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Anything outdoors!  Tornadoes, eagles, blizzards, or auroras.  If it is in the sky, running through the woods or swimming in the water, I'm there!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shots From the Weekend. Is spring really here this time?

A storm which dumped 10.25" of snow on us Thursday night and Friday morning was replaced by a 64° degree high today (according to the vehicle thermometer at least. The snow didn't fare so well. Lots of water in this latest melt too.

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NAM wants to get that 70 degree line pretty close. I'll take it. Need to get some lift and 60 degree dew next. That may be a while.

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The lake ice is still holding strong with a couple of feet of ice yet.

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At least the rivers are starting to break up. Kayaking season will soon be here.

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With the little bit of open water there is on lakes where creeks come in, the mergansers are talking advantage.

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A shy red-shoulder hawk near the state park by our home. It didn't want to smile for the camera.

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Fields flooded from melting snow are holding migrating waterfowl. Here bluebills, ring neck ducks, and mallards rest together.

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A early morning swan resting in a flooded cornfield.

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A juvenile bald eagle takes a break along the recently opened creek.

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Another juvenile bald eagle works on a fish lunch.

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A pair of sand hill cranes my daughter stopped.

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Another pic from daughter. We easily saw over 50 red tail hawks over the two days.

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Morning watch. An adult bald eagle near our home.

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Fishing trips gone wrong accented by frost at a spot frequented by people angling from the road.

Nothing of interest for weather coming up for us this week other than some nice temps sandwiched by a couple of days showers. Looks like they OK/KS people will get a shot on next Saturday though. Shear isn't impressive but the instability could make things interesting.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekend Shots and Weather North and Weather South

Pretty active week in weather coming up starting off with a very significant system in the Dakotas and northwestern Minnesota which will dump heavy, wet snow with brutal winds gusting maybe as high as 60 mph.

This is a NAM's depiction of where the heaviest snow will fall. The totals seem high but with these early spring systems big snows are always a possibility.

This should the be the national news story starting the week. The bigger high impact story will unfold in the southern plains as rich moisture streams north in response to a negatively tilted trough. Good convergence and backing surface winds along a dryline in western/Central OK and along the Red River Valley of TX should be the focus for some real tornado potential. The shear is outstanding with helicities off the charts. If a storm moves off this boundary it should spin like crazy.

Tuesday evening 7pm. The CINH does erode pretty well. The big issue I see is shear and moisture is not real well juxtaposed. Trade weaker capping for more of a chance of storms lining out.

Anyhow, as much as I'd like to go play in OK for a couple of days, it just isn't in the cards for me. I still like slow moving June storms with fewer chasers around though.

Some local shots from this weekend.

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Tiger stripe ice over Deer Lake 3 29 14.

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A wider view of the 3 29 14 sunset. Over 2 feet of ice still. You can drive on it safely if you can find an entry point of the south side of the lakes. The north sides may be a little dicey now with the powerful sun.

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Lots of hawks moving back into the area today.

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This one spent the entire afternoon on a light pole by our home.

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Something caught his attention up high. I could see from my position what he was looking at.

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Not much for ducks around yet. Some of the swans and geese are making use of what little open water there is.

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One brightly colored kestrel hanging around and waiting for a mouse.

Looking forward to the upcoming week and getting a little armchair chasing in to knock the winter rust off. It will be time soon here in the northern plains. Even April can be good as evidenced in 2011 on April 11th in western and northwester Iowa.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Are Storm Chasers Becoming a Danger to the Public? Hey, I haven't posted a rant in a while.

First off, thank you to all our veterans who protect my right to free speech and the legal system which protects and allows me to bitch about things I think are stupid.

Probably thought I was going to complain about clogged roads huh? Nope, not even close. Bigger problem people. In the past 5 years (the past 3 for sure) there is this weird marriage between social media the social outcasts. Yup, it's the attack of the chase team / chase club / chase cult / chase brotherhood / etc. With the leap of social media occupying a large part of our lives, in many cases it is the vital channel for relaying information. We all know if it says so on the internet, it must be true. Well, thanks to the internet there a lot of self-proclaimed experts out there now.

