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

Death Dealers

Welcome to May everyone! I can’t believe we are 5 months into double 20. Part of the problem is as a runner I mark time by races. How many days/weeks can I get training runs in until the next race, race day, how many days to allow for recovery and then how many days to the next race and on it goes until late October when I finally call it a season and try to assess and repair the damage. Obviously, my races have been victimized by the invisible enemy that sounds more like having a beer on a Mexican beach than a shelter in place catalyst. What’s next, Murder Hornets!?! – oh crap, this year is just getting worse and worse. The good news is I’ve been hitting the trails and pavements and checked off a half two weekends in a row – in spite of still fighting some back issues which for some reason decided to nag me today (must be the rain). Now we just need some races to open up in order to add medals to the brag wall. There is a small silver lining to all this – plenty of opportunity to work on the image queue.

Tree Swallow shot at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in April 2017

Yep, when I’m not soldering up some new mechanics for Halloween (a mere 5 months away, yikes), Lightroom is up popping shots off the 3 year backlog. This set comes to us courtesy of Chain O’ Lakes State Park up in Spring Grove IL back in 2017. The last two shots in the series were taken in June where the rest were taken a few months earlier in April. Second to my primary training park down the road (Jubilee State Park), Chain O’ Lakes is a wonderful place. A nice campground for a State Park with plenty of trails for running, hiking and yes, BIRDING. It also happens to be conveniently located between Ron and I to spend some time together.

Tree Swallow shot at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in April 2017

Hit the jump to see more of Mr. Bunny Tail Breast.

Continue reading Death Dealers

In the Thrush of It

Took a quick break from building our Ark to put another tick in my North American Bird List count. It has been raining pretty solid for the last couple of days which is a bit bitter-sweet. Our wells could definitely use the recharging and it is probably good for the budding trees and flowers that took an early hit with a late bout of freezing rain and snow just as they were emerging from their long slumber. The bitter part is I was just getting into the swing of the yardwork and a crap load of items to get caught up on – well, at least the things I can get materials for. To top it all off my virtual trail half marathon was supposed to happen this weekend and that might get pushed to later in the week – that is if I don’t decide to just put on my mudder shoes and re-live my youth spent splashing in the rain (not sure Linda is going to like the looks of the laundry after that). Oh, well, no used in fretting about yet. In honor of the rain, how about we feature a bird that literally has Water in the name.

Louisiana Waterthrush seen for a brief minute in Iowa in April 2017

Hit the jump to see some more kindergarten art.

Continue reading In the Thrush of It

A Stealthy Addition

Sorry folks, it is has been a few days since my last post. I’ve been trying to get caught up on my yardwork and other “list” items that are way overdue thanks to having my civil liberties forcibly restricted by my elected government. Word out today is I now have 5 more weeks of this to look forward to per my tax evading governor of my broke state. I was doing pretty good thanks to my self-imposed news isolation, but I walked into the house today after a refreshing run and Linda had the governor’s propaganda machine churning away on the TV. Just in the brief amount of time it took me to walk to the shower I had heard enough to get the blood boiling again. Thanks to a nice shower I was able to calm down and get back to my happy place. The same thing happened after my trail run last Sunday. Got back into the truck after a quick cool down and started for home as I searched for a song to accompany my great mood – then it happened – landed on one of my previous go-to news outlets only to hear a reporter ask the most asinine question I’ve ever heard. Quickly continued with the surfing, but the damage was done. The whole time home I could only ponder on the idiocy of a so called reporter that I completely forgot to enjoy my major accomplishment. After 2 solid months of working my ass off in rehab, multiple visits to my chiro and dropping incredible amounts of sweat in my home gym – I was flying high.

Common Nighthawk found in Peoria Heights IL, June 2017

Well, maybe not so much flying high as our feathered friend above has the incredible ability to do, but nonetheless, I was back from the abyss. My back had held together for 9 grueling miles filled with steep hills, dirt, mud, roots and everything else that forest could throw at me. The heel even decided to settle down quickly after the run. I was officially at the same point I was in my training before the back blew and the heel figured out it was fun to produce stabbing pain. The trail lungs still need some work and I have a virtual half marathon at the end of the month to make up for a race that was canceled (complete the mileage, send in proof and they will send you the swag). Talk about a great feeling – a feeling that reminded me of when I spotted this Common Nighthawk soaring overhead. We had gone into Peoria Heights for a treat at our favorite ice cream shop back in June 2016 just around dusk. We were met with a high pitched “peent” as we exited the car.

