That Shaft Be Red

First off, Happy NewYear Everyone!!  I can’t believe we have officially put another year in the books.  Every time it comes to this point on the calendar I ask myself where did the year go.  Although I was able to get a lot of objectives checked off, there always seems to be that undertone of “I should have done more”.  It will soon be time to set my new resolutions – I never do it until a few weeks into the new year to give me time to ponder what my goals are really going to be.  For now, I’ll simply pat myself on the back having just completed a decade of blogging.  That’s right, today represents the start of the 11th year here on the ol’ blog.  It will be a few more days before the end of year stats are ready to post, but we’ll touch more upon that proud accomplishment when that post comes out.

For now, let’s ring in the new year with a new variety for my birding list.

Northern Flicker - Red Shafted - shot in Colorado May 2014

The Northern Flicker in itself is not a new check on my list having been featured back in March of 2016 (link here).  If you look close at the pictures in that previous post, you will notice there is black line extending in from the bill.  This represents one of the two subspecies of the Northern Flicker.  Since it is black, it is easy to identify it as the “Black-Shafted” variety.

Northern Flicker - Red Shafted - shot in Colorado May 2014

I might have just fibbed, hit the jump for a correction!

Continue reading That Shaft Be Red

Circle of Life Plays Out in a Theatre Far Away

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! Not sure if I am going to get around to posting tomorrow, so thought I would go ahead and put one out there today. Finally feels like Christmas in the Midwest thanks to a lot of white stuff coming down at the moment. Looks like 2-4 inches when it is all done for the day. A perfect dusting to add to the holiday atmosphere – not to mention our well could sure use some recharging. Today’s post is actually inspired by a recent set of pictures my brother Ron posted from his recent Florida trip. He was able to witness and get in the tin the brutality of the Loggerhead Shrike. You have to feel a little bad for whatever creature crosses its path at feeding time. I wonder if he would be willing to guest blog on that series of shots – think you would enjoy that in a squeamish sort of way. .

In light of that, thought I would roll out my example of the circle of life. Warning though, bunny lovers might want to skip this particular post.

Cooper's Hawk Dining on a Rabbit in Red Rocks Ampitheatre - Colorado May 2014

That there is a Cooper’s Hawk that I encountered while visiting Red Rocks Ampitheatre back in May 2014. We were out in Colorado for a Teacup Dog Agility Nationals. Linda knows how to bribe me to go with her. Simply mention Red Rocks Ampitheatre and my bags will be packed in a jiffy. I’ve posted a number of shots from my explorations at that place in the past. A number of those were +1’s on the birding list. Even got a nice fox while out there (link here).

From the birding list perspective, the Cooper doesn’t represent a +1 having posted most recently from an encounter in Champaign IL (link here).
Cooper's Hawk Dining on a Rabbit in Red Rocks Ampitheatre - Colorado May 2014

Hit the jump to see some more images from the Ampitheatre.

Continue reading Circle of Life Plays Out in a Theatre Far Away

Maggie May

“You lured me away from home, just to save you from being alone
You stole my soul and that’s a pain I can do without”

So, as the adage goes, stories of my demise are greatly exaggerated. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for one of my 3TB work drives. It no workie anymore. Work drives are my day after day use – digital darkroom processing, searches general access and always connected to my main computer for ease. Luckily, all of my photos are backed up on a fully raided NAS drives. So nothing lost (relief). However, it took 6 nonstop days to copy back from the NAS drive onto a brand new working drive. Yes, there is a tremendous amount of finger crossing that nothing goes wrong with the originals while copying back. All done now, nothing lost but my time away from the blog. Let’s remedy that now!

Black-Billed Magpie shot in Colorado, May 2014

Today’s featured feathered friend comes to us courtesy of Red Rocks Amphitheatre on a trip to Colorado back in May 2014. The Black-Billed Magpie is not a new bird to the blog having been previously featured back in July 2008 (link here). That also happens to be the first time I had ever encountered this colorful bird. We were passing through South Dakota on our way to visit Yellowstone. One of the great things about having a photography blog over the last 10 years is you get a firsthand look at how you are improving your craft. Those initial first shots are quite the fuzzy mess.

Black-Billed Magpie shot in Colorado, May 2014

I did get a little better when they appeared for a second time back in February 2015 (link here). There is always room for improvement, but these are a far cry from that initial effort. Those were taken from a good distance, where this third installment had much better foot zoom. Thing is, the closer you get to these members of the Crow family, the more you realize just how menacing they look. Something about those dark hoods that energizes the flight instincts whenever they show up in my viewfinder. Truthfully, my encounters with this large bodied birds has been quite cordial. They simply go about their business as if I am not even there. In this encounter on the outer loop of the Red Rocks trail, I heard a weird rustling sound under a bunch of sage. Not wanting to move off the trail, the next 20 minutes was spent trying locate the moving sound. Thinking I was on target, then engaged in some birding yoga in an attempt to find an angle giving a glimpse of the ruckus source. Hear sound, move to approximate location, peer through the brush only to hear it a few feet in another direction. After numerous search cycles it became a quest. I was either going to be eaten by an annoyed coyote or get something in the tin worth blogging about.

Black-Billed Magpie shot in Colorado, May 2014

During the course of this hunt people would walk/jog by with inquisitive looks. You get this a lot when you are standing around with big glass out in the wild. Embarrassingly my repeated response to their inquiry was “I don’t know” with a couple of “Yeti” just to spice it up a bit. After the fun of taunting me wore off the mystery animal flew up on a nearby post. Yep, a Magpie was just foraging for food in the thick underbrush. At least something went into the tin so it was worth the time … I suppose. Interesting creatures these Magpies – apparently enjoy making fools of us humans.

That’s all I have for you today folks. Just wanted to knock the cobwebs down a bit since it has been a couple of weeks since posting. Take it easy everyone and hopefully my technical difficulties are resolved.

King of the West

The upside of a recent surgery is I have to stay down for a while (and you know how I HATE that) which equates to more time for posting…. on birds hehehehe.
Western Kingbird shot at Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden Colorado May 2014
As is the norm around here, my featured bird comes from a number of years back.  To be precise, all the way back to May of 2014.  I used to beat myself up more on my tremendous backlog of pictures, but the more camera enthusiasts I meet, the more I realized this is pretty common – especially for those of us holding down a primary job completely unrelated to photography.  I know for a fact my brother Ron is starting to experience a growing queue as well which is especially painful for him not that his bird count has plummeted to like three thanks to initiating his new blog (see the link in the navigation bar).  Of course, this means I can spend those cold winter days inside birding from my queue in the comfort of my den sipping hot chocolate – yeah!
Western Kingbird shot at Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden Colorado May 2014

Hit the jump to see a lot more pictures of this bird … might even reveal what it is.

Continue reading King of the West