Welcome to February everyone! Not sure how to feel about that yet. On one hand glad to be past the worst of the Polar Vortex which will hopefully allow me to get off that instrument from hell … the treadmill. On the flip side, I am officially one month closer to the 50K which translates to one notch higher on the stressometer. Oh, it also means the post counter goes back to zero so make that two notches on the stressometer. The best way to keep that under control is to start early and that means not a moment to spare. Let’s go back to the spoils from the Vegas trip last November.
This particular specimen is referred to as a Cinnamon Teal. Not a big stretch to guess how this Teal got its name. Linda and I were nearing the completion of the pond circuit at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve when we noticed an individual pointing above average glass towards the corner of a nearby pond. Talk about a dog whistle for photographers. We slowly made our way over there being very careful not to disturb whatever he was focused on. Eventually I made it to a point where I could see the area of water that was holding his attention. Excitement dimmed just a a bit as his rapid-fire shutter was waving at a Snowy Egret hanging out near the edge of the water. Don’t get me wrong, Egrets are pretty cool, but if there is one sure bet you are going to see at Henderson, it’s a Snowie. Out of courtesy, we hung back until he was satisfied with his shots – not sure he ever knew we were there.
Continue reading Cinnamon Water
Greetings from the Midwest Tundra. It is currently -7F not including windchill and I am pretty sure that is close to when appendages start falling off. Tonight the first lunar eclipse took place over a supermoon. Thanks to Ron reminding me, I managed to get out and witness it – actually that reads as if I put a lot of effort into it. We were heading back from a night out, stepped out of the car when we got back to the house and looked up. There it was, only a sliver left and radiating the blood moon hues. Thought about getting the Beast and snapping a few shots to share on the blog. Then my nose, ears and a thumb fell off. Decided to pass on that idea – sorry everyone. To our credit, I did help Linda with a photoshoot in the early morning. Her client wanted pictures of her three dogs in the 5″ of fresh powder we received yesterday (on top of the 12″ we already had). Think it was a balmy 5F out then, which was enough to put a serious sting in the fingers. They say positive thoughts can get you through uncomfortable times. Time to click our heels three times and entertain visions from the desert.
Hit the jump to read a bit more about this desert songbird.
Continue reading A Dash of Yellow in the Desert
How is this for a weird experience? I mentioned a few posts back that I was recovering from a back injury, but I didn’t go into too many details. Now that I am completely healed from it, thought I’d loop everyone into a bizarre injury that had me pretty worried. The last thing I need when training for a 50K event is to have an injury – especially in such a critical area. Usually On Sundays, some friends and I do long training runs on a hilly nightmare of a course through a local cemetery (figure they can bury us where we drop). A few weeks ago we were taking on the course in pretty warm weather for an early January day – mid 40’s accompanied with a strong wind. Decided I was too layered up for the conditions so took my Gore-Tex coat off, removed a layer and put the outer shell back on (important tidbit for later). Although a rocky and uneven course, we know every square inch of it – no slips, bobbles or wobbles occurred up to mile two. That is when I felt something pierce my lower back. I noted the strange feeling to my friend and kept on running – quirks and pains happen all the time – runners learn to ignore them because they almost always work themselves out. 2 more miles and my hips started seizing up. 2 more miles and serious pain started radiating from the lower back. 3 miles later we were back at the car and I was trying to figure out a way to stand without letting my friends see any hint of tears. 30 minute drive home and I couldn’t move without a knife twisting in my spine. Most concerning was a 5×8 inch badly swollen red bulge near where the initial stab was felt. All I could think about was the setback to the 50K training (goals are not taken lightly around Intrigued). For brevity, will skip to the juicy part. Got into my doctor the following day – explained the story above preparing myself for the herniated disk diagnosis. Was not expecting the doctor to hypothesize that it sounded like a spider bite. The recluse would have destroyed skin by now, so they speculated Black Widow, grabbed a magnifying glass and went to work finding the holes. Good news, not a Widow, instead they pulled a stinger out of my spine what I imagined to be the size of this bird’s bill.
Not sure who was surprised more, the doctor or me. Apparently a dagger wielding demon of an insect decided to unload all the venom it had a few inches up from my waistline and directly into the center of my spine. From there it traveled my nerve network down into the in the hips and up the back causing the lockup. Remember, this is the first week of January – those things are supposed to have died off or went into hibernation. No way it stung through the outer running shell. We have come to the conclusion that a wasp,hornet,large ass bee or possibly a Tarantula Hawk (link here) sneaked into the coat when I was removing the layer, panicked at mile two and unloaded everything it had into the spine – I could see a blood spot on the base layer next to the skin. The good news is 5 days of steroids had me back on the trails this morning running in 5″ of snow. I bet I know what you are thinking right about now – what the hell kind of bird is that?
Hit the jump to find out!
