See Spot Fly

It’s another pressure cooker month, but the good news is this post puts me over the hump and now looking downhill at the monthly quota. One day it is going to get me and my streak will be over … but alas, not likely this month. To use a common term from my workplace, there’s always the bus-factor to take into account – for those unfamiliar, the higher the factor, the higher the risk to the company if you get ran over by a bus that day. With only one post short as long as my fingers are still able to press on keys I should be able to finish it from the emergency room ha!

Take a gander at today’s featured feathered friend.
Spotted Sandpiper shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge on May 20th, 2017
That intriguing looking bird is a Spotted Sandpiper. Once again, those clever bird namers are saving teeth wear on the creative cogs. Let’s see, it has Spots and it is hanging out on a shoreline – I got it Spotted Sandpiper – start the presses. In all seriousness, you have to be appreciative of a Sandpiper you can quickly identify. If you have not had the experience trying to ID an obscure Piper, it ranks right up there with discerning a juvenile Sparrow. The Spotted has a couple of distinguishing marks with one being …. well … it has SPOTS and not streaks or solid. The hard eye line and ink tipped orange bill also collectively give it away.
Spotted Sandpiper shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge on May 20th, 2017

Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this stoic Peep.

Continue reading See Spot Fly

Pinky Legadero

Wow, this month is going to be close on the quota front. Lots of things happening around the headquarters of Intrigued as of late and admittedly, it is getting in the way of my commitment to my loyal readers. For that I apologize immensely, but on the other hand, I’ve been able to devote some time to working on new animatronics for this year’s Haunted Trail. Never too early to be thinking of orange and black. Speaking of black (these lead in don’t write themselves you know hehehe) take a look at my latest find.
Black-Necked Stilt Shot at Emiquon on May 20th,. 2017
This particular set of shots is uber-fresh being as it was taken less than a week ago! For those who follow this blog, you realize what a rarity it is to see shots that are less than 2 years old … a shoot to post duration measured in days is nearly unheard of. Credit Linda for coming up with the plan to hit Havana on our way down to Springfield to see the parents. She knows that Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge is like crack for us bird enthusiasts. To be relatively close to that birding hotspot is truly a blessing. You never really know what you are going to see on those wetlands so always exciting to be able to make a run through even if it is for as little as 1.5 hours which is all the time we had that day.
Black-Necked Stilt Shot at Emiquon on May 20th,. 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more pictures of this pink legged treasure! Continue reading Pinky Legadero

A Forster’s Takes Its Tern

How’s it hanging out there.  Obviously we survived the first snow of the season but maybe just barely.  I did get to test my slide control skills coming down one of the larger hills on the way back from my run.  Not sure what was going on there, but my 4 wheel drive truck decided that the rear wheels wanted to race the front wheels down the hill.  Not a big issue for seasoned Illinois drivers – stay off the brakes, steer into the drift to get control and then accelerate out once you get it straightened out.  Easy peasy, but can get the heart a pumping if a car is coming the other way.  Good to get those control reminders out of the way during the early winter season.  By this morning, the snow was gone from the roads and just another day in the Midwest.

To help warm up the place, figured I’d throw up a post featuring a bird shot back in the summer months – June specifically..
Forster's Tern shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge June 2013

Just not last June.  You should know me better than that by now.  These shots were taken back in 2013.  Trust me, if I could get these out quicker I definitely would.  Wish I could hire an intern to go through all my pictures after a shoot, weed out the crap shots and present me with the shots to take into the digital dark room.  You’d think a UB would do that for me… WAIT A MINUTE… something just triggered in my head.  Not sure I even posted the results of the UB competition this year.  Definitely need to get on that stat!  For now, let’s enjoy pictures of this lovely Forster’s Tern.

Truth be told, when I was shooting this bird down at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, I wasn’t sure what I was taking a picture of.  All I knew is there was one bird that “was not like the others” hanging out along the pier.

Forster's Tern shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge June 2013

Hit he jump to see a couple more pictures of this cool Tern

Continue reading A Forster’s Takes Its Tern

Closing Out Emiquon in April

Let’s see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… Holy Crap! I’m going to make it a whole day early.  I just high-fived myself.  Not only did I once again beat the quota demon, but the ditch became my bitch today and now the main driveway path is open for business.  That victory will be short lived when the body is begging for mercy shortly into tomorrow’s training run in the Quad Cities.  It’s difficult enough in those hills when I’m fresh.  How about we just put future concerns out of mind, live in the moment and enjoy this final post of the month.

