Introducing Nihil and a Visit From an Old Friend

As I sit here in my forced ban on all things political for the moment I thought I’d crank out another post.  Actually I just finished another project which will soon be making its way to the blog (yeah) and it occurred to me that I had a quick one in the hopper that needed to be finished up.  Next week is going to be a whirlwind and don’t need to have the quota hanging over me to add any additional stress.  Ironically, nothing relieves stress like successfully dealing with a destructive pest.

Readers of this off ramp on the Information Super Highway should be very familiar with my absolute distaste for MOLES (shudder even typing it).  They are right up there with clowns on my top ten antagonist list but unlike clowns these fur demons regularly manage to make their way onto my property.  To normal creatures the homestead is a sanctuary of sorts.  Rarely does anything meet their fate by my hands when they mind their own business and refrain from too much visible damage.  This includes the deer that enjoy grazing through my landscape, raccoons that grow out of their cute stage and start taking liberties with the bird feeders, spiders that somehow find their way into the house and the mice that refuse to believe our propane tank is not their pleasure palace.  All of these incidents pass without harm.  That is all fine and dandy until I see that trail of dirt streaking across my lawn – blood boils, words are cursed and then I am pressed into action which means war (link here).  With all the Project Auuuuunnnoooold work this year I have not been as diligent as usual.  A few tails were seen at the edge of the yard but gave it the benefit that it mistakenly left the safety of the woods but would soon correct the error of its ways.  That was until a couple of weeks ago when a line showed up in MY FRONT YARD.  This is completely unacceptable.  If you recall from a very sad post sometime back (link here), I had lost a good friend.  I had not pulled out the new ones yet so opted to go with the old one.  It had been giving me some concern due to how tight the springs seemed to be lately.  All but the main line was stomped down and the trap set.  Soon there were would be snapping in the air.  Yet when I got home the next day, the trap was still set and all the side mounds were back up DAMMIT!  This must be an uber smart one.  Time to bring out Annihilation or Nihil for short.  Based on the difficulties setting it, Trigger (as in Hair Trigger) might have been a better name.  I’d set it, take a step and it would spring.. set, step, spring, set step spring – eesh.  Eventually it was worked enough to hold but still cautiously made my way out of the kill zone.

A quick check a few hours later brought a smile to my face…

Not even an uber-smart mole can defeat me.  Nihil comes through on its very first outing.  Problem solved!  Let’s all give a warm welcome to Nihil for he shall have a long and prosperous life (whatever you do, don’t mention the fate of Termi).   For those that like to keep track, the 2013 tally is now Brian 1 Hellspawn ZERO.  How about another joyful shot….

all it had to do was stay in the woods and it would still be grubbing it to the day it died of natural causes.. or the coyotes found it.. or it dared to even look at my neighbors manicured lawn.  …. but NOOOOOO it decided to play with fire.

Hit the jump to see an old friend!

Continue reading Introducing Nihil and a Visit From an Old Friend

A Juvi or a Bittern – Tough to Tell

Looks like today I can report the tale of two lists.  First off, thanks to confirmation from Ron I can now add two more check marks to my birding list.  This is definitely one of those very pleasing moments when I can make that mark next to another entry, but when you actually get to make two marks at once .. through the roof.  If you recall, a few posts ago (link here), I had made some speculation on some bird identifications that were stumping me.  Figured the suggested identifications were my best guesses, but looks like Ron was in agreement with both of them – SWEET!  That Yang and the Um thingy once again makes its presence known around here.  With the good of the bird checks comes the equally bad entry on The List.  Those who know me, know you never ever want to make it on that list since it signifies a personal lifetime ban.  Surprisingly, I was able to locate an old copy of it online (link here).  I have to admit that Best Buy made its way off the list thanks to Circuit City closing leaving no other competition in the area.  There are some other additions, but today’s add is Eddie Vedder and of coarse ANYTHING he is affiliated with.

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Pearl Jam fan when I bought Ten

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Mother Love Bone and Soundgarden fan when I bought Temple of the Dog

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Pearl Jam fan when I bought Vs

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Pearl Jam fan when I bought Vitalogy

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Pearl Jam fan when I bought Yield

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Pearl Jam fan when I bought Ten for Rockband

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Pearl Jam fan when I bought their guitar sheet music for Ten

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Eddie Vedder fan when I wisely chose not to buy his craptastic solo album

… and now this fuck wishes bad things to happen to me (link here).  I wonder exactly what this asshole would think if someone went after his First Amendment rights?  It isn’t worth wasting anymore time on this topic – the money saved on not buying his latest album will nicely offset the cost of the ammunition spent while substituting those CDs for targets.  Welcome to The List.