So, let's talk about the need for social identity. I am MIFFED by this weird need of certain segments (and in a lot of cases a certain demographic profile) to have social acceptance for being labeled a "storm chaser". A lot times it is beyond a need. It's a DEMAND for respect. For those of us old timers who have been driving thousands of miles a year in hopes of seeing rain and well before Facebook and Twitter existed, this identity label is new. I get a steady stream of friend requests and followers from a person who feels the need to include "storm chaser" as part of their name. Why? Do you honestly believe that your prowess in being able to see a storm is validated by adding "storm chaser" to the set of letters your parents gave you at birth? PAWWWWLEEEEEEESSAAAAAASE. From personal observation over the years, 90% of the people doing this have some serious personal identity issue. Look a Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs. (If you are not sure what I'm talking about, Google it. It will probably make you the smartest person in your group/club/team or even move you up in rank within your caste system or something.) Somewhere in the middle of belonging needs and esteem needs things really start to get messed up. Maybe they were social outcasts as kids? Maybe they feel slighted by society? Maybe they have absolutely nothing else in their life and the idea of being seen as "cool" is overpoweringly consuming them? I don't know. I'm not a psychiatrist nor do I claim to be a doctorate recipient via the internet.

Now you have two of these outcasts who meet via the internet. I have notice the "storm chaser" label seems to posses some type of magnetic force which draws them to each other. Well, if they are in close geographic proximity, seems inevitable they need to form some type of team or club. Reminds me of the scene from Napoleon Dynamite where Uncle Rico and Kip:

"Uncle Rico: We need like some name tags with our picture on it, all laminated and what not. I mean, we gotta look legit man."
"Kip: That's true, that's true."

One comes two, two becomes four, and so on until there are a a dozen or so self-proclaimed storm chasers all running around with laminated photos on the internet proclaiming their legitimacy and demanding respect. (News for you. Outside of the sheep running around in the world today, not many others will ever take you seriously.)

Yup. Get a name (which includes storm chaser or chasers depending on how many friends you found on the internet), a website, and a social media page. You are now a legitimate weather forecasting / weather alert service and dammit the world better take your group seriously! Someone has to save lives and get the word out!

Now this pack of like-minded individuals rip off a few photos or video (to add creditability or just as bad use their own which are crap) and start posting copy and paste clips from legitimate sources or posting graphics from the National Weather Service, AccuWeather, TWC, what have you and pretty soon a few likes later....BAM!!! The general public got duped into thinking these yahoos are a legitimate weather information source. Holy crap. Yes, some people are smart enough to see through it but lets be honest here. Most people rely on (get ready for this) THE MEDIA for general weather information. What happens if there is a real event where TIMELY and ACCURATE information is needed? Gonna go on Facebook in hopes the local good old boys storm chaser armada is going to have time to copy and paste information from a real source which may effect the rest of your life (or keep you alive?)??? Maybe natural selection needs to start making a comeback?

If you want to "network" with other people with the same interests, fine. Just don't pass yourselves off as some type of official organization or office source. I am waiting for the first time I see an interview after a tornado where one of the victims complains about no one on Facebook told them a tornado was coming. I wonder what the response of XYZ Storm Chasers would be if they were confronted by the victim who just got done calling them out on TV? I think it would be an entertaining change from the usual "we didn't hear the sirens" or "there was no warning" we all have seen and heard. Beware of (I love this term) Facebook Forecasters. Your weather source for when "shit gets real" may be a 14 year old kid using his mom's laptop or a 50 something year old whose perception of reality starts out with http://

Bottom line is if you want to be taken seriously, DON'T PRETEND TO BE SOMETHING YOU ARE NOT. If you want to be part of a spotter group, be a spotter group. If you want to be part of a pie club, join a pie club. Just don't call yourself a storm chaser, forecaster, sergeant at arms, what ever. You look like a damn fool. Morons like this have absolutely destroyed the definition of a "storm chaser". I'm to the point where I don't think it is wise to be labeled as such anymore. If someone sees me on the side of the road and asks if I'm a storm chaser, my response will be "naw,I'm out here by myself just taking photos of the clouds". But I see you have Minnesota plates and this is Kansas? Me: "yeah, sometimes I drive outside the county I live in to take pictures". You get the idea.

You want accurate, timely information? Get a good weather radio, know how to program it or have someone who does know do it for you. Want to learn more how the weather works and how the real reporting system is set up? Attend a SKYWARN classed sponsored by the National Weather Service. Anything else would be the equivalency of trusting an auto mechanic to perform neurosurgery.

BTW, make sure you pick out the satire in here. There are a lot of legitimate "storm chasers". However, there sure as heck are a lot of posers too.

