Project Chekov: American Coot

Welcome to the new year everyone!  Always nice to get to the end of something so you can start afresh with new goals and challenges.  I’m definitely a goal proponent and will be taking the next couple of weeks to determine what those should be.   You never want to rush in to these things and recommend NEVER making them under the influence of alcohol – so New Year’s is pretty much out for setting new goals.  Enjoy the festivities and leave the challenge setting for at least a couple of days.   Now, there is one looming issue that does have to be addressed and that is finding a way to get caught up with the picture backlog.   This has been on my mind all holiday vacation while toiling away in the digital darkroom.  The only solution that seems viable at this point is to get on the ball and brute force it (something that I’m fairly good at).

So, strap yourself in, it is going to be a fast ride.  Probably won’t be a lot of text and customary fact sharing, but you’ll get a healthy dose of shots for sure.  Just hope you like birds hehehehe.  Mr. Chekov, plot a course to success…

For starters, let’s bring back an old friend to the Blog, The American Coot.

I’ve always considered this bird to be the classroom joker in the lot.  First of all, it looks like a chicken which is funny in itself, but this bird has a passion for photobombing every chance it gets (link here).  Secondly, they have the funniest feet of any water fowl I’ve had the pleasure of coming across – just look at them…

Looks like snakes on a yellow stick (shiver) or possibly wearing toe-socks which are up there on my top 10 creepiest things to see someone wear list.  Note, the above shot is a little soft, but I really liked how the composition turned out.  Kind of looks like the Coot stepped on something sharp and was looking back at the small stick as if it was the culprit.  Baaaad Stick … Verry Bad Stick!  Here is a more formal looking composition for those that like the more stoic look – although a stoic Coot is a bit of an oxymoron.

By the way, for the curious, this was taken at Banner Marsh in Banner IL.  Quite a lot of Coots hang out there if someone needs a Coot for their birding list.

So that’s it, short, sweet and to the point to start off 2014!  Now, Mr. Sulu put it in warp drive to our next destination – meanwhile it’s time to hit the hay – looks like tomorrow’s run is going to be in the snow if our weathermen finally have the model right.

Those Crazy Coots be Dah Bomb

Having just recently walked off the plane on our flight back from a week in Sin City, I thought I’d get to work immediately and get a post out.  Talk about devotion to my reader base.. believe that?  Actually, my ears are ringing so bad I probably couldn’t sleep if I tried – that and having conditioned myself to the Vegas sleep pattern which is really just an extended nap.   The plan was to crank this out during some slack time in the vacation schedule, but Linda put an agenda for this year’s trip with unparalleled activity.  Yep, there is now plenty of blog fodder to take me well into November from this trip alone!

So, there are only TWO more posts from the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.. for DAY ONE!  I need to get cracking on the day two finds and get this, I now have a day THREE having had the opportunity to once again visit my new favorite bird paradise while out on our recent trip.  This latest one comes in a different season so there were a couple of new birds and minimally some new plumage on the ones I already had checks on.  Why don’t we just get one of those bird posts out of the way now.    Today’s (or rather tonight’s) topic is not a new bird to the checklist.  In fact, it has been all over this post before (link here and here for starters), but it didn’t come to my attention until now just exactly how much of an ass this particular bird was.

Sure, on a cursory view it looks like your typical nonchalant Mud Hen harmlessly paddling the day away.  Nothing to see here, just a Coot using the scales on the feet and lower leg to propel it through the water.   Truth is, they are green with envy of the Ducks with the evolution aid toe webbing (or intelligent design if that gets your fancy).  The envy is so intense it turns their eyes blood red with rage.  But they have learned to dampen this anger by applying their devious minds in the pursuit of PHOTO  BOMBING the other birds in the area.  I would spend countless minutes getting myself in the perfect position to capture the true majesty of a specific bird species.  Checking the manual settings, insuring the composition complimented the bird and waited for that perfect moment to take that one and done shot..

D’oh!  There it is again, that damn Coot jumping into the frame and ruining the shot.  It tracked the angle of the Beast, surveyed the scene and picked its moment to bomb it.  “Look at me, I’m a chicken in the water”.  Sigh, all that planning, all that work for that perfect shot ruined by this devil bird.  Wait a minute, I see another perfectly good shot shaping up over by the Mallards.  Yes, there’s the shot, a Mallard holding court over its minions.  A little rock climbing here, crawling under some bushes there and presto, we have the desired angle.  Breathe in, breathe out and take the sho.. WTF?!

