Sound the Trumpets

It’s another February bonus post and since last time I featured cute and cuddly bunnies I feel less guilty featuring another bird for today’s post.  Sorry to keep doing this to you but my brother is putting tremendous pressure on me with his progress on his birding life list gallery.  Now that he is using technology like e-bird alerts I’m forced to work my fingers to the bones slaving away on posts just to stay ahead.  Only thing going for me is most of the bird alerts required him to leave the car in the frigid temps of Chicago which translates to … no check mark hehehe.  With bloodied fingers I type you today’s featured bird the Trumpeter Swan.

Trumpeter Swans of Yellowstone

This is actually not a ‘new’ bird to the blog or technically an add to my Birding Life List Gallery.  What is new, however, is the fact you can actually make out the features on these shots.  The previous ones from Yellowstone were a long way off even with the Beast and tele pressed into service (link here).  Now that you can actually experience them up close you can see just how majestic these Swans are.  I laughed when processing the shot above in the digital darkroom – it seems a tad pissed off that we were disturbing his afternoon swim.  I am getting the general opinion that most birds simply looked annoyed or goofy when viewed head on.  See how much more pleasant this angle looks.

Trumpeter Swans of Yellowstone

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of these beautiful Swans.

Continue reading Sound the Trumpets

Big Ears Plus Bushy Tail Equals Pure Cuteness

We are officially in bonus time for posts this month!  That officially  makes it two months in a row of extra effort – 2015 is starting out to be a productive blogging year, but let’s not get any hopes up.  Just so happens I’ve had some extra time on my hands with nothing but an Internet connection to keep me occupied.  Breaking from the bird theme, today’s topic is just some cute pictures of bunnies.  I was saving this up for Easter but there are so many post topics to get to that I figured it was best to get it out of the way now.  Now for a great big collective … Awwwwwhhhh…

The rabbits around our neck of the woods are an interesting observation in the circle of life.  Their population is very cyclic ranging from a daily visit of 6 plus to absolutely zero over the course of the year.  Although they spend a large amount of time causing me stress their high cuteness factor has forced me into a no-harm pact.


That’s right, I generally let them be and go that extra step to prevent any harm – translated I keep a careful eye out for them when cruising in and out of our long driveway.  For some reason they ALWAYS want on the opposite side of the driveway whenever a vehicle comes their way.  Absolutely no idea what triggers this stupid response, but it’s apparently the same gene that causing birds to do the exact same thing when they get spooked from the side of the road.  Rarely do I see birds simply fly further away from the road preferring instead to play Frogger with my bumper (a certain Owl comes to mind).  Same with these long eared balls of fur, yet they take even longer to make the suicide run.

Hit the jump to view a few more shots of the favored Easter icon

Continue reading Big Ears Plus Bushy Tail Equals Pure Cuteness

A Flamboyant Crow

And were back!  You are getting blitzed with posts at the moment because I’m taken care of some family matters which requires me to be in a place without that wonderful time waster .. a TV.  Luckily we invested in a hotspot allowing me to stay current with the world.  That doesn’t really take a lot of time – this group of people is killing that group of people, another group of people are spouting lies and still another is trying to take my rights away.  Pretty much sums up my view of the current chaos around the world and in the States.  Once that perception is confirmed I can jump into my little corner of the Internet and escape a bit.  Way I see it, it’s a win win.  Now I remember how my stay in Shenandoah went, but back then I didn’t even have cell phones – (ask Linda about our critter experience while at a payphone one night there) the horror, the horror.  Today we are in a better digital age which allows me to bring you this
Black-Billed Magpies of South Dakota

If you do not recognize this bird you haven’t been to the Northwest.  The Black-Billed Magpie are very populous in that region and thanks to their colorful palette are quite easy to identify.  I say this with a chuckle since I apparently had no clue what they were the first time we came upon them (link here).  Of course, that might be more due to the crap ass shots I was able to capture – I kinda cringe every time I dive back into the blog archives knowing my photography skills needed some serious work back then.  Glad to say there is marked improvement these days.  The following shot is one of my favorites from the Yellowstone vacation shoot.

