The Trail of Sweat

Greetings from the road you all.  Linda and I are out on another photography trip in hopes of filling up are coffers for future blog material.  Hoping for the best, but so far it has been brutally hot which is likely why the bird opportunities are fairly slim at the moment.  As we head to our next location, thought I’d finally get around to recounting my new adventure in running.  In a few posts leading up to now, I allude to something new and likely difficult coming up.  Well, that time has come and evident by the fact I can still post about it – survived.
Blue Chevy Trail Classic Half Marathon, Farmdale Reservoir IL May 2018

I’ve been running on the road for 16 years straight now.  I remember the day distinctly when I had to admit to myself that the injuries were occurring faster than I could recover in my martial arts activities.  Having done that for so many years, it was tough to give that physical activity up, then Linda came to the rescue.  She told me about the Bix Race up in Davenport Iowa.  Sounded like a challenge so I bought some running shoes and ran all the way down my driveway and back (a bit longer than you might think, but still extremely short).  From that tired and winded effort, I added distance religiously until I could make it through the 7 miles in the hills.  In a little less than a month, I’ll but doing it again for the 16th year in a row, but now that distance seems short having complete a marathon and more half marathons than I can count.

Blue Chevy Trail Classic Half Marathon, Farmdale Reservoir IL May 2018

Hit the jump to learn about the new challenge I’ve recently conquered.

Continue reading The Trail of Sweat

A Green Double Take

My Cardinals just blew another late inning lead for the loss.  Rather than sit her and seethe through the post game excuses, decided to simply turn off the source of my frustration and immerse myself in another blog post.  Bring a bit of calm to my night and productivity at the same moment – can’t beat that… well you could if those damn Cardinals could keep it together… calming breadth, serenity now, puppies… okay, back under control.  Thought I’d simply keep the theme from the last post going and feature another Heron family member.

Green Heron encountered at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

Today’s effort is a combination post consisting of the same species, at the same spot, but a year apart.  These first few shots were taken a little less than 6 months ago at the South Padre Bird Viewing and Nature Center.   The Green Heron is not a new bird on my list – in fact it was featured all the way back in September 2012 (link here).  Ironically the specimen back in 2012 was just down the road from our house in a state park.  Seems like a bit of an overkill to drive all the way down to the tip of Texas to see the same species hehehe.

Green Heron encountered at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

Hit the return to see a few more shots of the Green Heron

Continue reading A Green Double Take

Keep Them Doggies Movin’, Rawhide

First off, wanted to extend best wishes to fellow blogger Paula who is paddling her way through some rough patches at the moment.  Stay Strong!

Ever have one of those things that seems to always be just out of reach.  Maybe it’s a running distance that is just beyond a wall you keep hitting, perhaps a butterfly that seems to be everyplace you are not, or, as in my case, it’s a bird that you just can’t get in the tin for one reason or another.  If so, I feel your pain.  Don’t get down, think of it as a challenge, keep working it and eventually things will fall into place.

Cattle Egret shot at Rockport, Texas in December 2017

This happened with my first nemesis bird, the Hooded Merganser (link here).  That duck was constantly getting reported on various bird tracking sites all around me … and by around, I mean never where I was.  Increasing the frustration is Ron already had this checked on his list.  If you recall, Ron and I recently went after a Ross’ Goose and came up empty.  Surprise, surprise, we found the Hoodie instead.  This unexpected scenario played out on our trip down the Texas Gulf Coast over our recent Christmas holiday.

Cattle Egret shot at Rockport, Texas in December 2017

Hit the jump to find out more about this cute little bird

Continue reading Keep Them Doggies Movin’, Rawhide

Rednosed Reedbird

Welcome to race day eve.  Tomorrow the alarm will ring at 4:45am to signal the start of another day of racing.  Fortunately, this one is a slight downgrade from the half to a 15K – now, for the record, it is the toughest 15K in Illinois thanks in part to a repeat loop with a wicked hill.  That doesn’t concern me much thanks to a lot of hill work during training, but what does concern me is that two word weather term HEAT INDEX.  Earlier this week the night temps dropped into the high sixties.  No luck keeping that around.  The heat index is supposed to get around 105F.  Wish me luck, ever since the heat stroke episode, my internal thermostat has been very touchy.  Always helps me to relax to sit down and get a post out.

Common Gallinule found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

Unlike the  bulk of the posts lately (more like this year), the featured waterbird is not a new bird for my list.  Nope, they were previously featured not once, but twice here already (link here and here).  Not to mention, every time I see this bird the first thing that pops into my head is the image of my brother Ron trying to get into a good position to get a picture of one only to end up falling halfway down a large embankment and rolling to the bottom.  Think my laughter ended up scaring the bird and for all that work, nothing to show in the tin – although a memory to last a lifetime.

