Just sitting here listening to the Republican debate and thinking to myself – the main loser tonight is CNN. Their party bias is so evident tonight it is at comedy level. If you don’t believe me, see if they ask these same questions at a Democrat debate. Then again, not sure that party can handle a question beyond what is your favorite Girl Scout cookie. By the way, if they answer anything but Thin Mints they can’t be trusted.

Rather than concentrate on the Trump baiting I’ll focus on something more fruitful – another post. Thought I would give you bonus post in celebration of Leap Year.
Eagles Along Mississippi River in March 2015

I actually processed these pictures some time ago. They were taken on a trip up to Davenport Iowa along the Mississippi River. Embarrassingly, this was in March of last year, but hey, still an improvement over the Yellowstone timing which was back in 2013. The reasons for going with this previous set instead of a more recent shoot is due to one main issue – lack of Eagles this year. We’ve been up to the Quad Cities a couple of times now and I think each time we were lucky to find one.

Eagles Along Mississippi River in March 2015

Hit the jump to see some more shots of these beautiful birds.

Continue reading Royalty

A Cold Day at Emiquon

Yesterday I managed to put up an 18 spot on the run counter.  In celebration, I cleaned up the house, scrubbed the bathrooms, vacuumed, gave the dogs a bath and steam cleaned all the hardwood floors in the house.  Believe that?  No!?!  I’m hurt.. but the truth sometimes hurt – not as much as my body hurts, which is why I simply thought about those things and then crashed on the couch – hehehehe.  Now I’m just going to sit in this comfy chair and bang out a new post for you.  Today’s topic is all about a birthday present to myself.  Back in January I took a day off from work and went birding in Emiquon.  These were the results of that day.

Scenes from Emiquon on Jan 16th 2016

I was taking some pictures of Eagles out on the ice when all of a sudden I saw two Mute Swans out of the corner of my eye heading straight for me.  Although startled, I did manage to get The Beast turned in their direction just in time to get a few incoming shots.  They noticed the big glass pointed their way and diverted their flight.

Scenes from Emiquon on Jan 16th 2016

Predicting how this might end, I kept the camera pointed in their direction as they went in for a landing.  Sure enough, when they hit the ice they slid for about 10 feet.  I will give them credit, they rode out that slide like pros.

Scenes from Emiquon on Jan 16th 2016

Hit the jump to view a few more shots from the birding day!

Continue reading A Cold Day at Emiquon

Cleaning Out Yellowstone – Part 2

Okay, back to the regularly scheduled programming.  I think that does it for the missed Yellowstone featured posts, so I can get back to clearing the rest of the general shots from the trip back in May 2013.  Not a lot of text here – these posts are all about the pictures.  They may be soft, they might be really soft and in some cases  (like the last) barely discernible.  For those that have never been to our first National Park, these clearing posts will give you feel for all the wildlife you are sure to see out there.

Let’s start with the Moose.  The Moose is one of those Holy Grail animals for a Yellowstone or Grand Tetons vacation.  There are fairly hard to find and their numbers are small compared to the other residents in the parks.  To put it in perspective, this is the only Moose that we encountered while in Yellowstone, compared to the large number of Bears that were shot (and featured previously here).

Scenes From Yellowstone National Park May 2013

This one was in hanging out in very bad light near a hollow.

I forgot to post the better picture of the female Lesser Scaup in the last clearing post.  I liked how the male is “acting” like he is asleep, but clearly keeping an eye on the prize.

Scenes From Yellowstone National Park May 2013

We came upon this sighting while checking out a pullout on the main loop.  There were a few people there, but they didn’t really seem as interested as I was at what they were looking at – I on the other hand I was thrilled.

Scenes From Yellowstone National Park May 2013

Hit the jump to find out what this is!

Continue reading Cleaning Out Yellowstone – Part 2

Does It Spy Eyes on the Side

Howdy friends! – hope everyone’s enjoying the Valentine’s Day weekend with their special someone’s.  I was just sitting here watching my 3D printer lay down some plastic when it occurred to me I could continue to be mesmerized by the print head moving back and forth along the pattern… or .. wait for it… be productive and crank out another post.  True to a fault, my brain usually comes down on the side of productivity – keeps bringing up the whole “you complain every month you don’t have your posts done” argument causing me to cave faster than it takes Hillary to open her mouth and issue a cackling lie.

Up to this point I’ve been showing you the frail and vulnerable side of Yellowstone National Park.  Today we take a different perspective – the deadly side.
Coyote on the hunt in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

If you recall in the Yellowstone baby series, there was usually at least one adult keeping a watchful eye on the surroundings.  The Coyote above is a fine example of why they were keeping steadfast alert.  It should not be a surprise to anyone that reads this blog (or knows me personally) that Coyotes are not very popular in my parts of the woods.  We do not have Bears or Wolves in these parts of the Midwest which puts the Coyote at the top of the wildlife predator list.  This results in humans having to keep them in check or there wouldn’t be any bunnies or squirrels for counties.

Coyote on the hunt in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Hit the jump to see a couple more shots of this Coyote located out in Montana.

