The Song Does Not Remain the Same

Well, I was supposed to get this post out last night.  Clearly, that didn’t happen ironically due to completely losing track of time while I was banging away on the skins -eh, more like Kevlar mesh on my electronic drum set.  Second only to running, one of the few things I enjoy sweating my ass doing for hours and hours.  A great way to log some cardio and eliminate all your stress – win win in by book.  Why the irony?  Yesterday’s post intended to feature the patron bird of every band.

Song Sparrow found at Chain O' Lakes State Park in June 2019

Yep, that’s the Song Sparrow!  Somehow managed to get 10 posts out in July between the wild side here and the mothership blowing my self-imposed 6 posts a month goal right out of the water.  Long live being a slave to the grind ha.  Guessing you might not have noticed, but I’ve been featuring pretty much fresh content – as in shots taken this year – almost exclusively.  Still means the backlog is growing older and older, but at least trying to stay on top of the new stuff (which I’ve barely even begun to scratch thanks to the Texas and then the Alabama Gulf Shores trips).  Wanted to go a bit deeper into the queue and pop a few of those off while up for the month – that was the plan.

Song Sparrow found at Chain O' Lakes State Park in June 2019

Hit the jump to read more about our musical friend.

Continue reading The Song Does Not Remain the Same

Dragons and Bluebirds

My friend Brad M. hung up the daily grind at the same time I did. He mentioned he was beginning to forget what day of the week it was. I haven’t gotten to that point yet, but very close – one thing for sure, I am adapting faster than I thought would happen. Getting stuff checked off my to-do list at a record pace and once the holiday decorating is completed (looks like Hallmark threw up in our living room which is complete with a >12 foot Xmas tree hehehe), I can start researching target birds for our upcoming trip. With that said, I did notice one thing that seemed different – clipped a root and took a nasty impact running the trails the other day. Typically I bounce like Tigger and carry on. I had to collect myself for a minute this time, remember where/who I was and topped it off with a nice bruise after the run. Not liking that aspect at all! On a happier note, I mentioned what a wonderful send-off I had and the video they had made for me. After several attempts to upload to our gallery and help from Ron who converted the video for me (only to have Smugmug convert it back ugh), I finally got it rendered correctly. Thought I would share it with you – absolutely love it – on the other hand, Linda is getting tired of me playing it all the time hehehe.

Guessing you are really here to see wildlife! During the last post I mentioned the House Wren has a tendency to take over bird houses intended for our local Eastern Bluebirds. I try not to play favorites too much beyond my well documented dislike for the Brown-Headed Asshats (link here) and those damn Blue Jays. Whoever gets there first and able to defend it wins the house in my book. Except the Wrens need to start putting down a deposit if they take over my replacement birdhouse as they have proven to be lacking on the upkeep responsibilities.

Eastern Bluebird found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in April 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our colorful backyard bird.

Continue reading Dragons and Bluebirds

Wax Not Out

Well folks, I have officially unofficially entered in a new phase of my life as of 4:00pm today. I say unofficially in the sense I am still employed, but on permanent vacation until February 1st of 2021 until it becomes technically official. So I still have my work computer and will still help my colleagues out if they come calling in an emergency – I do not expect that to really happen as I’ve been training my replacement since May and he along with the rest of my coworkers are plenty capable of dealing with the day to day decisions that come with the job. That means yours truly has a lot more time on his hands for those tasks that have been neglected over the years – not to mention a honey-do list that was apparently started from what I can tell at least 5 years ago. She was nice enough not to hand the ream of paper into about 4:03pm ha. No worries, I promise to find some time to get my posts out. I had intended to give you a link to a gift I was given during my work send-off happy hour. After about 2 hours of fighting to get it to properly process on Smugmug I had to give up (hey, I’m on tight retirement schedule!). Anyway, it was a personal retirement goodbye from a Mr. James Faulkner or should I say Randyll Tarley from Game of Thrones. As someone who happens to be a big fan of GoT, I have to admit.. that was awesome. In fact, the entire celebration was wonderful – The memories – they highlighted the funny and embarrassing ones of course – and seeing everyone’s faces was truly overwhelming. As I had predicted in a previous post..incredibly emotional. Told my wife afterwards I had to retire now as I couldn’t possibly go through that again. We’ll see how life after work goes. For now, let’s get this kicked off on the right foot and get straight to our featured feathered friend of the day.

Cedar Waxwing found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in June 2017

Thought I’d bring you a bit of color in celebration of the day. It has been pretty miserable around here weather-wise as of late with cold winds, a dusting of snow and pretty much 3 days of overcast and rain so far – probably all the tears I was trying to hold back during the celebration. For those not familiar with our brightly feathered friend, it is a Cedar Waxwing. One of the few really colorful birds that hang around in our region through the cold seasons. We do have the Northern Cardinal and that ass of a bird the Blue Jay which definitely add color to the dreary winter backdrop where the other brightly feathered birds like the American Goldfinch put on their dull coats for the chilly season.

