I’d like to say things are starting to settle down around here, but that wouldn’t exactly be accurate. This Saturday I once again toe the line in hopes of getting the 50K trail run check on the life list. If you recall, my first attempt back in July didn’t exactly go that well … and that is likely an understatement of the epic level of failure that was (link here). Fortunately, we are past the super hot days of summer and the current forecast looks like a very cool 40-50’s day (with a dip into the 30’s the night before). So, I do have that going for me and likely a new angel on my shoulder to help me through the rough points. They have promised me there will be NO box fans at the aid station so bloodletting should be at a minimum ha. Immediately after that is our annual Halloween party having been postponed due to our recent loss. Get past that and we are downhill to the end of what has turned out to be a year I’d rather forget. While I am waiting for Linda to finish up her cardio rehab for the day, decided to be productive – watching other people workout has to rate up there with one of the most boring ways to spend an hour second to maybe playing Tic-Tac-Toe against yourself.
Say hello to the King of South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. We met this specimen on our trip down the Texas Gulf Coast back in December 2016 (which puts this almost 3 years old if my high levels of education serves me right). This dude (it is the male of the species) was hanging out on a sign near the end of the boardwalk passing the day taking mental pictures of all the flightless humans walking by.
Hit the jump to catch a couple more shots of the Belted Kingfisher.
Continue reading It’s Good to be the King
In loving memory of George Doerfler
8/5/31 – 9/30/19
Continue reading Until We Meet Again
First off let’s all give Ron a big Happy Birthday! I have no idea why he is aging so fast while I, the baby of the family, remain frozen it time in my late 20’s. Quite amazing really and owe it all to the miracle of running. Ron on the other hand sports the 0.0 magnet on the back of his vehicle and can tell you all about the pterodactyls he used to photograph on his birding outings hehehehe. Let it be known one of the best things about being the baby of the family … you ALWAYS get to make fun of your older brothers on their birthdays without repercussions. I imagine Ron reading this post and looking like this…
Wait, this isn’t what Ron is looking like, rather EVERY bird he comes into contact when we are out birding together. It is well documented that birds typically hate him for some unknown reason. My theory is he is a CAT person. Natural born killers I say. Maybe I should put together a post of birds attacking him – I think you would get a kick out of it
Hit the jump to see a few more pictures of this real life angry bird.
Continue reading Get that Bird Some Happy Pills
Every once in a while I catch a break and it looks like this weekend fits those parameters. As I sit here typing it is raining, as it did the day before that and the day before that and many of the days even ahead of that. Apparently the weather gods didn’t notice our annual outdoor Halloween event had been moved a week out. I can’t imagine what a nightmare it would have been trying to put up and take down all the decorations on the muddy trails – not even sure the ATV could have made it through the pooling water and saturated ground. The wet stuff has made it somewhat inconvenient getting the outdoor pre-work done (mowing, trimming and building the bridge), but the indoor stuff is coming along ahead of schedule… well, except for my self-imposed monthly post quota. One more post to go after this one as the calendar page is beginning to curl up. In honor of the marshy like feel to the trails at the moment, thought it would be appropriate to feature this distinctive Wren.
Hit the jump to read and see a bit more about this member of the Wren family!
Continue reading I Call this Workout Marshfit
Some days turn out to be one of those where you wonder when it is all done if there is an ounce of energy left in your body. Today was one of those days for me. Normally, we would be putting on our annual Halloween Haunted Trail event tonight, however, with all that Linda has been through and for better alignment with my partner in haunt’s schedule we pushed it to next week – all I can say is thank god for that as yesterday we had a major storm rolled through that completely flooded out part of our trail system through the woods (60 mph winds, hail and buckets of rain). Can’t imagine how sucky it would have been trying to get everything set up not to mention having to make our guests trudge through the mud. Instead, today was dedicated to getting all the props built over the course of the year out of the basement (Linda put her foot down) and depending on how the weather went, start work on a new 24’x8′ bridge over an ever growing stream. Thanks to friends helping out we were able to meet Linda’s demand in the morning and then we decided to wade through pooled water on the trail and get some work done on the bridge. 6 hours later we had the entire outer rails built (doubled up 2x10s to 24 feet as well as the inner cross supports on 2′ centers. I bet my friends do not offer to help me out next year ha! This is one of the rare times where I can count the number of muscles in the human body as every single one is screaming at me. While I am letting the Aleve kick in decided to blast a post out – not to mention the chair looked really comfy.
