Welcome to May everybody! I mentioned this in my last post, but this year is sailing by. Good news, Brad has successfully returned home from his field assignment. Sounds like our quest for the incredibly elusive Ptarmigan will continue on. I wanted to start getting a few of the pending posts popped off his growing queue – word is there might be another batch coming soon. The weather took a turn for the cold this weekend and decided to go with one that fit the chilly temps. Put your mittens and hats on folks and brace yourselves for the cold Mighty Mississippi winds.
…take it away Brad…
I think most people remember the first time they saw a bald eagle in the wild. I know I certainly do. The story was featured right here on Wildlife Intrigued in an article called Yellowstone Feathers and Fur. At the time I thought I would probably never see another bald eagle in the wild so I absorbed as much of that opportunity as I could. Little did I know I’d be able to fill a couple of memory cards the next time I saw a bald eagle. Or see dozens of them in the same place. There have been a few stories about bald eagles on Wildlife Intrigued over the years. I suppose this one was also influenced by Brian in a way. He tells me that the photos are important, but the story about them is often more important. Even if a photo is worth a thousand words, it’s still nice to read the words. That’s why I thought I’d try this one on for size. By the way, I like to have music playing in the background when I write stories. Guess which song was shuffled while I was writing? The answer is at the end. (No peeking ahead of time)
Hit the jump to read more about Brad and Terry’s fishin’ adventure!
Greetings everyone. Sitting here in our dentist parking lot waiting for Linda to finish getting some work done. How times have changed as now I actually long to sit in a real “waiting” room vs being cooped up in a vehicle. Looking at the positives, this situation is quite conducive to cranking out a post. We are still in the “fresh” post part of the week putting the focus on more recent outings. While perusing the options in the queue, noticed that I left everyone hanging on the third part of the latest Eagle experiences at Davenport lock and dam. Along with the traditional shots (link here) and the action shots (link here), promised you some highlights of new behaviors seen above the water. The Eagles were quite active that day showing off their skilz for the dozen or so photographers lined up to see the show.
A quick recap to get everyone in the mood. First relax the legs and line up the approach.
Then cock the legs to prepare for the impact.
Finally stab to break the water’s surface.
Hit the jump to read about my new experiences that day – one was quite comical.
Welcome everyone! Before getting down to business, wanted to do some housekeeping. I left some of you hanging when I decided to put part one of the Biltmore Estate architecture series here due to the rather wild look of the featured grotesques. Part two was more focused on the mansion reliefs and various statues about the grounds. Those were left on the mothership. Feel free to jump over there if you want to check out those additions (link here). Okay, on with the order of the day.
Yep, the Bald Eagle is once again front and center. If you recall, January was closed with a 3 part series on our country’s national bird (link here, here and here). Originally thought about holding off on featuring Eagles again so soon. Problem is, I made a commitment to you to emphasize fresher shoots – well for at least part of the week. In that vein, how about some tins from TWO days ago!?! (a round of golf claps please ha)
Hit the jump to see a few more of the traditional Eagle shots.
For starters, I now have two new unexpected benefits of the pandemic today. Ever have one of those situations when the perfect song comes on, your toes start tapping seemingly without your brain prompting it and all of a sudden you find yourself singing along OUT LOUD? Once you come to your senses, you start looking around and notice pairs of eyes staring at you, judging you, finding you wanting. Sheepishly you look away hoping your fifty shades of red don’t show up on the Internet. Guess what, as long as the music and ambient sounds are above your vocal cord vibrations – let it rip – no one will know what is going on behind that mask – quite liberating if you ask me. Oh, and the other side effect is you are no longer required to force a smile for selfies. Just keep your eyes open and send the Kilroy impersonation to all your messaging friends.
Now for a quick apology. In the last post I alluded to a two parter for the Eagle shot progression. Turns out, I should have referred to it as a three parter. Decided not to burn up your image cache and hold back a series for another day. Hope you like our national bird as you will be getting your fill of them for sure.
Continuing on from the last post, I was commenting on the number of standard Eagle shots I’ve collected over the years. Overwhelming to be honest, but I enjoy these mighty creatures and find myself snapping away whenever we encounter them. In the last post I showcased the more traditional shots.
Hit the jump to see some more offerings from the Eagle folder.
Howdy folks. Feeling a bit of sadness at the moment for our exploration is entering its last leg as we begin our return. As a welcome home gift, Mother Nature has decided to throw a blizzard in our honor – we might be able to outlast it depending on our return path, but will not be holding our breaths – Midwest states have a way of making sure you never forget you chose to live in a four season state. The good news is the trip was very successful and bringing back tins full of 2021 fodder… err ’22.. hmm ’23 ugh. In truth, it isn’t really the snaps that I’ll remember the most, rather the great people I had the chance to meet along the way. There is something about the birding community that is truly special – always friendly, always willing to share and always eager to help on an ID or provide timely education. Gives you a feeling of hope as we’ve met people from all over the US that understand what it means to be courteous, kind and well, for lack of a better term, civilized. I’ll go into more details on the great people we met as the new trip posts roll out. Until then, wanted to get to a topic I’ve been delaying for a while.
Our great country’s national bird, the American Bald Eagle. Truly in the upper echelon of what I classify as majestic birds. They literally demand your reverence when they are around. Calm, cool, collected and strong all wrapped in a feathered shell capable of deadly force.