Continue reading Purple Shimmers in the Desert
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas We lucked out here in the Midwest and managed to pull off a white Christmas thanks to around 4 inches of snow on Christmas Eve. I think it just makes it a little more special when you can open your presents surrounded by a fresh batch of the fluffy stuff. What I wasn’t ready for was the deep freeze that followed immediately after. We really didn’t have a Fall so my body hasn’t really conditioned to cold. From the looks of it, this polar vortex is going to be hanging around for a while. Lucky for me I can always recall (and share) memories of warmer times.
Today’s post features another +1 in my North American Birding List. They also come from two locations that are both definitely warmer than what we are experiencing now. The first set of pictures came from a trip back in August 2013 to Las Vegas, Nevada. If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you probably read Las Vegas and immediately thought Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. If you are new to the blog, that preserve is a gold mine for birders. I should sum up all the +1’s I’ve pulled out of that location – guessing it is somewhere in the 30’s if not the 40’s.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the American Avocet
Continue reading Cyrano de Water
First off, my heartfelt appreciation goes out today on Memorial Day for all those heroes that have lost their lives protecting our citizens as well as those abroad so that was may live in the safety we often times take for granted. I also want to extend a big thank you to those that continue to serve out country on a daily basis. Thank you
Today’s post officially completes my monthly quota (did I just hear kazoos and fireworks!?!) Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to do a little birding with my brother Ron up in Montrose on the Chicago lakefront. For those not aware of that incredible birding place, you need to get up there during the migration and get yourself a whole bunch of checks in your North American birding list – especially in the Warbler category. I do not want to give away the fruits of that labor yet, but let’s just say it was worth the drive!
Keeping with that Warbler theme, thought it would be nice to continue with this…
Now, this particular one wasn’t found three hours to our North. Nope, this one ended up requiring a 4 hour flight to the West to get in the tin. To be specific, these shots were taken back in December 2014 while on a quick trip to Las Vegas. Bet you went soft thanks to recent posts thinking I was going to continue the trend of putting more recent stuff on here. Unfortunately, not.
Hit the jump to find out what this bird is and view a few more pictures.
Continue reading Orange You Glad You Found Me
Just got done making another Halloween run. Was able to pick up some very nice posable skeletons at Target reasonably priced. I will have to watch those and pick up a few more when then go on sale after the season is over … unless they sell out.. maybe I should go pick some up later tonight hehehehe. A quick run through the Party City store netted some nice pieces for a scene I was planning along with some silhouettes for a new idea that looks promising – not sure if there is enough time though. Finally another stop at Menards to buy, you guessed it, more PVC pipe and connectors. Also picked up a 4×8 sheet of foam as backing for the idea above. The credit card was smoking tonight, but it’s my personal Christmas and one of the few times we (rather I) pull out the splurge word. Now on our way back home. Hate to waste time so popped open the laptop and went to work on the last post for the month. You have no idea how much of a relief it will be to close this month out.
Going to shift a bit from Texas on this post and bring you shots from another trip that we took earlier that year.
Specifically, we headed out to Las Vegas in August of 2013 – yes, that would officially be over three years ago so a new low point in my posting queue… actually to be technically correct, that would be a new HIGH point in my posting queue. My queue pushes are exceeding my queue pops. If only there was a for-loop for writing posts and then that sucker would be drained in no time. While out in Vegas we managed to drop on over to our favorite bird photography hangout – the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. Any frequent visitor to this blog will know the magnitude of check marks that site has added to my bird list. This trip once again delivered some great viewing opportunities including this alcohol guzzling creature.
Hit the jump to view a few more pictures of this red-faced dabbler.
Continue reading Red Faced in Vegas
Greetings everyone from the blistering hot Midwest. It’s been a tad on the bake side as of late – not so much the actual temps since those have been ranging in the high 80’s to low 90’s, but the feels like temperature has been a test for the internal thermostat. Ever since my heat stroke episode (link here), my body has had the nasty habit of panicking whenever it thinks it is going to overheat. It is kind of intriguing in the sense I’ll be running along in one of my training runs and all of a sudden I’ll go from expected levels of sweat to totally soaked. The doctors warned me about this happening and I’ve been trying hard to get it reset. The only way to do that is to keep at it – it is definitely better in the sense it is taking longer at higher temps now before the panic sets in (for the last couple of runs the feels like temp has been tipping the hundred mark). The Bix 7 race is always a good test of your cooling mechanics since that is traditionally as hot as it gets for the running circuit. A week to go before that race so fingers are crossed. In the meantime, I’m sitting here in the air conditioning at a dog show getting a few posts out of the way.
Today’s featured critter falls under the category of “Cute as hell!”
