Friday, December 17, 2010

Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel

We don't see these guys as often as the Richardson's, they don't tend to colonize near people.  But they are awfully cool!  Sometimes when I first see them, I think they are wee lizards, the way they put their little heads down and scuttle along!

Yeah, just like that!

Photographed at Beaudry Provincial Park, May 18, 2008

Of course, they stand up too.  They're probably only about half the size of a Richardson's, and blend in with the grass really well!

Look at those teeny-tiny little forelegs!

Photographed at the Alexander-Griswold marsh, April 25, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Well, I had pretty big plans for making prints available for sale, but looks like that's not going to happen right now.

But I do have the supplies and the capability to make art cards - ACEOs - those little 2.5" x 3.5" cards on bristol paper. 

I'll probably limit the number, and am thinking about hand-coloring a portion of the run, probably in colored pencil. 

Looks like I left it pretty late to have these intended as Christmas presents - it's only a few days until the "mail before" day! 

I'll post again when I get it worked out, but if you're interested, feel free to email me at pterelas at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Concert! The Casualties! Gwar!

Missed The Casualties last time they came to town, so I sure was happy to finally be able to see them!  Figured Gwar was worth seeing too!

First band was called Mobile Death Camp.  They didn't use the lights much, and all my photos were this red color. 


Next band was Infernaeo.  The red lights persisted...

Bouncer is not impressed!

Pantene moment!

Next was The Casualties!  I have no idea which songs they played...  OK, I do remember "Made in NYC", but that's all!  People were really excited to see these guys, I was right in front of the stage for the pics, and got myself slammed around quite a bit!  Hit a guy in the head with my camera - sorry, guy!

My camera worked better with the flash, like the photo above, less motion blur, and better focus.  But I think I preferred the pics I got without the flash, like this one: 

and this one:

Another bonus bystander!

Gwar was the headliner, and people were kind of excited about them!

Gwar definitely put on the biggest show I've ever seen on such a small stage!  Part of their act was cutting up effigies of Sarah Palin and Lady Gaga.  They also spray lots and lots of fake blood at the audience.  Afterwards, people crowded outside.  That's not smoke, it's the people that are steaming!  Good ol' Winterpeg!

Concert info:  Mobile Death Camp, Infernaeo, The Casualties, Gwar
December 4, 2010, Garrick Center, Winnipeg


Wednesday, December 1, 2010


What does it mean to be calm in your heart?  I hear that sentence a lot, but it seems that people interpret it differently.  Maybe that's the point.  Oooh, how zen. 

The city doesn't suit me.  I like the convenience, but it's not always convenient.  I hate the noise.  Even in the middle of the night, road noise and street lights pervade.  To say nothing for noisy neighbors, sirens...   

I crave stillness, and have to leave town to find it. 

But I find I need it to live.

Taken at Oak Hammock Marsh, October 17, 2005.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Northern Flickers

Northern Flickers are the other common woodpecker in our area.  We also have Pileated Woodpeckers and Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, but we don't see them very often at all!

Flickers are quite widespread, and versatile in their choice of habitat, farm yards, towns, cities and woods all pass muster. 

In our yard, the Flickers come to the virginia creeper, just like the thrushes.  What a versatile plant!

I get such a kick out of this photo...  Tweedledee and Tweedledum? 

For a while, we had a post leaning against our fence.  Talk about a Flicker magnet!

Check out those cool, spiny woodpecker-style tail feathers!

There are two color phases of Northern Flicker - Yellow-Shafted and Red-Shafted.  We have the former here.  The male above illustrates the id points well - black "moustache" mark and red head crescent.

No moustache mark on the females!  Too bad I didn't think to do anything about that branch in the foreground!

I think this is the same bird.  Females DO have the red crescent!

We didn't get any Flickers on our creeper this year, much to my disappointment.  Maybe next year!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Red Tailed... Squirrel??

Well, this is a new one for me.  We have a LOT of Gray Squirrels around here.  Once had one with white patches.  Whether it was pinto-spotted or white from injuries, I don't know. 

But this clairol-touched fella isn't like anything I've seen before!!

Sorry about the cut-off nose, but I include this picture to show the extent of the red coloration.

