I am Smellin Like the Rose

Here’s a change of topics for you – how about some Reptiles!  It has been awhile since I brought out our prehistoric friends.  Think I’ve mentioned it before, but when the feathered subjects get slim I start looking for other things to occupy my shutter time.  One of the first alternatives I look for are those hard shelled inhabitants of the wetlands. This particular Red-Eared Slider Turtle was shot at Banner in March of 2012


Notice the red mark near the ear location.  Per the documentation I could find, this distinguishes it from the Painted Turtle below which is similar in shape and size, but only has the yellow markings on it.  This one was shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in March 2012.


Hit the jump to see a few more pictures … and maybe a few pictures you might not want to see.

Continue reading I am Smellin Like the Rose

A View to a Kill

So last post was a bit on the dark side.  Not sure what talk of a dirty deed done dirt cheap gets you on the parental controls scale for the web, but we here at LifeIntrigued have little regard for censorship. Be damned Mr. Rogers, bring on the dancing horses.  Actually I better be careful or they might not let me in the collegiate campus safe zone Oh No Mr. Bill.  (Note, I was trying to get Mr. Salty and Mr. Hand worked into the same paragraph but I got nuthun”.

Hell, let’s focus on another Killer!


What you see here is a stone cold devil spawn of a bird.  Murderer of many, savior to none.  Just look at those eyes, burning death, piercing stare, a witness to the bloody pools of ruin left in the wake of destruction and pillage that is sure to accompany any encounter.


“You talking about me? You talking about ME… then who the hell else are you talking”.  Lighten up Francis (or Bickle).  To be honest, it is quite possible this particular bird just got roped with a bad name.  It could be a sweet sweet bird that opens doors for little old ladies and helps the blind to see.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Killdeer.

Continue reading A View to a Kill

Hostile Waters

I’ve had this set of pictures processed and ready to go for some time now. They were actually taken at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge back in March 2015. If you are new to the blog you might be saying to yourself “Good lord that was like more than a year ago!” Contrast that with the long time reader who expressed equal excitement that “this was like yesterday compared to most of the posts here!” It’s all about perspective and that happens to be the theme for today’s post.

For the uninformed birders out there, you might look at this royal looking species and think about how regal its behavior must be as it paddles around the calm waters of the Emiquon preserve.
Mute Swan and Canada Goose at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge - April 2015

Maybe it gives the classic royal wave as it spots spectators along the shoreline exercising their index motor skills as they press on their expensive cameras.  Splendid in white with a stoic stature that reinforces those lofty expectations.  One might guess these Mute Swans are gracious to their fellow watermates , maybe even hanging out directly with the commoners to enhance the self worth of those not born into such privilege.

Mute Swan and Canada Goose at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge - April 2015

I referred to those that might hold this opinion as the uniformed.  Hit the jump to find out “the rest of the story”

Continue reading Hostile Waters

Seeing Blue

Well, since yesterday was all about seeing “Red” at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, figured it was only appropriate to add a companion post next.  I have raved about the birding hotspot near Havana ever since Linda and I visited it for the first time many many years ago.  We went down there because they had a Northern Shoveler spotted there and at the time I thought it was an extremely rare bird.  Since then I have learned that it is a pretty common bird – at least here in the Midwest.  Since then Emiquon has continually produced new birds like the Red-Breasted Merganser (see previous post, the Black-Necked Stilt, the Sora and a ton of shorebirds to name a few.  This place is truly a gem for birders.

Today I bring you another fairly common inhabitant of the flooded lowlands.
Blue-Winged Teal at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge - April 2015

That lovely creature is a male Blue-Winged Teal.  You might have been fooled by the title since it is hard to actually see the “blue” element they are named for.  They actually have what is referred to as a “slatey-blue” head.  I find this feature is difficult to really notice unless the light is just right.  What is easy to identify in the field is the thick white line between their bill and eye.

