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

Good Enough to Melt the World’s Heart

Another month has been torn off the calendar.  Before long we’ll be in fall wondering where the hell the year went.  Of course, that is when the stress levels will start sky rocketing as that also means the annual Halloween Haunted Trail will be looming and my longtime readers know how crazy that time gets.  The good news is we are once again making a break for the soul healing abilities of nature’s outdoors. With our state park campgrounds finally open we were able to load up the RV and head up to Chain O’ Lakes for some relaxation, hiking, running, biking and of course BIRDING!  Unfortunately, we missed most of the migration season, but hopefully Ron and I can still get some Sandhill Cranes in the tin.  While trying to decide on what to feature in today’s post, I was thinking about the world as a whole – corvid, senseless rioting, cratering economy, worthless politicians, hypocrite professional athletes and propagandists masquerading as journalists.  Then I remembered this weekend was about tuning out (an interesting concept as I sit her and make a post) and dispensing with the pent-up stress.  Then it occurred to me – the perfect post was sitting in my queue already.

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

What the world needs is a little cuteness to melt the angst right out of its heart.  Personally, I can’t think of many things that would fit that objective better than a Sandhill Crane Colt.  I am pretty sure if we borrowed a few Colts from their parents and simply walked them out between two parties in any type of conflict, the problem would be immediately resolved.  Granted, we would immediately have to get the Colts back to their parents, but I am hoping they would be willing to help out with humanities current myriad of crises.

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

Hit the jump and prepare to emit a giant awwwwwweeeee!

Continue reading Good Enough to Melt the World’s Heart

Iowa, Land of the Free and Thrashers

Woke up this morning and quickly checked if there was snow on the ground – nope, actually a nice sunny day which means the prediction of a blog post from my brother Ron when hell freezes over might have been a bit of an exaggeration on my part.  Yep, it’s true, Ron not only clicked the post counter, he delivered a fantastic tutorial on how to identify birds by a sound recording (link here).  Trust me, this amateur birder needs every tool I can stuff in the box when it comes to all those similarly feathered specimens.  Luckily, today’s featured feathered friend isn’t hard to identify.

Brown Thrasher found in Iowa while birding there in April 2017

Better put a caveat on that statement.  When it comes to the prairie states, the Brown Thrasher has little in the way of imposters.  Head to the southern tip of Texas and you pick up the Long-Billed (link here) and Curved-Billed (have it, haven’t posted on it yet).  Head further west from there and you get into the Crissal’s territory.  Slipping into the point of Nevada brings with it LeConte’s and make your way  to the west coast and you will have to deal with the California variety (and nobody wants that ha).  The Brown on the other hand rules the East with a heavy bill and sternful eyes.

Brown Thrasher found in Iowa while birding there in April 2017

Hit the jump to read more about the yellowy eye encounter.

Continue reading Iowa, Land of the Free and Thrashers

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Things are looking up around here for a change. Our tax evading governor had to put his tail between his legs and rescind his latest emergency order that tried making criminals of any business owner that had the audacity to defy his proclamations. This thanks to thousands of angry responses and 6 democrat IL state congressmen on the JCAR that couldn’t even stomach the backlash and dropped their support. You are in a bad place if even democrat politicians think you are a douche in this state. Now with that little bit of Corvid-19 news off my chest, let’s talk about this pretty girl.

Northern Bobwhite found on in Brimfield IL in September 2017

Ain’t she a beauty!?! Well, maybe not compared to the Texas finds with their colorful array of rainbow colors, but she has a feel of patrician with her finally matched color palette and classy headdress. I still remember with great detail on the day she came to visit me way back in September 2017. Yes, this is coming to you from the “lost but now found” collection. Oh, for the record, I am pretty sure I have enough images processed off my image queue to take me into at least 2025 at my current post production rate – so lemonade out of the virus lemons. Linda I were driving home from an extended trip in our RV when at the entrance to our driveway our featured feathered friend poked her head out of the tall grass at the side of the road.

Northern Bobwhite found on in Brimfield IL in September 2017

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this “surprise” visitor.

Continue reading A Case of Mistaken Identity

A Product of a Carefree and Spirited Adventure

Finally found a chance to put down the “Honey-Do” list and invest some time in getting another post out. It doesn’t help that the back is still angered, but I got tired of it controlling me so sucked it up and started walking.. then walking some more.. then walking multiple times a day (for ~9 miles a day) and then extending those miles (6-7 miles at one time) and then said hell with it and ran a quick 5k today. Note to self, walking might be better for a tweaked back, but it doesn’t do much for runner lungs. We’ll see how it goes when I wake up tomorrow – fingers crossed. The good news is I’ve had extra time to attack the backlog of images and can say with a gleam in my eye I’ve been able to process all the “carefree and spirited adventures” up to 2 years ago. I might have to get the whiskey out for that celebration ha!

Lark Sparrow found at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge in July 2017

One of the “larks” my brother and I went on was back in July 2017. We headed down to Havana IL to see if there were any new visitors at the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge. Emiquon is a gem of a place for us birders to look for visitors as they move through the migration corridor. This site along with Chautauqua and Meredosia NWRs are managed under the Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuges Complex. Established in 1993, this restored wetland habitat sits at the confluence of the Illinois and Spoon River and according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now covers 2600 acres.

Lark Sparrow found at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge in July 2017

Hit the jump to a few more profiles of this rather dapper looking Sparrow.

Continue reading A Product of a Carefree and Spirited Adventure

I’ve Got Big BAWS

Still fighting to get back to norm with my back. Officially pissing me off now that the weather has cooled down to perfect running temps. Decided I’ll give it two more days (including one more chiro visit) before I just say screw it, strap on the Asics and let the best man win. Things are a bit better as my doctor was able to get my legs back to the same length and now primarily focused on getting the swelling out of the sciatic. Until then I’ll just have to slither around.

Banded Water Snake found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in July 2017

Oops, forgot to provide a coffee time warning, let’s correct that – for those of you that do not like small, slender footless creatures with forked tongues you might want pass over this particular post or minimally go grab your security blanket because this ride might get a bit bumpy. Yep, as you can see, today’s featured creature isn’t exactly small. Thanks to an interesting encounter at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge back in July 2017 I get to bring you a BAWS.

Banded Water Snake found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in July 2017

Hit the jump unless you are really not into these water spears in which case I’d wait a few more days until I have something new posted ha!

Continue reading I’ve Got Big BAWS