The King of Texas

How is everyone doing today?  Hopefully better than I am at the moment.  It is rare for me to set a goal and fail miserably at it – I may not get it on the first try, but eventually with a bit of dedication the finish line is reached.  Today was one of those rare times thanks to some god awful heat and humidity that decided to greet us at the start of our training (not practice Ron) run today.  The plan was to knock out the final 13 miles before the taper down started for the two half marathon races coming up in about 2 weeks.  Based on last night’s weather forecast this should not have been that much of an issue besides being out in the rain.  Guess what.. no rain.  Once again the forecast wasn’t even close to being right which is getting to be waaaaay to common these days.  For an industry that declares success at the same level as a coin flip, not even getting that close is an embarrassment.  So instead, we got out of our cars and felt the stinging hot slap of high humidity.  After one loop around Springdale, Ryan and Sung threw in the towel.  Not wanting to give up yet, I opted to replace the three Springdale hills for one mega-hill up to Glen Oak Park.  At least at the top of that, it was flat going until time for the big downhill back to the car.  By the time the hill was conquered, there wasn’t much left in the tank – pounded out 10 and called it a day – sigh.  Let’s hope race day has mercy on us.

Thanks to zapping all the energy out of my body, figured it would be a good rest to get a quick post out.  Today’s featured bird is once again from the big state of Texas in November 2013.
Kingfisher shot on Texas trip Nov 2013

Unlike the last two posts, this particular bird isn’t a new check in the birding list.  However, it is a definite improvement over my previous shots in that it is finally close enough to make out the details and fairly crisp (link here and here).  Something about these Belted Kingfishers that make them difficult to photograph.  It isn’t like they are in constant motion or hyper by any means – more like Herons and Egrets as they simply stair at the water waiting patiently for dinner to arrive.  Once in motion they can be difficult to capture but no excuse for all the soft shots in the past.  Maybe we could harness this voodoo power they have on cameras and make a fortune embedding it into the paint of sports cars – be damned you evil stop light cameras.

Kingfisher shot on Texas trip Nov 2013

By now I can pretty much detect the presence of a Kingfisher by their distinct twilling sound.  Whenever we are by a stream the eyes are in continual scan of the banks outer branches looking for their distinct shape and coloring.  This particular one was easy to spot since it was just hanging out on a support line for a bridge.  It also happens to be a female based on the brown band on the top and side of the white breast.  Males are typically all slate grey and white.

Kingfisher shot on Texas trip Nov 2013

The other feature I really find interesting about the Kingfisher is the eye mark.  In case you are not familiar with these birds, that white spot near their bill … is NOT their eye.  These shots were intentionally left a little dark to obscure the real eye a bit.  The actual eye is all black and is found just back from the white mark.  Wonder if that works as some kind of light aid for their eyes – maybe like how athletes will put black under their eye to keep reflections down.  Crap, out of pictures.  One final fact to leave you with about this bird.  They burrow into the sides of riverbanks to build their nests.  Much like Muskrats and Beavers, they make the tunnel slope upward to help protect the nest from flooding. Tunnel length ranges from 1 to EIGHT feet long.  Wonder if they would be in the market for an underground mining vehicle – I just might know a company that could sell them one.

That’s all folks – time to get off my ass and finish staining my wood trim.  The Halloween party is approaching quickly and Linda isn’t going to stand for the basement not being done again this year.

Oh, before the hate mail gets too high, I probably should have said the Queen of Texas in the title but hey, just going by the name they gave it.

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Pretty Strutting in Texas

Greetings everyone.  True to form, I’m once again under the gun to reach my quota.  The saving factor is I already have the digital dark r4om work is complete so all that needs to be done is add a few of these wordy thingies and hopefully we’ll be good until next month.  Of course, that doesn’t make me feel much better because next month will be all about the Halloween party prep.. and two half marathons and finishing up the basement and and and – sigh, I’ll deal with that later.  For now, let’s enjoy one of the most beautiful birds in the world.

Peacock shot on Texas trip in Nov 2013

Even though the signature plumage isn’t up on full display, you can probably figure out what this colorful specimen is.  Like the Curlew in the previous post, this bird was shot in Texas.  In fact, it was shot on a side road not far from the field where that Curlew was hanging out.  First off, before I get scores and scores of hate male, I am perfectly aware this is not a native bird of North America so technically it shouldn’t be considered a real +1.  However, after long discussions with my brother, we decided it was not in captivity, free to roam about wherever it wanted so what the hell, we are going to put a check mark in the book anyway – woot!

