The Young and the Vulnerable

2015 is on its last hours.  The sun is retreating for the last time in 2015 making way for a night of celebration as we bring in 2016.  All things considered, I will not miss this year very much and more than relieved to let this year go thanks to a myriad of tough times from family medical discoveries, work stress and the loss of our beloved Kerby.  There were some bright spots like the running production, additions to the bird count and a number of projects I’ve shared throughout the course of the year which will likely be touched up on in my year in review post.  Thought I’d close out this year with a topic I set up from the last post.  Babies!

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

The Buffalo young carry with them a certain amount of … ummm let’s go with size.  That size gives them a definite advantage in the endless struggle for survival in the wild.  That also means they are surrounded by even larger mothers and fathers capable of inflicting serious paybacks should any predator decide to test their skills.  This is a stark contrast to the life of a Pronghorn.

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Hit the jump to see more pictures of the Pronghorn doe and her two cute newborns.

Continue reading The Young and the Vulnerable

A Big Baby

2015 is coming to a close and the weather gods want to make sure they get as much in as they can.  This week has brought us rain, cold, sleet, wind and this morning we were greeted to a blanket of white.  Our friends in and around Peoria have been dealing with power outages and serious tree damage thanks to the ice laden trees being subjected to wicked wind gusts.  Thankfully we have not had any serious fallout.  Just a few branches down and the moose in our Xmas display decided to lay down and take a well deserved rest.  A fitting lead in since this was exactly what some young Bison were doing when we stumbled upon them.
Bison shot in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Although we do have the privilege of being able to see Bison at a local wildlife park, these shots were taken back in May of 2015 during our visit to Yellowstone Park.  There has been no shortage of posts covering these huge mammals here at LifeIntrigued.  A trip to Yellowstone put a lot of Bison in the tin back in 2010 (link here) that featured some really young specimens.  A local shoot back in 2011 (link here).  There was also a set taken at Custer State Park and Yellowstone back in 2012 (link here).  As a result, there really isn’t much else I can tell you knew about these creatures.

Bison shot in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Hit the jump to view a few more shots of the Yellowstone Bison.

Continue reading A Big Baby

Project Day

Now for something completely different!  It has been about two months since I’ve brought you a project post (that being the 2015 Halloween pumpkin post (link here).  With some extra time on my hands I felt it was time to get some items taken off of my to-do list.  Some recent, some old, some very old.  There are actually  multiple projects summed up in this post.  As an incentive, I’ve had them placed so they are the first thing that I see when I walk into my den.  You would think that would provide enough incentive to get them out of the way … but it didn’t thanks to having too many things on my plate (one of which is Project Auuuurrrnooollddd which completed another phase right before Christmas).

Adhering to a LIFO queue process, the first item on the project list was a recent Christmas gift received from Linda.  This was a set of 2 wind up puzzles called Scorpion Rising.
Project Day

Essentially this consisted of a 3D model that you built on top of a standard wind up coil.  Once assembled you could turn the crank and watch your creation walk.  I figured I could whip these two out in about 15 minutes … until I opened the package and saw what I was dealing with.  There was a trifold hard foam based card that had a series of laser cut outs barely distinguishable by the naked eye.   First action was to go find my reading glasses – the instructions were hard enough to read with their tiny font, but seeing where the cutouts were on the card was basically impossible without them.  The worst thing is there were tiny interior cutouts on the pieces that required me to find a tiny screwdriver set to proper punch them out.

It was pretty easy to see the main concept based on the motor mechanics.  Once wound, there were two pins offset and on different sides from each other which clearly indicated they drove the feet.  Knowing that element helped visualize how the additional pieces should go on.  Getting them actually put together was the hard part.  This puzzle was probably intended for smaller fingers.  It was also apparent no one who manufactured this puzzle ever reviewed the directions due to a major flaw – an ISO view doesn’t help you much if you are putting black pieces on black pieces.  Imagine your high school aptitude tests that show a silhouette of two objects and asked to align two objects to make that basic shape – damn hard.  Here is a quick shot of the directions and the provided puzzle pieces.

Project Day

The other annoying thing is they continued the steps on the back of the sheet but did not replicate the cutout alignment on the card.  This forced me to keep turning the paper over and over again while contemplating what the hell they wanted me to do next.  It didn’t help they opted to position the various steps based on maximizing the paper – translated – the instructions were not in order on the page, well at least not in your standard US left, down, right layout approach.  It was a struggle but the scorpion finally came together (see the first image).  With a pat on the back, the little crank was wound and the Scorpion unleashed on the world… for exactly 4 seconds.  That was the duration of the coil.  The little dude walked for a total of 4 seconds.  Granted it looked cool for that 4 seconds but this dude just took 1.5 hours of my project day.  Based on those results the other scorpion was put away for another rainy day.

Next up was a gift the Makuta’s got me – pretty sure last Xmas or possibly my birthday – can’t remember but as far as a perfect gift for a project loving birder like me .. this was it!

Project Day

Hit the jump to see how this project turns out as well as a third project!

