Mud Angels

Well, we are officially off on our exploration part deux for the year.  Just in time, it appears, as our hometown county is experiencing some unexpected high numbers of Covid outbreaks.  Not sure what is up with that, but at the moment, thankfully not something we need to worry about.  So far the birding has been a bit weak, however, I have been able to get a long run in on an amazing set of trails.  Told Linda it was like running on the set of The Last of the Mohicans.  Good for the soul and the long steep elevation climbs was a good reminder to the legs they are still in training.   As it is Flashback Friday, I get to pull from the front of the LIFO queue.  Meet today’s Featured Feathered Friend.

Sandhill Crane Wisconsin April 2013

We have been experiencing some unexpected cold temperatures on our exploration.  Our destination should be significantly warmer – in the meantime I have to keep reminding myself we are officially past winter ha.   While looking through the queue, noticed these shots that were taken in the same month and still had SNOW on the ground.

Sandhill Crane Wisconsin April 2013

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the big birds

Continue reading Mud Angels

From Lips to Beaks

As I sit her basking in the warm sun and wondering if lipstick has a shelf-life it occurred to me I could be cranking out a post.  I could also simply sit back and enjoy my birthday … taking in the rays and yes wondering if lipstick goes bad.  Since hitting retirement age takes a lot of the excitement of birthdays away (every day is like a birthday ha!) The latter seems like a waste.   A post it is!

American Redstart found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL in June 2019

Today’s featured feathered friend comes to us thanks to two trips to Chain O’ Lakes State Park near Spring Grove IL.  The first was back in June 2019 (almost like yesterday) and the other, well it was back in June 2017 (as he looks away sheepishly).  There is a reason I added the older shots in – more to that in a bit.

American Redstart found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL in June 2019

Hit the jump to read a bit more about our flashy birdie.

Continue reading From Lips to Beaks

Tern-Fit

Been a long day today as we finished up the last of all our preventative medical appointments. We wanted to get everything checked off the list so we could start the new year fresh and not have any commitments should we decide to do some extended exploring. Eye doctor, medical doctor and today the dentist. I am definitely tired of being probed and prodded, but glad to have confirmation from the experts that I am still alive (some mornings I wonder ha). Feeling a bit tired, decided I’d take a break and tickle the keyboard a bit. Like our featured feathered friend for today, this will be a quick post.

Black Tern found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL in June 2017

I will start out by saying there is a lot of room for improvement in these shots. Lighting is clearly not the best and some of them are rather soft. Problem is, the key to improving shots of this bird is to get physically stronger! My rig is not the lightest coming in at 11-12 pounds with the Beast attached. Thanks to nights in the gym, I generally hand-hold in the field as dealing with a tripod can be a pain in the ass depending on how much distance you plan to cover.

Black Tern found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL in June 2017

Hit the jump to read a bit more about our agile bird.

Continue reading Tern-Fit

Dragons and Bluebirds

My friend Brad M. hung up the daily grind at the same time I did. He mentioned he was beginning to forget what day of the week it was. I haven’t gotten to that point yet, but very close – one thing for sure, I am adapting faster than I thought would happen. Getting stuff checked off my to-do list at a record pace and once the holiday decorating is completed (looks like Hallmark threw up in our living room which is complete with a >12 foot Xmas tree hehehe), I can start researching target birds for our upcoming trip. With that said, I did notice one thing that seemed different – clipped a root and took a nasty impact running the trails the other day. Typically I bounce like Tigger and carry on. I had to collect myself for a minute this time, remember where/who I was and topped it off with a nice bruise after the run. Not liking that aspect at all! On a happier note, I mentioned what a wonderful send-off I had and the video they had made for me. After several attempts to upload to our gallery and help from Ron who converted the video for me (only to have Smugmug convert it back ugh), I finally got it rendered correctly. Thought I would share it with you – absolutely love it – on the other hand, Linda is getting tired of me playing it all the time hehehe.

Guessing you are really here to see wildlife! During the last post I mentioned the House Wren has a tendency to take over bird houses intended for our local Eastern Bluebirds. I try not to play favorites too much beyond my well documented dislike for the Brown-Headed Asshats (link here) and those damn Blue Jays. Whoever gets there first and able to defend it wins the house in my book. Except the Wrens need to start putting down a deposit if they take over my replacement birdhouse as they have proven to be lacking on the upkeep responsibilities.

Eastern Bluebird found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in April 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our colorful backyard bird.

