My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Archive for July, 2012

R. T. Hawk Rodent Control, at your service!

WARNING! The following commercial contains graphic depictions of how the employees of R. T. Hawk Rodent Control dispose of unwanted rodents. While this is an environmentally friendly means of disposal, the squeamish or those who love rodents should surf to another blog now. Actual rodents were harmed in the making of this commercial. Parental discretion is advised.

Homeowners, do you spend hours each week working to maintain a well manicured lawn only to see your hard work destroyed by mice, moles, voles, or other small rodents? Do you wish that there was an environmentally safe way to control the rodent population in your yard?

R. T. Hawk Rodent Control is pleased to announce that now you can get the rodent control that you deserve! No more traps! No more poisons! No more dead rodents to dispose of!

We at R. T. Hawk Rodent Control can remove the unwanted rodents from your lawn for you, quickly and efficiently, and best of all, at no cost to you!

How can we make such an amazing offer? It’s easy. We at R. T. Hawk Rodent Control search the countryside for unemployed hawks. You know the ones that you often see along the expressways holding signs that say “Will work for mice”.

We recruit those hawks and put them to work for you!

One call does it all! Just call 1-800-EAT-MICE now, and one of our highly trained, skilled, and very hungry employees will go to work for you removing all those unwanted rodents from your yard soon.

How does our service work? Well, thanks to the photography of our friend, Quiet Solo Pursuits, we can show you how it all happens!

(While we at R. T. Hawk Rodent Control would like to thank Quiet Solo Pursuits for providing these photos, we do wish that he was a better photographer. But, since we strive to provide our services for free to those who need it, we didn’t pay him anything, so we suppose you could say we got what we paid for.)

When you call 1-800-EAT-MICE, here’s what you’ll get! One of our employees arrive to scan your property for any unwanted rodents using his highly developed sense of sight.

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

Once one of the pesky varmints is spotted, he will leap into action….

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

…capture the rodent before it can make its escape…

Red-tailed hawk

…remove the varmint from your lawn…

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

…then dispose of the unwanted vermin in an environmentally friendly manner, leaving no mess behind what so ever!

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

(Well, almost no mess, but we won’t talk about that as it ups the eew factor considerably)

We here at R. T. Hawk Rodent Control call it the scan, swoop, snatch, and snack method, and in case you missed it, here it is again.


Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk


Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight


Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk landing

Red-tailed hawk landing


Red-tailed hawk

As you can plainly see, our highly skilled and motivated workers can soon have your lawn virtually rodent free! So don’t delay, call 1-800 -EAT-MICE today!
This is a limited time offer and may not be available in all areas. This service is subject to the availability of hawks in your area. While our service has been approved by the EPA, R. T. Hawk Rodent Control is not responsible for any protests you may receive from PETA or any other animal rights groups. Nor is R. T. Hawk Rodent Control responsible if one of our employees harms other species of wildlife. Use this service at your own risk.

That’s all for this one, thanks for stopping by!


One year of using my Nikon, strange and mysterious things happened

It was last June when I killed the Canon Powershot camera that I used almost all the time back then, even though I had a Nikon D50 sitting in the closet.

I am not going to go into all the details of my recent history with cameras other than to say that I bought the Nikon back in 2006, but it never saw very much use. It was too big and too expensive to carry with me on kayaking and fishing trips when I was actually on the water. For those times, I purchased and used a Canon Powershot. In fact, I liked the Canon so much that my ex-girlfriend would use the Nikon when we went hiking, and I would use the Canon, and she complained that I took better photos with the Canon than she could get with the Nikon.

I was never pleased with the performance of the Nikon when I used it, and it was so much easier to carry and use the Canon that I used it 99% of the time, until I drowned it while kayaking last June. Then, I was more or less forced to use the Nikon, or go with out a camera. So, I started using the Nikon all the time, and I still wasn’t very happy with it to say the least. If you were reading my blog a year ago, I did several posts on the problems I was having with the Nikon, I could not get it to take good photos on a regular basis, plus, it seemed to have several glitches for a lack of a better term, here’s a partial list.

Glitch one: The shutter or mirror would jam and not reset. I would press the shutter release, the mirror would lock up, and the viewfinder would go dark, but the camera wouldn’t reset the mirror or shutter until I turned the camera off, then back on again. Then I would have to jam the shutter release button down hard right after I turned the camera back on to get the camera to reset itself.