This ball of fur was just hanging out under some trees enjoying a hot Nevada day at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. Taking it all in, clearly too young and carefree to realize the dangers it will face in the coming years from all the predators that lurk about the area. In case you do not know your bunnies (and not talking about the ones on the top shelf of your local magazine store), this is a young Jackrabbit. They have actually been featured previously on the blog because… say it with me – they are just too damn cute to ignore (link here). Pretty sure it is the long ears, or fluffy tail or maybe the large round eyes or that button nose … or more likely the fact that all those characteristics reside on a single creature that make them irresistible. Unlike most animals, these Jackrabbits are not just adorable when they are babies – they still tug at the hearts as the years add up.
Hit the jump to see a couple more shots of the adorable Hare
Continue reading They Can Hear for Miles and Miles and Miles
Since there was a definite outcry of support for more birds after the last post, I’ve decided to appease the teaming millions and feature a bird for this post. This particular set of pictures is actually a bit of a surprise. If you recall, I introduced the Northern Pintail back in June of last year (link here). In that post I mentioned there was a better set of pictures likely to come from the second day of shooting.
I managed to process this second set of images yet they didn’t find their way onto the blog. Nothing like spending time on something only to find there were no fruits of the labor. As you can tell, the missing images were found (while processing the Katydids from the last post). I do like these shots better – the previous ones were mostly from behind and didn’t give a good view of the overall bird. The right side view:
the left side view:
and the front! That pretty much covers all the angles with the tail side covered in the previous post.
Hit the jump to read some more about the Pintails
Continue reading Pin The Tail Revisited
Today’s topic seemed a perfect fit for today’s blog for a number of reasons. For starters we just finished up our latest bird shoot down in Texas. Although that trip was somewhat exhausting (7 days, 7 different hotels) we did manage to shoot what we went there to find. Which, by the way, is absolutely awesome and can’t wait to post the results here. I was able to finish up not one, but two more phases of Project Auuunnooold. It’s the end of the month and lastly, the final wrap on our first two visits to the , Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. This comes as a bitter-sweet event. Bitter in the sense that this shoot produced an amazing number of new checkmarks and interesting photos. The Sweet part is it will allow me to move on to the other shoots that have been piling up in the queue – and trust me, there is a LOT in the hopper at this particular point in time.
Let’s recap why the Henderson Preserve was such an amazing birding location!
Overall Posts Pertaining to Henderson: 22
Number of New Birds to the Blog: 21
Number of Birds Featured: 32
Number of non-Bird Posts: 2 (The Coyote and the Jack Rabbit)
No other place has come close to being this productive from a non-captive environment perspective. In closing this shoot out, I just wanted to provide a few more shots that caught my eye when closing out the catalog from the digital darkroom. First off is a few more of the Northern Harrier that was hunting in the area. This bird of prey must have known we were there since it would drift his hunting circles away from us every time we came close. It is hard enough to keep The Beast on target with something close, but downright nightmare trying to keep the focus on something that doesn’t even fill the focus point.
As a result, there are “plenty” of blurred shots that hit the cutting room floor, but some turned out decent enough to process. Not as crisp as the previous set (link here), but definitely closer so you can make out the features better.
The next one could use a little more lightening in the dark room – likely pushed the shutter speed in favor of keeping the blur down. Mainly putting it here because the composition looked nice in the frame.
Hit the jump to see the last of the Henderson shots.
Continue reading Henderson – It’s a Wrap
Big day today, finally completed a project I’ve been working on for several months. This is actually a double benefit since not only can I set my sights on a new endeavor, there’s one more post topic in the hopper. Now only need to process the 20o pictures and get them ready for the blog .. don’t panic, probably won’t subject you to all of them … or maaaayybbee hehehe. Until then, figured I’d try to wrap up the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve visit. Other photo shoots are starting to back up in the queue and need to get at least a few of them out of the way to make room for the new year. You may recall there was a post earlier in the month on the Great Egret (link here). We were lucky enough to have multiple encounters with various Egrets and at one point they decided to put on a show!
I really like this shot for a number of reasons. Clearly the birds themselves were captured in similarly unique poses which shows off how pretty these birds are. The large one is the Great Egret and based on what I can tell of the bill from this angle, the smaller one is a Little Egret – possibly Snowy but the neck seems a little long for that. They reminded me of Guardian Angels with their pure white wings raised up like that. After a little bit you tend to get curious and your eyes start to wander. Following the Little Egret you notice some Grebes passing by – wonder if the Egret was trying to scare them away from their feeding area. They were coasting by without alarm so doubt the Grebes cared much. Still searching you start looking at what has the Great Egret’s attention. That leads to the American Coot somewhat hidden in the dark colors. Turns out that Coot also has its wings out basically taunting them – I have already documented how those Coots like to mock their pond mates (link here). Some of you may have already seen this shot a little earlier – accidentally put it up on Birding Across America site (link here) before remembering it had not debuted here yet – oops.
Not wanting to be left out, another Egret decided to join the festivities. Can really see the span of those huge white wings on the Great Egret from this angle.
Hit the jump to learn why these Egrets were so annoyed!
Continue reading Angels of the Ponds