Continue reading Dragons and Bluebirds

Three Shades of Brown

Curses to you short months!!   Here I was thinking I had plenty of time to address my shortfall with the self-imposed monthly post quota.  Then I look at the calendar to assess the maximum amount of procrastination that could be factored in and then I see it.  Actually, more like DIDN’T see the assumed extra day.  Instead, just an outlined box with the number 1 in it.  Staring at me, taunting me, farting in my general “dee-rection” (in my finest French accent).  As luck would have it, I have some time to address this issue thanks to heading up to Mayo for Linda’s first annual checkup.  Oh, and any talk about purposely delaying this post until we were on the road so I wouldn’t have to drive is assuredly false (as far as you know).   Okay, let’s see what today’s featured feathered friend is going to be.

House Wren found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL. June 2019

Unlike the last couple of posts, we are short on color today.  We basically have our lighter brown, our brown and wait for it .. our darker brown.  If this species is unfamiliar to you, you might be tempted to tally it up as just another brown jobber.  Normally that would be a safe bet, however, our little bird is not from the Sparrow, rather the Wren family.  Oddly enough, this is one of the few times you will see them pictured where their tails are not positioned above the body line.  In fact, even the next shot has its tail shifted down – bonus!

House Wren found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL. June 2019

Hit the jump to read more about this drab bird.

Continue reading Three Shades of Brown

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

Baby Crap Factories

And we are back once again. Figured I’d make the best of it as I sit her nursing a pretty banged up left leg. Not entirely sure what is going on, either my karma got screwed up somehow, just a series of unfortunate events, something is wrong with my running cadence or I’m going blind. Any of those are in play at the moment pending further study. A week ago I took a “snowboard” fall on the trail. For those that haven’t had the pleasure of learning how to snowboard, front edge falls are both instantaneous and brutal. Clipped my foot on a root that was hiding in the weeds alongside the trail. You learn quickly that you get your ass off the ground and keep running before your body has a chance to have second thoughts. 6 miles further and a night of rest resulted in a softball size bruise on my shin. Flash forward to this morning at the farthest extent of a 13 mile trail run where my left foot clipped a rock strategically positioned to maximize pain. That left blood on the trail and a rather intriguing 6 miles back to the car. 2 minutes before that I was in fluffy trail dust, but nooooo, can’t go down there, I have to pick the section covered in sharp rocks. Now sitting here speculating how long the gashes will take to heal and what new colors of the rainbow will be added to my already banged up leg. Bright side, my ribs seem to have survived the impacts, so we’ll be back on the trails before the week is up.

While I mend, let’s feature some Goose play.

Canada Goose found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL in April 2017

I saw these two while doing a little birding at Chain O’ Lakes back in April 2017. Guessing there was not a lot of targets in the area as I tend to take a few shots of these Geese and continue on. There is no shortage of Canada Geese in the area. Just did a quick check of their region and if the range maps are correct, these distinctive Geese or abundant in North America as a whole. They do come up short in the Central America region, very odd gap in eastern California and what looks like just east of the Rockies in Canada. Probably got wind of the mass exodus out of California, but unaware of the no-go zone in Canada.

Canada Goose found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL in April 2017

Hit the jump to see what these two were up to.

Continue reading Baby Crap Factories

Electric Bananas

Greetings everyone! Apologies, as it has been a bit since we last met. There are a number of reasons for that with the primary one being we are dangerously close to Halloween which translates to a very busy Bri. The joke around here is we take a day off to actually celebrate Halloween and show off the latest additions and then we are back in the lab designing, building and wiring the new props for next year’s Haunted Trail of Tears. My 3D printer has been going nonstop and I’m currently up to my eyeballs in wire, servos, Arduinos and a bevy of linkages that would make any mechanical engineer envious. That doesn’t mean I get to forget about my commitment to my readers so how about a little Yellow for today.

Yellow Warbler found at Chain O' Lakes State Park in June 2019

Quite the “electrical banana” of you will pardon a reference to maybe one of the worst songs every written or produced. Not exactly the best reference as Donovan was apparently referring to the ladies where these first few shots are of the male Yellow Warbler. What do you say we all go in on a petition to rename this brightly colored species the Banana Warbler – upside is it will bypass all the current uproar over birds named after southern references.

Yellow Warbler found at Chain O' Lakes State Park in June 2019

Hit the jump to see a few more shots our brightly colored Warbler.

Continue reading Electric Bananas

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

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