Glitch two: When shooting a series of shots fairly rapidly, about the third shot would be way overexposed, the shutter speed would be a lot slower than the first two, and the picture would have a milky appearance. The next shot would be better, but not great, the one after that may have been OK or close to it, and then the camera would be all right after that.

Glitch three: The camera would “go to sleep” and I would have to turn it on and off, possibly several times, to get it to function again.

Then, there were problems with the metering system, the exposures I was getting, and it seemed as if the auto-focus wouldn’t work 75% of the time. Not only would the focus be off on shots it did get a focus lock on, close to 20% of the time it wouldn’t even achieve a focus lock. It would cycle through the range of focus once each direction, then do nothing.

This all comes to mind now, because I went for a hike in Muskegon last year on the Fourth of July, and when I got back home and saw how poor the photos that I took that day were, I was ready to trade the Nikon in on a new Canon Powershot. I can still remember how frustrated I was sitting on top of a hill overlooking the channel to Lake Michigan, trying to take a photo of the Coast Guard Station there, and the Nikon would not auto-focus on it.

Being stubborn and hardheaded, I vowed to make the Nikon work, or die trying. For a while there, it was touch and go as far as who was going to win, me or the camera.

OK, so it is one year later, and what has changed? I now love the Nikon, I’m taking the best photos that I have ever taken with it these days! Why you may ask? That’s a good question, I wish I had a good set of answers, but I don’t.

Since that trip to Muskegon last summer, I have taken some where around 15,000 photos with the Nikon, and it seems as if the more I use it, the better it performs. Two of the three glitches stopped occurring, and I don’t have a clue as to why they did.

Glitch one, the shutter or mirror hanging up, that just stopped happening. I can’t even say when the last time that it happened was. Maybe it was a physical problem of something being too tight that wore itself in, I have no idea. All I know is that it stopped happening.

Glitch two, exposure problems when taking a series of photos quickly. That one just stopped on its own as well. I can’t say when it fixed itself, but it did.

Glitch three, the camera going to sleep and not waking up again, that one still happens from time to time, but not often. The only time that it is a problem is when I pull the camera up to shoot something before it disappears on me or birds in flight. I switch the camera off, count to ten slowly, and when I switch the camera back on, it works fine again.

The other problems I was having also seemed to have cured themselves for the most part. I tried every possible combination of settings for the auto-focus and finally decided that using the AF-A setting set to single area and continuous servo worked better for the most part, but still failed almost as often as it worked. For the first few months, I switched to manual focus so often that my thumb automatically went for the lever to make the switch every time I pulled the camera up to my eye.

Several months ago I was trying to photograph a bird somewhat hidden in the branches and went to switch to manual focus, and I had to fumble around to find the lever. It dawned on me then that the auto-focus had “cured” itself and was working better than I should really expect it to. It does an excellent job of finding and locking onto birds and animals partially obscured by brush, leaves, or branches now, a far cry from a year ago when it wouldn’t focus on a building out in the open. Why that is, I have no explanation for, it just started working, and working very well.

The same is true of the exposure problems I had when I first started using it, especially when it came to the greens of leaves. I say exposure problems because I could have the greens come out correctly by using the exposure compensation, and going down 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop. But then, other colors, like blues and yellows, were off. It was after my hike in Muskegon last year that I did the first post-processing to any digital photo I had ever taken up to that point. In every landscape that I shot, the foliage was washed out and looked way too yellow compared to what it should have been. I don’t think I’m the only one who has had that problem, several people have found my blog using search terms such as “Why are all the photos I take with my Nikon washed out?”.

I was so fed up that I started playing with the software that came with the Nikon and found that they had programmed an automatic color correct for nature feature into the software. One click, and the greens were green, and, all the other colors looked correct as well. So, I used that for the rest of the summer. Then came autumn when the leaves turned shades of reds, oranges, yellows and eventually browns. Then there was winter, with no foliage to appear in most shots, so I didn’t need to use the automatic color correction feature to get green leaves in my photos, there weren’t any greens to shoot.

I forgot about the automatic color correction feature until about a month or so ago, and it wasn’t because I needed to use it that I remembered it. I was cropping and choosing the photos that I posted of robins and cedar waxwings feeding on berries, and I thought to myself that the vivid, lifelike greens of the foliage really made those photos what they are. It was a slap myself in the forehead moment, for it was then that I wondered just what had changed from last summer.

Cedar waxwing feeding on berries

Just a few months earlier, I never got greens that looked that good, not even using the software correction. Some how or another, over the winter, the Nikon learned how to reproduce greens, I had nothing to do with as far as I know.

