Burning in the Dirt and the Trees

I just might have to go back to formally working as I can’t for the life of me figure out how I can be busier now that when I was spending over 40 hours a week fighting the ghosts in the machine. Those hours are being sucked up into the vortex somehow and it isn’t a result of naps! (truth is I have NEVER been able to take a nap since they stopped giving me a carton a milk and a carpet square in kindergarten). Admittedly, part of the time consumption is a slew of national and local dog competitions that have had us traveling to compete. Time for a proud pappa to do some quick bragging. Ruger had his very first agility ring showing last weekend. Now that he’s finally had his first birthday, he is ready to impress.

Ruger's first agility competition in Springfield, IL in July of 2022

Hit the jump to read more about Ruger’s debut and to see the latest add to my birding life list – hint, he’s a beauty!

Ruger not only qualified in his first run, but he also took first! He was truly burning up the dirt course to the complete awe of his fellow competitors – well, honestly it was a combination of awe and laughter. Let’s just say his incredible speed was an asset as he probably ran an equivalent of three courses and still made it through in time.

Linda: {pointing} Jump

Ruger: Hey, that ‘A’ frame looks like fun, let’s go do that
Linda: {stern faced holding back a chuckle} Ruger, get back her and do this jump
Ruger: Fine {jumps}, Hey, look at that tunnel, now that looks like fun, let’s go do that
Linda: {trying not to join in with the crowd laughter} Ruger, FOCUS and do this other jump
Ruger: Fine, {sprints from now the complete opposite side of the ring and does the jump} Hey, that judge wants to pet me – I must oblige
Linda: Leave him alone and do this teeter totter
Ruger: But I’m too cute for my fur
Linda: You are embarrassing your dad
Ruger: Oh crap, where’s that teeter…wait, did I just smell something interesting in the dirt, why yes, yes I did!
Linda: We will have a talking too when this is over!
Ruger: Did she say treats, yes, I heard treats – this sport rocks

Kudos to Linda who managed to corral him enough to get through the rest of the course. Although, I think she could have done a better job of his ribbon picture – the bad angle makes him look like he drinks a 6 pack a day and hangs out on the couch watching Married with Children reruns. Ruger was busy strutting around the house showing off his ribbons when Raven came into the room and told him to take a seat.

Raven's agility competition in Springfield, IL in July of 2022

“You’ve got a long way to go before you’re ready for the big leagues you agility noob!” Raven definitely has bragging rights at the moment, but Ruger is waaaaay ahead on his development. Linda got herself a gem… now just needs to polish it up.

Okay, daddy bragging over. In honor of Ruger burning up the dirt, thought it would be appropriate to feature a burn in the trees.

Blackburnian Warbler found at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, Chicago in May 2022

When in comes to Warblers, there are few that dazzle as much as the Black”burn”ian Warbler. The bold black lines, the blazing orange hood with the delicate white highlights is a sight to behold. This series of shots really does not do it full justice as they were taken pointing up into the high tree canopy on a very bright day. 3 feet down and the lighting dimmed significantly against the density of the leaves, 2 feet higher and it looked like a winter whiteout in the Colorado mountains. Like all Warblers, this specimen wasn’t about to give me time to adjust settings on the fly so split the difference and took whatever hit the tin.

Blackburnian Warbler found at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, Chicago in May 2022

It also didn’t help this Warbler prefers the delicacies hanging out at the top of the larger trees and probably would have missed it if it didn’t have that orange spotlight. These shots are heavily cropped – bird probably only took up half of my center focus area. Being that this is my first “official” +1 for this species, I’ll definitely take these results – I actually had a female/immature specimen tinned like 5 years ago from another trip up to Montrose Point – this is definitely one of those species you want to focus on the male.

Blackburnian Warbler found at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, Chicago in May 2022

For those of you who read the post on the Philadelphia Vireo (link here), Ron and I spotted this dude immediately after tinning the Vireo. Definitely a good day when you can get two lifers in a matter of 5 minutes. Add in the Bank Swallows (link here) and then another +1 which I hope to feature in a coming post and it almost makes up for having to drive through that godforsaken Chicago traffic. Now, I make Ron do the actual driving part since he is technically “from” Chicago, but I still have to grit my teeth, hold onto the “Jesus Bar” and stomp the virtual passenger side brake the entire way.

Blackburnian Warbler found at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, Chicago in May 2022

Yikes, out of shots, better get to the interesting facts before I let you go. As mentioned earlier, the females and immatures do not have the bright orange hood or the heavy black lines. They, instead, have a yellow wash which is much more common in the Warbler family. To help you in the field, they will still have that triangular shaped ear pattern that is easily distinguished in the males (will be solid unlike the orange highlight below the male’s eye). The Blackburnian is a New World Warbler that spend their winters in northern part of South American before migrating up to the eastern US/Canada border and a swath from Kentucky up through New England. Fortunately, this one was hanging around a little bit later than usual giving us a chance to claw another one back from having to cancel the April Dauphin Island trip. For those of us battered and beaten by the Sparrow identification process, the Blackburnian is easily identified thanks to being the only NA Warbler with an orange throat (noted by Cornell). Lastly, also according to Cornell, the males can be extremely territorial during their nesting season often seen carrying out their own “Top Gun” training as they chase each other through the tree canopy.

