A brown thrasher takes a momentary break from eating to check his surroundings.

Whenever I have a chance to get away from the world and be in nature I take it. It doesn’t cure my PTSD and depression, but it sure helps to keep me calm by being away from modern society and its trappings.

I had the opportunity last week to visit my friends Joni and Rolf and spent the day viewing nature and being in relative silence. I spent eight hours, eating, taking pictures and observing the beauty the world has on offer.

The following are some of the better pictures I took. The picture above is my favorite.

Butterflies are common in the country. They fly from place to place, resting only moments before they flutter to someplace else. When they rest, you can almost feel them breathing in as their wings flatten and snap shut in that moment betwen breaths. I find it calming to watch them fly.

A bull snake was hanging out inside. I was amazed at its size, but was never afraid of it. The first thing I did was look at its tail to see if there was a rattle. I may have been worried then, but I wasn’t worried once I knew it was a bull snake.

I couldn’t see the head of the bull snake, so I stuck my camera as far away from my body as I could and pointed it toward where I thought its head was located. The snake was roughly five and a half feet long.

After poking the snake, it came out to see what I was doing. I snapped several pictures, then took a step forward. I snapped a few more photos. This photgraph was taken in between the first and the second hiss. I wanted to get a little closer, but didn’t want to anger the snake any more than it already was and risk being bitten. Unfortunately, I did not get to pet the snake.

Baby robins may not be quite able to chirp just yet, but they are still cute. This nest has four babies. Their mother and father took turns to look after the nest and their young.

I have noticed with many birds, when a human comes along, the parent flie off and leaves their children alone. They stop a short distance away and keep a watch on what you are doing. After taking a photograph of her babies, I left the robins alone. I did watch them later from inside the house, where I observed the mother and father in the nest with the babies.

A brown thrasher gets a snack courtesy of awesome humans. I saw several thrashers throughout the day, mostly around this bird feeder. Brown thrashers does much of its foraging on the ground, using its bill to flip dead leaves aside or dig in the soil as it rummages for insects. It perches in shrubs and trees to eat berries and will crack open acorns by pounding them with its bill.

A squirrel enjoys a sunflower seed in western Nebraska. My day was almost as fun as the fun this squirrel had eating seeds for nearly thirty minutes.

Every time this bird came to the bird feeder, it stopped and looked at me, then continued eating.

A yellow-breasted chat reaches into the bird feeder to get a tasty treat. It is a shy, skulking species of bird, often being heard but not seen. The song of this bird is an odd, variable mixture of cackles, clucks, whistles and hoots. Their calls are harsh chak’s. Unlike most warblers, this species has been known to mimic the calls of other birds. Thus, less experienced field birdwatchers sometimes overlook chats after mistaking their song for species such as grey catbirds and brown thrashers, which share similar habitat preferences and skulking habits, though are generally much more abundant. During the breeding season, chats are at their most conspicuous as they will usually sing from exposed locations and even fly in the open while gurgling their songs.

Finches took turns feeding throughout the day. They always landed “heavy,” causing the bird feeder to spin around.

This finch only visited once during the time I spent near the bird feeder. He only stayed for about five seconds. This is one of two pictures I took of it.

Even the flies were out buzzing about in the beautiful spring weather.

A bee prepares to gather pollen from a lavender bush.

I spent close to thirty minutes following this bee between several lavender bushes. I would have liked to have practiced more, but I didn’t have all day to take pictures of one bee.

A yellow-breasted chat climbs around on a bird feeder in western Nebraska.

A finch balances on a bird feeder while eating.

I am going to climb this tree the next time I visit. In the mean time, I’m going to draw it.