Continue reading Project Day

European Moose

Last post I brought you a set of large mammals shot in Yellowstone National Park back in May 2015.  Those Big Horn Sheep top out in the 310 pound or so range for the males and then about 190 for the females.  Pretty big from a hoofed mammal perspective, but definitely not the top end of the inhabitants at our first national park.  Today we push that scale a little higher with these common residents.

Elk shot in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

These Elk (we’ll get to the whole name thingy in a bit) tip the scales between 500 and 530 for the cows and 700 to 730 pounds for the bulls.  The predators of the animal world would need to be pretty hungry (and desperate) to take on a mature bull.  Something tells me they would be calling for an ambulance to pick up the carnage should they get slammed with a full rack.

Elk shot in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Speaking of racks, these shots are of Elk that are still in their velvet stages of their antler growth.  These creatures are pretty common out in that particular region and one doesn’t come back from a trip without a few tins full of Elk frames.  They’ve actually been featured on this blog several times now (link here and here).  Note, the latter link has some of the most gorgeous antler racks (qualifier added for obvious reasons) I’ve seen on these beasts.  From those posts you can tell the transformation from the velvet stages to the mature antler sets.

Hit the jump to see a bunch more pictures of the Elk!

Continue reading European Moose

They Grow ’em Big Out There

If you haven’t noticed yet, Linda and I have a few days off from work to enjoy the holidays.  What better way to celebrate extra free time than cranking out posts!  This month I was able to bring you little birds, big birds, big squirrels and bigger squirrels.  Now it is time to step up the weight a bit and bring you some of the larger shoots from the Yellowstone National Park trip back in May 2015.

Mountain Goats shot on Yellowstone National Park trip in May 2013

Today we feature Big Horn Sheep.  I did some quick reading up on them to see if I could accurately tell you whether these were all rams are ewes seeing as none of the subjects I opted to use in this post have the more telltale feature of the full curved horns.  The females also possess horns but as stated by our friends over at Wikipedia, they are not as prominent and only slightly curved compared to their adult male counterparts.

Mountain Goats shot on Yellowstone National Park trip in May 2013

Hit the jump to see a lot more pictures of the Big Horn Sheep from Yellowstone!

Continue reading They Grow ’em Big Out There

Something Squirrelly is Going On Here

Welcome back on D.A.I.D – or Day After Indulgence Day.  Days like Christmas, New Years, my birthday etc. are hard on those keeping tabs on their intake.  As a runner I have the unfortunate tick of translating every piece of food or drink consumed into corresponding miles it will take to compensate.  D.A.I.Ds come with a stark reality there is no way in hell I could ever break even from the day before… sigh.  To my credit I did make a small recovery into the damage with a midnight run which, if nothing else, does help to beat down the inner guilt.  The good news is I was able to crest over a running goal I had set, but we’ll cover that in an upcoming post.  Instead, I bring you another post from the Yellowstone National Park trip.

Uinta Ground Squirrel Shot in Yellowstone National Park May 2015

Isn’t it cute!  This little guy or girl made an effort to come out and greet us as we were enjoying a picnic in the park.  We were visiting the park with the Makutas back in May of 2013 (note, any comments from my brother regarding the fact this is the end of 2015 will be duly ignored hehehe).  I thought it would be fitting to stick with the squirrel theme seeing as how I covered another member of the Squirrel family in the last post (link here).

Uinta Ground Squirrel Shot in Yellowstone National Park May 2015

Hit the jump to see a few more pictures of this stocky Squirrel!

Continue reading Something Squirrelly is Going On Here

Ya Yellow Livered Schweinhunt

Had enough of the birds yet?  I figured so!  Well, you are in luck.  Thanks to having all the Yellowstone shots processed, I have plenty of non-bird topics to throw at you.  I’ll still need to toss in our feathered friends from time to time, but today I can bring you this ….

Yellow-Bellied Marmot shot in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Take your best guess… A Beaver? a Hedgehog? maybe a gym rat Squirrel on steroids?  A Squirrel is actually pretty close seeing as how this creature is a member of that family.  It is actually a member of the Marmota genus commonly referred to as the Yellow-Bellied Marmot.

Yellow-Bellied Marmot shot in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

hit the jump to read more about our Marmot encounters!

Continue reading Ya Yellow Livered Schweinhunt

Not Too Soft To Plus Two

Continuing the theme from last post, I bring you two more new birds to my list.  Like last reveal, both of these new additions also came from Yellowstone National Park.  That would be our trip back in May of 2013.  I must be getting numb to my backlog.  I used to cringe every time I had to admit post fodder was coming from over two years ago.  Now.. not so much – not even a twitch.  With repetition comes acceptance hehe.

Let’s get to it shall we.  The first bird on today’s agenda is one I owe a big thanks to my brother for actually identifying.
Spotted Sandpiper Shot at Yellowstone National Park May 2013

That my friends is a Spotted Sandpiper (well, at least our best identification based on the small number of reference shots I was able to get in the tin).  Oh, I should have first apologized for the softness of these shots.  As with the gear for the Cinnamon shots (link here), both of these birds were shot with the 1.4 tele on the Beast.  That brings with it a general level of softness, but in this case I am not that upset.  These birds were a loooooong way off.  I was grasping for every bit of reach available to even see these creature much less hope to get any kind of crispiness.  I even had to zoom further to a small square during post processing to really make it visible.  Luckily, there was enough pixels left to determine what it was.  Otherwise, they would have ended up in my folder labeled “A Bird”.

