Burning in the Dirt and the Trees

I just might have to go back to formally working as I can’t for the life of me figure out how I can be busier now that when I was spending over 40 hours a week fighting the ghosts in the machine. Those hours are being sucked up into the vortex somehow and it isn’t a result of naps! (truth is I have NEVER been able to take a nap since they stopped giving me a carton a milk and a carpet square in kindergarten). Admittedly, part of the time consumption is a slew of national and local dog competitions that have had us traveling to compete. Time for a proud pappa to do some quick bragging. Ruger had his very first agility ring showing last weekend. Now that he’s finally had his first birthday, he is ready to impress.

Ruger's first agility competition in Springfield, IL in July of 2022

Hit the jump to read more about Ruger’s debut and to see the latest add to my birding life list – hint, he’s a beauty!

Continue reading Burning in the Dirt and the Trees

A Hard Swallow

Yep, it’s broke! Wait, an astute reader might be led astray by that opener. I am not talking about my ankle thank god. That seems to be progressing nicely. After the re-injury, I’ve been able to get most of the new swelling down and recovering faster than expected. I’ve been testing it out in prep for Thursday’s big trial run for the Bix 7 – a nasty hill race held the end of July (link here). Only 7 miles long, but it will put a hurt on you if you are not ready for the heat and the constant hills. Pretty much the only flat spot is maybe 50 feet at the start and then a nice reprieve about 8 tenths of a mile into it after climbing one hell of a hill. 2 miles down, another more grueling hill just before the turnaround and then follow the same path back up before the ever welcome steep trek back down to a longer run-out to the finish. Not something I want to tackle with a mucked up ankle – wish me luck.

Bank Swallow found at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, Chicago IL in May 2022

The broke comment was related to an event AFTER my run tonight. I’ve been chasing down a Scarlet Tanager (link here) that has been watching me from a roadside perch the last two training runs. I really need that check for our Average Year (link here) to claw back a point from Ron. Yesterday, post run, I grabbed the travel camera from the truck – a Nikon D90 with a 70-200 f2.8 glass that used to be my workhorse many, many moons ago. No luck seeing the bird. Saw it again today as I started my run – once again grabbed my camera after my 7 mile training run (did I mention how well my ankle is doing ha) – It was there, so I started taking shots – snap, snap, snap, THUNK. WTH!!! Shutter stuck open. First thought, “dammit if I didn’t get that bird I’m going to be upset”. Second thought, “oh no, my baby is broke!”. I’ve been through a lot with that D90 and learned a tremendous amount that helped shape my approach to wildlife photography. Not worth fixing as I still have the D7000’s I used before finally picking up the D7500 as a retirement gift. A hard pill to swallow… which brings us to today’s featured feathered friend.

Bank Swallow found at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, Chicago IL in May 2022

Hit the jump to learn more about this sand castle living Swallow.

Continue reading A Hard Swallow

Philadelphia Freedom

Quick note, the shell of this post was written a couple of days ago. A status has changed, but rather than rework the post, just added an addendum. Now back your regularly scheduled programming.

Par for course this year, the month of June is flying by. Really not sure what the reason is for that other than I am keeping busy, which is keeping my eyes off the clock. Linda assures me there are still 24 full hours in every day. I do know a chunk of time is being spent training. Per last post, it has been a grind with the ankle injury and now the arrival of Mr. Heat Miser. The lemonade out of lemons is the reduced mileage with the injury is allowing me to ease into the heat conditioning. After 4 consecutive Short 5 to 6 mile outings the ankle was feeling good, so added back in one of the many large climbs that are staples for my usual runs. Ankle held nicely – I decided it warranted a Philadelphia Museum of Art celebration. Yep, put my arms up and did some small circles – pretty sure I heard trumpets in the background. To those that know me, yes, I did look around first to make sure NOBODY would see me hehehehe.

Philadelphia Vireo found at Montrose Beach, Chicago IL, in May 2022

At that moment it occurred to me I had the perfect topic for the next post. I just needed to get back in the digital darkroom when I got back home as this series is fresher than Pepe Le Pew.

Hit the jump to read more about our specimen originally discovered in the City of Brotherly Love.

Continue reading Philadelphia Freedom

Prepare for Glory!

The time has come everybody, brace yourselves for the epic conclusion of the 2021 Bird Life List goal.

First I want to thank everyone for their encouragement to help me get through the ’21 goals. Just to bring the non-regular readers up to speed, I figured I would have some extra time on my hands in my first year of retirement – for the record I am not convinced that actually materialized as it feels busier these days than I would have ever imagined. Regardless, when the idea originated I set a goal to up my birding life list to 300. Ended up being easier to declare than execute, but the fallout at Dauphin Island was the savior for this effort. Not entirely sure I would have gotten anywhere close without that trip and the January trip down the Texas Gulf Coast at the beginning of the year. You have been getting a steady diet of spoils from those trips over the last several months.

It is now time to officially confirm that I have indeed made it to the 300th bird on my life list and it is time to reveal the feathered friend that has been selected to honor this historic landmark… hmmmm.. should probably refer to it as a historic “checkmark” ha!

Go on, don’t be afraid, hit the jump to meet the famous bird(s).

Continue reading Prepare for Glory!