Bilt for Simmer

Decided it was time to put some “good” into my day and couldn’t think of a more appropriate day than today, Good Friday. News and I have a history of not exactly getting along and as of late, that relationship has reached some dangerous levels. A bit of simmer seemed like a good prescription to get the karma back in balance. It has been a bit of struggle over the last couple of months trying to get the body back together – In physical therapy for debilitating levels of plantar fasciitis and visits to the chiro to repair a badly whacked back, both of which required workouts that I swear were more painful that the injuries themselves without the added training runs wedged between repairs.

Flowers from Biltmore visit in July 2014

Admittedly, these challenges pale to the trials and tribulations that I know some of my readers are currently dealing with – selfishly mine were just starting to get the best of me even without the talking heads spreading exaggerated doom and gloom. Made a deal with myself to spend some time to just relax. Best way to do that was to turn off the news channels, put the feet up and enjoy some ultra running podcasts and let the stress melt off. The body was distrusting at first expecting to be called to duty at any point, eventually dispensing with the twitching and settling in so could focus on learning from some of the best ultra-runners in the sport.

Flowers from Biltmore visit in July 2014

Unless you are Linda hit the jump to enjoy a quick break from the norm here – Linda, you can simply skip to the next post ha.

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Bee My Valentines

While out on a training run (that’s right Ron, not a “practice” run) I came up with a clever title for a post. This may seem odd to a non-runner, but trust me, when out on a long run you are looking for ANYTHING to keep your mind off of the fact you are actually on a long run. The enjoyment of being out in nature – hearing the song birds encourage you along the way coupled with seeing animals frolicking about the woods can only keep you distracted for so long. Eventually your muscles break through that nature bliss and remind you … well, that you are on a long run. At those times, I try to concentrate on what’s on tap for the next post. Now that I had the clever title, I sifted through my image queue and found an appropriate set…
Bee on flower taken at Biltmore Estate July 2014
… and then I forgot to write up the post in order to publish on the appropriate day – total failure. All that cleverness left in shambles gasping for air on the floor of the digital darkroom. Finally decided to swallow my pride and go ahead and finish this post 9 days late – sigh. Now don’t get to lenient on me, these Bee shots were taken all the way back in July 2014. So technically I’m like 3 Valentine’s celebrations late but let’s call it a rounding error. I decided to exercise some strategic cropping on these shots thanks to some less than ideal lighting conditions. That Bee you see above… well, it was a little farther away in the original shot.
Bee on flower taken at Biltmore Estate July 2014
Hit the jump to see a couple more pictures of this busy Bee

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A Biltmore Hummer

This is definitely not a month to dawdle.  You wouldn’t think the loss of only two days would be that stressful when it comes to blogging, but trust me, IT DOES!  This, of course, is more of a byproduct of my procrastination than a deliberate curse on my quota obligations by Pope Gregory XIII.  A large portion of blogs lately have been focused on our birding trip to Texas back in November 2013.  Figured I would break from that theme and give you something completely different.  Are you ready for something new?  Okay, you asked it… today’s new topic is …

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird shot at Biltmore Estates in Asheville NC July 2014

A bird! (hehehehe).  I didn’t really deceive you – this particular bird picture was taken in July of 2014 in a completely different state.  Yep, this master of the air currents was shot on our trip out to North Carolina.  On our way, we spent some time at Biltmore Estate.  If you recall, I was in a bind back in 2014 and pulled out a post covering the Mockingbird that was also shot at that time (link here).  Oh the days when posts used to come out in the same year the pictures were actually taken.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird shot at Biltmore Estates in Asheville NC July 2014

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of suspended motion.

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I Mock Your Quota Concerns

Let’s see, a one, a two, a three, a four, a five… uhhh a five…crap! I’m guessing everyone out there is figuring this time I was surely beat. Even with the late blitz I’m STILL one short for the monthly quota. Is it time to panic, time to break out the shame sign and walk the local mall?  That would be a big fat NOPE. One advantage of being so far behind on processing my photo shoots is I have a lot to choose from when in a bind. Like the Copperhead posting (link here), I’ve opted with pulling one off the back of the FIFO queue.

This a brand new bird to the blog and to my birding list.  My brother once asked me if there were birds that  could be considered common that I haven’t had the opportunity to shoot yet.   The answer to that thought provoking question is “yes”.  One of the birds that has surprisingly alluded me is the Purple Martin.  For a bird supposedly in everyone’s backyard around my neck of the woods, it has failed to make its way into my tin.  Another supposedly common bird that was lacking from the list is this one – the Northern Mockingbird.  Not so common around where I am, but definitely inhabits a large cross section of places Linda and I have been while out on shoots.   As you can see, that is no longer the case.

This particular specimen was found while we were visiting  the Biltmore Estates near Ashville,  North Carolina.  We actually spent two days exploring this amazing place.  The first day we arrived in the late afternoon and opted to simply explore the grounds and save the house viewing for the next day.  When we first arrived the first thing I noticed was how perfectly laid out and clean the grounds were – it was like someone had handpicked the placement of every element of the forest.  To my surprise, this ended up being the case as the construction pictures revealed that there was nothing in the area when the house was built.  Along with that, they also cared for a massive flower garden.  Clean forest and tons of flowers – what better conditions can you ask for when in search of birds.    I’ll probably go into detail in a later post on the house, but we managed to pull a Big Ben, Parliament moment when we got there.  Somehow we managed to miss the parking lot turnoff which meant we had to traverse the entire grounds a second time before we could get out and explore.  If you have never been there, let me tell you, that is not a short drive.

Check out how much meaner this bird looks when you are head on – I can imagine how prey must feel – well, those with eyes – they are omnivores.

Hit the jump to even more pictures of the Mockingbird!

Continue reading I Mock Your Quota Concerns