The Young and the Vulnerable

2015 is on its last hours.  The sun is retreating for the last time in 2015 making way for a night of celebration as we bring in 2016.  All things considered, I will not miss this year very much and more than relieved to let this year go thanks to a myriad of tough times from family medical discoveries, work stress and the loss of our beloved Kerby.  There were some bright spots like the running production, additions to the bird count and a number of projects I’ve shared throughout the course of the year which will likely be touched up on in my year in review post.  Thought I’d close out this year with a topic I set up from the last post.  Babies!

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

The Buffalo young carry with them a certain amount of … ummm let’s go with size.  That size gives them a definite advantage in the endless struggle for survival in the wild.  That also means they are surrounded by even larger mothers and fathers capable of inflicting serious paybacks should any predator decide to test their skills.  This is a stark contrast to the life of a Pronghorn.

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Hit the jump to see more pictures of the Pronghorn doe and her two cute newborns.

Continue reading The Young and the Vulnerable

A Big Baby

2015 is coming to a close and the weather gods want to make sure they get as much in as they can.  This week has brought us rain, cold, sleet, wind and this morning we were greeted to a blanket of white.  Our friends in and around Peoria have been dealing with power outages and serious tree damage thanks to the ice laden trees being subjected to wicked wind gusts.  Thankfully we have not had any serious fallout.  Just a few branches down and the moose in our Xmas display decided to lay down and take a well deserved rest.  A fitting lead in since this was exactly what some young Bison were doing when we stumbled upon them.
Bison shot in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Although we do have the privilege of being able to see Bison at a local wildlife park, these shots were taken back in May of 2015 during our visit to Yellowstone Park.  There has been no shortage of posts covering these huge mammals here at LifeIntrigued.  A trip to Yellowstone put a lot of Bison in the tin back in 2010 (link here) that featured some really young specimens.  A local shoot back in 2011 (link here).  There was also a set taken at Custer State Park and Yellowstone back in 2012 (link here).  As a result, there really isn’t much else I can tell you knew about these creatures.

Bison shot in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Hit the jump to view a few more shots of the Yellowstone Bison.

Continue reading A Big Baby

European Moose

Last post I brought you a set of large mammals shot in Yellowstone National Park back in May 2015.  Those Big Horn Sheep top out in the 310 pound or so range for the males and then about 190 for the females.  Pretty big from a hoofed mammal perspective, but definitely not the top end of the inhabitants at our first national park.  Today we push that scale a little higher with these common residents.

Elk shot in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

These Elk (we’ll get to the whole name thingy in a bit) tip the scales between 500 and 530 for the cows and 700 to 730 pounds for the bulls.  The predators of the animal world would need to be pretty hungry (and desperate) to take on a mature bull.  Something tells me they would be calling for an ambulance to pick up the carnage should they get slammed with a full rack.

Elk shot in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Speaking of racks, these shots are of Elk that are still in their velvet stages of their antler growth.  These creatures are pretty common out in that particular region and one doesn’t come back from a trip without a few tins full of Elk frames.  They’ve actually been featured on this blog several times now (link here and here).  Note, the latter link has some of the most gorgeous antler racks (qualifier added for obvious reasons) I’ve seen on these beasts.  From those posts you can tell the transformation from the velvet stages to the mature antler sets.

Hit the jump to see a bunch more pictures of the Elk!

Continue reading European Moose

They Grow ’em Big Out There

If you haven’t noticed yet, Linda and I have a few days off from work to enjoy the holidays.  What better way to celebrate extra free time than cranking out posts!  This month I was able to bring you little birds, big birds, big squirrels and bigger squirrels.  Now it is time to step up the weight a bit and bring you some of the larger shoots from the Yellowstone National Park trip back in May 2015.

Mountain Goats shot on Yellowstone National Park trip in May 2013

Today we feature Big Horn Sheep.  I did some quick reading up on them to see if I could accurately tell you whether these were all rams are ewes seeing as none of the subjects I opted to use in this post have the more telltale feature of the full curved horns.  The females also possess horns but as stated by our friends over at Wikipedia, they are not as prominent and only slightly curved compared to their adult male counterparts.

Mountain Goats shot on Yellowstone National Park trip in May 2013

Hit the jump to see a lot more pictures of the Big Horn Sheep from Yellowstone!

Continue reading They Grow ’em Big Out There

Something Squirrelly is Going On Here

Welcome back on D.A.I.D – or Day After Indulgence Day.  Days like Christmas, New Years, my birthday etc. are hard on those keeping tabs on their intake.  As a runner I have the unfortunate tick of translating every piece of food or drink consumed into corresponding miles it will take to compensate.  D.A.I.Ds come with a stark reality there is no way in hell I could ever break even from the day before… sigh.  To my credit I did make a small recovery into the damage with a midnight run which, if nothing else, does help to beat down the inner guilt.  The good news is I was able to crest over a running goal I had set, but we’ll cover that in an upcoming post.  Instead, I bring you another post from the Yellowstone National Park trip.

Uinta Ground Squirrel Shot in Yellowstone National Park May 2015

Isn’t it cute!  This little guy or girl made an effort to come out and greet us as we were enjoying a picnic in the park.  We were visiting the park with the Makutas back in May of 2013 (note, any comments from my brother regarding the fact this is the end of 2015 will be duly ignored hehehe).  I thought it would be fitting to stick with the squirrel theme seeing as how I covered another member of the Squirrel family in the last post (link here).

