Monday, April 30, 2012

Zip It - A to Z Challenge

It is the last day of the challenge and time to zip it up and stop barking at all of you on a daily basis.  Phew.  It is a lot of work to blog 6 days a week!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the challenge and to all my new followers.  It was a lot of fun.  I still have lots of blogs I need to visit from the A to Z Challenge.  Finding time to blog, never mind read, and comment on, other blogs was a bit of a challenge in itself, but I'll be checking them out in the near future.  Coulee and Lacey also wanted to say thanks for coming to play with them this month!  We can't wait for next year!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Yesterday - A to Z Challenge

Yesterday I was supposed to blog.  Yesterday, I wasn't in the mood. Yesterday we didn't go on any fun walks.  Yesterday we spent a few hours in the kitchen making dog food instead.  Yesterday we didn't act like goofy swamp monsters. That's what we did today.

Friday, April 27, 2012

eXtender - A to Z Challenge

So here I am, breaking the rules again, this time with the title.  Sue me.  ;)

I borrowed a friend's 2x Canon Extender last night and put it to use today. There are definitely some pros and cons.  We'll start with the cons...


  1. For such a little thing, it sure seems to add weight to an already heavy set-up.  It also creates a different weight balance that takes getting used to.
  2. Holy Hannah did I need to crank up the ISO to let in enough light.  When I first set out, I set the camera up with what I considered "reasonable" settings - ISO 800, Shutter 800 and Aperture - 5.6 (which is as low as it goes).  I took a picture to test the settings and it was pitch dark.  I thought maybe it wasn't connected correctly. I reconnected everything and took a few more.  Still black.  I was debating turning around and leaving it in the car as it obviously wasn't working, when I decided to make it really extreme and lower the shutter to about 60... And I finally had a picture registering!  Wow.  I mean it is grey and rainy out, but it wasn't that dark out!  I ended up using a ISO of 3200 and 4000 in order to get a shutter speed at 800 (which I usually use for moving objects, but probably needed anyway to combat camera shake!).
  3. The focus speed is scarily slow... but once it has something focused in it's sights, it can keep up with a moving subject.

  1. You can get photos that you never would have been able to without such a long reach.  All those bird photos from today's earlier post would have been complete crap without the extender.  Those birds were nowhere near me.
  2. Can you say Bokeh?  This lens has it.
  3. Still clear as a bell as far as I can tell.
  4. Not nearly as expensive as a whole other lens and easy to fit in your pocket for those times you need extra reach.

I'll be playing around more with this but I can see this quickly being added to my wish list.  I don't photograph a lot of wildlife, but when out and about it would be nice to be able to get some better pictures of birds.  It definitely isn't needed for the dogs though. Lorelei are you sure you don't want to sell yours to me?  :)

A Wet and Wild Walk in the Wetland - A to Z Challenge

I'm a day late.  But does my W heavy title make up for it?  I worked 14 hours yesterday and had no time to blog. Sorry!

These past few months we've been walking out at Park Lake Provincial Park.  It is about 15 minutes out of town and the Lake is actually a man-made irrigation reservoir.  (Yes, we are lame like that in Southern Alberta - we make our man-made reservoirs into provincial parks).  Around about a quarter of the lake are wetland areas where there are lots and lots of birds.  It can be a noisy place at times.

I borrowed a friend's extender to try out and managed to get some decent bird pictures in the rain, even with the dogs in tow.

The most common wetland bird I see, is the red-winged black bird.  They've been around for a few weeks now but just recently started hanging out in the wetland, instead of the trees.

The yellow-headed blackbird is my favourite.  They are a close second in terms of "common-ness" but they just arrived this past week at Park Lake.  It was nice to see them again.  It had been a while so I couldn't resist taking lots of photos...

There were pelicans hanging out that we disturbed by accident.  We came around a corner and we spotted each other at the same time.  They didn't fly far though - they just settled further down the lake.

I impressed myself by spotting this pretty, yet plain little girl (a Vesper's Sparrow I think!) in the middle of a field.

And of course what water body is complete without a killdeer.  He was quite a ways away, so not the best pic.

We also saw some Northern Shovelers (which I thought were Mallards until I saw the beak in the half-assed pictures I snapped off so there is nothing decent of them to share) and some Franklin's Gulls.

