See Spot Fly

It’s another pressure cooker month, but the good news is this post puts me over the hump and now looking downhill at the monthly quota.  One day it is going to get me and my streak will be over … but alas, not likely this month.  To use a common term from my workplace, there’s always the bus-factor to take into account – for those unfamiliar, the higher the factor, the higher the risk to the company if you get ran over by a bus that day.  With only one post short as long as my fingers are still able to press on keys I should be able to finish it from the emergency room ha!

Take a gander at today’s featured feathered friend.
Spotted Sandpiper shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge on May 20th, 2017
That intriguing looking bird is a Spotted Sandpiper.  Once again, those clever bird namers are saving teeth wear on the creative cogs.  Let’s see, it has Spots and it is hanging out on a shoreline – I got it Spotted Sandpiper – start the presses. In all seriousness, you have to be appreciative of a Sandpiper you can quickly identify.  If you have not had the experience trying to ID an obscure Piper, it ranks right up there with discerning a juvenile Sparrow.  The Spotted has a couple of distinguishing marks with one being …. well … it has SPOTS and not streaks or solid.  The hard eye line and ink tipped orange bill also collectively give it away.
Spotted Sandpiper shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge on May 20th, 2017

Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this stoic Peep.

Continue reading See Spot Fly

Better Spots

Greetings everyone!  I now have a new bittersweet birding experience as of two days ago.  Birding to me is about the hunt as much as it is about the execution of the photo capture (which determines whether it can be counted our not based on the highly technical and strict Doerfler Birding Rules – link here).  Linda and I have traveled far and wide hoping to track down a specific bird or to just explore new habitats to see what we can find.  Every once in a while this cycle reverses in that a bird comes to me.  This is exactly what happened to me last Wednesday night.  I was working on surveying part of my lot just past dusk when all of a sudden a fluttering was heard over my right shoulder.  Startled, I looked back to notice a large object moving my way.  First thought was a bat but it looked too big and bulky for such a creature.  When it narrowly avoided hitting a tree it was obvious that it wasn’t a bat.  It did manage to land about 20 feet from me in a small clearing.  For at least a minute I stared at it… trying desperately to make out what it was.  The darkness had set in and only a small amount of ambient light was available.  The coloring on the back camouflaged it perfectly in the woodsy setting making it impossible for me to get a sharp image.  Then it hit me I could take a picture with my phone!  The second my hand made it to the phone the chicken like shape bugged out in a large semicircle up and out of view.    After a quick call to my brother, we determined it was an American Woodcock.  Dammit Dammit Dammit.  A few seconds of patience from the bird could have added a +1 to my list.  Never have I seen a Woodcock in the wild or in a zoo.  It was sweet to see such a cool bird.. but the bitter taste of missing the shot will be with me until I finally get it in the tin.

So instead of a Woodcock post, I bring you this…

Porcupine Mountains Trip - July 2012

Do you recognize that bird?  Turns out I had these better shots of the Spotted Sandpiper originally featured during the Yellowstone series (link here).  Surprisingly, these shots were actually taken BEFORE the Yellowstone shoot which was in May 2013.  These were shot in July of 2012 – wow, I am waaaaay behind on my processing.

Porcupine Mountains Trip - July 2012

Hit the jump to see a couple more shots of the Spotted Sandpiper

Continue reading Better Spots

Not Too Soft To Plus Two

Continuing the theme from last post, I bring you two more new birds to my list.  Like last reveal, both of these new additions also came from Yellowstone National Park.  That would be our trip back in May of 2013.  I must be getting numb to my backlog.  I used to cringe every time I had to admit post fodder was coming from over two years ago.  Now.. not so much – not even a twitch.  With repetition comes acceptance hehe.

Let’s get to it shall we.  The first bird on today’s agenda is one I owe a big thanks to my brother for actually identifying.
Spotted Sandpiper Shot at Yellowstone National Park May 2013

That my friends is a Spotted Sandpiper (well, at least our best identification based on the small number of reference shots I was able to get in the tin).  Oh, I should have first apologized for the softness of these shots.  As with the gear for the Cinnamon shots (link here), both of these birds were shot with the 1.4 tele on the Beast.  That brings with it a general level of softness, but in this case I am not that upset.  These birds were a loooooong way off.  I was grasping for every bit of reach available to even see these creature much less hope to get any kind of crispiness.  I even had to zoom further to a small square during post processing to really make it visible.  Luckily, there was enough pixels left to determine what it was.  Otherwise, they would have ended up in my folder labeled “A Bird”.

Spotted Sandpiper Shot at Yellowstone National Park May 2013

The Spotted spend their Summers across a wide swathe  of the US and spend their Winters down in Central and South America.  They are one of the most widespread shorebirds in the US.  Unlike most migrating birds, the female is the one that arrives and selects the breeding territory.  They also practice polyandry.  If you are an avid reader of the blog or a birder in your own right, you should know that polyandry is Latin for “bird whore”.   Granted, my Latin has been found wanting, but pretty sure it stands for “bird whore”.   She can mate with multiple johns .. I mean males … and leave them with the clutch to take care of.  Wham bam thank you man!

The other entry in today’s twofer is a relatively dull bird.

American Dipper Shot at Yellowstone National Park May 2013

I saw it playing in a small stream as we passed by from the road. It’s been awhile so not positive, but I likely gave our secret coded word to “stop immediately there is a bird I need to shoot” (unless David and Giselle were in the car in which case I would have had to use our alternate code word to keep from embarrassing ourselves).  Although this is a rather drab bird, it was surprisingly easy to identify due to the fact it looks like it subscribes to the Wild Turkey exercise plan – these birds be a wee bit plump.

American Dipper Shot at Yellowstone National Park May 2013

That is an American Dipper.  The Dipper is primarily located in the Western third of the US extending up into Alaska.  They prefer running streams, protecting themselves during the Winter months thanks to a low metabolism, heavily oxygenated blood and a thick heaping of feathers.  The latter might account for some of the “plumpiness” so no offense to the Turkey (hehehe).  Stealing a trait from the duck population, the Dipper will molt all its wing and tail feathers at once (in the late Summer timeframe).  This effectively grounds it. After a little more reading on the Cornell site, I learned how they got their name – while exploring streams for food, they will frequently “dip” their heads underwater – clever.

Not much else to really reveal about these two new birds.  I’ll take the new checks on the list today, but hoping the future will bring a chance to improve on my execution.