Body hurts, eyes red and very exhausted, I must be in Sin City! Most of that condition is due to non-stop birding since we arrived – the rest of the time, well, as the say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. The birding front has been incredible. Already +22 for the Average Year (link here – not updated yet) with a number of lifers in the mix, all of which will assuredly be featured here sometime in the future. Meanwhile, I wanted to get the 2nd part of Brad’s Yellowstone adventure out to you.
Take it away Brad…
In the last episode our intrepid travelers had arrived in Yellowstone National Park in June. It was June . . . remember that. There was a blizzard on the first night. They scraped snow from cars, endured closed roads, saw geysers, bison, birds, rotten egg smells, etc.
Now you are up to date. Time to continue on after our second of three nights in the park. This is our last full day at Yellowstone. Here’s the map to help set the stage again. (It’s a big one a takes a few seconds to open.)
It is still mid-June in Yellowstone. Another 4” of new snow fell overnight (second night in a row) at Lake Lodge, though much more snow fell in the higher elevations. Again. All of the park roads were closed until about 10am. When some of the roads were finally opened and the car was cleared of snow (same benefit card snow scraper) we headed to Fishing Bridge a few miles up the road. However, when we arrived, there was only one car in sight with the ranger inside her car frantically waving and yelling for us to stay in our car. After about 10 minutes, she came out of the car to check the area. She motioned it was OK for us to get out now. We learned she was in her car because a grizzly sow and her cub had ambled through about 30 seconds before we arrived. Their tracks were still visible in the early morning snow.
We walked out onto Fishing Bridge to get a view up and down the waterline. We’d only been there a few moments when this pair of American white pelicans went flying by.
Hit the jump to learn more about Brad’s Yellowstone adventure.
Greetings all once again! Starting to get in the groove of the new year now that the “Ron Owes Me Bigly” mission is coming to closure – not the “owes me” part, rather the initial mission part. He’s in the midst of doing some packing, but I am sure as soon as that settles down, he will be getting those fingers oiled up and letting everyone know about said mission in due time… nudge, nudge. Meanwhile my immediate mission is to get the photo queue whittled down a bit.
Thought I’d go ahead and get the big boys out of the way – well, at least some of the pictures in the hopper of the American White Pelican. Whitey is one of those species we have easy access to in the heartland. Cornell documents their regional map as breeders across our northern border and spotty locations in the west with a wintering destination along our southern border. Then they got out their yellow crayon and colored everything in between for migration. Truth is, we can find this full-bodied birds patrolling our waterways pretty regularly outside of the dead of winter.
Hit the jump to read and see a bit more about this tank of a bird.
Other than a likely case of hopefully temporary ear damage we successfully made it through the first night of bands at the Mississippi Valley State Fair beer tents. As mentioned last post we are playing groupie this weekend and checking out some new local bands and of course our long time favorite Love Dogs who will be taking the stage later tonight. Just as a quick summary and to add to my memory banks when I’m old(er) and wondering where the hell all those years went – the Sugar Nipples ended up being a band with a “named” band than they turned out to be. We have visions of them being similar to our favorite Vegas band Steel Panther but they fell short. The capper was when they started repeating songs to fill the gap before the AC/DC tribute band Electric Shock came on. Luckily shock ended up being really really good … if you like AC/DC classic sets. One of my biggest accomplishments in life was converting Linda from country to real music. We have traveled to several AC/DC concerts and our bar was set extremely high of someone wanting to monetize off their name. Beyond some lead riff mistakes, Shock pulled off an excellent job. The lead singer had the vocals down and imagine a 5’2″ Angus complete with school boy outfit shredding away the night for 2 hrs. Oh, and he was from Australia and had devoted most of his life to exactly reproducing the abilities and styles of his mate from the home country. Would recommend warming up a bit before tackling a song that starts out with such a hard solo – he eventually settled in or the alcohol compensated as the night progressed. Can’t wait until tonight, and guessing you can’t wait to get to the meat of this post!
Yes, once again featuring a bird from the backlog. This one is slightly different though – the last one came to you courtesy of 2015 where this one, with a sigh, comes to you from the wayback machine of February 2014. Wait a minute, “where the hell did all those years go”. Noting how much grief my brother Ron gave me for being 2 years behind, can’t wait for the comments when he sees I am 4 years in lag.