Cedar Waxwing found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in June 2017

Hit the jump to learn a bit more about our smartly colorful friend!

Continue reading Wax Not Out

Electric Bananas

Greetings everyone!  Apologies, as it has been a bit since we last met.  There are a number of reasons for that with the primary one being we are dangerously close to Halloween which translates to a very busy Bri.  The joke around here is we take a day off to actually celebrate Halloween and show off the latest additions and then we are back in the lab designing, building and wiring the new props for next year’s Haunted Trail of Tears. My 3D printer has been going nonstop and I’m currently up to my eyeballs in wire, servos, Arduinos and a bevy of linkages that would make any mechanical engineer envious.  That doesn’t mean I get to forget about my commitment to my readers so how about a little Yellow for today.

Yellow Warbler found at Chain O' Lakes State Park in June 2019

Quite the “electrical banana” of you will pardon a reference to maybe one of the worst songs every written or produced.  Not exactly the best reference as Donovan was apparently referring to the ladies where these first few shots are of the male Yellow Warbler.  What do you say we all go in on a petition to rename this brightly colored species the Banana Warbler – upside is it will bypass all the current uproar over birds named after southern references.

Yellow Warbler found at Chain O' Lakes State Park in June 2019

Hit the jump to see a few more shots our brightly colored Warbler.

Continue reading Electric Bananas

Parental Tutelage

Greetings everyone!  Hope you enjoyed my last post on the Sandhill Crane Colts – hopefully at least got some pleasure out of seeing the draw dropping cuteness produced by our wilder cohabitants.  Ron mentioned it in his comment, but I received a bit of sad news from the Chain O’ Lakes State Park ranger the day I wrote that post.  If you recall, we were up there camping over the weekend with the goal to get some birding in.  Like clockwork, my favorite Sandhill Crane couple were out an about.  Yes, that same couple that produced the Colts featured in the last post.  Now for the depressing news, this year, no Colts.  Just the two of them foraging alone on the side of the road.  A ranger happened to drive up while I was standing there admiring them – no camera, just enjoying the moment for a change.  During our quick chat he informed me none of the Crane pairs had Colts this year. The current thinking is the huge amount of rain and flooding destroyed the nests/eggs.  That news brought some definite sadness as I was looking forward to photographing the latest additions.

Sandhill Crane Family shot at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL in June 2017

Nature does what nature does – at least I have the images and memories from our previous encounters.  I also gave a foreshadowing of today’s topic in the previous writing.  Animal behavior fascinates me and I am on the constant lookout for interesting interactions while out in the field.  Whether it’s an intra-species interaction or inter-species encounters (link here) or maybe intriguing relationship with humans (link here) – nothing keeps me more entertained than learning from these engagements, trying to predict behavior and more critical .. trying to get it in the tin.

Sandhill Crane Family shot at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL in June 2017

Hit the jump to experience some Crane behavior.

Continue reading Parental Tutelage

Death Dealers

Welcome to May everyone!  I can’t believe we are 5 months into double 20.  Part of the problem is as a runner I mark time by races.  How many days/weeks can I get training runs in until the next race, race day, how many days to allow for recovery and then how many days to the next race and on it goes until late October when I finally call it a season and try to assess and repair the damage.  Obviously, my races have been victimized by the invisible enemy that sounds more like having a beer on a Mexican beach than a shelter in place catalyst.  What’s next, Murder Hornets!?! – oh crap, this year is just getting worse and worse.  The good news is I’ve been hitting the trails and pavements and checked off a half two weekends in a row – in spite of still fighting some back issues which for some reason decided to nag me today (must be the rain).  Now we just need  some races to open up in order to add medals to the brag wall.  There is a small silver lining to all this – plenty of opportunity to work on the image queue.

Tree Swallow shot at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in April 2017

Yep, when I’m not soldering up some new mechanics for Halloween (a mere 5 months away, yikes), Lightroom is up popping shots off the 3 year backlog.  This set comes to us courtesy of Chain O’ Lakes State Park up in Spring Grove IL back in 2017.  The last two shots in the series were taken in June where the rest were taken a few months earlier in April.  Second to my primary training park down the road (Jubilee State Park), Chain O’ Lakes is a wonderful place.  A nice campground for a State Park with plenty of trails for running, hiking and yes, BIRDING.  It also happens to be conveniently located between Ron and I to spend some time together.

Tree Swallow shot at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in April 2017

Hit the jump to see more of Mr. Bunny Tail Breast.

Continue reading Death Dealers

Good to be the King

It appears this may be an apex week for the virus in the States.  Based on the numbers I am seeing there appears to be some nuance of stabilization in the hospital numbers which seems right as I am pretty convinced the models that are being applied are way over estimated.  I’ll spare you my soapbox regarding social distancing in urban cities equating to invasion of personal space for those of us naturally separated by 10’s of acres out in the country.  Instead, I’ll continue to build my birding confidence back with another fairly easily identified feathered friend.

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in April 2017

Hit the jump to reveal a secret about this little guy.

Continue reading Good to be the King