Bet the House

What’s the old adage, “rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated”. Yes, I’m still breathing, but to be honest, I am wearing down fast. I’ve commented a lot about my busy schedule as of late and we are now in the pinnacle of stress and deliverables. I am in the middle of a 4 half marathon race stretch (in a little over 6 weeks) and more pressing at the moment is our huge Halloween Haunted Trail event is this Saturday night. I’ll catch you up if the total lack of sleep doesn’t take me out before then. My apologies to all my blogger friends for not getting to all your posts for a while now – promise will get caught up as soon as Sunday makes it here. For now, need to get another task out of the way – introducing my little red friend from Colorado.

House Finch shot at Colorado ?? In May 2014

That colorful bird is called a House Finch. I found it while hanging out at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds which I think is technically in Golden, but it is just outside Denver, Colorado. Linda and I were out there to run our furry children at the Teacup Agility Nationals back in May 2014.

House Finch shot at Colorado ?? In May 2014
Hit the jump to read more about the House Finch. Continue reading Bet the House

A Better Gander Pt 2 of 2

Had an extremely productive night tonight. Ron was able to stop by on his way back to Chicago and help me out with some Halloween animatronics I’ve been working on for this year’s haunted trail. He was able to improve the sound on my Clown in the Box from last year (link here) and helped work out the kinks on my latest project Nightwing. This new one uses a linear actuator and some fairly complicated linkages. Also have some other new props in the works – shaping up to be another fun trail this year. Since it is going to be a bit hectic around here as the month progresses, figured I’d go ahead and get the second post of the Gander Mountain series out of the way. Going to start with the prize find from our first visit to Gander back in May of this year.

Birding Gander Mountain May of 2018

Mr. Red-Eye represents a +1 to my list. That colorful eye, white undertail feathers and the black downward curved bill indicates this medium sized bird is a Black-Billed Cuckoo. These birds generally range in the eastern half of the US expanding a bit into Canada and then down into the eastern half of South America. A fairly broad range for a bird I’ve only seen twice now. Even Cornell mentions how elusive and secluded this species is. You might be able to hear them foraging through the tree branches looking for Caterpillars – getting eyes on and much less a focus point is a difficult task at best. My first encounter was up at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie (or as I call it the bunker prairie link here). I was able to get a few shots in the tin back then, but those pictures still need to be processed – those were really far away and not likely to yield better shots. Instead, using this encounter as my official +1. The shot below gives a little better view of the white under tail and that ominous blood red eye. This Cuckoo should be named the official mascot of late night bingers.

Birding Gander Mountain May of 2018

Since this is the first time this bird has appeared here, wanted to grab an interesting tidbit as a takeaway. These Cuckoos love them spiny Caterpillars – see the first shot for proof. Most predators are deterred by those spines, however Cuckoos gobble them up like Peeps during Easter (maybe that analogy only applies to me). Cornell states that those spines end up sticking to their stomach lining. Periodically, the Cuckoo will resolve this discomfort by coughing up their stomach lining in one giant pellet. My apologies if you are having breakfast while reading this – nature be crazy ha.

Hit the jump to see more items from the tin that day.

Continue reading A Better Gander Pt 2 of 2

A Better Gander Pt 1 of 2

Greetings from the wetlands everyone! If you recall, last weekend my brother Ron and I were planning to do some birding near the Illinois-Wisconsin border. My youngest poodle was running in an agility competition up in Spring Grove and we were camping at our favorite state park up there, Chain O’ Lakes. Since Ron lives in Chicago it’s a fairly short drive to meet up and hunt down some birds. I also mentioned we have the uncanny ability to force it to rain simply by planning the outing. True to course, IT RAINED.. in fact it rained before we left, then rained on Saturday and again on Sunday and basically ever since. Now, this also may be due to us just having a new well drilled – Murphy’s Law for sure. The good news is we were able to get our birding in between the storms on Sunday! One of the places we decided to visit was Gander Mountain Forest Preserve near Antioch IL. Last year was an awesome outing netting a ton of birds and even a +1. However, this year … TOTALLY SUCKED! Might go into how awful it was in the second of this two part post, but for now I thought I’d simply go back to our previous visit back in May and finally process and post some of those finds.

First off, the smallest find of the day.

