On the Warpath

I interrupt the regularly scheduled programming on LifeIntrigued to bring you this late breaking update! This month is pretty much dedicated to our first visit up to the International Crane Foundation near Baraboo, Wisconsin. Figured it was time to give you a quick break from all those awesome Cranes and thought I’d go with something completely different – Devil Spawn! Every Spring there’s a war of sorts that plays out on my lot. During the Winter months, those evil looking creatures they refer to as MOLES are free to go about their business. Normally there isn’t much activity after the late fall, but looks like this year they decided to take advantage of the long and deep snow season to launch an all out assault on my yard. As mentioned before, I openly admit I went and plopped down my house in the middle of their land. Because of that intrusion I let the native creatures be as long as they stay out of my yard area. Pretty fair of me right? Once the snow melt it became apparent that this agreement had been breached by the damn tunnel diggers – they had tunnels EVERYWHERE. Tracks in the front yard, tracks in the side yard and multiple tracks in my backyard. Red Rover red Rover come tunnel your way over.

I decided to give them one warning shot in hopes they get the picture. Foregoing the traps, all the tunnels were tamped back down with clenched teeth and streams of vulgarity. Sure they would heed this warning wouldn’t they….

NOT! In just about every case the mounds were back within the week. Bastards, pure clown loving bastards. There was only one thing left to do – you got it… Bring out Nihil and Rev (link here).  First task was the front yard menace.  Went with Nihil due to his experience and effectiveness shown during last year’s hunt (link here).   Within 2 to 3 hours of re-tamping all but the main tunnels and setting Nihil’s trigger the first shot was taken.  Another kill and another notch to add to the side of Nihil.  On hellspawn went to meet its maker (although in that shot it looks like he is looking in the WRONG direction.

We aren’t done yet .. hit the jump to see more carnage.

Continue reading On the Warpath

Surprise, A Trifecta of Cranes

What will he post about next…. hmmmm.. maybe a collection of observations at buffets including the lady at Jumer’s Casino who takes her bare hands, puts it on the top plate of a stack and pushes them out closer to the customers and then repeats with the remaining stack of plates next to it leaving me stunned.  I took the top plate off one of the stacks put it on the now empty spot behind them and took the plate below it – making sure she noticed.  As fun a topic as that might be it really doesn’t stick with this month’s theme.  Idiots that throw trash on the ground at State Parks…nah, last year’s trek to get a rare bird (Ron wishes)… I know, how about some more CRANES!!!

What a great idea.  The bad news is these pictures are not gallery quality, but it does feature one of the coolest Cranes (my personal opinion of course).

This regal looking Crane is called a Demoiselle.  Every time I see it at the International Crane Foundation images of Roman Senators leap to mind with their leaf crowns.  According to the ICF website, these Demoiselles occupy the low end of the Crane stature scale – 3ft, 4-7lbs and once again rockin’ Wikipedia nets me their wingspan of 61 to 71″ for a wingspan.  Note to ICF, wingspan is a common birder attribute so highly recommend adding it to your descriptions.  What they lack in stature, they make up in quantity.  They are in the 200 to 240K range with a stable average population – yeah!  As a result, they are listed as Least Concern Conservation Status.

Thought the composition of the  shot above was cute.  It was definitely taking an interest in the shape it had spotted in the grass – sorry, not sure what it was but let’s simply refer to it as “food”.  Don’t be worried, I do have a shot that shows their entire profile

Admittedly, not a stellar shot since it lacks that faux in the wild feeling seeing their little man made hut. Did I mention these birds are cool looking!   Pretty sure I have a better picture of them from a more recent visit so stay tuned and hopefully I’ll get caught up enough to get them on the Blog. Oh, reminded by the next shot, the Demoiselle is on of the few cranes that don’t sport the red patch on the head (which for those researching day and night does not match the red palette clue for my prize hunt).

Hit the jump to view two other Cranes we visited at the ICF

Continue reading Surprise, A Trifecta of Cranes

Another Royal Crane

We are on a roll here at Life Intrigued – a Crane roll for clarification.  I was going to vary it up a bit for this particular post, but the teeming millions of readers out there demanded that I stick with the International Crane Foundation shoot.  Steady readers will recognize we are once again back in Baraboo, Wisconsin admiring the beautiful Cranes.  This one happens to be even more ornate that rest.

This royal looking Crane, like the others this month, is making its debut on the blog.  According to ICF’s website, this bird is referred to as a Black Crowned Crane.  In a nod to the long time readers with an incredible attention to detail, you must might be thinking “Hey you ‘if you like your plan you can keep your plan period’ apprentice – that bird isn’t making its debut.  You already have one of those from your visit to the Indianapolis Zoo.”  Wow, that was harsh but unlike the reference, I was telling the truth.

