Red Faced in Vegas

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.

Common Gallinule shot in Henderson, Las Vegas in August 2013

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.

Common Gallinule shot in Henderson, Las Vegas in August 2013

Hit the jump to view a few more pictures of this red-faced dabbler.

Continue reading Red Faced in Vegas

Little Boy Blue

Like the old adage says “All Scary and No Aviary Makes the Heart Grow Wary”  So that doesn’t happen to all my precious readers out there I’m going to give you a break from the recent batch of Halloween posts to bring you a bird shot.  This particular set of shots was taken  during our Red Rock Canyon visit back in November 2012.  Now I’ve featured the Mountain Bluebird before (link here) and the Eastern Bluebird (link here) has even made an appearance once or twice, but this is the first time I’ve brought out the Western Bluebird!

This little bird was hanging out not far from the side of the road fairly close to the entrance.  This happens to be another one of those classic times when I really thought I was just shooting an Eastern Bluebird and really didn’t think much of it at the time.  The Eastern was already checked off my list, but I NEVER pass up a bird in the field.  Time and time again I go into the digital darkroom thinking one thing only to come out fully surprised.

Hit the jump to read more about this colorful bird!

Continue reading Little Boy Blue

A Vegas Photo Drive

It has been awhile since I’ve brought out a Phoadtography post!  So far you’ve been subjected to shots from the Vegas skyline, shots of Vegas from a photo walk and it just seems fitting that I close out the Vegas scene with a traditional “photos from the road” collection.  For those not familiar with the concept of Phoadtography, it is pretty simple.  Linda drives and I take shots of interesting things – in between my expert navigation duties of course.  To start us off on our little excursion I bring you the prototypical Sin City billboard…

I marveled at the genius of this particular advertisement.  It has so many alternative takes – are they talking about the Vegas Strip, the common theme of stripper shows in Vegas, how to strip a gun down and put it back for cleaning or don’t even think about stripping me of my Second Amendment rights.  This sign must make gun control advocates shake in their house slippers.  One goal activity Linda and I have not been able to cross off is to hit the Gun Store and fire off some (okay, maybe A LOT) of rounds from an automatic rifle – yummy goodness!

“Who ya’ Gonna Call?”

Clearly this was taken closer to the downtown area where these kinds of businesses are everywhere.  Almost as common as drive up wedding chapels.  Based on the vehicle outside of this place, business is good.  What happens in Vegas .. stays on your arrest record.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots!

Continue reading A Vegas Photo Drive

Send in the Scrubs

Taking a quick recovery break from last night’s final long training run.  The IVS half is coming up in a week and start my taper tomorrow.  I wasn’t able to get the desired 10 mile run in due to a swarm of lightning that convinced me to bail out a mile early.  Last weekend a lightening bolt took a 5 inch chunk out of my neighbor’s huge oak tree from top to bottom –  a helpful reminder not to roll the dice with nature.  9 miles should be fine for race day prep .. besides, the last mile or so I was pushing it to make it back to the truck before it let loose.  Not one to just sit around just watching the boob tube (although the Illini are kicking butt), thought it would be a good time to crank out a post!

Unlike the previous post. today’s featured bird didn’t take long to lock in an identification.  If you haven’t noticed a theme yet, the birds of late have all been from our Red Rock Canyon in Nevada shoot.  This is a wonderful park not far from Las Vegas and a standard stop for us when we haul our photography equipment out there.  Definitely a good place to add to your Birding List if you are light on your land birds – which I happen to be at the moment… although building fast.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Western Scrub-Jay

Pretty cool looking bird with the white eyebrow liner and the white speckled in the throat area.  When the bird list was checked it was discovered that there was a question mark in the check box.  This usually means a possible ID was made but lacking a good confirmation.  Similar to the Gray Vireo and Townsend Solitaire which both have question marks in their check box until the bird in the previous post is officially confirmed (still looking for some help on that by the way).

The question indicator resulted in a quick search of the blog to figure out where it was previously referenced.  Looks like there were two possible sightings – one in 2008 (link here) and one in 2010 (link here).  Reviewing those two possible shots, the conclusion is neither one of those is a Western Scrub-Jay.  Not sure what the 2008 one is yet, but the 2010 is most likely a Clark’s Nutcracker.  So good news, I can replace that question mark with a solid check now.