Other than a likely case of hopefully temporary ear damage we successfully made it through the first night of bands at the Mississippi Valley State Fair beer tents. As mentioned last post we are playing groupie this weekend and checking out some new local bands and of course our long time favorite Love Dogs who will be taking the stage later tonight. Just as a quick summary and to add to my memory banks when I’m old(er) and wondering where the hell all those years went – the Sugar Nipples ended up being a band with a “named” band than they turned out to be. We have visions of them being similar to our favorite Vegas band Steel Panther but they fell short. The capper was when they started repeating songs to fill the gap before the AC/DC tribute band Electric Shock came on. Luckily shock ended up being really really good … if you like AC/DC classic sets. One of my biggest accomplishments in life was converting Linda from country to real music. We have traveled to several AC/DC concerts and our bar was set extremely high of someone wanting to monetize off their name. Beyond some lead riff mistakes, Shock pulled off an excellent job. The lead singer had the vocals down and imagine a 5’2″ Angus complete with school boy outfit shredding away the night for 2 hrs. Oh, and he was from Australia and had devoted most of his life to exactly reproducing the abilities and styles of his mate from the home country. Would recommend warming up a bit before tackling a song that starts out with such a hard solo – he eventually settled in or the alcohol compensated as the night progressed. Can’t wait until tonight, and guessing you can’t wait to get to the meat of this post!
Yes, once again featuring a bird from the backlog. This one is slightly different though – the last one came to you courtesy of 2015 where this one, with a sigh, comes to you from the wayback machine of February 2014. Wait a minute, “where the hell did all those years go”. Noting how much grief my brother Ron gave me for being 2 years behind, can’t wait for the comments when he sees I am 4 years in lag.
Hit the jump to see and read more about these bundles of white feathers!
I figured I would go ahead and close out the Davenport Iowa bird shoot. We’ve done the eagles, the gulls and now presenting..
That’s right, the Mallard Duck. This guy was enjoying the 50 degree weather in march. The shot turned out pretty good with the green shimmering nicely in the sun and you can even make out the water droplets on the duck’s feathers. This was pretty fitting since the Quad Cities’ minor league hockey team is actually named The Mallards. Here is another one with a different direction to the sun giving a slightly different shimmer pattern.
There were actually a number of them (can’t remember the proper term for a grouping of ducks at the moment).
Believe me, it was extremely tough to get them to all go in the same direction. You also have a nice mixture of the females included in this shot – clearly they were stiffed when the coloring was handed out.
Follow the jump to see some more shots of the Mallard
This post is a first for our little off-ramp on the Information Highway. Today we have, in a sense, a guest blogger. The pictures contained in this post were actually taken by my wife. As with the previous posts, these were taken up in Davenport IA. We had parked at the rollers on the Mississippi River looking for eagles and she decided to snap a few shots of a flying gull. It actually took a while to identify this particular bird. Previously, we had always referred to them as seagulls. That name was mysteriously missing from the field guides I use. After looking and relooking and re-relooking we have decided to go with a Herring Gull. The beak does not appear to have a strip (ring-billed gull) on it and the range appears to fit.
Although they are often considered the vermin of the airways, these birds do have a certain aura about them that gives the appeal of a heavenly glow. A very pure white with a touch of highlighting like a quill dipped in the inkwell.
While I was trying to identify the species, it occurred to me I couldn’t see his feet (one of the gull types has yellow feet). Guessing the belly is pretty fluffy allowing him to tuck them under for greater aerodynamics – or possibly warmth. I saved the best image for last. I really like this shot and left it a little larger to hopefully show a little more detail. The sunlight radiates through the wings almost to the point of transparency. Personally, I think their quite beautiful, but then again, I do not have to live with the pain of their constant scavenging.
Thanks again to the wife for taking some pretty shots
I can’t remember if I mentioned if previously, but we purchased a new camera a month or so ago. The previous pictures (particularly the wildlife photos) were taken with a Nikon D70. I actually really like that camera and does a great job with the exception of low light. The 70 can only go to 1600, but the Nikon D90 can go to 3200 which makes it better for the indoor dog show pictures my wife spends her time on. The remainder of this year will be spend trying to figure out how to use all those new features. We took it on a test run up in Davenport IA again and the shots were fantastic. The reduction for this website cuts the quality some, however, they still stand out in my opinion. The image above of the juvenile taking flight is one of my favorites.
For some reason there were no eagles at our standard spot (at the locks in Davenport). It was a little late in the season and the temps were starting to head upwards generally signaling their departure. Disappointed, we headed back to Davenport to see if they were down on Rockingham. As we drove along the river I noticed a pair of them sitting up trees. They were actually perched on the opposite side of the road from the river and basically in the front yard of a mansion.
This had the added benefit of a clean shot since it was the only tree (granted huge) in the yard. I learned my lesson a long time ago, so the image above was a quick shot from afar. Never waste the moment by trying to get too close before the first shot. Eventually, I worked my way a little closer which didn’t seem to bother them at all. It never occurred to me before how much more sinister the juveniles look than the matures. Guessing the juvi is a little cocky sitting next to the 2nd in charge of the skies (Owls being the top of the chain since they will actually attack and kill an eagle). I finally moved into position and capture this stunning shot. The full sized image is a lot better and really brings the talons out on the mature. I’ll probably make this my background.
Follow the jump to see some more pictures we captured while we were up there.