Oh, and by the way. If you really want to save lives, donate blood or plasma. That will make an impact and you won't have to figure out how to mount a light bar on your vehicle.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hanging on to Winter

Well, it appears the slow process of getting rid of a snow pack over 20" and over 36" of ice on our lakes has begun. In the mean time, our critters are hanging on after surviving the coldest winter in 30 years.

Here are a bunch of random shots from around home and a trip last weekend down to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha.

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The last known photo of Beardo 2014. My mom made her first trip to the Eagle Center with us. What a beautiful day.

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Even with all the wild eagles we have come through at our house, my daughter still likes having her photo taken with a "famous" eagle.

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An eagle getting a drink in the Mississippi River at Reads Landing.

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Eagle on the ice at Lake Pepin.

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Zoom of the same eagle above @ 500mm.

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Eagle at Coville Park in Red Wing on the way home.

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Blue's parents. A couple of my neighborhood eagles. The reason they are called "Blue's Parents" is because a couple of years ago I had to rescue one of their eaglets who came into contact with an electrical line. While she went through rehab at the U of MN's The Raptor Centet, she was given a blue band to identify her hence the name "Blue".

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Turkeys. A lot of turkeys. A lot of turkeys in a yard.

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Deer everywhere the evening of the 12th.

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Eagle over Silver Creek.

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At least they can read signs an know where to cross. It was cool how everyone on the road came to a stop and let the deer safely cross at their own pace.

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Slow shutter speed. It was pretty dark out and I hate cranking up the ISO on the camera.

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Last of the jumping the deer.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March 2 Snowy Owls in McLeod, Kandiyohi, and Meeker Counties

Another brutal start to another weekend morning. -18 air temp. For lack of a better term, this winter has been a real ass kicker. First light of the day hitting on icicle on our house.

After an unsuccessful outing for coyotes the evening before, I decided I would go look for some snowy owls around Hutchinson, MN since I had an errand to run anyhow. Yup, why could have been a 20 minute trip in town turned into a 6 hour, 200 mile + circle. All I needed was an excuse to get behind the wheel with a couple of cameras in tow.

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It was good to see some deer moving around. They just need to make it a few more weeks.

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A first for me. An eagle and a deer in the same frame.

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Back to the owls. Bird one was found in Hutchinson on the south side of town in a sparsely developed housing subdivision. I took a few frames and headed off to run the errand.

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I decided to make one last pass on this owl and found it had moved to a different location. I wonder if a shingle warranty covers talon and owl pellet damage?

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I quickly figured out why the owl was moving. Some guy (with some high end glass) and his kid were flushing the owl just to he could get flight shots. I talked to him and it quickly became evident he wasn't the usual d-bag photog I run in to. He was genuinely clueless about the damage and stress they were inflicting on the owl. Instead of ripping this guy a new a-hole (which I was ready to do right in front of his kid), it was a good opportunity to educate instead. He was a nice guy and took what I said seriously. I hope he continues to be aware of the ethics involved with photographing raptors. And yes, I preached about baiting also. I handed him a card, shook his hand and backed off to a non-intrusive location leaving the owl where it was.

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The other problem this owl had were the crows. If you spend a lot of time in the field, you know how badly crows hate owls and eagles. Every year at TRC we see eagles come in who have been clocked in the head by crows. The crows finally gave up and the owl moved back to it's preferred roof top perch.

Here are some miscellaneous shots from the rest of the day. The other two snowys (also barred females) were found in Kadiyohi county off CR 136 and 105th Ave SE to the southeast of the intersection way out in the field. I was heading north on 136 saw it. Looked like a rock standing straight up. Not quite as heavily barred as the Hutch bird. I would have needed a 2x teleconverter to make that one even show up on an image. Maybe it is time to re-think digiscoping again.

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Power pole fail on that one!

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This one has had the crap cropped out of it.

Bird three was the one being reported on the MOU list northwest of Grove City near Paynesville I'm assuming. This one is also a fairly dark female also. Not as deeply marked as the Hutch bird but darker than the Kandiyohi owl. I didn't notice her right away as she was sitting on the roof of a shed near the intersection of CR39 (Tri County Highway) and 180th Ave. 180th has another name which starts with a B but I can't remember the whole name.

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Ended up with yet another butt shot for my efforts.

It was a fun day. Warmer weather on the horizon finally!!