Wax Now Out

Okay, I’ve decided to try and look on the bright side of this pandemic crap.  Now that I am unofficially officially retired.  I’ve decided to try out a bit of optimism.  Not that I consider myself a pessimist by any means – more of a realist.  Sometimes when things are brown and ugly.. you gotta call it crap, pure and simple.  Covid-19 is crap, no way around it – but it has made one American tradition a LOT more civilized.  Yes, I am talking about Black Friday.  The annual day where capitalism and frugality duke it out at the cost of all human decency and altruism.  Admittedly, as a person who truly enjoys studying behaviors both in society and out in the wild, Black Friday nationwide petri dish treasure trove. Pick some strategic locations (number 1 being Home Depot as they pass out donuts and drinks to those standing in their line) and then stay up all night until 4am and rush out to stand in line while your wife hangs out in the car or RV at the back of the lot.  Breakfast, a show and if there happens to be some really good item I don’t have to lose my humanity for, then bonus.  I’ve seen it all, screaming matches, toy tug-o-war, adult fights, adults getting trampled, kids getting trampled, trips, falls, my wife walking briskly up to me with a hot sale item in her hand telling me we have to head for the checkouts immediately … will leave that story right there ha.  All good blog fodder for the other flagship Intrigued blog.  Not sure what the standard behavior is other countries – just assumed this is just a US stigma.  Regardless – the pandemic has accelerated a new era for Black Friday – one more focused on sitting in your most comfortable living room chair and dancing down the aisles with a mouse and keyboard.  I suspect that the emergency room visits outside of Covid cases plummeted this season as a result – maybe some carpal tunnel or extra eye strain cases, but those shouldn’t take up precious ER beds.  So there you have it – the pandemic has brought more civility to the US – who would have guessed that could have happened.  Then there is the benefit of successfully ending the concept of hugs which I’m all for!!! Yikes, my intro got away from me today.  The good news is the animal wildlife part (not the above wild human part) is more of a picture than a word post.  You might recognize today’s featured feathered friend.

Cedar Waxwing found in Wisconsin in July 2013

No, your browser cache is not acting up and bringing in images from the last post.  Over the past 13+ years, this might be the first time I’ve featured the exact same bird species in back to back posts.  I try to be a bit more creative for my readers.  However, in this special case, I wanted to follow-up on a missing element from the last post.

Cedar Waxwing found in Wisconsin in July 2013

Hit the jump for an explanation of the deja-vu

Continue reading Wax Now Out

Wax Not Out

Well folks, I have officially unofficially entered in a new phase of my life as of 4:00pm today. I say unofficially in the sense I am still employed, but on permanent vacation until February 1st of 2021 until it becomes technically official. So I still have my work computer and will still help my colleagues out if they come calling in an emergency – I do not expect that to really happen as I’ve been training my replacement since May and he along with the rest of my coworkers are plenty capable of dealing with the day to day decisions that come with the job. That means yours truly has a lot more time on his hands for those tasks that have been neglected over the years – not to mention a honey-do list that was apparently started from what I can tell at least 5 years ago. She was nice enough not to hand the ream of paper into about 4:03pm ha. No worries, I promise to find some time to get my posts out. I had intended to give you a link to a gift I was given during my work send-off happy hour. After about 2 hours of fighting to get it to properly process on Smugmug I had to give up (hey, I’m on tight retirement schedule!). Anyway, it was a personal retirement goodbye from a Mr. James Faulkner or should I say Randyll Tarley from Game of Thrones. As someone who happens to be a big fan of GoT, I have to admit.. that was awesome. In fact, the entire celebration was wonderful – The memories – they highlighted the funny and embarrassing ones of course – and seeing everyone’s faces was truly overwhelming. As I had predicted in a previous post..incredibly emotional. Told my wife afterwards I had to retire now as I couldn’t possibly go through that again. We’ll see how life after work goes. For now, let’s get this kicked off on the right foot and get straight to our featured feathered friend of the day.

Cedar Waxwing found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in June 2017

Thought I’d bring you a bit of color in celebration of the day. It has been pretty miserable around here weather-wise as of late with cold winds, a dusting of snow and pretty much 3 days of overcast and rain so far – probably all the tears I was trying to hold back during the celebration. For those not familiar with our brightly feathered friend, it is a Cedar Waxwing. One of the few really colorful birds that hang around in our region through the cold seasons. We do have the Northern Cardinal and that ass of a bird the Blue Jay which definitely add color to the dreary winter backdrop where the other brightly feathered birds like the American Goldfinch put on their dull coats for the chilly season.

Cedar Waxwing found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in June 2017

Hit the jump to learn a bit more about our smartly colorful friend!

Continue reading Wax Not Out

A Walk in the Park

I can only assume things are getting .. if not already been.. crazy wherever you might call home. All the large events have now been canceled (including two of my scheduled races for April), schools have been shuttered, remote work has been instituted where possible and now we officially have our first confirmed case of the Coronavirus in our local area. I’ll spare you the political gamesmanship that is going on at the same time beyond the tidbit my tax evading governor of our broke state is on TV complaining that people are continuing to go outside – the horror, the horror (oh, but he still wants everyone to go out and vote on Tuesday – long live politics). Will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Lemons out of lemonade, there’s extra time to devote to the image backlog.

Birds of Jubilee State Park - June 2017

The queue can definitely use the extra attention now that it has been drastically inflated thanks to the discovery of the previously mentioned missing directory. Being that it is currently snowing here in the heart of Illinois, decided to take you on a virtual bird walk. There was a series of shots in the queue taken back in June of 2017 courtesy of a stroll through my favorite local state park – Jubilee College. It happens to be only a mile south of us – our woods and those of my neighbor’s all link to this park. A lot of my free time is spent there either training on hills or enjoying birding hikes on their many trails. This collection is more focused on the bird variety discovered that day than the photographic execution. Sometimes you just need to focus on the joy of being outdoors and experiencing nature leaving the stress of getting the camera and light settings mastered. Sean O’Connell said it best “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.”

Birds of Jubilee State Park - June 2017

Hit the jump to do a little virtual birding!

Continue reading A Walk in the Park

Project Chekov: Cedar Waxwing and Cardinal

We have reached day three of Project Chekov and to switch it up just a little we have two birds featured today (yeah!).  To be completely honest, the second one was kind of thrown in because I figured it was a good way to get them out of the way quickly.  But let’s get to that in a minute and get right into the featured bird.  I Actually thought this would be a new bird to the blog, however, a quick verification through the blog search capability proved differently.  The Cedar Waxwing actually made its presence known back in Nov 2012 (link here).  Those previous shots were not exactly the best execution and even coined the term crispiless to acknowledge that they were on the fuzzy side (I still like that word).  These first few turned out a lot better in my humble opinion.

The above one is clearly my favorite with the berry in the beak.  These are one of the easier birds to identify thanks to their thick black eye eyeliner and cropped back Mohawk.  Just call them the punk rockers of the birding world.  There are actually two types of these birds, one being Cedar and the other the Bohemian.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a shot showing their back coloring or it would be very obvious since the Bohemian has more colorful highlights.  The Bohemian also hangs out predominantly in the Northwest where the Cedar has a much broader range.

Pretty confident this is the Cedar based on where it was taken (Midwest) and I would have noted it if I saw the prettier highlights so I could make the extra check mark in the bird list.  These are pretty cool birds

Hit the jump to see more shots of the Waxwing and a more common bird to the area

Continue reading Project Chekov: Cedar Waxwing and Cardinal