Continue reading Does It Spy Eyes on the Side

Don’t Be Cruel to the Mule

Sorry everyone!  I jumped the gun on my Yellowstone cleaning post.  Turns out I have a few more featured posts from Yellowstone that I had already worked up the images for.  I was combing through my post catalog and noticed there were still entries labeled as “draft”!    Nothing like doing all the work in the darkroom and then forgetting to publish them.

So, without further delay, here are some pictures of the Mule Deer hanging out in the park.

Mule Deer shot at Yellowstone National Park May 2013

Not just any Mule Deer, BABY Mule Deer.  I remember working this up for my recent offspring series.  We must have hit the season perfectly for newborns out there based on the variety of shots we came home with.  This little guy or gal was spotted across the street from where the Badger was spotted (link here).

Mule Deer shot at Yellowstone National Park May 2013

Hit the jump to view a few more shots of this young Mule Deer.

Continue reading Don’t Be Cruel to the Mule

Cleaning Out Yellowstone – Part 1

I must admit I’m mentally drained at the moment.  For the last two days, I’ve been attending a presentation skills class.  That translates to 2 days of being videotaped giving presentations, getting critiqued by the instructor and peers topped off by a self assessment by watching your video.  There’s the concept of being outside of one’s comfort zone, but stepping out to Pluto is a better analogy at this point. Now that it is over, I can say I did learned a lot (and absolutely confirmed I dislike watching myself on video!).  This will take some work to implement in the field but the hard part is over.  Since there is not much left of me at the moment, figured it was a perfect time to start clearing out the Yellowstone pictures.  Today’s post will be more of a dump of pictures that didn’t warrant their own post, but thought you might enjoy viewing the other sights found at our favorite National Park.

Let’s start with an interesting pairing.
Scenes from Yellowstone May 2013

That would be a Magpie and a Kestrel hanging out on a dead tree.  Two meat eaters enjoying the day while talking about the best ways to marinate a dead mouse.

Scenes from Yellowstone May 2013

The next bird is no stranger to this blog.  There is something about those Ravens that have always intrigued me.  Thinking it might have something to do with the wide variety of expressions they display.  Either that, or the fact they are so damn huge – and therefore have little fear when The Beast gets pointed in their direction.

Scenes from Yellowstone May 2013

So above is the stoic portrait.  Below is the classic side profile which gives an excellent view of the hairs at the base of their daunting beaks.

Scenes from Yellowstone May 2013

Hit the jump to see some more pictures from Yellowstone.

Continue reading Cleaning Out Yellowstone – Part 1

Book Recollection: BOC Got it Wrong

The Reaper

Two months into the New Year and this is the second book recollection.  What’s next, 50 degrees out on the last day of January!?!  Oh wait, it was 50 degrees out yesterday here in the Midwest.  Strange times people, strange times.   Last month I brought you a recollection of 13 Hours which recounted the attack on the military/CIA in Benghazi.  Today’s featured book also has a military theme to it.  It is the autobiography of one of the 3rd Ranger Battalion’s deadliest snipers in Afghanistan during his 3-4 month stint from May to August 2009.  The book is by Ranger Nicholas Irving along with Gary Brozer and recounts his time when he set a record for most sniper kills in a single deployment.  Apparently, Chris Kyle has the overall, but Irving has the time element.  His tally, 33 confirmed kills.  During the course of this effort, he became known as “The Reaper” by his fellow solders for his effectiveness and contribution to keeping those in harm’s way as safe as possible.

From a book perspective, it is a fairly fast read.  I liked the conversational approach to the autobiography as it is written in a manner that is easy to understand even if you have not spent time in the military.  I thought the authors did an excellent job of conveying the stress that comes with the job and just enough technical details that you feel like you are coming away a little more educated on the life of a sniper.  Having previously read Kyle’s book (link here), one thing stood out in stark contrast.  As mentioned in that review, I got a strong feeling that Chris was pretty arrogant.  Don’t get me wrong, I agree that would clearly be a byproduct of that career and possibly a requirement to accomplish what he did, but that really stuck out in that book.  Contrasting that with this book, Nicholas really put his ego on check even recounting numerous times when he had made a mistake in judgement (luckily those didn’t get him killed allowing him to learn from them instead).  He also featured his sniper mate Mike Pemberton, the interaction between them during a mission and even some of Mike’s heroic moments – him falling in an 80ft hole that extended into another 40ft of water still haunts me since it is one of my biggest fears of being confined in the dark with little hope for escape.  I refer to him as mate rather than spotter since Pemberton was as much of as shooter as he was a spotter – first time I have been exposed to that type of sniper team relationship.  In summary, I thought the book was a good read.  It was pretty fast to get through – think it took me only 5 or 6 sessions to make it through – again, the conversational feel contributes to the easy flow through the book. Hats off to Ranger Nicholas Irving for serving his country with honor!  May your government never forget your contributions or let you down if you ever encounter times of need.

Sorry, Blue Oyster Cult – you got it wrong – you need to “Fear the Reaper”.

Hit the jump to see my takeaways from the read!

Continue reading Book Recollection: BOC Got it Wrong