Sitting Here, Taking a Walk in the Woods

Just sitting here relaxing a bit before tomorrow’s race. Giving the ankle one last rest before strapping on the Nimbus’ and walking to the bottom of Brady Street hill in Davenport Iowa for my 18th running of the Bix 7. Quite shocked the weather gods decided to take pity on us and give us some decent temps for a change. One of my faithful readers mentioned in a comment she was familiar with the race and noted the winners usually hail from Kenya (or Ethiopia). Don’t be fooled, they are all training at top tier schools in the US. It is true, they definitely dominate the podiums at this race, but typically they are not prepared for the humidity that accompanies this race (as well as the Steamboat Race in June link here). I am always surprised to see how hard they are having to push themselves as they are returning up the 2 mile hill as I’m coming down – yes, I’m at around the 2.5 mile mark and they are heading into their 5th mile. An elite road runner I am NOT! My speed days are long past replaced with the fun of grinding out ultra distances. There are not that many road races that interest my anymore, however, the Bix was the first race I ever entered and hands down it has the BEST post race party of any event out there. Linda is from Davenport and told me about this race when I was looking for something to fill the gap when I hung up my gi.

Good weather, a course completely lined with onlookers cheering us on (yes, even the slow ones like me), a distance that should be a walk in the park for me and a great afterparty – can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday. Oh, did I mention that Linda participates as well – they have a two mile option that takes you up the .8 mile long steep hill at the start and then directs you back down at the next block. Wish us luck!

In honor of the stress free Bix distance, thought I would feature a real “walk in the park” for today’s final post of the month.

Common Yellowthroat found at Jubilee College State Park in July 2022

Hit the jump to see this small collection of shots that normally would have gone straight to the archives.

Continue reading Sitting Here, Taking a Walk in the Woods

Project Chekov: Sparrows, Swifts and Swallows

Today is one of those difficult days in the birding realm.  If you have spent any time with this blog you probably know by now that when it comes to Sparrows I generally throw in the towel.  There just isn’t enough differences discernible in the field to really come out confident on what you have in the tin.  There are also difficulties when it comes to the Swallows and Swifts so figured it was time to get them all out of the way.

Let’s start with the Sparrow.  Now, throughout this post please keep in mind that the identification can be freely debated and if you know specifics please share!  With that, this is a small brown and gray bird so we’ll tag it with Sparrow.

Admittedly, this on is a little darker hued that we see and it has some darker tones in the under feathering along the neck.  One cause may due to the fact that this shot (and the one below) were taken in a storm which may have deepened the colors from either the wetness or the clouds.

I do like the picture and why I tell everyone there is no reason to get down if their designated day to hit the field turns out dreary.  Sure, you’ll need to tap that ISO dial up a bit and probably even back off the shutter speed but you have one thing going for you.  The rain tends to slow down the birds and cause them to spend a little more time on their perches (under cover of leaves of course).  For the hyper birds this is a godsend when it comes to getting shots of them.  UPDATE: By the way, while doing  quick search for one of the pictures below I stumbled on the House Sparrow which does match the neck coloring – pretty darn close in my opinion so let’s go with that for now.

Here is another Sparrow likely taken in a similar setting.

If I had to take a guess, the reference books tend to point to a Chipping Sparrow with that rust cap and eye-line.  Small, brown, gray … it’s a Sparrow in my book – any finer classification is just icing on the cake.  Again, I do like how the composition came out on these two shots – the branches seem to push the viewer’s eyes right to the desired focus of attention – granted it is just Sparrow.

Hit the link to read more about this difficult to identify set of birds.

Continue reading Project Chekov: Sparrows, Swifts and Swallows