Gander Mountain Birding in Antioch IL

We caught this Ruby-Throated Hummingbird hanging out on the right side of the main loop. This is pretty much the only Hummer we have in the Midwest so no trouble ID’ing it. Note I will mention that it was mighty hard to get in the tin thanks to all the trees and limbs that wanted to grab focus over its tiny stature. Near the start of the trail, we were met with Mr. Noisy. Telling you, these Catbirds can make quite a racket. Since they are of the Mockingbird family, they’ll blast away at whatever new song they learned to mimic. If you wait long enough, they’ll go back to their standard mewing giving them away instantly

Gander Mountain Birding in Antioch IL

Hit the break to see ore finds from the Gander trip.

Continue reading A Better Gander Pt 1 of 2

A Western in the Estes

Going with a quick post tonight. We’ll be heading to one of my favorite birding locations in the northern part of the state for the holiday weekend – hoping to meet my brother Ron up there and see what we can get in the tin. It seems like every time we head up there to bird their lakes and streams they get a multitude of storms that either outright flood the Fox River or squish up the place – neither situation ideal if you are trying to walk the banks. Of course, for those of us on the well the rain is a welcome sight especially since it has been pretty dry lately. Just had an interesting thought – maybe we can turn the ability to make it rain into a service. You call us up, tell us when you want/need some rain and we’ll make it happen for a fair but hefty chunk of cash. Then I simply call up Ron, schedule a trip to the Chain ‘O Lakes State Park and pump up our bank accounts while enjoying one of our favorite pastimes. Will putting some noodle time on that – for now, decided to feature a bird that has already made its debut at Intrigued.

Western Kingbird shot at Rocky Mountain National Park, May 2014

hit the jump to see a couple more shots of this yellow hued bird.

Continue reading A Western in the Estes

Little Miss Yellow

Greetings All! Once again I have to face the shame from lack of blogging production. I’ll spare you the details since I’ve already mentioned my current workload in previous posts. Taking a positive position I was able to break away from the toils of the day (or rather the wicked humidity of the day) to put out a quick post. Back to the birds for today’s featured critter.

Female Common Yellowthroat shot at Jubilee State Park IL August 2014

Kind of cute don’t you think? This little girl comes to us from a few years back. I was doing some hiking in my favorite park – Jubilee College State Park all the way back in August of 2014. I’ve featured this park in numerous posts being as it is where I spend a good part of my spare time either training for runs (every other day) or catch a bit of hiking or birding. Safe to say I am familiar with just about every inch of that park. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt it is only a mile from my house. From a birding perspective, there are several good spots in the park depending on what you happen to be looking for. Want Eastern Bluebirds or Indigo Buntings head up to the flats near the pavilion areas and simply close your eyes and take in their sweet songs from every direction. Prefer raptors or woodpeckers, hang at the edge of the tree lines along the fields or make your way through the wooded trails. It pretty much has an ideal environment for every Midwestern bird species somewhere in its 3,200 acres.

Female Common Yellowthroat shot at Jubilee State Park IL August 2014

Hit the jump to find out what kind of bird this is.

Continue reading Little Miss Yellow

Days in White Feathers

Other than a likely case of hopefully temporary ear damage we successfully made it through the first night of bands at the Mississippi Valley State Fair beer tents.  As mentioned last post we are playing groupie this weekend and checking out some new local bands and of course our long time favorite Love Dogs who will be taking the stage later tonight.  Just as a quick summary and to add to my memory banks when I’m old(er) and wondering where the hell all those years went – the Sugar Nipples ended up being a band with a “named” band than they turned out to be.  We have visions of them being similar to our favorite Vegas band Steel Panther but they fell short.  The capper was when they started repeating songs to fill the gap before the AC/DC tribute band Electric Shock came on.  Luckily shock ended up being really really good … if you like AC/DC classic sets.  One of my biggest accomplishments in life was converting Linda from country to real music.  We have traveled to several AC/DC concerts and our bar was set extremely high of someone wanting to monetize off their name.  Beyond some lead riff mistakes, Shock pulled off an excellent job.  The lead singer had the vocals down and imagine a 5’2″ Angus complete with school boy outfit shredding away the night for 2 hrs.  Oh, and he was from Australia and had devoted most of his life to exactly reproducing the abilities and styles of his mate from the home country.  Would recommend warming up a bit before tackling a song that starts out with such a hard solo – he eventually settled in or the alcohol compensated as the night progressed.  Can’t wait until tonight, and guessing you can’t wait to get to the meat of this post!

American White Pelican shot in Davenport IA on the Mississippi River in February 2014

Yes, once again featuring a bird from the backlog.  This one is slightly different though – the last one came to you courtesy of 2015 where this one, with a sigh, comes to you from the wayback machine of February 2014.  Wait a minute, “where the hell did all those years go”.   Noting how much grief my brother Ron gave me for being 2 years behind, can’t wait for the comments when he sees I am 4 years in lag.

