Monday, July 26, 2010

Sandpiper Pencil Sketch

I was reading info on the Paint Shop Pro User Defined Filter at

I have tons of presets, mostly from the Paint Shop Pro version 8. The info at loriweb gave me ideas on how I could tweak the presets for better results.

This setting was a preset call Traced.
I decreased the center number on the grid from 12 to 11, which increased the effect a little.
There was no mention of bias, but I increased that to 270 on this preset and background was more white. I liked the textured paper look at bias 255 better.

There are lots of ways to make a sketch out of a photo, most of them I don't like. But this particular photo and effect I did like.

Sandpiper And Sheep - Rule of Thirds

I had an opportunity to photograph an upland sandpiper (the wolf-whistler) with some sheep in the background. Seemed so fitting since it's a prairie bird.

Where to put the sandpiper in the cropped photo?

Rule of Thirds

I found a
for Paint Shop Pro users that inserts those lines.
But a person can do that fairly easily using the Grid feature too.

Most of the time I'm just happy to capture something good in a situation like this.
This was another roadside shot.
I got some with the sheep more in focus too before the sandpiper flew away.
I've seen upland sandpipers a lot this year.

Blogged previously.

Covert Affairs Episode 2 - Music

I looked up the music info from episode 2 of Cover Affairs.

Can You Save Me by Apple Trees & Tangerines

When Annie got home from work and didn't go into the house:
Fallout by Sofi Bonde
(Also on Vampire Diaries episode 104.)

When Annie was screening the walk ins:
Bruises by Chairlift

Song at the end:
The Beginning of Anne by Fay Wolf

usanetwork forum

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Tons of blackbirds and or grackles? at the roadside waterhole. Here are some of my favorites.

Typical scenery:

I think this next one is a female redwing blackbird. I like the water bokeh background.

The next one with the baby could be a Brewer's Blackbird? Not sure.

Brewer's Blackbird:
"Brewer’s Blackbird is a glossy, almost liquid combination of black, midnight blue, and metallic green. Females are a staid brown, without the male’s bright eye or the female Red-winged Blackbird’s streaks."
"Male is solid black with purplish-blue iridescent head and yellow eye."

To me, Grackles can look very similar to Brewer's Blackbirds depending on the lighting.

I like the pose on this next one:

Breeding Birds of North Dakota
Family Icteridae:
• Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula galbula)
• Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)
• Brewer's blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)
• Brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater)
• Bullocks oriole (Icterus galbula bullockii)
• Common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
• Orchard oriole (Icterus spurius)
• Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
• Western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
• Yellow-headed blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

On my blog, I have:
Brown-headed cowbird

Common Grackle:

Red-winged blackbird
Western meadowlark

Can't believe I don't have any orioles yet! Hope to get some.
I've seen yellow-headed blackbirds, just don't have any good pics of them.
I think I've seen orioles too, but not sure.
Maybe I'll organize/tag these into bird families some day as my bird photo list expands further.

More Duck Families

The waterhole by the road was full of duck families and various blackbirds and/or grackles. I took tons of pics and couldn't identify everything.

Here are some duck families.

This first one might be a shoveler because of that bill.

Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata:

Pintail maybe?:

With that one (pintail?), the female appeared out of the grass first, and then it was like more and more babies followed. lol I counted eight total on my pictures, but there could have been more.

Northern Pintail Anas acuta:

Gadwall? Mallard?:

I think this one had nine? babies. Not sure. I hadn't realized ducks have such large families. After seeing all of these, I'll remember.

Gadwall Anas strepera:

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos:
Previous blog post.

Coot Family

Waterhole by road pics.

Coot Mama Closeup:

Coot Baby Closeup (So homely, he's cute. lol):

Coot Kid ;)

"White bill with black mark near tip."
"White stripe on sides of undertail. "
"Immature Description
Downy young with bald red head; immature similar to adult, but dull gray instead of black, with lighter face and chest."

"white undertail coverts"
"Frontal shield has red swelling at upper edge"

American Coot blogged previously.

Pied-billed Grebe

Waterhole by road pics.