Peacock shot on Texas trip in Nov 2013

I’ve actually photographed this bird a number of times in zoos and even have images from the Denver zoo of one that was just out walking around free of containment – that was pretty cool – was able to get within a couple of feet of it and experience just how beautiful that plumage really is.  Hopefully those pictures are coming up in the queue because that one would go full fantail for us.  I do not have a lot of pictures of this bird being as it was taken from the car while passing through to get to the Whoopers.  That means we have to get to the facts fast.  Starting off, only the mail is actually call the Peacock.  If you think about that a bit, it makes perfect sense.  Females are referred to as Peahens and the more general term is Peafowl.  There are three types of Peafowls – the more common one is pictured here and the one we are used to seeing at zoos etc, is labeled the Indian one and get this .. wait for it – is found in India (as well as Pakistan and Sri Lanka).  The other two are Green and Congo found in Southeast Asia and … you guessed it Congo.  With that kind of naming, who needs a reference book.   The Peacocks (which you now know is only the male) is the one pictured here, identifiable by the large color palette.  Peahens are downright boring but that is for a good reason – they need to blend into their surroundings in order to prevent predators from locating them while nesting.

Peacock shot on Texas trip in Nov 2013

To close out a couple more facts,  Peafowl babies are called Peachicks and a group of  the Peafowl are considered a party or a pride.  India considers them a sacred bird  in reference to the markings on their tail feathers which they attribute to the eyes of the gods.  They are ground-feeders preferring insects, plants and small “creatures” as my reference site refers to them.  I laughed at the last fact I found – apparently they are not the nicest birds to be around and tend to be a bit inhospitable to our native aviary.  The reason I laughed is I immediately thought of Ron and how domestic birds tend to attack him – if he ever gets  close to one of these beasts he’s going to have to pull out his Steer escaping sprinting abilities.

All I have for you today folks – have to hit the hay and get ready for a long run tomorrow …. probably in the rain so I get to relive the Illini Marathon conditions once again (link here).

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Lone Star Goodness

Welcome back to my blog ladies and gentlemen.  If you have been having some problems getting to this site over the weekend you can blame GoDaddy.  Not sure yet what is going on with them, but their availability has been crap for the last couple of days.  I was getting really worried, but found out that my brother Ron was having similar problems with his blog which is also served by GoDaddy.  He has been exploring the actual WordPress services and those appear to be working out quite well – his birding blog I mentioned previously is hosted there already.  Depending on how things work out, there may be a switch considerations coming in the future.  Until now, we’ll just use my current blog – which by the way, I have pretty much worked all the kinks out of already and has been working pretty good up to this point. Enough about the technical details, let’s get to today’s featured bird.

Texas Trip Nov 2013

How do you like the snout on that one!  For some strange reason I have an affinity for this species hehehe.  That there is a Long-Billed Curlew.  To be honest, was not entirely sure when I came upon it in the digital dark room.  Based on the key characteristics (yeah, the snout), it could have been a Whimbrel.  Decided to phone a friend (Ron) and get his opinion.  He pointed out that the Whimbrel has a stronger striped head, a dark crown with a white median stripe and generally less buffy look.  I have to agree – a Curlew it is!

Texas Trip Nov 2013

Hit the jump to see a couple more shots of this Curlew

Continue reading Lone Star Goodness

The Lizard King

Greetings everyone!  I would like take this opportunity to officially welcome my brother Ron to the photography blogging world (cheers, hoorays, clowns.. wait scratch that last evil thought).  If you would like to check out his new site, you can visit it by either using the Blog link area in the right navigation pane our simply go here http://rondoerflerphotography.net (link here). Of course, to rub in his superior cache of birds, he leads off with a bird I do not have (dammit!).  If that wasn’t enough he includes photos of bird babies which … wait for it .. .wait for it … I do not have either.  Now before you go feeling too bad for me — and you should be by now — this foray into the wildlife blogging arena comes at an expense.  One trait of my middle brother is he is extremely competitive.  My other brother and I have just learned to live with this unique trait Ron has from the rest of our family – we considered an intervention many years back, but decided it would become a contest on how long he could hold out and opted to not waste the time.  It is because of this trait I had to break down and create an official set of birding rules for us.  This official list can be found on a previous post (link here).  Please take note of Rule 06: If you have a working blog you must feature the bird before counting.  Guess what folks, Ron has a birding blog.  As explicitly stated in our official birding rules, he now has to feature every bird on the blog before it can be officially counted.  I kind of feel bad for him.  Well, for a few minutes at least, but then I realized I was up on him like 160 to TWO (although, I am not competitive).    Regardless, check out Ron’s site – he has that thing looking really sharp.

To be honest, this post is mainly to welcome Ron and picked a post topic that I didn’t need to spend a lot of time on.

Various Lizards from Nevada - August 2013

That my friends is what I refer to as a Lizard.  I can also tell you that my lovely wife always refers to them as snakes with legs.  This specifically means she gets near hysterical when she sees one and has a tendency to rip my clothes to pieces trying to hide behind me (don’t believe me, ASK HER).

Various Lizards from Nevada - August 2013

Unlike my wife, I hope you like looking at picture of Lizards I took out on our trip to Vegas.

Hit the jump to see a few more Lizard shots!

Continue reading The Lizard King