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.

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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!

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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.

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Gone Nuts

Here we are at the feels like day 2,882 of the Illinois lockdown.  All I can say at this point is our political leadership has gone full on batshit crazy.  Can barely stomach the news anymore and the next entertainer that thinks I give a crap what they think is going on my “never again” list.  Trust me, you do not want to be in the customer facing business and be put on my NA list.  Unfortunately new adds these days are already starting on page 52.  I was sitting here thinking to myself how nuts this whole thing and one of these specimens flew by the window I was staring out.

White-Breasted Nuthatch found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL April 2017

Now that is a sign if I’ve ever witnessed one.  Mid-thought on the pontificating nutjobs and a Nut – a White-Breasted Nuthatch lands in a tree near our porch.   Yes Mother Nature that is a perfect metaphor for our current situation.  My camera was too far away to bring to bear on our new visitor (that being it was sitting about 30 feet away ha), but I was pretty sure there was a series in the queue that would do fine.  Sure enough, with a little digging found a suitable stand-in.  Honestly, was a bit surprised to find only one specimen in the queue as just about every common bird in our area has a couple sets just waiting for a chance to be revealed to the world.  The only question is how far back do I want to go 1990, 2000, 2010 hehehe.  Our lone entry today takes us only back to April, 2017 – a mere 3 years ago which is about when my broke state imposed its lockdown.  Ron and I were checking out the inhabitants of Chain O’ Lakes State Park in Spring Grove, IL. A nice park that happens to be relatively halfway between us.  Linda runs the kids in dog agility up there so I tag along to do a bit of birding.  Always a fun time when Ron can join me, although finding a bird, snapping a shot and then scaring it off before he sees it is getting harder and harder (did I write that out loud ha).  In this case, pretty sure he managed to tin this specimen.  No gain on the bird count, but still an entertaining little bird (that, for a fact, has never felt obligated to preach to me).

White-Breasted Nuthatch found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL April 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more images of our featured Nutjob.

Continue reading Gone Nuts