A very similar Crane was posted previously on the blog back in Feb 2013 (link here).  Although that bird had a similar palette around the face and definitely a match on the spiky head piece, that was actually a Grey Crowned Crane.  Unless you saw these two birds together you probably wouldn’t be able to make the distinction, but as you can see in the shots of the Black Crowned Crane, the body is more … wait for it .. black.  Those clever namers never cease to surprise me.

Hit the jump to read more about this royal bird!

Continue reading Another Royal Crane

Another Day With The Cranes – 2 of Many

Been an exhausting day pounding out a 12 miler in the Jubilee hills and then breaking out the mower for the first cut of the season.  To give myself a bit of a rest, figured I’d take a seat and crank out a quick post.  I warned you in the last post that there were a number of Crane entries coming from our visit to the International Crane Foundation (link here) nestled near Baraboo, Wisconsin.

This colorful Crane specimen is referred to as a Wattled Crane and like the Blue Crane from the previous post, is a native of Africa.  Half the population of these birds (total ~8,000) take up residence in Zambia – a mighty long way from Wisconsin!  Unlike the Blue Crane, this particular species is on the other end of the stature scale.  If I recall correctly the Blue Crane tops out in the 4 foot range.  The Wattled Crane tops out in the SIX FOOT range.  Yes, this is one of those Cranes you can view at eye level while standing (unless you are short of six feet in which case you are immediately demoralized having to look UP to a bird.

Hit the jump to see more shots of the Wattled Crane!

Continue reading Another Day With The Cranes – 2 of Many

A Day With The Cranes – 1 of Many

In case you might have missed it, we are now officially in May.  Hard to believe around here seeing as how it has been like 46, windy and raining most of the week.  Couple that with the current administration claiming our economy is hurting because of .. wait for it .. the unusually cold Winter and we officially call Globull Warming a policy of redistribution based on hogwash.  But I digress, the real point about mentioning it was May is that it signifies the start a new set of posts (yeah, crowd goes wild!).  Calm down, you might scare the bird of the day.

Pretty cool eh?  Happened to catch this beautiful specimen walking across our backyard one morning.  Believe that?  Okay, I lied.  This was actually taken while hiking in a remote and dangerous part of Baraboo, Wisconsin.  Wow, tough crowd.. so it really wasn’t that remote… or that dangerous … but it WAS just outside of Baraboo Wisconsin so it wasn’t a complete distortion of the truth.  Reality is this Blue Crane was taken while visiting The International Crane Foundation (link here).   For those not familiar with this particular place, this foundation is focused on saving/restoring the various Crane species throughout the world.  They were founded back in 1973 by Ron Sauey and George Archibald.  From there they started a journey to conserve the Crane population that was in serious risk throughout the world.  They are probably most well known for their ongoing efforts to bring back the Whooping Crane population by creatively employing an ultra-light to help young Cranes migrate from Wisconsin to Florida starting back in 2001.  If you are a true birder, you owe it to yourself to make the trip to visit this awesome foundation.

On our first visit up there several years ago (when these pics were taken), we didn’t have very high expectations.  Wisconsin didn’t seem like the appropriate place to go check out Cranes.  Figured we’d stop by there, walk around the place for a bit and head out – maybe an hour tops.  It is stunning how wrong we were – thinking we pulled ourselves out of there after about 3.5 hours and that was because we had other places to be.  Not only did they have a number of birds on display, there were a number of habitats that were set up perfectly for photographers – in other words, they provided a means to shoot directly at some of the birds without having to deal with annoying linked fences.  The Blue Crane featured here had a nice area complete with muraled walls to provide the illusion of being out in the wild.  Each of the areas had some form of grazing area along with a structure they could seek shelter from the sun if needed.  I spent a lot of time waiting for the shot above thinking the doorway would provide a natural frame.  Decided to do a little more cropping on it to see which I liked better (see first shot).  Been back and forth on that, but eventually decided I liked the tighter cropping – any opinions from your perspective?

Here is a shot showing the wall mural – also gives a better impression on the size of the bird.  From a Crane perspective, the Blue Crane is on the smaller stature end.  They run in the 4 foot and 11 pound range.  Yes, I did just say they average 4 foot tall while also stating they are on the SMALLER end of the scale.  You haven’t had a true Crane experience until you are staring at one of the species standing nearly at eye level.

Hit the jump to read more about this beautiful Crane!

Continue reading A Day With The Cranes – 1 of Many