The Spider Punisher

Happy anniversary to my wife. Astute Intrigued blog readers should immediately cry foul as I already posted on our wedding anniversary a few weeks back. Well, I didn’t specify in my opening exactly what the anniversary was – in truth it is her one year anniversary of her heart valve replacement surgery at Mayo. An extremely stressful time for me and I can only imagine what she must have been going through on her end. All is well now, her cuts have healed, she’s made it through her cardio rehab, now close to completely recovered from the unexpected paralysis and once again able to do her favorite activities. Congratulations to Linda and our bottomless thanks to the doctors and employees at Mayo. I definitely do not have a good topic to go with such an anniversary, but I do have a …

Black and Yellow Garden Spider found on lot in Brimfield IL, September 2016

… yep, a Spider! One of those creatures that are rarely featured here on the blog. There’s a couple of reasons for that. First being I don’t spend a lot of time out in the field with small glass. When I go, I go big as most of my subjects prefer to stay as far away from me as possible. The small creatures are better left for the light glass (macros and maybe some low wides). We do have a nice macro glass, but that encroaches on Linda’s domain. Besides, why not get a workout while enjoying one of your favorite past times. The second reason is, although I live in the middle of a forest, it really do have that much variety in Spider species. I can give you all the Wolf Spiders you can take, small ones, medium ones, large ones and “holy crap that’s a monster!” size. We do have the Recluse but I would rather just leave those alone and then a smattering of other far less exciting web spinners that will make the ground look like hundreds of tiny lights when you shine a light on a summer’s night.

Black and Yellow Garden Spider found on lot in Brimfield IL, September 2016

Hit the jump to read a bit more about the Punisher!

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I Got a Wedgie

So, how many readers out there thought this was going to be the month!?!  .. as in the month after years and years of successfully hitting my self-imposed 6 posts a month quota… was it finally going to come to an end.  Fear not, I shall not let me loyal readers down.  I am tremendously relieved that July is a long month as I needed just about every second to get this taken care of.  In case you are counting the Wildlife posts and coming up a bit short, a lot of my free time was spent detailing some rather elaborate props that were added to the Haunted Trail of Tears last year on the mothership blog.  If you like a good Halloween scare, feel free to check those out (links here: Westworld 2.0 Posey Line and Ned).  For the last post of the month (with little time to spare), thought I would stick with my “white” theme for July.

White Ibis found at Anahuac NWR in December 2017

Some would say I should have led with this species of the Ibis for the anniversary post.  As mentioned previously, this would not have earned me a precious +1 like the White-Faced delivered.  Admittedly, the White Ibis is a bit more charming and more fitting to the whole white wedding extravaganza.  The good news is unlike the Glossy Ibis and the White-Faced Ibis, there is no difficulty in identifying this one .. ‘cuz it’s white ha.

White Ibis found at Galveston State Park in December 2017

Hit the jump if you want to see a wedgie… sure you do!

Continue reading I Got a Wedgie

At Least There’s White in the Name

29 years ago today, I officially gave up my single and carefree status and joined the woman I fell in love with at the alter (rumors that she was kicking and screaming the entire way are assuredly false). Never looked back and still the best decision I’ve ever made. Although giving up my steady diet of microwave macaroni and cheese dinners was a struggle, but I’m sure for the best ha. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything in the photo queue that worked well with the anniversary theme. I guess in honor of the white roses I gave Linda that day we’ll go with this.

White-Face Ibis found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, Havana IL in May 2018

A bit of a stretch, but in case you are not familiar with our bronzed beauty above, it is a White-Faced Ibis. Probably should have gone with the more fitting White Ibis – of course, that bird I already have checked off my list where the White-Faced Ibis is officially a new bird to the blog. This particular specimen comes courtesy of a trip to down to Havana, IL back in May 2018. The reported sighting of this particular bird was the reason for the trip down to Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge (located just outside Havana).

White-Face Ibis found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, Havana IL in May 2018

Hit the jump to read a bit more about our bronzed bird.

Continue reading At Least There’s White in the Name

Hunting WBFs

Okay, apparently I needed to be taught a lesson for complaining too much about Internet connectivity. Soon after whining about my provider issues in the last post we were greeted with a nightmare storm. 70 mph wind gusts coupled with solid sheets of rain and if that wasn’t oodles of fun enough – throw in some hail. It eventually got to a point where we couldn’t see the road on our way home and had to pull off to allow it to settle. Finally get home, sit down at the computer to see how long the storm is going to last and bam – power goes out. I’m cursed. Luckily we had invested in a whole house genset soon after building our house in the country – take that karma gods ha. Anyway, all good now, power back and Internet connectivity .. well, better. Let’s celebrate with a new post!