Blue-Winged Teal at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

Hit the jump to see a little more of the Blue

Continue reading Seeing Blue

Seeing Red

Everyone have one of those days when it feels like someone took a sledge hammer and smashed it against the outsides of both your thighs?  No? I expected that to be a little more common.  Anyway, that is EXACTLY how my legs feel at the moment.  I’ve got them all lathered up in BioFreeze, which is making it bearable for the moment .  My hope is another day of staying down will allow this little problem to pass (fingers crossed and rabbits feet rubbed – still on living rabbits of course).  To help pass the time, let’s talk about a surprise +1.

Red-Breasted Merganser at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge - April 2015

This little lady was shot down at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge back in April of last year – I know, based on my previous post timelines this one is like yesterday!  Good to know that my brother Ron is now experiencing what it is like to go on birding outings faster than your rate of processing.  Based on his recent California (noting that technically it wasn’t a birding outing and thus all +1’s are subject to sanctioning body validation) and Florida trips, I figure he will be in the 1 to 1.5 year delay range hehehe.

Red-Breasted Merganser at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

You might be wondering exactly what this bird is.  Even if you are an avid birder you might have come to the quick conclusion this was a Common Merganser.  That was actually my first assessment until I started looking at the details in the digital darkroom.  The coloring seemed a bit off from my field references of the Common.  Sure enough, thanks to some extra time on Cornell’s website and a host of reference books, I decided it was actually a Red-Breasted Merganser.  The main clue being the absence of the white chin sported by the female Commons.

Once again, the theory that the loner birds are the most intriguing comes true.  This is the only specimen that was in the area that day.  No other Mergansers females or males were spotted … even after the painful process of hunting through the hundreds of Coots littered about the area.

Red-Breasted Merganser at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

Eesh, out of pics already – it didn’t stay around very long at all – lucked out, right time, right place.  Better get to some quick facts before I close out this post.  I already mentioned that the Red females do not sport the white chin. Unlike the Common which spends its winters in the area, the Red is only here on its migratory path between Canada and the North American coastlines.  Probably just resting its wings a bit on its way back up to Northern Canada.  And… well, that’s about it – wow, pretty weak on the bird facts for the Red-Breasted Merganser per Cornell’s site.  They do carry the Least Concern Conservation Status so a big yeah on that one.

Apparently the first coat of BioFreeze is wearing off as indicated by the fact the underpants gnomes are once again stabbing me in the thighs with their steely knives.  Time to hobble down to the medicine cabinet and put the gnomes out of business (for at least tonight).  Catch you again real soon my friends.  Right now I’m going to take some pleasure in adding another check on the birding list.

Big thanks to Ron for also confirming the ID on this pretty lady.

The Illini Hawkeye

It’s a new month which means one thing around here at LifeIntrigued – that’s right, quota reset time.  I hope you enjoyed last month’s dedication to all things non-birding related.  If nothing else, it sure cut down on the hate mail although the pro-birding contention was starting to get a little anxious.  No worries,  I  have plenty of bird related posts in the hopper.  I am currently sitting around wondering what the final toll will be on me due to a life list achievement yesterday – more on that in an upcoming post.  For now, let’s just say – HOLY CRAP I HURT.  My pain is your win since this affords me time to crank out a new post!

Cooper's Hawk from Champaign Illinois

That happens to be a Cooper’s Hawk.  It also happens to be composed in my favorite over the shoulder look making it one of my favorite shots of this cool bird of prey.  This particular Cooper was quite the Zoolander, hamming it up for The Beast.  Oh, and it can go left.

Cooper's Hawk from Champaign Illinois

Most of the time I have to hunt down the bird fodder.  Instead, this specimen found me in Champaign, IL last year.  I was actually there adding the super cool Swallow Tailed Kite to my birding list (link here). I’ll never forget the enjoyment watching that Kite soar overhead.  Eventually it would take a wide circle out of our viewing area giving some down time to mingle with the other birders that had gathered that day.  That is when this Hawk came flying in and perched across the street from us.  Cameras up, shutters clicking.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Cooper’s Hawk.

Continue reading The Illini Hawkeye