Will put a bow on there. Heading to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge tomorrow to hopefully add some more checks to the list – wish me luck!

40 thoughts on “Burning in the Dirt and the Trees”

    1. Honestly, I think it is more than just a tad hehehe. Obviously, Linda needs to up her game so she can stay up with him and keep him from wandering or the courses need to get more difficult because he is a wild one right now (fortunately for us, with the ability to make up for it physically in these baby classes). I have to give Linda the credit for the” Jesus Bar” reference, although I shortened it from the “Oh Jesus Bar” she uses when I’m driving – no idea why those handles are even there on the passenger side but Linda clutches them like a blanket! Thanks for coming by Vic and glad you enjoyed the post – don’t pull anything laughing, we don’t want our lawyers demanding we put health disclaimers on our every page!!!

      Like

        1. Same here and I’ve certainly heard them called that as well as embellished with “I’m gonna die” – wonder what the truck manufacturers refer to them as hehehe.

          Like

  1. “¡A la Machina!” Literally “to the machine” but as an expletive it’s “son of a female dog!” or worse. If you get the allegory. I thought it would be especially fitting since you were thinking about working 40 for the machine then, and working your ass off dealing with 42 now. Congratulations to the kids and Linda for picking up all those ribbons. Reminds me of the ribbons I would come home with from rose shows. I won “Queen of Show” for my rose arrangements. How manly is that? I love that fiery little warbler. So long, and thanks for all the dog and bird photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love that Tim!! I am sure that will come in handy in the future. I learned a large number of colorful expressions in my Spanish classes but this sounds like a compliment for those not versed in the language – and as you pointed out, goes along with my mortal enemy in the machines. I figured you must have competed in some manner with all your knowledge of flowers/roses. I simply know the prickly one (rose family) and the non prickly ones (every other damn flower) ha. You are quite welcome for all the shots in repayment for your wonderful sky and cat captures! I show the latter to my dogs and laugh when they get their fur up hehehe. Take care Tim and I’ll hold off on any “man shaming” for now hehehe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When Laurie’s sister was in the Peace Corp in Africa, her parents visited her. They asked a native what the name of an animal was and the native said “Food!” I’m kind of that way with birds. There are big birds and little birds.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. 2030!?! what, do you think I am some kind of crazy over caffeinated pixie stick gurgling photographer – I’m thinking more like 2035 sounds much more reasonable. Good to know I am not the only one that is going through the shock, I was beginning think there was some kind of unknown side effect from my Shingles shots that made me process time faster (it certainly made me horribly sick for both shots so it wouldn’t surprise me if it destroyed my circadian rhythms at the same time. Happy paddling CJ!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha, was sitting here thinking of some guy running through the woods of IL with pixie purple hair!😂🤣😂 Now that would make my Hummm file for sure!
        Good to know you are on track for 2035, that would make me…well I should still be able to read if the internet doesn’t go into some strange rebirthing. 😂🤣
        We took Namekagon out this morning for a short paddle but weather is expected to be topping 100F next week so you won’t find us anywhere close to doing anything for that period of time. Heat exhaustion is not my friend so I am loading up the ice trays to fill the bathtub.
        Happy travels to you guys and look for bears but don’t feed them.😊🧸

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve done some strange things in my life – dying my hair has entered into any of those – and probably 100% due to not wanting to be featured on anyone’s Hummmmm posts ha! Just let me know if you need me to push the post dates up a bit…being a good friend, I’d be willing to make the extra effort to get it out by oh, say 2034! We are up in MN at the moment and it is definitely starting to trend hotter. Pretty sure I saw a Mosquito on a lounge chair sipping on an umbrella drink with Butterflies fanning it. So far no bears, but a couple of +1’s for the year thanks to a run through Sherburne.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Nice! I got the total visual on the mosquito, blood sucking parasites (similar to most lawyers I have ever had contact with…).
            I will keep you updated on the 2030’s.
            Hot in MN means somewhere comfortable. Enjoy and best wishes on some more + 1s. Rice Lake Nature Reserve near McGregor off HWY 65. I know they do a warbler count there each year for research.

            Like

    1. You two are ganging up on me now! For the record, (and this was probably a record in itself), this series was only 2 months old – still had the development chemicals dripping off them when I put them in the post. This is definitely one of our top show-Warblers. Cornell did claim they can often get blown off course with a few showing up in Scotland etc. It would be great if one would make it your way although the stories you’ve told about your bird chasers would probably mean all hell would break loose over there. Take care B! and just an FYI, you put an extra ‘u’ in there.. just saying.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the comment above, the retired time shock, or retired time clock. There so much to do that we could not do when working, so I am busy all the time, but it is so much more of a fun busy. 🙂 great job on the ribbons. One day you may be able to add a video of them running the races. 🙂 that would be fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have definitely been busy Sandra with all your travels and bird snapping! I think you are right, it is a busy feeling, but it is definitely a lot more fun that battling gremlins in the bytes. That is a great idea, maybe I’ll try to get some videos of their next runs – well, at least Ravens – something tells me we would be nominated for American’s Funniest Videos if I dared put up a Ruger fiasco before he gets settled down ha! Appreciate you coming by Sandra and as you’ve probably noticed I am waaaay behind on my post reading again – promise, I’ll get caught up soon.