Snowy Owl found in McLean County, IL December 2019

Pretty impressive eh? What, you don’t appreciate shots of plastic bags in a corn field!?!?! The embarrassing thing is I have hundreds of pictures of random bags taken during the winter months. I am guessing this may seem odd to you, however, I would bet that most Midwestern birders also have their share of photos of WBF’s or “White Bags in a Field” – garbage bags, chip bags, Walmart bags – the list goes on – typically at a distance in picked or plowed farmland between December and say early March.

Hit the jump if you want to see the reason for the bag shots – no, I am not losing my mind!

Continue reading Hunting WBFs

Can You Sparrow a Router

Well, somehow July managed to sneak up on me.. like the month before and the month before that and the month before.. you get the picture. Absolutely stunning how fast things seem to be moving in the midst of a supposed lockdown. It has been a few days..err weeks since my last post thanks to a little annoyance called lack of Internet. With all the joys country living brings, there are a few downsides. One is water – I kid that H2O is as good as currency around here. Luckily that was pretty much solved when we put in a second well last year. The other downside is Internet connectivity. This has yet to be solved adequately and it has been steadily decreasing in quality for the last couple of months – doesn’t help that usage has gone up with all the Covid-19 crap. Just so happens both my wife and I have 30+ years each in IT and to top it off Linda started out as a network specialist. Problem is she is having to deal with support personnel fresh out of kindergarten. If they tell her one more time to unplug her router or press the reset button I think she’s going to reach through the phone line and choke them to death. Not sure when this battle is going to get resolved, but right now access is pretty spotty limiting my posts and more importantly the chance to read everyone else’s posts. My apologies in advance for delayed responses and lack of commenting on my blogger friends’ sites. Meanwhile I get to sit her and watch Linda’s eyes get redder and redder … oh shit, they just asked her to unplug the router again #$!@$#%!@%. Today’s featured feathered friend is in honor of Linda’s eyes that are getting redder and redder each time I look over.

Spotted Towhee found at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado in May 2014

I can only guess that this Spotted Towhee is also having trouble getting connected to the Internet. Pretty soon it is going to breakdown and leave the woods in search of a local coffee shop for some free Wi-Fi. Not an easy task as this specimen was found on our trip out to Colorado a little under one dog year from today. For those new to the blog I’ve switched to dog years as that sounds a lot better than human years – May 2014 feels like I’ve been trapped on a desolate island with just a volleyball to keep me company. An interesting parallel to how desolate I feel right now not being able to share strings of 1 and 0’s with the rest of the world “Is there anybody out there .. Mother should I build the wall”.

Spotted Towhee found at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado in May 2014

Hit the jump to read a bit more about our red-eyed friend!

Continue reading Can You Sparrow a Router

Warning, All-Seeing Snipers in the Field

Well, things continue to go bad for Raven and he is officially 0/5 at this agility trial.  I think he is just hot and tired now and his last run might come down to a battle of wits between Mom and dog.  Probably taking a page out of the whiny NBA league and refuses to perform to an empty house.  At least Raven isn’t bending to the will of the great China dollar.  The bad news for Raven means good news for the postapalooza happening this weekend.  My worries of making my quota for June were quickly put to rest and thought I’d go ahead an close it out with another +1.

Wilson's Snipe found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL April 2017

So what do you think?  Pretty cool bird eh?  This is another series of shots that comes courtesy of a birding outing to Chain O’ Lakes State Park.  A bit in the wayback machine as they were taken on April 2017.  Ron happened to be with me that weekend resulting in +1’s for both of us although technically he hasn’t posted on it yet so he is unable to take the full credit.  I on the other hand will be remedying that technicality today.

In the rare case you are struggling to see the featured bird above, feel free to hit the jump and I’ll try to help you out a bit.

Continue reading Warning, All-Seeing Snipers in the Field

Captain Mercaptan

For the regulars to the blog, you know Linda and Raven finally get to compete in the agility ring this weekend.  We had to travel down to southern IL for them to get the chance to run.  Rules have been bouncing all over the place for these competitions.  IL is slowly loosening the restrictions on businesses and gatherings over 10 to 20 people, however, there is still a lack of clarity on the real requirements.  Our trip up to Chain O’ Lakes a few weeks back was actually to participate in an agility show that ended up being canceled by their police chief (never should have asked), yet this one is still on (probably didn’t ask).  Some shows require masks only while running the dog, others require masks only when not in the ring, some allow spectators, some allow only the dog owners and then there are those that only allow the handler of the dog running in the current jump height.  Ridiculously confusing from my opinion.  The competition down here requires masks except in the ring, no spectators in building and only the dogs and their owners in the jump height can be in the building.  That means I have to keep myself entertained in the RV.  Traveling 3 hours down to an event and not being able to see your kid participate would normally be frustrating, however, it appears Raven is a bit rusty and well, stunk it up today.