Cleansing breadth … crap Kozma is sucking it up at the plate for the Cardinals tonight… cleansing breadth.

There, much better.  On to the real topic of this post.  The last plea for bird identification help worked out so well, figured it was worth trying it again.  Once again there’s another bird shot the second day of the Henderson Nevada Bird Viewing Preserve that has me in a quandary.  What seems to be the norm these days, the expectations going into the identification phase were high due to the key features this particular bird possesses.

Stocky frame, dark coloring palette and takes the standard Heron/Egret form in flight.  No problem right.. this has to be a Green Hero… uh, hmm uh.. let me look at those reference books again.  From the reference images, the Green Heron tends to have a rustier neck and a little more yellow on the bill.  They are also a lot more stockier than the specimen here.  Hold on, there should have been a post on one.  Yes, yes, here it is (link here).  Now it is coming back to me – that bird found at Jubilee Park looked a lot different than this one – mainly again due to the stockiness and the varying yet pronounced colors.  This next shot doesn’t show a whole lot more, but does provide some clues to the neck coloring.

Hit the jump to continue the quest to identify this bird

Continue reading A Juvi or a Bittern – Tough to Tell

To Check or Not to Check

I can’t believe it is October already!  Seems like this year is flying by way to fast – pretty soon it will be snowing in Denver.  What!?!  holy crap, it is snowing in Denver today.  Those Globull Warming dudes got some splaining to do.  I warned you on the last post we would once again be spending some time at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve  in the coming posts as I try to close out the second day of shooting there.  The good news is we are almost through that visit.. bad news is we had the opportunity to head back there a few months ago so we are far from over at that birding paradise.  To start the month off, I’m in need of some more help.  I am always amazed at how hard bird identification can be even with what I would consider unique features.  Two birds are featured here that gave me some troubles and thus not entirely sure if I have them right.  If I do, then there will be two new checks in the Bird List.  Always pleased when I can mark up the list and as you have seen in the past posts, this particular birding site was a goldmine of check marks.

First off I bring you this rather plain looking bird:

I suspect your first inclination is to ID it as an American Crow.  Pretty common bird around here so I have the advantage of seeing it just about every day.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time out in Yellowstone so I can definitely tell you how those compare to the mammoth Ravens out there.  But something just didn’t seem right about this one.  It was black (I can always get the easy ones) but the beak just didn’t seem to fit the large but blunter ones on the Crows around here.  The other part that was causing me some confusion was the tail.

It seemed to long and slender relative to the more stockier body frame of the Crow (and definitely smaller all around compared to those Ravens).  This concern sent me pouring over bird references looking for some other alternative.  Eventually I made my way to the Grackles.  Typically the Grackle is easy to distinguish due to the iridescent purple coloring when the light hits them right.  It is hard to tell in this picture due to having little sun at the moment this was taken but the shape is darn close from my perspective.  Post processing may have taken some slight shimmer out since I was thinking it was just a nicely posed Crow at the time.  The yellow eye definitely stands out which is a defining feature for the Grackle – the Crows and Ravens tend to have black on black eyes.  Now the hard part.. which Grackle.  The Common one is close but the images in the books definitely show more of a purple hue and/or more brownish than the full on black this one is sporting.  That left the Boat Tailed, but that is NO WHERE near where we were out in Nevada (more East Coast).  Could it be the Great Tailed Grackle?

To the web!

Take a gander at the set of images at AllAboutBirds.org (link here).  As mentioned, not positive, but it definitely looks similar to the Great Tailed Grackle shown there – and we can definitely dismiss the Common version. Would appreciate any help on this one.  I have no problem accepting that it is a Common Crow or possibly something I overlooked, but keep in mind that yellowish eye.  Definitely distinct.  Sorry I can’t give you any other angles, this was about the sum total of the shots.  With all the new birds there I likely didn’t spend much time on what I assumed at the time was a common bird.  Regardless of what the ID comes out as, the composition turned out nice especially with the first and this one.

The tail matched the twig angle and the head aligned with both the upper and lower branches giving a nice framing effect.  If you have time, take a stab at it and use the comments for any ideas.

Hit the jump for the second bird featured in this post!

Continue reading To Check or Not to Check