Time for the classic EddieSoft pose…

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Western Scrub-Jay

Continue reading Send in the Scrubs

One White Ring – One White Bar

To sum up this month in one word I’d have to go with BUSY.  Day long meetings at work, project Aaauuunnnnoold moved into a new phase (getting close) and then there’s that little thingy called a half looming just over a week away.  A wave of relief came over me when the monthly post count came up to 5.  Whew, only one more to close out this month and the pictures for two posts were already completed and in the hopper.    The best way I can think of to end this month is to feature a Bird!

Not just your ordinary Bird post though, this one is a Mystery Bird post … translated, one that needs some assistance from my loyal readers.  To set the stage, this particular bird was taken at Red Rock Canyon on our trip to Las Vegas back in Nov 2012 (better late than never).  Unfortunately, I was unable to get a full on shot of this bird.  It preferred to stay semi-hidden among the rocks.  They had “Area under restoration” signs up so respected their wishes – cost me a good angle on a new bird.. but if photographer’s can’t respect nature… we are doomed as a society.

To be honest, I need your help in identifying this bird – hit the jump to see which direction I’m leaning towards!

Continue reading One White Ring – One White Bar

A Vegas Photo Walk

Vegas is such a target rich environment when it comes to photography that a single post just will not do – Nope! I already covered the “Eyes in the Sky” with my previous post (link here). Today’s post focuses more on the sights at “Eye Level” . Wait a minute, just looked at the set of pictures — hold that statement for a tad and enjoy a couple more shots at “Sky Level”.

The Bellagio Casino is a must target for any cameras on clear night on the strip. The architects should be commended for a building with a perfect combination of lighting and shadows. We have a number of shots of this casino for a number of different angles and every one of them has a majestic feel about them – also gives you a wide range of cropping options

Here’s the other shot of Vegas after dark. This one posed a bit of a struggle in the digital darkroom. I wanted the lights to be vibrant and sharp in the shot, but that cost me some detail in the body of the balloon – detail, by the way, that I wasn’t really aware of before from my many trips past it. Depending on how your screen is set, you might or might not be able to see the various symbols – probably could have pulled out some HDR to pop those a little more – will make a note for next time we are out there.

Hit the jump to see some more sights from our Vegas photo-walk!

Continue reading A Vegas Photo Walk

Me Thinks It’s a Grackle

UPDATED: 10/22/2016 – Sorry for the correction, but I realized while writing another post on this bird that this is not a Long-Tailed Grackle, but a Great-Tailed Grackle – no idea where I got that other name other than the fact it has a …. wait for it … wait for it … a long tail. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Thanks to the last set of soft bird pictures, I figured it was a perfect time to bring out another set of pictures definitely on the soft side – if I keep this up it will transform from a mistake to a STYLE!  I actually need a little help in the confirmation of this particular evil looking bird.

I snapped this bird while walking on the Treasure Island Casino boardwalk in Vegas back n Nov 2012 (hey, I warned you the backlog was epic).   A large dark shape caught my eye as it flew in behind us to scavenge in the cracks of the boards.  Per my Golden Rules, brought the camera inline and took a few shots thinking at the time it was just a Brown-Headed Cowbird.  It wasn’t until reviewing the shots in the digital darkroom that it occurred to me that the shape of this bird did not match my reference model for those birds.

For one, Cowbirds have a much shorter beak.  The one on this specimen is more like a dagger.  Add to this the fact Cowbirds typically have brown only on the head (thus the clever name eh?) with the rest predominantly black.  This Vegas bird carried the brown through the body and only shades to black at the wings and legs.  And then there’s the whole overall size issue with this one having a much larger stature than the Cowbirds seen in my neck of the woods.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots and learn what I think this bird is!

Continue reading Me Thinks It’s a Grackle

Birds of the Concrete Jungle

Yikes, I’m once again cutting it close … verry verry close this month.  After this post I’ll still have another to go and right now not sure what that is going to be.  But that is in the future and I’m living in the now.  Recently we had the opportunity to visit Sin City, our home away from home.  We have been using Las Vegas as a launch pad for photography shoots.  If you recall a few years back we hit Zion (link here) while we were out there and this year we had similar plans to hit some scenic sights with a little less driving.  Turns out I was able to do some bird watching while hanging out on the strip!

First on the list is the very entertaining Barmingo.  This particular bird is rarely seen in the daylight preferring instead to spend its time at local happy hours and whatever hot new club is all the rage.

