Thursday, April 30, 2015

Duck, Duck, Purple Duck, Grey Duck, No Goose!

If I were to say things are getting off to a slow start in 2015 for weather, not just severe weather in the upper midwest, I don't think anyone would disagree.  A good portion of the valley right now is in a drought as can be seen here:

While we have some moisture in the area passing through tonight (see current radar image as of 8:23pm tonight)
Radar as of 8:23pm 4-30-15.  All the little 'fires' are grass fires detected by FIRMS.
Needless to say, it's very dry and any precipitation would be very welcome right now.  Unfortunetly, things are looking pretty dry right now in the near future.  There's still a chance for some rain and thunderstorms this weekend.  But, I digress.  With the warmer temperatures, it means ducks and geese are on the move, and while I was out working in the yard, my dog Mikko, a Golden Retriever, which equates to 60 lbs of fur, love, tongue, and tail.  Did I mention she's a great hunting companion, and any time she sees ducks, she gets more than a little....excited?
Isn't she pretty? 
Well, she started getting very, very excited, and I couldn't figure out why.  Now, I was getting my boat ready and doing some general work in the yard, but once I stopped to see why she was getting a little excited, I could see why.  

Two male mallards had decided to take up residence in my yard for a little while.  Of course, my puppy wanted nothing more than to do what she was trained to do...sit by her master and wait to jump in the water to go after them.  

Instead though, I grabbed my camera and rushed her inside to not spook them. 

It looked like they were just hanging out for a bit.  I know a few years ago we had a mallard make a nest in one of our neighbors bushes, so I was thinking we may have a female around here on her nest.  

Apparently though they were just here taking a break.  

What did the duck tell the bartender?  Put the tab on my bill!  
Doing my best flamingo impression. 

After about 20 minutes though, the two decided they had enough of hanging out in my yard and then decided to 'fly the coop' so to speak.  

It was nice of them to hang out for a while.  Gave me some time to try out some things on my camera in different lighting.  I was able to adjust lenses (can you tell which lens I used for which photo) and even grabbed a different camera at one point since I've made some improvements for chasing this year for all our Valley News Live viewers.  (oops, did I spill the beans?) 

On that note, we've really made a commitment to upgrading some of our video equipment this year.   We've made additional investments in radios and other equipment.  Certain pieces of other equipment has been upgraded, some of which might not be seen by our viewers, but it will help me when I'm out chasing.  I really hope you enjoy the severe weather coverage we are able to provide, once we get some severe weather.  It's really awesome to see and meet all our viewers while I'm out chasing!  If you come across me in the field, feel free to say hi, as long as it's not during the middle of a tornado! 

Longer term though, I'm hoping for a change in the weather pattern, even though I am enjoying the drier weather.  We really need some moisture in the valley!  Also, if you haven't, make sure you stop by Robert Hahn's blog as it's a great read as well!  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Big Stone Lake Eagles, 3-28-15

Over last weekend, I got a phone call from my friend Bill Doms, and he asked me what I was doing that Saturday.  I wasn't doing much, so we decided to make the 2 hour drive to Big Stone Lake and check out some of the Eagles partaking in the open water fish fest near the Big Stone Lake power plant.

Once we got there, it was almost like a chaser convergence - tons of people out there checking out the eagles.  Most people were being pretty smart about it, but others were getting out of their cars, trying to get close to the eagles, making sounds at them, etc.  Really just being obnoxious.  Sounds like a standard storm chase in Oklahoma in the first week of May, doesn't it?

But, it still made for a pretty show!

This guy kept hovering over the cars.  It was a windy day, and it was amazing watching him soar! 

Streaking towards the heavens...
It was also pretty neat running into my good friends Nick Elms and Amanda Hill out there!  After chatting with them, I met up with Bill and his mom, whom I have not seen in a long time.

A little unusual seeing two fully mature eagles out.  Most of them should be sitting on their nests right about now.

It was also a good day to get to learn and know my new gear.  I ended up using my new 7100 most of the day.  One thing I found out is the perfect shot is not perfect unless I set my white balance and color tones right.  Otherwise, the shot will be wasted.  So, for all of you people out there learning your cameras or photography, learn that.  You can tell in my pictures from the day, as I went along I was taking the time to actually set and tweak these settings a little more.  It really is worth it - this way you don't have to spend hours in Photoshop and then your photos look junky.  I am going to guess you can tell which photos I took at the start of the day, and then towards then end!

As we started to wrap up our day, we also went out to the Big Stone Wildlife refuge, but didn't really see anything.  We started to make our way home, got hungry and then stopped for a burger at this 50's cafe in Big Stone, and then ended up at home just as the sun was setting.  Pretty good end to my weekend!

Now I am starting to look forward even more to severe weather season!  My cameras are ready, the StormTeam vehicles are getting prepped, and before we know it, we'll be dealing with severe weather.  Personally I'm just hoping for some more moisture, because the farmers out here in the valley need it!