Best pic I got of these two together. I think that's mama (left) and baby (right), not sure.
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
"..the Pied-billed Grebe does not have webbed feet. Instead of having a webbing connecting all the toes, each toe has lobes extending out on the sides that provide extra surface area for paddling."
"Juvenile similar to winter adult, but face with dark and pale stripes."

Ruddy Rudy

Waterhole by road pics.

Ruddy Duck
We called the male "Aqua Quacker" because of that aqua blue bill.
Or how about Ruddy Rudy.

He doesn't "quack" like a mallard does, though. Listen to the sounds at:

Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Ducks at a Distance
A Waterfowl Identification Guide

Field of Barley

Now you have to listen to:
Fields of Gold, by Eva Cassidy, of course, lol. (YouTube)

Covert Affairs Pilot

I liked the pilot of USA's new show, Covert Affairs.

The song that played at the beginning was Dog Days Are Over, by Florence and the Machine.

Read some online talk about the show being like Alias, but I never watched Alias, so don't have an opinion about that.

There was a thunderstorm, so satellite went out at that critical moment at the end of the show when Joan and Arthur have the conversation about the Annie's ex-boyfriend. Sheesh.

So I watched it online.
It re-airs on TV Saturday morning, so I may record it again too.

The ex-boyfriend mystery (Eion Bailey [b. 8 Jun 76] as Ben Mercer) was the most interesting part of the show for me.

All the crime solving action stuff bored me. I'm tired of crime shows. I'm not sure I'll continue to like and watch Covert Affairs.

I do like Piper Perabo (b. 31 Oct 76) as Annie Walker. I loved her laugh when she was being questioned.

The song that played at the end was Before It Breaks, by Brandi Carlile.
YouTube (Artist performs.)
YouTube2 (Better sound.)

I thought TNT's new show, Rizzoli & Isles, was a dud, though. I like Sasha Alexander, (b. 17 May 73) who plays the medical examiner, Maura Isles.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Photo Drive

I was taking a picture of a black metal buffalo sign, when...
there's a real buffalo in the background!

Anyway, discovered someone is raising a herd of buffaloes around here.

American bison (Bison bison)


Several scenes near water like this:

Couldn't get closer than that.

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

And what do we have here:

Common Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

I thought it was just some debris in the water at first.
The tail is like a rat, not flat like a beaver.
Muskrats are smaller than beavers.
Also the area, just a roadside water hole or creek.
Plus the time of day, late morning.
It all just added up to muskrat, not beaver.

Thursday, July 08, 2010


I was using Windows Character Map and it dawned on me that I don't think of the extended characters. There are dingbats that I didn't know I had. Anyway, I discovered that foreign letters can look like silly smileys in some font types.

Baby Kruffy Font:

(Exclamation and checkmark are there just cuz I liked them. The tilde looks like a bird.)

Alba Matter Font:

Croobie Font:

Martini Guy:

The foreign Y is Garmond font.
The red martini glass is Webding font.

Here's a pretty pattern I made from WPMathExtendedA font symbols.

And some birds, same font.

So that was a fun distraction for a while.

Black-headed Grosbeak

Better head detail than previous post.

The Wood Duck Family

There were so many babies, I couldn't count them all and they disappeared quickly.

Site: water in ditch alongside road.

Same spot, next day:

Busy scratching and fluffing feathers.

At first, I thought this was an adult female because of the size, however, looking at the face markings, I think this might be an immature wood duck. The mature female wood duck has a distinct white color around the eye that is different from younger wood ducks.

See previous blog post on wood duck with male and female together.

The Partridge Family

So we're driving down the road, slowing down, looking for a hawk that's been hanging around near our place and...

The partridge family pops up on the road!
Gray Partridge (Perdix perdix )
I think that's what we saw. The pics weren't that clear.
I barely had time to take a few pics thru the windshield before they disappeared into the ditch.
I counted eight in her brood.

One baby got a little confused by all the excitement and lingered a tad longer alongside the road.

"Gray Partridge hens produce some of the largest clutches of any bird species. Clutch size can range up to 22 eggs, and averages 16 to 18."


Family Phasianidae (same family as ring-necked pheasant)

(NOTE: ENature says grouse too, but npwrc has grouse under a different family, Tetraonidae. I'm assuming ENature and Cornell are probably more up-to-date than npwrc.)

