Have You Some Grey Poupon?

It has been a fun, but admittedly long weekend. Our trip to Wisconsin for the agility dog show is now officially in the books and we’re back home – just in time for me to get a quick 7 miles banged out in rather cold damp conditions. This morning Wisconsin managed to give us our first snow experience of the coming winter – mid-October! Last year it snowed here on Halloween so the white stuff keeps pushing west on the calendar every year. The good news is Raven rocked it at the dog show going 5 for 5 on Saturday and then earning his second level Teacup Agility Champion certification this morning. Proud of the little guy … and Mom of course. To close out the weekend post-a-palooza, decided to feature another find at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge.

Northern Pintail found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in November 2017

At the same time I was trying to get shots of the Horned (or Slavonian if you hail from the other side of the pond) Grebe back in November 2017, Mr. Pintail decided to drop in and rest the wings a bit. Of all the ducks we have the privilege of being able to experience in our area, the Northern Pintail has to be tops when it comes to elegance. Clean crisp lines, stylish feather palette and a posture that eludes “Sorry sir would you happen to have some Grey Poupon?”.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our stylish visitor.

Continue reading Have You Some Grey Poupon?

Always Shoot the Loners

And now for edition 2 of … drum roll please.. Dog Show Weekend!  Our boys will be running for the ribbons tomorrow and right now pretty much passed out in bed.  To their credit it has been a pretty demanding day.  Up at 8am, a leisurely stroll outside, breakfast, another saunter loop around the RV at noon, a nap in my lap while we checked out the local wildlife parks, another pre-dinner exploratory trek around the RV, dinner, another long nap, a taunt fest with a campground Cat from the safety of the RV, ANOTHER jaunt around the RV to make sure that damn Cat learned its lesson before calling it a day and curling up in bed next to Mom.  Let’s all hope there are enough hours left in the night to get their legs/lungs sufficiently recovered from such a hard day.

In the meantime, let’s go back in time and visit today’s featured feathered friend.

Horned Grebe found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in November 2017

I’ve been trying my best to bring you fresher posts – well, fresh by my standards.  Today we need to head back a bit further to the fine year of 2017 – when men were men and Covid was only a concept in a C grade horror.  In November that year we found ourselves down at Emiquon to see what the cold winds would bring to the area.  The key to good finds in those flooded wetlands is to look for the loners.  The ones keeping to themselves are usually the rarities that are simply passing through to their final vacation spots.  No time to check out Santa Anna’s leg in Springfield or the pink elephant in Livingston and certainly no time to meet penpals at the local watering hole.  Nope, find a quite location, rest the wings/lungs, replenish the nutrition stores and get back on the road…err wind.   If we are lucky, we just might be standing on the shore with some big glass at that exact moment.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our little loner Grebe.

Continue reading Always Shoot the Loners

Honorary Bird of Spartan Races

It has been a busy weekend so far, but elated to say we have pretty much finished putting all the decorations away from the 2020 Haunted Halloween Trail of Tears event. The excitement and anticipation when getting all the items ready for the trail tends to mask how much work is involved. Now that we had a successful execution, it feels more like swimming in concrete to get all the batteries taken out, props disassembled and serious mental acrobats getting everything efficiently stored away for next year. Big thanks to Linda who took on battery removal this year – huge help. Now just need to work on a few props that failed in the field and then to start building next year’s epic scary features. In meantime, how about we get another post out.

Eastern Meadowlark found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in April 2018

Today’s feature is a nice compilation of shoreline pebbles and spring foliage. Somewhat calming wouldn’t you say? A meadow setting that puts the heart at ease… wait, wait, wait… not to interrupt such happy thoughts, but this is a blog primarily focused on wild”life” – I doubt you came here to see rocks and grass. Nope, you are likely looking for Spiders or Snakes or Elk or Deer or BIRDS! Truth be told, this is Bird post… let’s try this again…

Eastern Meadowlark found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in April 2018

Hit the link to read a bit more about our hidden bird.

Continue reading Honorary Bird of Spartan Races

I’ve Got Big BAWS

Still fighting to get back to norm with my back. Officially pissing me off now that the weather has cooled down to perfect running temps. Decided I’ll give it two more days (including one more chiro visit) before I just say screw it, strap on the Asics and let the best man win. Things are a bit better as my doctor was able to get my legs back to the same length and now primarily focused on getting the swelling out of the sciatic. Until then I’ll just have to slither around.

Banded Water Snake found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in July 2017

Oops, forgot to provide a coffee time warning, let’s correct that – for those of you that do not like small, slender footless creatures with forked tongues you might want pass over this particular post or minimally go grab your security blanket because this ride might get a bit bumpy. Yep, as you can see, today’s featured creature isn’t exactly small. Thanks to an interesting encounter at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge back in July 2017 I get to bring you a BAWS.

Banded Water Snake found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in July 2017

Hit the jump unless you are really not into these water spears in which case I’d wait a few more days until I have something new posted ha!

Continue reading I’ve Got Big BAWS

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