Black-Billed Magpies of South Dakota

Hit the jump to view a few more shots of the Black-Billed Magpie

Continue reading A Flamboyant Crow

Yellow in the Meadow

I hope you enjoyed the previous post I affectionately refer to as “Throwback Friday”.  I will not get you back to your regularly scheduled programming which obviously is another BIRD POST (crowd goes wild..or maybe not depending on your interest in those feathered creatures). My brother Ron is partly to blame for the recent bird blitz. He has turned into quite the birder as of late and I know he has a bunch of birds to add to his life list thanks to a quick run to Florida. Unfortunately to a flaw I’m somewhat competitive and don’t want to lose ground on our little competition. To counter the new influx on his front I bring you:

Western Meadowlark in the Tetons

First off, my apologies for how soft these images are. I was sitting in my car .. umm.. I was using my car door as a solid mobile tripod platform while Linda was off taking what turned out to be gorgeous pictures of the Grand Tetons. We were actually at a secret spot she stumbled upon on the Internet that turned out to be quite nice. I’m generally not as interested in landscapes as she is (unless it is statues which I’ll let you know is a tease for an upcoming post). While she is off doing her thing I turn my attention to the surrounding trees, brush and prairie looking for precisely these pots of gold.

estern Meadowlark in the Tetons

Oh, on the soft part.  This bird was sitting a loooong way off even for the Beast.  I think the tele was even on so let’s just say the opportunity to be nice and crispy was slim to none.  However, when it comes to being able to make a check on the bird list, there is no such thing as a too soft shot (just ask Ron about his Yellow-Rumped Warbler hehehe).  All in all, they didn’t come out nearly as bad as expected.

Hit the jump to find out what this bird is .. in case you don’t already recognize it

Continue reading Yellow in the Meadow

Unintended Consequences

Killer Jeep
Figured I would give my blog readers out there that are not as fond of our feathered brethren a break and go old school for a post.  That’s right, I’m going back to the early days here at Life Intrigued when men were men and images were built with blood, sweat and tears… and a lot of Paint Shop Pro.  These days the trusty Nikon is leaned on heavily to produce the artistic feel of the posts.  Feel free to translate that to the author just being too lazy to go through the manual work, preferring to just push down on that little silver button that makes that shutter slap sound indicating the image is in the tin.  From an observation perspective of blog maturity, the photography shots are generally getting a LOT better but based on this effort my manual graphic skills are getting even suckier.

Let’s not go any further without making a quick disclaimer – the Jeep image was lifted off a stock marketing page on the web. Ownership remains with the marketing org that produced it and merely borrowing it to comment on what I consider a design flaw.  Oh, and for the record, this Jeep is depicted with optional accessories that may or may not be available in your area – who knows, there may be a big demand for bumper teeth somewhere in the free world.

With that out of the way I can finally get to the heart of the post.  At first this post was going to be entitled, “Our Jeep Tried to Kill My Wife!”  Clearly this title alone would have allowed us to be booked on any number of late afternoon drivel shows.  Unfortunately, another bizarre event happened on Valentine’s Day that put me in a precarious situation.  Assessing the two events resulted in the realization that both were a result of unintended consequences which seemed like a more appropriate title – although not as likely to draw the oooohs and ahhhhs of a Springer audience.  Let’s start with Linda’s incident.  I received a call from Linda one late afternoon, who was in a pretty agitated state.  Her first words were something like “This DAMN Jeep just tried to kill me”  (Ummm, I didn’t say I came up with the post title, I just said that was almost what I used for a title).  Once she calmed down a bit she explained the situation.  She was crossing a major bridge across the Illinois River when a Frito Lay bag came blowing across the road.  As luck would have it, it managed to lodge against the front bumper of her Jeep.  Sounds innocent enough unless you realize that this vehicle is equipped with collision detection sensors.  The Frito Lay bag has a shiny reflective inner surface which apparently set off the collision sensor(s).  Linda claims the dashboard went blank except for a very clear alert message followed immediately by the anti-lock brakes engaging to quickly bring the vehicles speed down to avoid the errr chip bag.  This deceleration was significant to give Linda’s neck quite a jolt – so much that it cost us a chiro visit the very next day.  As much as I appreciate the safety intent of the engineers, the execution ended up have a completely different impact in the field that was likely not anticipated.  After talking to a co-worker there are other issues with that detection approach which caused him to disable the capability (it involves a parallel road to his driveway and it locking him up every time a car would be on that other road).  He had already done the research on how to disable it so that saved some time on the Internet.  Nice try but there needs to be some form of mass sensor validation to complete that detection loop.