Last post I featured the Great Blue Heron – the big kahuna in the Egret family was feeling jealous – thus the green hue on the lores. Nothing is worse than dealing with a bunch of slighted, whiny Egrets, “did you post yet, did you post yet, are you going to make a post on us, why are you such an Egret hater, did you post yet, I thought you were going to post, Egret discriminator, when is that post coming…”. It just keeps repeating until you give in and …well, feature them in a post.
hit the jump to see a few more shots of this beautiful bird.
Continue reading The Ones Without Galoshes
The Halloween prop shop is in full production as we get closer to the haunt event. This year’s effort should be epic if I get everything done in time – every year there are always a few ideas that don’t make it onto the trail just purely due to only being given a mere 60 seconds in every minute (damn thee Father Time, damn thee!). The good news is I had a giant breakthrough in a design of a motor housing tonight which I’ve been struggling with for couple of days. The best part about all the Halloween activities is I get to dust the rust off my 3D solid modeling and electronics education. Now just sitting here waiting for the 3D printer to finish with my new parts – since I don’t like to just sit figured why not claw a bit of ground back on the post quota..
Decided it was time to feature the second part of my series on the big birds. If you recall, I covered the first set back in June – where the hell has the summer gone!?! (link here). That set of Great Blue Herons was brought to you from the great birding mecca of South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. This second series comes from a couple of different places although still down on the Texas Gulf Coast from our trip down there in late December 2016 into early January 17. These first two specimens were found at Galveston Island. They were so intent on Froggies stupid enough to wander too close to natures living spear that they didn’t pay me any attention. Ended up being able to move in to the point where The Beast couldn’t retract enough to get those long bodies in the frame. No worries, always happy when I can put some nice close ups in the tin.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Great Blue.
Continue reading Great Blue Take Two
Howdy all! Let it be known that rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated. Seems like a tired record these days, but the hustle and bustle is reaching peak levels. The Halloween party is mere weeks away which brings with it outright panic. This year it is twice the levels thanks to having to do the inside decorations and possibly the cooking along with the massive outdoor trail setup due to Linda still playing the recovery card (yes, I’ve been asking every one of her doctors just how many of those cards are left in the deck – good thing she can’t throw anything in her current state). Waaaay behind on posts for the month, not to mention falling behind on reading the output of the others I follow.
Going with a quick one today so I can get back to prop building. Today’s featured feathered friend is making its second appearance on the blog.
You may recall this rather interesting looking bird is called a Plain Chachalaca – cha-cha-la ca. Our previous sighting was at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge back on our December 2016 trip down the Texas Gulf Coast (link here). This happens to be one of those birds you don’t tend to forget after your first encounter and quick to recall as soon as your ears catch tone of their presence. Their song signature is what led to the name. Cornell declares it sounds like a “raucous” and very repetitive “chac, a lak”. I on the other hand I feel it sounds more like two Bullfrogs being rubbed together in hopes of being able to start a fire. Even their call is annoying as hell – would describe it as what it sounds like when you quickly squeeze the air out of Possum lungs.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this Central American chicken.
Continue reading Bomb Chachalaca
Howdy everyone! It feels like it has been ages since I have had the chance to take a quick break and spend time putting up a post. Just in case you were wondering, Linda is progressing very rapidly. The first week or so was a bit rough adjusting to the recovery protocol – Linda doesn’t take well to just relaxing requiring me to continually remind her she just went through major surgery and needs to give her body time to mend. She started cardio rehab this week which I think is helping her a lot, if nothing else freeing her from the confines of the house. If that wasn’t enough, the calendar turned over resulting in a “holy crap it’s time for the annual Halloween Trail event” panic. It seems like it is so far away and worry free until wham, you have only weeks to go with sooooo many props still to build. When the opportunity to post between all the training (two halfs in next 7 days), taking care of Linda and now Halloween prep.. you take it. Going to be long on pictures today and short on text – luckily today’s featured feathered friend is quite spectacular.