Hit the jump to see and read more about these bundles of white feathers!
Fresh off a huge win for the Green Bay Packers over American’s team the Dallas Cowboys. This was one of those strange games where it didn’t really bother me who won the game. I have a lot of respect for Aaron Rogers both in the way he plays the game and probably more important how he handles himself on the field – calm cool and just goes about the business of winning even when the chips are stacked against. On the other side I have similar respect for Tony Romo. A fine product out of Eastern Illinois, but he was on the sidelines today watching his rookie replacement Dak Prescott. Dak has impressed me as well, especially the way he has taken over the reins since Romo’s injury. With admiration for elements of both teams I have to look for the negatives to determine my favored side. Front and center Dez Bryant. ‘Nuff said, go Pack!
Decided to catch a bit of the Steelers vs Chiefs game and since I cannot just sit and watch a game (what a waste of time), figured it would be a good time to pop another post off of the draft queue. Since I went with the Brown Pelicans in the last post, figured it was only fair to give a little love to their white counterparts.
Unlike the Brown Pelicans in the Texas region, American White Pelicans are not year round inhabitants. They migrate down from the colder regions to bask in the sun like the rest of us heat seekers. Thanks to Robert who was giving birding talks at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Linda and I now know an interesting fact. White Pelicans are the largest birds in the region … when they are down there. When they migrate back, the Brown Pelican inherits the top of the size chart. In jest, that tidbit became our mantra for the rest of the trip repeated at every sighting of the Pelican. This was generally prompted by Linda who basically doubled her bird knowledge thanks to that informative comment from the local bird authority. If we had more time we might have taken Robert up on one of his birding talks – seemed like he was up on his aviary facts and the details on what all the local restaurants were doing for New Year’s.
Since the Whites are pretty common here in the Midwest I didn’t spend a lot of time getting new shots in the tin – just took a few that I thought were interesting. Wish I could tell you where we took these, but my memory is failing me at the moment – these were taken back in November 2013. My guess is somewhere in the Galveston area or possibly off the shore in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. That is the downsize of having such a backed up photo queue and an aging brain.
Before I let you go, it might be worth mentioning that neither one of these two White Pelicans were breeding – neither one are sporting the large knob that protrudes off the top of their bill (about 2/3rds the way down) signifying they are a breeding adult. Admittedly a crappy picture, but you can see what it looks like in a previous post (link here). Also note, the more dusky one in the back is likely a juvenile.
Just a quick post today folks, catch you again real soon.
I hardy hello to all my readers out there! It’s a new month and time to get going on my posts wouldn’t ya say? I was planning to get some pre-work done on a future post today while at our dog’s Agility Trial. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen because I ended up taking pictures all day instead. The good news is I already had another bird set ready to go. Actually multiple water fowl earned the post spot today. I’m going to start with one that apparently got the short straw when it came to appearance draws. I’m talking about the American White Pelican.
I spotted this one contently paddling along a small river while on our Yellowstone trip. The growth on his beak signifies this is a breeding male. Luckily the chicks apparently dig this blemish and is used in their courtship (no, I don’t want to know how) as well as ritualized combat. While looking through the lens at this guy, all I could think of was one of my favorite scenes from Uncle Buck when John Candy (rest in peace) lit into the grade school teacher because his niece was characterized as a sillyheart. Maybe he meant a MUSKRAT (dundun dun dun… blog teaser…).
I was actually disappointed I did not get to see him fish. At a later time on that trip, I came upon a couple of them out in a marshy lake.
Apparently this is their preferred setting. It is actually a pretty nice picture with the deep color in the trees contrasted against the bright white of the pelicans. I had to shrink it down significantly which resulted in losing some of its visual. Let me bring it in a little for you.
As you can tell (even with the zoom fuzz residuals) that it is another breeding male with likely his trophy wife. Once again I was unable to witness any fishing activity which sounds pretty interesting. In one of the descriptions in the bird guide, they described the technique. They work in groups to herd prey into shallow water or they ease into a school of feeding fish gulping ones that stray close to the surface. This description did not align with the settings I took these shots based on the most I found together was TWO.
Hit the jump to see two more birds being featured today, the Goldeneye and the Canadian Goose