Arrrggggghh, another Coot thumbs its bill at the world and jumps my shot.  Time to verify that this bird has a Least Concern conservation status because it’s about to feel my wrath…

Hit the jump to read more about this water chicken.

Continue reading Those Crazy Coots be Dah Bomb

That’s Right, We Have Cooties

This topic of this post shouldn’t be a surprise seeing as how I gave a big hint at the end of the last post.  As the Northern Shoveler fades into the background, his friend the American Coot takes the stage.

This is actually not the first time this particular bird has graced these pages. If you recall we kind of called them out in the Yellowstone post (link here). However, there is one big difference from that appearance and today’s entry…. in this post you can actually tell it’s a Coot.  One thing I was not aware of from the first pictures was just how bright red their eyes are.  Guessing this one just flew in from Vegas after having a really good time.

As with the set before (and the upcoming ones) these shots were taken at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge which is located in Havana Cuba.. err make that Illinois.  By the way, somehow the individuals that named this town got the pronunciation of it right.  For some odd reason in our State the similar named cities and towns have butchered soundings – Athens, (strong A), Cairo (Kayrow), Rio (Rye-O), Milan (Mylan), Des Plaines (non-silent s), my favorite San Jose (San Joes) and Goofy Ridge.  Okay, so the last one doesn’t fit but I had a quest to reference that scary location in one of my blogs and it was time to get that off of the to-do list.  I wonder if I started calling it HavingNah if it would catch on.

Apparently this particular Coot didn’t appreciate my little joke about his hometown – giving me that stern look-back every 6 year old knows good and well.  (and yes, that is the EXACT age I felt when coming up with the title for this post).  It would be un-American to pass up the opportunity to draw up a reference to our childhood when confronted with a bird with that name.  For the record, Linda is usually the one who makes the reference first!

Hit the jump to see more the set — don’t miss the take-off shots!

Continue reading That’s Right, We Have Cooties

They Call It Emiquon

Well hello there, long time no read eh?  Admittedly the content has been a little slow around LifeIntrigued as of late.  Contrary to what you might be thinking, nothing terrible has happened to me nor have I turned slacker and abandoned this 5 year journey.  It was noted that there were zero calls to the police to see if I’d been run over by zombies and one comment on a post demanding content soon or they were going to come break my fingers (that last part might be a slight hyperbole, but the anger was dripping off every letter).  The truth surrounding the delay is the huge amount of pre-work that had to go into the remaining posts planned for this month.  I have been staring at a huge hill of photo backlogs that is resulting from not getting through our photo outings quick enough.  There is no easy answer to this problem other than committing to completing the post processing and getting them out on the Smugmug site… and there is no better time than the present.  So, be prepared to be hit with a lot of bird pictures and I mean hit hard.  You will be swimming in feathers before this series is done and we’re expecting at least one or two emails begging for mercy before the end of this.

Hey, what do you know, this post is about …. you got it a BIRD.  To be more exact a duck.

I have an extra affinity towards this specific duck which I’ll get to in a bit (you can probably guess).  First a little background on this particular set of pictures.  Friends of the blog know we hang out in Banner Marsh (in Banner IL) a lot taking in all the wonderful birds that call that place home or a stop off on their seasonal migrations.  There is actually another location we have been making a point to drop in as of late.  We call it Birder’s Paradise, but others call it Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge.  It is actually in Havana IL which is about 35 or so minutes South of us.  Why do we  call it B.P.? .. because you get to experience a wide range of water fowl (along with a number of shore and traditional land birds from the convenience of your car should you choose or by walking along their well constructed boardwalks and observation decks.

Back in March we made a late day run down to the flooded lowlands and see what was hanging about.  After shooting a number of birds we began our exit from the refuge when something odd in the water caught our interest.

The coloring led us to our first assumption that it was your basic Mallard – we have a lot of those around us so we are very familiar with that particular bird.  The green head was a check, but the black bill coupled with the inverted coloring on the body had me scratching my head.  For those not familiar with the Mallard, basically flip the white and the brown and slap some yellow paint on the bill and you are almost staring at a one.   Almost is the optimal word here.  The golden yellow eye is definitely not a trait of the Mallard and well…

hit the jump to read the rest of this post!

Continue reading They Call It Emiquon