Basically being inebriated for a most of it’s adulthood, this particular bird has evolved into a clever self-preservation posture.  Thanks to the lack of control of it’s legs, it spent the early years stumbling on every curb and uneven tile in the city.  This proved a painful burden on the body which developed a permanent pink hue from all the bruising.  Unfortunately, due to not having an means to stop itself, the beak took blast after blast from the ground resulting in the bulbous appendage we see today.  Somewhere along the line it figured out it could prevent a lot of serious injury by adopting a different posture – one that allowed it to maintain better balance by placing the weight of the head over center mass and giving a much cushier landing should it stumble off the bar stool.  There is still one feature that has not changed

They can’t hold their liquor.  Quite sad really – they could have been so much more…  As a word of caution you might want to reconsider playing in any local Vegas fountains – they tend to be covered in Barmingo vomit.

Hit the jump to see the rest of the birds we found hanging out in the Concrete Jungle we call Vegas

Continue reading Birds of the Concrete Jungle

Phoadtography: Vegas and Zion Trip 11/2010 Pt 3 of 3

Hunger gnawing away the insides, thirst becoming unbearable, sleep deprivation making it nearly impossible to see, fatigue making it difficult to type, but muuusst … get .. . throuuuugh last part of Phoadtography post.  Just kidding, it isn’t really that much work, but thinking a Twinkie would really hit the spot right now.  This is the third and final set of phoadtography shots from last year’s Thanksgiving vacation.  Linda and I have been requested not to plan any vacations yet due to some corporate negotiations that are in flight, but hopefully we’ll be out on the road again very soon.  For now, enjoy this final set which appear to come mostly from the Vegas area.

Since we had to rent a vehicle to get up to Zion anyway, we decided to reserve it a few days early and take in some sites near Vegas.  First on the agenda was to check out Hoover Dam and the lake that resulted from the dam construction.  After a long slow trudge through traffic, we finally arrived at the lake.  The bad news is it was unseasonably cold the week we were there (in the mid 30’s for some of the days) so we did not spend a lot of time outside.

Instead, we decided to take the scenic drive and experience it from the car.  It is definitely a nice lake, but there really isn’t much to look at on the coastlines.  Most disappointing was the utter lack of wildlife beyond a few ducks scattered about.

Although we are pretty much burned out on the Luxor having stayed there so many times, it is rare when we actually get to see the front of the casino.  I snapped this as we drove by and it turned out pretty crisp.  For those not familiar with this casino, it has a light on top that can be seen from space and their elevators are actually called inclinators because they travel up the insides of the pyramid corners.  If you want a good physics exercise, try figuring out how they keep the inclinators level so you are not tossed all over the place as you ascend up to your floor.  It is a shame they have essentially removed just about all their Egyptian themed interior decor in place of annoying modern day club-style bars and nightclubs.

Hit the jump to see the rest of this Phoadtography set!

Continue reading Phoadtography: Vegas and Zion Trip 11/2010 Pt 3 of 3

Phoadtography: Vegas and Zion Trip 11/2010 Pt 2 of 3

It’s quiz time.  What has over 70 pictures, comes in three parts and has the ability to completely clean out your browser’s cache of all that pr0n you’ve been wasting your web time on?  Okay, that was an easy one.  Yes, I’m back with the second installment of the Las Vegas and Zion Phoadtography post.  Unlike last time, none of these are wall worthy which means they generally fall into the category of things that make you go “Huh?”.  I like to get the most out of my vacations and finding those interesting pearls puts the cherry on top.  Now that the Smugmug picture links have been captured, let’s not waste anymore time and get right to this set.

Linda and I stumbled onto this sign just before entering the Zion National Park.  Having to leave the children at home to go on vacations is always tough but I am sure they enjoy the Doggy Spa at the grandparents.  Maybe next time we head out to this park we’ll see if they want to come along – although if they find out they have to work on a ranch their pampered paws will carry them right back home.

It is no secret Linda and I enjoy vacationing in Vegas.  For two people watchers, that place is like steroids for the eyes.  Even with all our trips, the first time we ever saw the Welcome to Vegas sign was a couple of years ago at Linda’s niece’s wedding.  Their party bus took us out there so they could get some pictures under it.  Well, this year was the first time we got to see the downtown Leaving Las Vegas sign.  Our lives are now officially complete.

Hit the jump to see a bunch more Phoadtography pictures!

Continue reading Phoadtography: Vegas and Zion Trip 11/2010 Pt 2 of 3