Hit the jump to read about another tricky situation that I ended up in

Continue reading Unintended Consequences

With Delay The Gray Jay

I’m back with another bird post so you are either overjoyed (if you are a birder) or frustrated about the total lack of diversity so far this month being as we are two for two this month in covering our feathered friends.  Truth be told, much like the last post, this effort is again doing double duty.  On second thought it might actually be doing triple duty, but will hold off on that explanation for a bit.  Today’s featured bird is not a new one to my bird list and it was featured previously back in the early days of the blog.  If you recall, and that means you’ve been frequenting this blog for at least a 5 years now (impressive), the Gray Jay made its debut back in Jan 2010 (link here).  That capture took place in Yellowstone National Park – the same location where my new specimen was discovered.

Yellowstone National Park - Gray Jay

Based on the fact it was previously photographed and secondly already featured on a blog post you would think this bird had already made its way onto the Bird Life List Gallery (link here).   Not the case.  Back then I was processing images solely for the web and therefore was not doing much work in the digital darkroom.  The smaller the file size the better and even reduced it to the final display size on the page – It is possible you don’t realize this, but most of the images in the blog are now full size images up on the EddieSoft Gallery ( but only the medium sized version are referenced for the actual blog post.  You can simply view the image and it will redirect you to the gallery – rip off the filename in the URL and you will have full access to the gallery controls and view the image at whatever size you want.  For the old shots, the image was simply copied up to the physical blog file directory and referenced from there – what you see is what you get.  I liked the pictures back on the original post but those images were super small and didn’t really want to put those up on the list without at least one better quality one.  I thought there was another shot or two from the 2013 Yellowstone trip out there and I finally found them.

Hit the jump to see another picture and read a bit more about the bird.

Continue reading With Delay The Gray Jay

Violet Green at Yellow

I’m FINALLY getting to the pictures taken on our trip to Yellowstone back in 2013. Granted this delay is embarrassing, but I blame all the recent projects for keeping me from my photo queue. In this case I can actually take care of both of these endeavors at the exact same time. One of the first sets of shots processed happened to be of a bird – check that, not just a bird, a NEW bird on the checklist!

Violet-Green Swallow at Yellowstone

This bird was shot while Linda was off taking pictures of those flowing water thingies.  I can’t remember exactly where we took this in Yellowstone, but do know it was close to the road – at the time the car door was being leveraged for a makeshift tripod.  These birds fall in the uber-hyper category and it took everything I had to be able to swing the Beast around fast enough to get a shot before it darted off in a different direction.

Violet-Green Swallow at Yellowstone

Hit the jump to see and read more of this spectrumed beauty.

Continue reading Violet Green at Yellow

Project: Snap Count

Greetings All! Sorry for the long delay in getting another post out – although in my defense I did exceed my quota last month.  I actually got through the January posts fairly early in the month which gave me time to work on a new project, Yeah!  A lot of my projects are a result of stumbling on something on the Internet and deciding that it would be sufficient challenge to put energy towards.  The goal always being to embrace the concept and then extend it to another level.  This project source was a little different – I stol… err embraced an idea from my brother Ron.  So, credit goes to him for motivating to get this endeavor done.

With no further delay, I am proud to announce the start of my Photography Bird Life List.

Bird List

The actual gallery can be located on our Eddiesoft Photography Gallery powered by Smugmug (link here).  The link should take you directly into the root of the gallery.  From a project perspective, this has to be one of the more tedious and time consuming ones I’ve taken on.  It sure sounded simple when Ron brought up the idea.  Simply have a gallery of shots for each of the birds on the life list.  The intent is to focus on the “best shots” of the species from a “Birders” perspective.  Anytime I was able to improve on a shot I would simply swap it out with the better version.  That sounds great unless you have a LOT of bird shots (as you would expect I do if you spend any time on this blog at all).  The issue isn’t so much the overall amount as it is having to choose which of your babies gets the honor of being the featured image on the gallery. The more common the bird the harder the task since there are typically more shots to choose from.  I clarified that this gallery was intended to have a Birder’s approach.  That simply means it would attempt to demonstrate the overall characteristics of the species.  Various angles, settings, genders, seasonal differences etc. would be included when available.  I did try to include what I consider my “best” overall shot which took a long time due to having to gather up all the photos of a particular bird and proceed to whittle away until I was comfortable with the shots to upload.  Note, in some cases this was easier because there I were only one or two shots and trust me, not all of them are ummm.. good.  Over time those crap shots should get weeded out.

Hit the jump to read more about the List

Continue reading Project: Snap Count