Common Nighthawk found in Peoria Heights IL, June 2017

Hit the jump to see a couple more shots of this sky forager.

Continue reading A Stealthy Addition

Check Out the Tail on that One

Hope all is going well in your neck of the woods! Not much happening here as we are still in lockdown. Thought there was a glimmer of hope someone would prime the economic pump, but for now everything is still on hold. Fortunate for me I could do my job at the bottom of a volcano as long as there was Internet connectivity – who knew 35 years ago I’d be heading off to college to prepare for an occupation that was pandemic resistant. When you work with coworkers all over the world on any given day (and night), sitting in your den 40 minutes from your corporate office doesn’t feel that much different. Now, there is ONE big advantage, I can look out my windows into our now snow covered woods and take a break from all the key pounding.

Swainson's Thrush found at Starved Rock State Park, IL May 2015

Hit the jump to see more grainy assed shots of this brush bird.

Continue reading Check Out the Tail on that One

A Bunny Substitute

Happy Easter everyone! Not your standard Easter holiday by any means, but hopefully you will be able to take a break, reflect on better times, reach out (virtually) to your loved ones and most of all make an effort to shed some of that pent up stress. I’m in my third day of not being intentionally consumed by news and feeling better than I have in a long time. Now I just need to get Linda peeled away as she’s been intermittently walking past me fuming about one thing or another she saw on Facebook or other outlet. Saw this quote on one of my favorite ultra-marathon outlets.

Almost everything will work again if you unplug for a few minutes including you – Anne Lamot (note, only like here quote – not an endorsement of her opinions).

Thanks to Shawn over at https://www.scienceofultra.com/support for the reference. I cannot think of a better time than now to just unplug for a few minutes to get all those internal stress capacitors to fully drain.

Then plug back in and fill them back up with 100% pure cuteness.

Pika found at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado in May 2014

Hit the jump unless you are scared of soft, cuddly, round eared, button nosed whisker wearing balls of fur.

Continue reading A Bunny Substitute

Gone Nuts

Here we are at the feels like day 2,882 of the Illinois lockdown. All I can say at this point is our political leadership has gone full on batshit crazy. Can barely stomach the news anymore and the next entertainer that thinks I give a crap what they think is going on my “never again” list. Trust me, you do not want to be in the customer facing business and be put on my NA list. Unfortunately new adds these days are already starting on page 52. I was sitting here thinking to myself how nuts this whole thing and one of these specimens flew by the window I was staring out.

White-Breasted Nuthatch found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL April 2017

Now that is a sign if I’ve ever witnessed one. Mid-thought on the pontificating nutjobs and a Nut – a White-Breasted Nuthatch lands in a tree near our porch. Yes Mother Nature that is a perfect metaphor for our current situation. My camera was too far away to bring to bear on our new visitor (that being it was sitting about 30 feet away ha), but I was pretty sure there was a series in the queue that would do fine. Sure enough, with a little digging found a suitable stand-in. Honestly, was a bit surprised to find only one specimen in the queue as just about every common bird in our area has a couple sets just waiting for a chance to be revealed to the world. The only question is how far back do I want to go 1990, 2000, 2010 hehehe. Our lone entry today takes us only back to April, 2017 – a mere 3 years ago which is about when my broke state imposed its lockdown. Ron and I were checking out the inhabitants of Chain O’ Lakes State Park in Spring Grove, IL. A nice park that happens to be relatively halfway between us. Linda runs the kids in dog agility up there so I tag along to do a bit of birding. Always a fun time when Ron can join me, although finding a bird, snapping a shot and then scaring it off before he sees it is getting harder and harder (did I write that out loud ha). In this case, pretty sure he managed to tin this specimen. No gain on the bird count, but still an entertaining little bird (that, for a fact, has never felt obligated to preach to me).

White-Breasted Nuthatch found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL April 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more images of our featured Nutjob.

Continue reading Gone Nuts