Baby Yellow Warbler

Not sure at what point birds are called a juvenile, but he could fly.
(nestling, fledgling, juvenile, immature, young, etc. )

Hey, this could be papa, a little further down the trail.

Do the males/fathers stick around at this stage, I don't know.
The mama was right there by baby, of course, just didn't get a pic of her.


cornell glossary
Nestling - A young bird after hatching and before leaving the nest.
Fledgling - A young bird that left its nest but is not yet able to survive on its own.
Juvenile - A young bird, typically one that is recently fledged and has not attained its full adult plumage.

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

I think chickadees are supposed to have some yellow on the side belly. Can't see any hint of yellow. That part might be a bit over-exposed.

I have wanted a chickadee photo ever so much for a long time, but have never been able to get close enough to them. I can hear them all the time. I love the chickadee's little polite two-note song. They are usually too far away, high up in the tree, and/or they are so tiny I usually can't see them.
My companion went chasing after the chickadee with the tele and got a picture! I was so excited. Except, I didn't get to take it.

Chickadees don't migrate. How they survive the brutal cold is interesting.

Chickadees Are Cold Weather Machines

Google heterothermy

How Wild Birds Stay Warm in the Winter
"Thermogenesis is a fancy name for shivering. You can't really see it, but all birds shiver in the cold of winter."
"At night, birds such as the little chickadee take shivering, or lack of one step further. To conserve heat and energy, chickadees can lower their body temperature by interrupting their shivering. These periods of inactivity allow the bird's body temperature to slowly cool, until it drops about 10 or 12 degrees. At this point, the bird enters a state of unconsciousness called torpor. Respiration and heart rate will also drop during this period."

"In most of North America, the song is a simple, pure 2 or 3-note whistled fee-bee or hey, sweetie."

"a clear, whistled fee-bee, the second note lower and often doubled."

Variegated Fritillary Butterfly

Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

Butterflies of North Dakota

Monday, July 05, 2010

Firefox Personas

I was checking out the Firefox Personas.
Most of them compete with the browser UI too much and look awful on my screen.
I use a Bookmarks Toolbar and I need to be able to read that text.

I can preview, but can't use my own created images, unless I submit them to the public online gallery.
(Discussion of that here, here, and here.
This is supposed to be fixed with Firefox 3.6.7 version update.

I'll probably use Personas when the bug is fixed and I can just use my own without making them public.
It's much simpler to create them for my monitor and UI only.
My monitor is 1024x768, 17 inch.
The image sizes required for public use are much larger than what I need and only a small portion of the image is actually displayed on my screen.

How to Create Your Own Persona
"subtle, soft contrast images and gradients work best"

"highly detailed images will compete with the browser UI"

I think most people are ignoring that advice, LOL.

A person could use almost any image as long as the colors were faded with a white overlay layer on top at about 50% percent opacity.

File size limit is 300KB.
PNG or JPG file format.

Header image size: 3000x200.
Header image displays from top right to left.
I only see the top right 1024x70 (Tabs) or 1024x94 of a 3000x200 image.
If I could make headers for my use only, I could just make them 1024x100.

Footer image size: 3000x100.
Footer image displays from bottom left to right.
I only see the left bottom 1024x22 of a 3000x100 image.
When I used Edit, Find in Firefox my footer becomes about 50 pixels high.
So I'd need to make my footer about 1024x50.

I found one persona in the public gallery I really like and that's Nice Flower.

(Again, I only see the top right portion.)
Instead of using the plain green footer, I'd crop that "nice flower" header image and make a footer out of it.

Saturday, July 03, 2010


I really like OneRepublic.

I've posted Marching On a few weeks ago.

Three more songs:
Good Life
Made For You

New (to me) Artists:

Alpha Rev:

New Morning
Phoenix Burn

The Honorary Title:

Stay Away
Frame by Frame

UPDATE 25Aug11:
Changed/updated dead links so all work now.

Friday, July 02, 2010


When scanning the river bank with my tele, I get these dreamy photos.

Yellow Warbler - Male

Yellow Warbler - Male:

The male is bright orange-yellow.

The female is a duller green-yellow.