      Like

  3. Congrats to Ruger! And to Linda. And to you for figuring out retirement is busier than working because now we can do all the fun things we never had time for while working 40+. And for capturing this captivating LOJ.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, wait a minute, don’t I get some credit!?! After all, there are no ribbons if dad isn’t there to sherpa all their crap from event to event… just saying hehehe. I think you are absolutely correct – I am definitely busier, but when I looked at all the things consuming my precious minutes they do all fit into a much “funner” category than those in our previous lives. As you have seen, I’ve definitely embarked on some major Halloween prop endeavors I probably would not have taken on before retirement. Hmmmm, did we slot in the LOJ label into our acronym tree yet…thinking maybe add in the Hawaiʻi ʻakepas (are these on your homework list?) to that group and then Orioles in the MOJs grouping. Appreciate you dropping in and the Poodles extend their thanks.

      Like

      1. Just now added the ‘akepa to my photo wish list for this trip, another LOJ. Luckily I already have a few on the homework list in the tin, but probably haven’t shared those with you yet. Not post-worthy of course, but good for identification. Now that I’ve Google’d the ‘akepa, I may actually have that one, but will try for more verification photos.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh, I’m so envious of your Blackburnian. I know exactly what you mean about the challenges of tree-top exposures. Congrats on puppy accomplishments, and good luck on your next trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sam! I remember you posting about your Blackburnian find from Cullinan City Park which made me incredibly envious as well, especially since I didn’t have the male yet ha! Went back and looked at your post (just to verify I had my blogs straight) and reread your comment regarding birding by ear. You probably already know about it, but I HIGHLY recommend the app Merlin if you want a handy tool to help locate birds and what I find even more important is immediate ear feedback on bird call ear training. I like to have it running in the field, hear a call, take a stab at what I think it is and have Merlin confirm it or correct me. It has really helped Ron and I out and it is amazing how much better we are now that we’ve been using it for several months now – a lady we met at Montrose (ironically same day we found this featured Blackburnian) recommended this app over the BirdNet one we were using at the time (both apps from Cornell). They have their advantages, but from our experiences with Merlin we’ve pretty much dropped the Birdnet app unless we want to get a second opinion. We are up in Minnesota at the moment and just got back from Shureburn NWR – shhhh, don’t tell anyone yet, but I went +3 for this year’s count and that was after a pretty quick run through – likely heading back in a few days. As always, appreciate you dropping in Sam.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, I’ve installed Merlin, and have used it a couple of times – it is so uncanny, it’s like magic. You can bet I’ll be making more use of it. Wonderful to hear about your success at Shureburn, can’t wait to see the results! Travel safe.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Ruger is definitely dripping with confidence (read smugness) – we’ll see how he handles it when the the competition gets stiffer – he won’t be able to lollygag it around then and he’ll have to work harder for those first place ribbons. Raven is the calm cool and collected one of the family at the moment. Nationally ranked and usually gets the job done in any competitions he enters – it won’t be long before he will have to compete against him in which case there will probably be some deep seeded rivalry born that will make it a difficult for the one who comes home with less ribbons ha! Appreciate you dropping in and really liked your recent shot labeled “Dramatic storms hovering over landscapes” – rich colors and textures.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ruger’s eyes made my heart melt… Congratulations to the whole family and especially to Ruger! And a warbler is wonderful! On the last photo he decided to delight you with his singing. Great!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Careful there, he uses that trick to sucker people for additional treats! Ruger and Raven say thanks.. but they think giving Linda any of the credit is unwarranted hehehe. The Blackburnian did finally grace us with his sequence of sweet sounding zips. A bit hard to hear being so far up in the tree canopy. Appreciate you dropping by Kaya.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Probably more like TWO handfuls ha! We are up in MN at the moment for the Teacup Agility Dog Nationals – Raven managed to get nationally ranked once again and earned the right to compete in this annual competition. Linda entered Raven and the younger one (Ruger) into a few open agility runs they held today before the main event kicks off tomorrow. Raven had a good warmup, but holy hell, Ruger’s brain went into overdrive and gave quite a laugh to the audience. Imagine a high performance bred Poodle running as fast as I’ve ever seen him from obstacle to obstacle….would have been awesome if the order had been ANYWHERE close to the order he was supposed to have done them. He even earned an award for “The Most Creative Path Through a Course”. He thinks it is a major award for an incredible accomplishment sigh. Appreciate you dropping by Cheryl.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. For some reason my spam filter has taken a liking to you Donna. I need to figure out what is going on so I don’t keep having such a delay in responding to your comments. Glad you enjoyed the post and got some laughs – pretty sure my truck’s Jesus bar has fingernail marks in it from Linda hehehe. Take care Donna and sorry again about the delayed response.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s