Posts Tagged 'outdoors'

Speaking of Owls

150323_016Dusk is always a challenge to photograph.  You are working with low light.  There is a change of shift in the bird world.  Day birds slowly disappear and night birds start showing up.  This barred owl, came out to investigate me.  There actually were two for a few moments.  Barred owls are easy to find if you listen for them.  They sound like, “who cooks, who cooks for you all”.    You may be able to hear them call, but they silent when the fly.  This gives them an advantage when hunting.  Great eyesight and stealth flights, give them a great advantage at night.

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Great Horned Owl Chicks

With Spring working its way in, baby birds and animals will start making themselves known.  Sometimes you are lucky to find photo opportunities on your own and other times people will share those great places with you.  A co-worker and birder told me he had a nest of owls in his neighborhood.  He said it was a couple of houses down from where he lived.  He and his girlfriend had been enjoying them for a few weeks and had enjoyed hearing the parents all winter.

Not having opportunities often to photograph owl chicks, I headed out.  It is a 25 minute drive to the nest site from my house.  People ask, why would you drive 25 minutes to see a bird’s nest?  Because when the opportunity presents itself, it can be a real hoot…  I know, I could have chosen my words better there.

150327_070_n1_p_wpIt was fun watching the owls.  One of the parents was watching me too.  It was a nice evening and I was even able to talk with one of the neighbors who was excited to have them nesting nearby.

Hopefully I will have more of these kids as they grow up and leave the nest.

The Little Chickadee

Spring is closing in.  It was nice late this afternoon.  Maybe a little chilly, but great to be outdoors.  I went down to the river to do a little photography.  There were plenty of birds around.  In the 40 minutes or so that I was down there, I saw chickadees, hairy woodpeckers, titmice, red-bellied woodpeckers, cardinals, turkey vultures, and canadian geese.  As you can tell it is slowly starting to green up out there.

150403_041_n1_p_wpSoon the little ones will start showing up.  Time to start looking for nests.

Lake Decatur Needs Water

What a summer it has been.  Extreme heat and little rain.  Lake Decatur has slowly dwindled away.  The water keeps dropping at .5 inches to 1 inch a day.  We are in the second stage of water restrictions.  That means the car washes are closed.  We can’t water plants, wash cars at home, use water to wash your drive without incurring a hefty fine.  Even restaurants are not allowed to serve water unless you ask for it.  The water police have been out, tickets have been issued, and the amount of water used has decreased.

This weekend rain has come our way due to the remnants of hurricane Isaac.  But we need more.  City officials have said that within a couple of weeks if things don’t change, they will go to stage three restrictions.  This means industry will be asked to cut back.  That would not be good for the city of Decatur.  More than likely there would be layoffs.  It is a domino effect.  Water dries up and other things dry up.  I am starting to see (though not fully understanding) why most wars are over water.  It is the most basic substance for survival.

Low Water on Sangamon River Below Lake Decatur Dam

After work Friday I took a drive around the lake.  I have slowly watched to go down this summer, and taken very few pictures.  With the rain coming in, I wanted to capture a few images.  Since it was raining, I stayed in my truck while taking the photographs.

The above image is the Sangamon River right below the dam on Lake Decatur.  Normally water will cover most of the vegetation you see.  Water would go to the tree line on the other bank.  The grasses have grown to what looks like about 5 feet in height.  Water has not poured over the dam for some time.

Laying Pipe For Moving Water From Alternate Source For City Of Decatur

Below the dam they are starting to lay pipe to move water from some gravel pits downstream.  This was done last time we had a severe drought.  This will add water, but not near what is needed.  The water transported by the pipe will be used at the south water treatment plant.  More water is being added to the lake via the Sangamon River from the north.  Water is being pumped from the Mahomet Aquifer and dumped into the river.  This water will end up at the north water treatment plant.  Unfortunately only half of the water will make it, due to evaporation and water soaking into the ground.

Cracked Silt In Basin One On Lake Decatur At Lost Bridge Road Boat Ramp

Moving around to the boat ramp on Lost Bridge Road, the lack of water is more apparent.  The water has subsided and covers less than half of this part of  basin one.  The silt is cracked, and before the rain it looked hard enough to walk on.  Walking on it is not advisable.  If you break through the crust, there can be five feet or more of gooey, pudding like mud to sink into.  That is not a good idea.  People wonder why they don’t take bulldozers in and deepen the lake.  The city officials say part of the reason is that the ground would not support the heavy equipment.

Before leaving this site, I talked with a fellow in another vehicle.  He had a spotting scope to watch birds across the lake.  He mentioned there were some very rare birds for the area here.

Almost Dry Basin On Lake Decatur At Lost Bridge Boat Ramp

You look at the picture and say birds across the lake?  Yes, I know the image is small, but if you look real close there are small white specs close to the other shore line.  Those are great egrets.  The birder used his spotting scope to view those birds and shore birds.  Yes there is a benefit to having the low water, as shore birds and wading birds find it to be an attractive environment.  Even thought I enjoy seeing them myself, I would rather have a full, and healthy lake.

People Viewing Low Lake Levels At The Sportsman’s Club Gazebos On Lake Decatur

Even though the lakes low water level is not good for the community, people come out to see it.  A family spent time in the rain at the gazebos at the Sportsman’s Club Park.  It has been years since the lake has been this low and many people will take a drive to view it.  Most if not all those people wish things would change very quickly.  It is interesting though to see such contrast, and know there is nothing we can do to control it.  We can’t control the weather.  Only God and the laws of nature He created can control this.  We might be able to pump water from another source, or dredge the lake, but there is not a thing we can do to make it rain.  It shows how powerless we really are, even though our technology has allowed us to advance so much.  A simple thing like rain is totally out of our reach to control.

Dried Up Sand Creek Basin On Lake Decatur

The last stop on my trip around the lake was Sand Creek Basin.  Normally this area has water standing in it.  Even though it is dried up, the lily pads get water from the water-soaked silt, below the cracked surface.  Earlier in the day, this was totally dry.  Now the silt is darkened due to the rain saturating the dark color of the silt.  There is a little shine to the parched ground, and hopefully soon it will be covered with the wonderful fluid substance of water.  Soon we hope that once again the people driving by won’t be looking in wonder at the lack of water, but of people tryng to catch the fish swimming among the lily pads as they have done in the past.

The rivers and lakes have dried up.  The crops are not going to produce a strong crop due to the lack of moisture.  Jobs may be lost if the rains don’t come soon.

Again, there is nothing we can do to make the rains come.  Hopefully the One who controls the powerful laws of nature will bring the rains once again.