Nor is this bird camera shy. When you got it, you might as well flaunt it. This beautifully colored bird is called the Great Kiskadee and is right up there in my top 10 attractive birds that I have been able to get in the tin. The Painted Bunting (link here) still holds the top spot, but the Kiskadee is not far behind. It may not have the diversity of palette the Painted does, but the whites, blacks, yellows and chestnut are perfectly coordinated and a testament to the skills of Mother Nature’s interior decorator. There are also some secret colorings I didn’t even notice until several encounters later. They are a bit selective when they show that.. but more on that later.
Hit the jump to view a lot more pictures of our Bentsen-Rio find.
Continue reading Another Lamb Chop Murder
Greetings everyone. Seems like it has been months since I’ve been able to find time to pound out a post. It has really been only about a week and half but my days have become longer than usual now that Linda is officially home and in recovery mode. Although she is frustrated by the limited amount stuff she is able to do (both physically and under strict limiting from doctor’s orders), she is apparently able to do a lot more than expected based on comments from the follow up appointments. Her cardiac rehab specialist couldn’t believe she was so soon out of surgery and able to walk into her office. No surprises here, that’s my wife, driven to get back in the dog agility ring. Of course, this has forced me to learn new skills like something called “laundry” which translates to shove as many clothes as you can in the hole of the large metal box, pour the sticky stuff from the big white jug into a slide at the top and hit the brightly colored button. Then there’s grocery shopping which as far as I can tell is to simply walk up and down every aisle and grab 5 of everything that looks yummy and then get sent back with an explicit list of things to get (while picking up even more yummy stuff). Not sure about this cooking concept either – there are all these appliances and utensils scattered about the kitchen which probably all have some purpose, but not sure what, as the contents of the containers I bring from the various places on the way home all seem ready to eat just as they are. Oh wait, I have kind of fallen in love with the metal box under the counter they refer to as the dishwasher!
Enough about my domestication as I know you are really here for the birds!
Hit the jump to read a bit more about this frustrating duck!
Continue reading When Lesser is More
Another post from the great north with some good news to share. Linda has now made it through her four surgeries and has been officially discharged from the hospital. “Hip Hip Hooray!” I’ve been through a number of “situations” over the years (unfortunately, many of them self-induced). Some of those bumps in the road took just about every ounce of fortitude I had to get through. Even with all that, I have to bow to the resolve Linda has shown over the last 4 weeks – three of which has been spent up here in Viking territory. Weeks of being poked, prodded, sliced, sawed, cracked, studied, sampled, wired, tested, extracted, stitched, scanned, radiated, incubated, anesthetized, sponged, pressurized, cauterized, medicated, IV’d and worst of all bombarded by some of the worst TV shows imaginable (think marathons of Yes to the Dress, Millionaire Listings and in the I’d rather beat my head with a hammer than watch category, Below Deck private yacht cruises). I can’t even find the words to convey how proud I am of her up with all that and staying positive even though she has many more months of recovery ahead of her.
On a personal front, just glad I do not have to write up the latest +1 to my birding list from a truly uncomfortable folding hospital chair!
Many of the plus ones as of late (well, to be honest, most of the posts this year) have come from birding trips to fiscally more responsible states than Illinois. In a change of pace, today’s featured feathered friend comes courtesy of a trip up to Starved Rock State Park which is a relatively short drive away. Ron and I had the opportunity to do some birding together back in May 2015. Not exactly the best weather as we were drenched by morning showers and it didn’t really lighten up much the rest of the day. Any shots deep under the tree canopy required dizzying levels of ISO and significant time in the digital darkroom. We still managed to have a lot of fun as is always the case when out with Ron in the field – even managed to get a few new feathered specimens in the tin. The Northern Rough-Winged Swallow you see before you is one of those new additions.
Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about our uniquely textured Swallow.
Continue reading Rough to the Touch