Common Gallinule found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

Hit the jump to read more about this red nosed bird (apparently heavy drinkers ha)

Continue reading Rednosed Reedbird

Little Miss Green

Sometimes adversity results in finding yourself balled up on the floor trying to keep your eyes from floating out of their sockets (so people tell me).  Of course, then there are difficult situations that turn out to be opportunities in disguise.  Now the latter I have experienced multiple times and that includes this week!  I’ve mentioned recently that my days and nights are packed at the moment with work and training devouring the few chances I have to get my posts out.  The month was churning away and my quota counter wasn’t moving nearly fast enough.  Decided to forego some sleep last night and get back into the digital darkroom and work some images up.  At least with the most time consuming part out of the way, I could find smaller chunks of time to get something out there for you.  While combing through my image cache, a pleasant surprise greeted me.

Green Kingfisher encountered at South Padre Island Nature and Bird Viewing Center, Texas in December 2017

Turns out I had somehow overlooked a number of additional discoveries on our recent Texas trip over the Christmas holidays.  One of those discoveries was this beautiful specimen.  I think one of the brain fog contributing factors was my Audubon Chapter speech earlier in the year.  Most of my blog posts were in preparation for that talk.  Must have gotten confused thinking the work up of images for that presentation had already been posted here.  A quick search of the blog came up empty – long story short(er), this cool looking Green Kingfisher was inadvertently skipped.   So glad this was found, this Kingfisher is one of my favorite finds from the trip to South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center.

Green Kingfisher encountered at South Padre Island Nature and Bird Viewing Center, Texas in December 2017

Continue reading Little Miss Green

One Goose, Two Goose, 10,000 Geese

I’m finally back!  Been struggling to get time to feed the blog thanks to an incredibly busy schedule.  When I am not trying to keep the acreage from getting too far out of control I’m out pounding the asphalt and now dirt trails to prepare for fast approaching races – in between that is honey-do’s about a mile long.  Luckily was able to give my other blog a bit of love and posted some recollections of recent races and readings.  More disappointing is how far I’ve fallen behind in reading the outputs of my fellow blogging friends.  If there was only a way to write and read posts while out on training runs – ha.  In an effort to try and right this ship, thought tonight’s post will focus on 10’s of thousands of these…

Snow Geese massing at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas in January 2018

Well, admittedly, that shot doesn’t really give the full effect of the experience.  It does give a better view of what made up this huge flock of birds we saw on our trip down to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge along the Texas Gulf Coast over Christmas break 2017.  If you recall, our first unique encounter this year at Anahuac was the Zebra (link here).  Kind of hard to really top a creature more commonly seen at the Serengeti National Park than off the Gulf of Texas.  However, a close second had to be witnessing one of the largest massing of birds I’ve ever encountered.  Apparently those three Snow Geese above have a VERY large number of friends and relatives who flew in for the holidays.

Snow Geese massing at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas in January 2018

Continue reading One Goose, Two Goose, 10,000 Geese

A Better Man than Me

Left Standing by Mason WellsIt may not seem like I have been reading a lot purely based on my blog output as of late.  Truth is, I have been reading a lot, just having troubles finding time to actually write about it.  There are actually three books that have already been read just  sitting on my desk waiting for me to take the time to write up a recollection.  That isn’t even including the featured book for today’s post.  The main reason this one is ready is thanks to it being a dog show weekend giving me some down time to write up the takeaways.  At this rate, thinking the others might make it sometime around, oh well, let’s go with October.  Featured today is a book Left Standing: The Miraculous Story of How Mason Wells’s Faith Survived the Boston, Paris and Brussels Terror Attacks by Mason Wells, Tyler Beddoes and Billy Hallowell.  It is a bit of a departure for me.  Although it is a book that focuses on the evils that exist in the world.  Okay, that part isn’t the departure point, but this read was about how faith allowed Mason Wells to come to terms with being either near or directly involved with three terror attacks – the Boston Marathon bombing, the Paris terror attack and in the middle of the Brussels airport bombing.  Think I heard about it from an interview Hannity did with the author.  Sounded interesting enough to spend some time with it (around 160 large spaced pages made for a quick two night read).  From a summary perspective it had a bit more on the faith element and less on the terror survival aspect that I would have preferred.  From a survival perspective, he was technically at or near the Boston and the Paris attacks, but surviving feels like a stretch.  Now, the Brussell’s airport, no doubt about it.  He was severely maimed in that ordeal being at the heart of the blast while standing in the check-in line.  This left him severely injured requiring seven surgeries, three hundred stitches, two hundred staples and several skin bandage changes   All of this and he was still able to deliver on his childhood dream of entering the Naval Academy and serving his country.  Always admire individuals who overcome adversity and reach their goals (one of the reasons this book sounded intriguing).  Turns out Mason was at this tragedy while on his missionary work for his Mormon faith.  Through all these trails, Mason believed his God had a plan for him and he accepted and made the decision difficult decision to follow it.  The stunning aspect, it is his faith that allowed him to forgive those that perpetrated these acts of barbarianism.  For this I’ve determined that Mason is truly a better man than I.  If there is one fault that I readily admit to, it’s my lack of compassion for those that want to initiate harm upon others.  My “bad list” are well known by those that know me – make it on that list and you might be able to make amends to get off, but you will never be forgotten.  Hard pressed to believe that turning the other cheek is the appropriate response when it comes to terror.  There are instances when you just need to cut the cancer out.

Hit the jump for my takeaways.

Continue reading A Better Man than Me