Spotted Sandpiper Shot at Yellowstone National Park May 2013

The Spotted spend their Summers across a wide swathe  of the US and spend their Winters down in Central and South America.  They are one of the most widespread shorebirds in the US.  Unlike most migrating birds, the female is the one that arrives and selects the breeding territory.  They also practice polyandry.  If you are an avid reader of the blog or a birder in your own right, you should know that polyandry is Latin for “bird whore”.   Granted, my Latin has been found wanting, but pretty sure it stands for “bird whore”.   She can mate with multiple johns .. I mean males … and leave them with the clutch to take care of.  Wham bam thank you man!

The other entry in today’s twofer is a relatively dull bird.

American Dipper Shot at Yellowstone National Park May 2013

I saw it playing in a small stream as we passed by from the road. It’s been awhile so not positive, but I likely gave our secret coded word to “stop immediately there is a bird I need to shoot” (unless David and Giselle were in the car in which case I would have had to use our alternate code word to keep from embarrassing ourselves).  Although this is a rather drab bird, it was surprisingly easy to identify due to the fact it looks like it subscribes to the Wild Turkey exercise plan – these birds be a wee bit plump.

American Dipper Shot at Yellowstone National Park May 2013

That is an American Dipper.  The Dipper is primarily located in the Western third of the US extending up into Alaska.  They prefer running streams, protecting themselves during the Winter months thanks to a low metabolism, heavily oxygenated blood and a thick heaping of feathers.  The latter might account for some of the “plumpiness” so no offense to the Turkey (hehehe).  Stealing a trait from the duck population, the Dipper will molt all its wing and tail feathers at once (in the late Summer timeframe).  This effectively grounds it. After a little more reading on the Cornell site, I learned how they got their name – while exploring streams for food, they will frequently “dip” their heads underwater – clever.

Not much else to really reveal about these two new birds.  I’ll take the new checks on the list today, but hoping the future will bring a chance to improve on my execution.

Time to Add the Cinnamon

It’s been awhile but I’m finally back on the ball with another post for December.  My  has the time flown this year but I’m very confident I’ll be closing out 12 more months of making at least my minimum quota for posts.  A small triumph for a year, but it does put some serious pressure on me at various times trying to juggle all my other commitments.

Luckily, this is as much fun as it is work!  Today I bring you another check in the birding list.

Cinnamon Teal shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

If you are not a birding enthusiast you may not recognize this as a Cinnamon Teal.  This is a new Teal check having had the Blue-Winged Teal (link here) and the Green-Winged Teal (link here) previously.  This is one of those checks I’ve known was in the tin for a long time.  It was actually shot at Yellowstone National Park back in May of 2013.

Cinnamon Teal shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

The fact that you are seeing the products from that trip signifies a very big accomplishment – yes, I FINALLY got through the entire collection of shots from that Yellowstone visit.  Pretty sure I ran around the house in jubilation when I made it through the last of those pictures in the digital darkroom.  I used to catch a lot of grief from my brother about the huge delays from shutter snap to post — now that he has turned birder extraordinaire he is experiencing the same kind of backlog (isn’t easy is it hehehe).  Sometime ask him how many +1’s he has in the tin this year that has not been processed.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Cinnamon Teal!

Continue reading Time to Add the Cinnamon

Shooting Independence Grove

Carrying on the theme from the last post, I’m back with a shoot summary from earlier in the year.  In fact, this shoot was the morning of the same day we made it to Hebron.  Linda was running the dogs at a big agility show in Libertyville IL.  Knowing the serious downtime that surrounds a dog show, I opted to explore a local park to see what the Northeast part of the state had to offer.  After some quick searches on the web, Independence Grove was selected as the destination.

Shots from Independence Grove, Libertyville IL July 2015

Once again we are taken advantage of by the Chicago leach burbs requiring a $10 fee just to get into the park.  Not aware of any alternatives on the spot, the extortion was paid and I found a parking lot capable of holding the Wombat.  With Beast in hand I set out to discover a bunch of +1’s.  Jumping to the punch line… zero +1’s for the day – make that a punch to the gut.  The Grove is a nice park complete with a large lake, bike path, kid’s center and even a nature walk area.  Everything you would want unless you were looking for new birds.  All was not lost – there were some nice print shots accumulated in the tin.  The Mallard shot of the mother and her juvi (above and below) came out pretty nice.

Shots from Independence Grove, Libertyville IL July 2015

Adding to the print set was this female Red-Winged Blackbird.  She was keeping a tight eye on my every move to make sure her prize catch wasn’t going to be taken.  At first that green hopper was putting up a struggle, but eventually is succumbed to the higher entry in the food chain.

Shots from Independence Grove, Libertyville IL July 2015

Hit the jump to see more shots from The Grove

Continue reading Shooting Independence Grove