American White Pelican shot in Davenport IA on the Mississippi River in February 2014

Hit the jump to see and read more about these bundles of white feathers!

Continue reading Days in White Feathers

A Weldon Springs Cuckoo

Well, my fellow blogger friends are putting me to shame with their output compared to my weak production as of late.  So much that I am writing this post from the car – anything to find a couple of hours to bang out a few thoughts.  We are heading up to my wife’s hometown in Iowa to see the Sugar Nipples.  Thought it was just saying that line that makes me chuckle, but turns out typing it is just as humorous ha.  Before you jump to any conclusions, that’s the name of a local band that will be playing tonight at their summer fair.  To be honest, we are primarily making the trip to see two other bands – an AC/DC tribute band and our favorite bar band the Love Dogs.  Someday the realization will set in on just how old we are and we’ll have to give up these young follies – but not tonight!

The miles are flying past (Linda must be driving).  Better get to the headline of the post.

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo Shot at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this rather interesting bird!

Continue reading A Weldon Springs Cuckoo

Sora Doubletake

Greetings everyone!. Been a fun day around here thanks to a spontaneous decision to celebrate our 27th anniversary by hunting down some birds and sunflower fields. We were not sure if the weather was going to hold out our not as some storm clouds were rolling through the area most of the day – thankfully we didn’t get hit with the tornado swarms that were doing significant damage to our Iowa neighbors. Looks like Linda’s relatives made it through without too much trouble. We ended up making a run down to Havana IL so I could get a nice bird in the tin (looking forward to getting that posted here) and Linda was definitely able to add to her flower portfolio form the two sunflower fields we successfully located. Those were both still in their bloom stages where the fields down the road from us have officially wilted. Tired from the long day, so opted to rest a bit and push out a post.

Sora at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge December 2017

For ease, going back to our recent trip to the Texas Gulf Coast for this post. A lot of those pictures were processed already and easy to simply pull them into a new post. I find the largest chunk of time in any of my posts is getting the pictures in a shape I’m willing to share, so having that part out the way is a huge benefit when you have a short time to get one of these out. Today’s featured post is our friend the Sora. Like the last post, the Sora is not a new bird to the blog. That previous posting (link here) featured a specimen found down at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge. We ended up swinging through there today on our way to Havana. Unfortunately, the dry summer has really impacted that place. For those familiar with it, the water has receded way beyond the observation decks at the back of the refuge.

Sora at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge December 2017

Hit the jump to read more about my encounters with the Sora.

Continue reading Sora Doubletake

Kentucky Wood

Howdy everyone! Been awhile I know. Truth is this month has been unbelievably busy… hell, for that matter the last two months have been burning at both ends. The summer months are usually filled with keeping the acreage under control and now with trails added to the running circuit my remaining evenings and weekends are spent on the hills or in the gym. Also thought it was time to give my other blog some love so cranked out a few posts over there to keep their hate mail down. Figured I’d go ahead and throw a post out there to get back in the groove.

Red-Headed Woodpecker shot at Kentucky Lake April 2015

Technically, this is not a new bird to the blog and definitely not a new check in my birding list. Nope, this colorful bird has been showing up here at random times since 2008 usually as part of a broader bird collection post or a side find while out birding Jubilee State Park or other nearby birding hotspots. Today, the mature male Red-Headed Woodpecker gets a post all to itself to show off those brilliant colors.

Red-Headed Woodpecker shot at Kentucky Lake April 2015

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this pretty bird.

Continue reading Kentucky Wood

A Green Double Take

My Cardinals just blew another late inning lead for the loss. Rather than sit her and seethe through the post game excuses, decided to simply turn off the source of my frustration and immerse myself in another blog post. Bring a bit of calm to my night and productivity at the same moment – can’t beat that… well you could if those damn Cardinals could keep it together… calming breadth, serenity now, puppies… okay, back under control. Thought I’d simply keep the theme from the last post going and feature another Heron family member.

Green Heron encountered at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

Today’s effort is a combination post consisting of the same species, at the same spot, but a year apart. These first few shots were taken a little less than 6 months ago at the South Padre Bird Viewing and Nature Center. The Green Heron is not a new bird on my list – in fact it was featured all the way back in September 2012 (link here). Ironically the specimen back in 2012 was just down the road from our house in a state park. Seems like a bit of an overkill to drive all the way down to the tip of Texas to see the same species hehehe.

Green Heron encountered at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

Hit the return to see a few more shots of the Green Heron

Continue reading A Green Double Take