It was raining during our walk so the park was completely deserted.  It was nice to be able to relax and just let the girls run around as they pleased.  There weren't a lot of ground squirrels braving the wetness today, but there was lots of fresh grass for the girls to munch on and tonnes of smells to keep them busy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Very Happy - A to Z Challenge

I've discovered recently that my moods seem to be linked to Coulee's.  If she is happy, I'm happy.  If she isn't feeling too hot, I'm down in the dumps.  But it is guaranteed that when we are out together on a walk, we are both very happy.  How can you not smile when she is having so much fun.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Up High - A to Z Challenge

I went out this morning with Andy, who showed me where this nearby owl's nest was.  I was trying to figure out how to incorporate this into my "pet themed" A to Z challenge but failed, because while cute and fluffy, these little guys don't actually have anything to do with pets.

But then I saw this guy/girl while on our walk today at Park Lake!

And since I'm making these posts (and apparently the rules) up as I go along, I figured the scenery and wildlife while on a dog walk fit into my theme just fine.

For once the dogs actually helped with the wildlife photography.  The owl didn't want to take his eyes off them so I managed to get pictures of him looking at me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tuckered - A to Z Challenge

Don't get me wrong, I love to play and hang out with my dogs, but I also LOVE a tuckered out dog.  There is nothing like knowing you've done a good job on the walk so that your dogs are resting peacefully and you are free to sit back on the couch and watch TV or browse the internet on the computer.  When they aren't tired, we have lots of cat chasing and indoor fetch happening in the house and it isn't very relaxing!

While camping, Lacey decided the best place to relax during the day was under the bed with all the shoes.  At night, she was up top with us of course!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Backyard Birding

Our campsite was surrounded by trees that had yet to leaf out.  We didn't get a tonne of shade, but we could see a tonne of birds - nothing exotic, but they still kept us entertained. Most of these were taken from the area just in front of our trailer while we sat and had our morning coffee/tea.  The geese were taken during our river walk.

A starling... just hanging out, looking good in the sun.


We called this the love shack.  Two of them would fly in there together and just hang out for a while. They didn't bring anything in with them - no nesting material or food for babies - they were just checking the place out.

These house sparrows were just chilling in the trees and also checking out a potential home.

Ahh... the rare Canada Goose.  :)

On our second morning, there was a little more action.  The sparrows started building a nest.

And the starlings made babies. :)

He is calling to her in the first photo, and she comes down and lands beside him.  Before we barely registered what was happening, he was flying off.  My camera shoots at 8 frames per second and I think I only deleted two photos in the sequence. I'm pretty sure I just kept shooting straight through.

According to Coulee

We went camping this weekend.  We didn't go far, only about 30 minutes away from home.  It was the first time out this year, and we wanted to make sure things were organized before going further from home.  Marlin also needed to be contactable in case anything happened at work this weekend (Turns out there was no cell reception in the campground though.  Ooops!).

On Saturday we went for a leisurely stroll along the river. Coulee of course wore the camera.

Everyone waited while I made a bathroom break before we started. :)  We discovered before we left, that the valve that kept the sewage water in the tank was busted so we were without a trailer washroom this weekend.  Lacey is geared up to carry our water.

That is our campground dead ahead with our ancient but loveable trailer named Nugget.  We had no one on either side of us the first night.  It was awesome.

Near the start of the trail...

Our first glimpse of the river.

The first moment Coulee could get down the the river, she did.

She walked along in the river, while the rest of us stuck to the land.

Not surprisingly, she deemed us too slow and had to keep waiting for us to catch up.

Marlin strolling by...

Me, stopping to take a picture of geese on the water.

Everyone was picking out their own route.

We eventually stopped to play at the river.  Coulee and Lacey had a brief tug over the stick.

Coulee was bringing the stick back for Marlin to throw.

Watching the stick fly through the air... (You might need to click it to see it bigger - the stick is just under her hairy chin.)

Posing for a picture.

Not sure what we are looking at... apparently it wasn't very exciting as Lacey is looking the other way.

Watching the stick again.

 Marlin wandered off to explore.  Lacey wasn't sure who to stay with so she just ran back and forth at full speed.  It was very cute.

Just me and Coulee hanging out.  I'd stopped throwing the stick so I have about 50 pictures of pretty much this - sometimes she is looking more at me, other times she is looking off towards where Marlin went. She was ever hopeful that I'd throw the stick again so all she did was look at me. Once I realized what she was photographing over and over and over, I stopped the camera.  :)

It was a great weekend. The weather was gorgeous and the only things we forgot were salt and pepper and pain pills for both humans and dogs. Poor Coulee was a bit of a wreck after our walk and I had a headache that night.  Next time we'll have to venture out a little further.