Skunk found at Red Rocks Ampitheatre outside Denver CO, May 2014

Hit the jump to read more about our striped friend.

Continue reading Captain Mercaptan

Awash in Olive

Linda has been bouncing off the walls for months and getting downright irritated with all the Covid crap.  She is newly retired and not happy her grand plans of spending every weekend in the dog agility ring have been shredded.  Poor Raven rips off a page on his 365 puppy a day calendar until he sees the word Friday.  He grabs that page in his teeth, jumps on the bed, takes a big lick on the back and sticks it to Mom’s forehead and points to his leash and collar.  “Time to go compete Mom, now get your ass out of bed and load my stuff into the RV and say goodbye to the alpha male.”  Watching Linda try to explain Covid to a recently turned 6 year old self-centered Poodle is pure comedy.

Well folks, today Raven’s demands were fulfilled!  Yep, the first agility trial has now been greenlit.  Linda can finally run off all that pent-up stress.  Not expecting much as Raven is probably pretty rusty.  The best part of this….plenty of time to get caught up on my posting.

Henslow's Sparrow found at Glacial Park Conservation Area in May 2018

To celebrate Raven’s first run in several months, thought I’d go with a first for myself.  During an  image processing marathon a few weeks back I came across a series of shots from a birding trip to Glacial Park Conservation Area back in May 2018.  For those not familiar with this location, it sits about 15 minutes away from Chain O’ Lakes State Park in Ringwood, IL.  Ron and I usually spend the morning birding Chain and then make a run over to Glacial to finish off the day.  Although they have similar settings as Chain, it tends to have a better draw of prairie and wetland birds.

Henslow's Sparrow found at Glacial Park Conservation Area in May 2018

Hit the jump to learn more about our rather olive looking specimen.

Continue reading Awash in Olive

The Yellow Bandit

Finally getting back to this blog thingy. I’ve been extremely busy this month – well, let’s go with busier than norm. My life seems to be in constant motion thanks to way too many honey-do items, a hell of a lot of work to keep my country homestead under control, a running passion that probably borders on addiction, year-round Halloween prop building and oh, that little thing called my day job. It’s rather amazing there’s time left to actually go in the field and snap our feathered friends.

Common Yellowthroat found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL June 2019

Luckily, there’s plenty of outings still in the queue to pull from. Today’s featured specimen comes to us courtesy of Chain O’ Lakes State Park up in Spring Grove, IL. As mentioned several times now, that park is one of our favorites in IL. Varied habitats ranging from wetlands/river to deep woods and all the way to acres and acres of natural prairie. Well maintained trails allow for easy navigation between the settings giving ample opportunity to shoot a wide range of birds. Although are standard goal there is to get the large Sandhill Cranes in the tin, we definitely take time out to for the smalls.

Common Yellowthroat found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL June 2019

Hit the jump to see a couple more shots of the Yellow Bandit..

Continue reading The Yellow Bandit

Parental Tutelage

Greetings everyone!  Hope you enjoyed my last post on the Sandhill Crane Colts – hopefully at least got some pleasure out of seeing the draw dropping cuteness produced by our wilder cohabitants.  Ron mentioned it in his comment, but I received a bit of sad news from the Chain O’ Lakes State Park ranger the day I wrote that post.  If you recall, we were up there camping over the weekend with the goal to get some birding in.  Like clockwork, my favorite Sandhill Crane couple were out an about.  Yes, that same couple that produced the Colts featured in the last post.  Now for the depressing news, this year, no Colts.  Just the two of them foraging alone on the side of the road.  A ranger happened to drive up while I was standing there admiring them – no camera, just enjoying the moment for a change.  During our quick chat he informed me none of the Crane pairs had Colts this year. The current thinking is the huge amount of rain and flooding destroyed the nests/eggs.  That news brought some definite sadness as I was looking forward to photographing the latest additions.

Sandhill Crane Family shot at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL in June 2017

Nature does what nature does – at least I have the images and memories from our previous encounters.  I also gave a foreshadowing of today’s topic in the previous writing.  Animal behavior fascinates me and I am on the constant lookout for interesting interactions while out in the field.  Whether it’s an intra-species interaction or inter-species encounters (link here) or maybe intriguing relationship with humans (link here) – nothing keeps me more entertained than learning from these engagements, trying to predict behavior and more critical .. trying to get it in the tin.

Sandhill Crane Family shot at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL in June 2017

Hit the jump to experience some Crane behavior.

Continue reading Parental Tutelage