I found some google references to melanistic (black) Grey Squirrels having red tails, but couldn't find any pictures, nor any reference to a normal grey-phase having a red tail.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Drawing - Yellow-Headed Blackbird

Yellow-Headed Blackbird - Graphite on Paper
Copyright 2010, Nicole MacPherson

Yellow-Headed Blackbirds are impressive looking birds!  They are lousy songsters though!  But the males put on wonderful displays, easily compensating for any musical shortcomings.  I've found them to be harder to photograph than the Red-Winged Blackbirds.  Less common in general, and a bit more suspicious of humans.  The Yellows are also more social, often foraging in groups. 

This was my first attempt at a real background.  I found it harder than I expected.  Birds are fun to draw, grass and reeds are not! 

As I've mentioned on this blog before, I don't use different kinds of pencils.  But I think I might have to change that.  Had to go over some parts a LOT to get them dark enough.  This ended up warping the paper.  It was even visible when scanned, and the paper underneath this one has a big, bird-shaped impression on it!  Finished this guy up on the 21st, but he's been sitting beneath heavy stuff since that time, trying to get the paper to flatten! 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


We've developed a bit of a habit of stopping at this small park on our way up to Hecla.  It's a very well-kept picnic area on the west side of Lake Winnipeg with a great shoreline, scattered trees, and some cool birds!

The ice is still usually visible on the lake into May.  This photo very nicely illustrates the rule of thirds.  I like it because it looks like one of those layers of colored sand doodads. 

Lots of shades of blue and tan on a clear spring day.

A better look at the rocky shore.  I love how the clouds at the horizon look like distant mountains.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Oak Hammock's rocky shores

ok, not really.  I think this is an anti-erosion technique, the marsh cells at Oak Hammock are intensively managed by Ducks Unlimited to provide optimum habitat for as many species as possible.  I never get tired of going there, it seems different each time.  And is particularly beautiful around sunset.

Taken July 27, 2005

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Sunset

I can never resist a sunset.  Each one is different to me.  They don't need to always be dramatic, I don't usually see the intense reds and purples that pro photographers seem to get.  Filters?   Sounds like dollars to me!

What I like about this one is that most of the color is atmospheric - it's not reflecting off of the clouds in the sky, it's reflecting off of the atmosphere itself.  In other words, the sky itself is pink.  I also like how the tops of the clouds are still bathed in white sunlight.

Taken from highway #3 on August 7, 2005.  I think this was near the wind farms, but am not sure!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lonely trees

Lonely trees are photographed often enough to border on being cliche.  But I just can't stop myself, I snap away at them almost every time I see one. 

What amazes me about them is when they're green and healthy, and not burnt by lightning.

Taken near Maple Lake, August 7, 2005

Monday, September 27, 2010


Sometimes (ok, ok, most of the time) the birds I want to photograph are too far away.  I have no money for super expensive equipment, and no desire to tramp through delicate habitat to get closer.  I console myself on these occasions either by watching the birds through the binoculars (where they are clear, if not close up) or take pictures anyway, and call them birdscapes. 

This picture was taken alongside of a country road.  Not a real marsh, not protected or managed, just a flooded field.  These transient mini-wetlands provide much-needed stopover sites for hungry and tired migrant birds. 

Near Hartney, Manitoba, Jul 28, 2007

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rippled water and an indigo sky

In photography, they often talk about the rule of thirds.  Actually, they talk about it with art as well.  This photo doesn't fulfill this guideline.  I like it anyways, but I've always been contrary like that. 

Taken July 27, 2005 at Oak Hammock Marsh.

Friday, September 24, 2010


I read a LOT of comics.  Have always enjoyed them.  Comic books, manga, comic strips, webcomics... 

Here's a few that I've seen, about artists!



This is Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson. 


ok, not about artists, but I'm afraid that I'm all three characters in that one!!

This is W. T. Duck by Aaron Johnson.


Wish I knew how he heard this conversation!!  My poor man has to deal with so much!

Another W.T. Duck


Reminds me of some of those motivational blogs...  "You can achieve anything!  Just buy my ebook!"

Another one...

Touche, indeed!

Ok, another one...

Love, love, love this one!!!

Seriously, what's life without funnies??

Contrasting viewpoints

I've only been to Rat River PWMA once.  We didn't see much there, but it was a great drive!  We got there in the middle of the day, which could account for our meagre sightings!