I’ve posted a number of shoots from my favorite Havana IL birding hotspot Emiquon.  This set of images closes out the set of images taken back in April of 2015.  Before last night, this was just supposed to be an average set of birds none of which were new to the checklist.  That all changed thanks to a confirmation from my brother .. more on that later.  Right now take a gander at a classic pose from a Red-Winged Blackbird.
Emiquon National Widlife Refuge in April 2015

Pretty birds but the fact they are total assholes to other birds and any humans that get too close take a lot of luster off that shine.  Oh, and they are EVERYWHERE around here so, like the Bison in Yellowstone, once you have a few pictures in the tin you simply acknowledge their presence and keep the finger off the shutter.

Next up, one of those love hate relationship birds.  I always have a sense of dread whenever I shoot a Sparrow.  That is primarily due to how much pain and agony will be involved trying to identify it back in the digital dark room.  I lucked out with this particular shot since this one is pretty easy to identify.  Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the White-Crowned Sparrow (thanks again to Ron’s confirmation).

Emiquon National Widlife Refuge in April 2015

This one was working it for the Beast.  “It makes no difference if you’re black or white If you’re a boy or a girl If the music’s pumping it will give you new life You’re a superstar, yes, that’s what you are, you know it”

Emiquon National Widlife Refuge in April 2015

Hit the jump to see the special surprise!

Continue reading Closing Out Emiquon in April

Hostile Waters

I’ve had this set of pictures processed and ready to go for some time now. They were actually taken at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge back in March 2015. If you are new to the blog you might be saying to yourself “Good lord that was like more than a year ago!” Contrast that with the long time reader who expressed equal excitement that “this was like yesterday compared to most of the posts here!” It’s all about perspective and that happens to be the theme for today’s post.

For the uninformed birders out there, you might look at this royal looking species and think about how regal its behavior must be as it paddles around the calm waters of the Emiquon preserve.
Mute Swan and Canada Goose at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge - April 2015

Maybe it gives the classic royal wave as it spots spectators along the shoreline exercising their index motor skills as they press on their expensive cameras.  Splendid in white with a stoic stature that reinforces those lofty expectations.  One might guess these Mute Swans are gracious to their fellow watermates , maybe even hanging out directly with the commoners to enhance the self worth of those not born into such privilege.

Mute Swan and Canada Goose at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge - April 2015

I referred to those that might hold this opinion as the uniformed.  Hit the jump to find out “the rest of the story”

Continue reading Hostile Waters

Seeing Blue

Well, since yesterday was all about seeing “Red” at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, figured it was only appropriate to add a companion post next.  I have raved about the birding hotspot near Havana ever since Linda and I visited it for the first time many many years ago.  We went down there because they had a Northern Shoveler spotted there and at the time I thought it was an extremely rare bird.  Since then I have learned that it is a pretty common bird – at least here in the Midwest.  Since then Emiquon has continually produced new birds like the Red-Breasted Merganser (see previous post, the Black-Necked Stilt, the Sora and a ton of shorebirds to name a few.  This place is truly a gem for birders.

Today I bring you another fairly common inhabitant of the flooded lowlands.
Blue-Winged Teal at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge - April 2015

That lovely creature is a male Blue-Winged Teal.  You might have been fooled by the title since it is hard to actually see the “blue” element they are named for.  They actually have what is referred to as a “slatey-blue” head.  I find this feature is difficult to really notice unless the light is just right.  What is easy to identify in the field is the thick white line between their bill and eye.

Blue-Winged Teal at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

Hit the jump to see a little more of the Blue

Continue reading Seeing Blue

Seeing Red

Everyone have one of those days when it feels like someone took a sledge hammer and smashed it against the outsides of both your thighs?  No? I expected that to be a little more common.  Anyway, that is EXACTLY how my legs feel at the moment.  I’ve got them all lathered up in BioFreeze, which is making it bearable for the moment .  My hope is another day of staying down will allow this little problem to pass (fingers crossed and rabbits feet rubbed – still on living rabbits of course).  To help pass the time, let’s talk about a surprise +1.

Red-Breasted Merganser at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge - April 2015

This little lady was shot down at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge back in April of last year – I know, based on my previous post timelines this one is like yesterday!  Good to know that my brother Ron is now experiencing what it is like to go on birding outings faster than your rate of processing.  Based on his recent California (noting that technically it wasn’t a birding outing and thus all +1’s are subject to sanctioning body validation) and Florida trips, I figure he will be in the 1 to 1.5 year delay range hehehe.

Red-Breasted Merganser at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

You might be wondering exactly what this bird is.  Even if you are an avid birder you might have come to the quick conclusion this was a Common Merganser.  That was actually my first assessment until I started looking at the details in the digital darkroom.  The coloring seemed a bit off from my field references of the Common.  Sure enough, thanks to some extra time on Cornell’s website and a host of reference books, I decided it was actually a Red-Breasted Merganser.  The main clue being the absence of the white chin sported by the female Commons.