I don’t know how to explain what is happening, but everyday, every aspect of performance is improving. Even the resolution seems to be getting better, although some of that may be because the auto-focus is becoming more accurate all the time, but I can’t explain that either. And, here’s another thing. A couple of months ago I accidentally bumped the ISO up to 800 and it really showed in the photos I took before I realized what happened, and set the ISO back down to 200. I don’t think I posted any of the ISO 800 photos here, but I did on my Facebook page, and my brother could easily tell what I had done and commented on it. Today, I was shooting a bird in dense shade, and I tried boosting the ISO to 800 as it was the only way to get any photo, and they came out better than what the camera used to produce at ISO 400!

Juvenile cowbird

That’s not the world’s finest photo, but given the shooting conditions, I’m happy with it, and there’s none of the sensor noise present that showed up in the photos from a few months ago when I shot at ISO 800. I wish that I could explain that, but it’s another of the strange and mysterious things about the Nikon that I can not explain.

It is now the camera that I expected it to be back when I originally purchased it, maybe even better!

The only logical explanation for the way the Nikon’s performance has increased has to do with electronics having to “burn in” and the fact that the camera never got much use until a year ago. Modern electronic devices, and that’s really what a modern digital camera is, an electronic device, sometimes have to be used a lot before they work like they are supposed to. We used to see that all the time in an industrial setting. We’d get a new machine in, and it wouldn’t run right for the first week to a month, then it would run fine after that. We always attributed that to the electronics having to burn in before the machine would run the way it was supposed to. Maybe that’s what happened with the Nikon, I never used it enough for the electronics to burn in, and that was compounded by it sitting for several years unused.

Whatever the reasons for how well the Nikon works now, I am very, very happy with the photos that it is producing these days, it’s a night and day difference between them, and what I was getting a year ago. It’s been a trying year, but I think that the trials have made me a better photographer, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Cedar waxwing in flight

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

Beyond miserable

We’re still in a drought which is getting worse by the hour, and the heat has soared to the point where it is beyond miserable. The forecast high for today is 102 degrees. Needless to say, I didn’t go for a walk today, or yesterday for that matter.

Some highlights of the week. My explorer took a crap Monday night on my way home from work, that set me back $150 when I had it repaired. I also had them check out some other things to see if it would make sense to try to make it last a little longer, you know your vehicle is in bad shape when your mechanic tells you not to have any more work done to it.

While my car was being repaired on Tuesday, I walked a section of the Paul Henry/M6 trail, and it was everything that I thought it would be. A pleasant walk, more wildlife than you would expect, but being right on the edge of the easement for the M6 expressway, there’s constant noise from the vehicles going by. It’s a nice path if you live in the area, much like my walks around the apartment complex, but I sure wouldn’t travel any distance to hike or bike it.

I did see a young whitetail buck, and watched the red-winged blackbirds chase it around, I wish I had brought my camera for that, but I didn’t.

On Wednesday, I managed a lap and a half here before I threw in the towel and quit because of the heat.

Thursday, I met with my insurance agent to go over the different coverages for a condo and vehicles, and that was definitely the best part of this week. A condo won’t cost that much more to insure than my renter’s insurance, less than $5 a month. The best news was about car insurance, I had been estimating the cost of covering a new vehicle much higher than what it will cost to insure any new vehicle, and according to the Blue Book, my poor old explorer may bring more than I had estimated as far as value as well. I walked out of the office in a very good mood after checking prices, I’m very glad that I did.

I had to go into work much earlier on Thursday, so between that and the meeting with the insurance agent, there was no time to even attempt a walk that day, and it’s way too hot today.

The heat is forecast to begin to break this weekend, I sure hope so.

In my extra time now that I don’t have an Internet connection, I have been sorting through my photos from the last few years. I had a post written about having used my Nikon almost exclusively for the last year, but after going through the photos I have taken with it, I am going to have to revise that post.

I sure have posted some crappy photos here! Some of that is due to the way I take photos, while on the move hiking or kayaking, but some of it is due to laziness and ineptness on my part as well. Time to change that!

Here’s a few I have taken since my last post.

The white rabbit relaxing

Blue jay in the heat

Juvenile house wren

Green frog liking the sunshine

Cedar waxwing panting in the heat

Cedar waxwing panting in the heat

Hen turkey and poult

Turkey poult

Well, that’s about it for this one. I have limited time today, and I still have thousands of photos to sort through from my archives. I’m not looking forward to working in this heat, I may do half the run tonight, and the other half over the weekend when it cools off, if it does. As always, thanks for stopping by!