy days.
Although the Short Eared Owls' range is widespread across the globe, their numbers have been reduced dramatically due to the loss of their natural habitat. They are endangered in several states! I've noticed that Bong taken measures to preserve their winter homeland.
This picture was taken 1/24/2013 at Richard Bong State Recreational Area. Bong is one of the few places in Wisconsin one can actually see these beautiful birds. After reading reports of their sightings from my birding friends, Tender Heart and I set out to find them. They can be seen flying low over the grasslands between parking lots D and E at dusk. It was a couple of times being out there, before I could actually get a quality photo. For the price of a seven buck admission, it was worth it....
Below is a video of a Short Eared Owl at Bong taken by one of my birding friends....
Every Wednesday, Madame Zoltar responds to your queries and comments in her blog, Dear Madame Zoltar. Are the stars in your favor? What to do with that 401K? Find out by sending your questions and thoughts to: firstname.lastname@example.org
"The famed Bald Eagles from Decorah, Iowa are back on their nest and ready to start a new family! World famous and live streamed via the internet by the Raptor Resource Center, anyone can view the parents raise their eaglets from egg to fledglings from the comfort of their homes. Using infrared cameras and microphones, the eagles can be seen around the clock during the nesting season, which starts in January or February and runs till June."
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