Once again, the theory that the loner birds are the most intriguing comes true.  This is the only specimen that was in the area that day.  No other Mergansers females or males were spotted … even after the painful process of hunting through the hundreds of Coots littered about the area.

Red-Breasted Merganser at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

Eesh, out of pics already – it didn’t stay around very long at all – lucked out, right time, right place.  Better get to some quick facts before I close out this post.  I already mentioned that the Red females do not sport the white chin. Unlike the Common which spends its winters in the area, the Red is only here on its migratory path between Canada and the North American coastlines.  Probably just resting its wings a bit on its way back up to Northern Canada.  And… well, that’s about it – wow, pretty weak on the bird facts for the Red-Breasted Merganser per Cornell’s site.  They do carry the Least Concern Conservation Status so a big yeah on that one.

Apparently the first coat of BioFreeze is wearing off as indicated by the fact the underpants gnomes are once again stabbing me in the thighs with their steely knives.  Time to hobble down to the medicine cabinet and put the gnomes out of business (for at least tonight).  Catch you again real soon my friends.  Right now I’m going to take some pleasure in adding another check on the birding list.

Big thanks to Ron for also confirming the ID on this pretty lady.

A Cold Day at Emiquon

Yesterday I managed to put up an 18 spot on the run counter.  In celebration, I cleaned up the house, scrubbed the bathrooms, vacuumed, gave the dogs a bath and steam cleaned all the hardwood floors in the house.  Believe that?  No!?!  I’m hurt.. but the truth sometimes hurt – not as much as my body hurts, which is why I simply thought about those things and then crashed on the couch – hehehehe.  Now I’m just going to sit in this comfy chair and bang out a new post for you.  Today’s topic is all about a birthday present to myself.  Back in January I took a day off from work and went birding in Emiquon.  These were the results of that day.

Scenes from Emiquon on Jan 16th 2016

I was taking some pictures of Eagles out on the ice when all of a sudden I saw two Mute Swans out of the corner of my eye heading straight for me.  Although startled, I did manage to get The Beast turned in their direction just in time to get a few incoming shots.  They noticed the big glass pointed their way and diverted their flight.

Scenes from Emiquon on Jan 16th 2016

Predicting how this might end, I kept the camera pointed in their direction as they went in for a landing.  Sure enough, when they hit the ice they slid for about 10 feet.  I will give them credit, they rode out that slide like pros.

Scenes from Emiquon on Jan 16th 2016

Hit the jump to view a few more shots from the birding day!

Continue reading A Cold Day at Emiquon

Floodle Camouflage

Howdy everyone!  I’m back with another post in another desperate attempt to hit my quota this month.  To give a little insight into the workflow that occurs around here at LifeIntrigued, there are times when I panic and times when I’m just acutely aware that my output needs to be ramped up.  Panic is reserved for those times I have nothing in the hopper, no pictures processed and worse of all – no content ideas.  Contrasting that with the much lower entry on the concern scale where I know I’m late but most of the pictures are processed already and best of all, there’s a topic already earmarked for at least the quota amount.

Black-Bellied Plover shot at Fort Meyers

Fortunately for me, this month falls into the latter.  The pictures for this post and the next are already processed and the other topics have at least the theme identified with the raw shots already taken.  The best thing about having the picture processing done for the post is I can write it up from just about anywhere there is an Internet connection.  Take for example today where I’m coming to  you from a lonely road near Alton IL.  We were down here doing some errands and a little birding.  Thanks to Linda agreeing to drive – we get to spend the travel time cranking posts out – yeah!

Black-Bellied Plover shot at Fort Meyers

Continue reading Floodle Camouflage

Another Find in the Flooded Flats

Well, today I was accused of not having any October posts out (by my wife mind you).  Obviously my loyal readers know that was absolutely WRONG. Hey, I may be running a little late this month, but at least give me some credit for getting something out there.  The good news is I’m in the process of doubling my October output with tonight’s featured bird.
Red-Necked Phalarope shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

If you recall, the last post was about a late recognition of a productive bird outing with my brother.  That bird (the Wilson’s Phalarope) was enshrined in the Birding Life List thanks to one of my golden rules of wildlife photography – “Shoot Anything That Moves”.  I cannot count the number of times that principle has produced a +1.  If the Wilson’s is considered lucky, this find came with Leprechauns.   I know for a fact that I noticed the Wilson since there were multiple shots with that Phalarope being in the center focus position – that, of course, translates into much better shots than these.

Red-Necked Phalarope shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

It has been a while since I processed these specific shots, but pretty sure not a single one of them were in the center focus region meaning it didn’t catch our attention during the outing.  Nope, it didn’t even come up until we noticed fellow birders posting about how they found a Red-Necked Phalarope in the exact same floodle area.  That prompted another look through the hundreds of shots we took there.

Red-Necked Phalarope shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

Continue reading Another Find in the Flooded Flats