I don't recall for sure, but I think this photo was taken from a short bridge leading into the marsh area.  I like how neat and tidy and symmetrical the shores look.  How carefully squared off they are!

I think this is the view on the other side of the bridge.  What a difference!  Downright chaotic! 

Of course, I like it just as much.  OK, maybe even more. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bug vortex

There are some neat videos circulating of birds flying in tight formation, forming little "bird tornadoes".  Very cool stuff. 

I have no such things, but I did get an ok picture of a bug vortex we saw once, on the way to Whitewater Lake.  Taken May of 2007, a dry year!

I hope you can see the vortex, it's straight ahead.  Try clicking for the BIG photo!

I don't know what the little bug (gers) are, sorry!

Books are a thing of the past!

No, they're not.  They're really not.

Bloggers and writers all over have jumped all over the article about how Amazon sells more ebooks than hardbacks, making loud proclamations that the change is coming.

Maybe it is.  But maybe it isn't.

Nearly all of the opinion pieces I've seen on the matter take the same tack.  Physical books are going away!

Ummm...  First off, read the statistic again.  More ebooks than HARDbacks.  I buy very few hardcover books.  Hardcover books do not typically constitute the majority of books in a bookstore.  This is a selective statistic, designed to get attention and promotes knee jerk reaction.

Worked quite a tick, dontcha think?

If you're interested, try reading the whole article.

I don't know what the future of books is.  This article describes the present.  Extrapolations are completely subjective, and are indicative more of the writer's mentality than they are of the state of things to come.

I don't have an e-reader.  Yet.  Am on the fence about it, truth be told.  But then, I'm also cheap.  And I can see advantages to a wide scale digitization of reading material.  My point isn't actually about books.  When somebody tells you about an article, read it yourself.  Don't let somebody else give you your opinion.

Artifacts and errors

Sometimes the sun doesn't cooperate.  The light doesn't stay where it should.  It sticks out, shining onto the horizon.  Stubborn, stubborn light. 

When that happens while I'm picture-taking, I groan, and keep trying for a photograph without these unsightly details. 

But sometimes it works.

I love the way the light is shooting upwards into these clouds. 

Taken at Oak Hammock Marsh, October 17, 2005

I had to think a long time about whether to crop out that stop sign!  But I like it, it's leaning into the light.

Taken at Oak Hammock Marsh, September 19, 2007.  The following photo was taken the same day, on the same stretch of road. 

May your mistakes guide and illuminate you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hairy Woodpeckers

I always get a little kick out of bird names that bring up odd imagery.  I wonder what a non-birder expects to see when you offer them a view of a Hairy Woodpecker?  I wonder if the real thing disappoints. 

Hairy Woodpeckers aren't quite as confiding as Downy Woodpeckers, and (at least in our urban yard) not as common. 

They make a fair bit more noise than the Downies however.  This male was drumming on this piece of equipment (not sure what it is, part of our power/phone lines).  Photographed November of 2006.

Another male, this one at our suet feeder, April of 2007.

Seems funny that my better pictures of Hairies are male, and my better pictures of Downies are female!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Downy Woodpeckers

These cute li'l woodpeckers are resident (don't migrate) in most of North America.  They aren't picky about urban environments, either!  We have them year round, in our little city yard. 

They eat sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet. 

You can tell them from their larger cousins, the Hairy Woodpeckers, in a few ways.  If you get a good view, the Hairy has a proportionately larger bill.  If they come to the food you've put out, you can use the feeder as a point of reference.  I have a peanut feeder that the Hairies must curl their tails up to use. 

If you hear them, Downies go "peek!  peek!" and Hairies go "pick!  pick!".  It seems to my untrained ear that the Hairies have a slightly deeper voice.  Maybe.

Snapped this cutie at the Ft. Whyte Center, November of 2005.

They don't often come to the baths, so I was pretty happy to get these pictures of this little girl!  She splashed around for a couple of minutes, then retreated to preen.  None of my pictures of her preening are any good though (of course)!  From May, 2009

I got a kick out of this one, you don't often get to see woodpeckers from this angle!  Is it just me, or does she look a little cross-eyed?

We don't get a lot of good light in the backyard during the winter.  So getting this photo (February of 2010) was a treat, also!

Seems odd that my best photos of Downies are of females.  We do get the males here too, really!  Guess I'll chalk it up to uncooperation on their part!