Uinta Ground Squirrel Shot in Yellowstone National Park May 2015

Hit the jump to see a few more pictures of this stocky Squirrel!

Continue reading Something Squirrelly is Going On Here

Ya Yellow Livered Schweinhunt

Had enough of the birds yet?  I figured so!  Well, you are in luck.  Thanks to having all the Yellowstone shots processed, I have plenty of non-bird topics to throw at you.  I’ll still need to toss in our feathered friends from time to time, but today I can bring you this ….

Yellow-Bellied Marmot shot in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Take your best guess… A Beaver? a Hedgehog? maybe a gym rat Squirrel on steroids?  A Squirrel is actually pretty close seeing as how this creature is a member of that family.  It is actually a member of the Marmota genus commonly referred to as the Yellow-Bellied Marmot.

Yellow-Bellied Marmot shot in Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

hit the jump to read more about our Marmot encounters!

Continue reading Ya Yellow Livered Schweinhunt

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.

Time to Add the Cinnamon

It’s been awhile but I’m finally back on the ball with another post for December.  My  has the time flown this year but I’m very confident I’ll be closing out 12 more months of making at least my minimum quota for posts.  A small triumph for a year, but it does put some serious pressure on me at various times trying to juggle all my other commitments.

Luckily, this is as much fun as it is work!  Today I bring you another check in the birding list.

Cinnamon Teal shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

If you are not a birding enthusiast you may not recognize this as a Cinnamon Teal.  This is a new Teal check having had the Blue-Winged Teal (link here) and the Green-Winged Teal (link here) previously.  This is one of those checks I’ve known was in the tin for a long time.  It was actually shot at Yellowstone National Park back in May of 2013.

Cinnamon Teal shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

The fact that you are seeing the products from that trip signifies a very big accomplishment – yes, I FINALLY got through the entire collection of shots from that Yellowstone visit.  Pretty sure I ran around the house in jubilation when I made it through the last of those pictures in the digital darkroom.  I used to catch a lot of grief from my brother about the huge delays from shutter snap to post — now that he has turned birder extraordinaire he is experiencing the same kind of backlog (isn’t easy is it hehehe).  Sometime ask him how many +1’s he has in the tin this year that has not been processed.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Cinnamon Teal!

Continue reading Time to Add the Cinnamon

Shooting Independence Grove

Carrying on the theme from the last post, I’m back with a shoot summary from earlier in the year.  In fact, this shoot was the morning of the same day we made it to Hebron.  Linda was running the dogs at a big agility show in Libertyville IL.  Knowing the serious downtime that surrounds a dog show, I opted to explore a local park to see what the Northeast part of the state had to offer.  After some quick searches on the web, Independence Grove was selected as the destination.

Shots from Independence Grove, Libertyville IL July 2015

Once again we are taken advantage of by the Chicago leach burbs requiring a $10 fee just to get into the park.  Not aware of any alternatives on the spot, the extortion was paid and I found a parking lot capable of holding the Wombat.  With Beast in hand I set out to discover a bunch of +1’s.  Jumping to the punch line… zero +1’s for the day – make that a punch to the gut.  The Grove is a nice park complete with a large lake, bike path, kid’s center and even a nature walk area.  Everything you would want unless you were looking for new birds.  All was not lost – there were some nice print shots accumulated in the tin.  The Mallard shot of the mother and her juvi (above and below) came out pretty nice.

Shots from Independence Grove, Libertyville IL July 2015

Adding to the print set was this female Red-Winged Blackbird.  She was keeping a tight eye on my every move to make sure her prize catch wasn’t going to be taken.  At first that green hopper was putting up a struggle, but eventually is succumbed to the higher entry in the food chain.

Shots from Independence Grove, Libertyville IL July 2015

Hit the jump to see more shots from The Grove

Continue reading Shooting Independence Grove

Shooting Hebron

Welcome to December everyone.  At times it has felt this year has flown by and other times it seemed a painful crawl as we dealt with disheartening events.  Regardless, time marches on and with the new month comes the last required quota for the year.  Linda and I had a few extra days off for the Thanksgiving holiday giving me the chance to process some of our outings from earlier in the year.  Without further delay, here is a sampling of shots from the Goose Lake shoot up by Hebron, IL.

Shots from Hebron IL July 2015

Unlike most of my bird posts over this year, this particular one does not contain any +1’s.  Not that there wasn’t any that day, I just covered those previously – specifically the Black Tern (link here) which ended up in the top 10 list checks for 2015.  With the focus on new birds you may get the impression that we are one in done in the field which is far from the truth.  In fact, it is sometimes amazing how many unique birds we end up stuffing in the tin by the time the sun falls into slumber. The shot above are of Sandhills that flew over the lake.

Shots from Hebron IL July 2015

The bird above and below is the Yellow-Headed Blackbird.  We had to travel all the way to South Dakota to get them checked off our list the first time (link here).  If only we knew they’d only be 3 or so hours away.  The females (lighter heads) were pretty flighty and wouldn’t land long enough for me to get a crispy shot, but the Beast was able to pull off some decent flight shots.

Shots from Hebron IL July 2015

Hit the jump to read more from Hebron

Continue reading Shooting Hebron