My little vacation has come to an end and back to work I go. Don’t feel too sorry for me, I basically have 4 days of work left before I close the books on this year. Thankfully, I’ll be able to look forward to a much better year as this one I’d just as soon forget altogether. We’ll be heading back down to Texas sometime in the first couple of months in hopes of getting the first part of the new year off on the right foot. Knowing how much content those trips add to the photography queue, figured I’d try my best to pop some of the previous Texas finds off the queue – some of those still need proper IDs and need some final validation from Ron (those damn Terns all look alike from afar). Fortunately, today’s featured feathered friend was easy to classify.
This rather smug looking waterbird was found while visiting Galveston Island State Park back in December 2016 (Yes B in the UK I am still waaaay behind ha). While exploring the trails and shorelines for Clapper Rails, I came upon this Cormorant hanging out in the packed sand. Not being up on my Cormorant game, I initially ID’d it as a female knowing the rest of the Cormorants that I’ve photographed were splendored in much darker to all black feathering (link here). At the time it wasn’t obvious whether this specimen was the standard Double-Crested variety or the Neotropic which I had previously photographed in the same place (link here).
Hit the jump to read more about my education on this particular species.
Continue reading Low Rider
Well, I promised a fellow blogger over at the Cedar Journal (https://thecedarjournal.com/blog/), a steady stream of bird posts in recognition of finally getting out of the pressure cooker. Probably over promised, but contrary to the great philosopher Yoda, sometimes “Try, there is”. Linda and I are starting to plan out the winter vacation. It is no secret we have spent a number of previous years birding the Texas Gulf Coast and then along the Rio Grande River. There are a number of other birding places we are considering, but hard to pass up the opportunity to get the abundance of birds down there in the tin – and Ron hasn’t ventured down there yet so any new checks allows me to claw back ground on his bird count. All that planning got me thinking there are plenty of bird shots still to post from our previous Texas trips.
Took a quick look to see what was available in the queue and found this set back from the December 2016 trek. The Loggerhead Shrike is not a new bird to the list having been featured previously back in November 2016 (link here). The Loggerhead has decided the entire southern region is a sufficient kill zone year round with some forays into the central north during breeding season to spread their reign of terror on even more victims.
Hit the jump if you want a pre-Halloween scare.
Continue reading Hold My Beer Honey
The Halloween prop shop is in full production as we get closer to the haunt event. This year’s effort should be epic if I get everything done in time – every year there are always a few ideas that don’t make it onto the trail just purely due to only being given a mere 60 seconds in every minute (damn thee Father Time, damn thee!). The good news is I had a giant breakthrough in a design of a motor housing tonight which I’ve been struggling with for couple of days. The best part about all the Halloween activities is I get to dust the rust off my 3D solid modeling and electronics education. Now just sitting here waiting for the 3D printer to finish with my new parts – since I don’t like to just sit figured why not claw a bit of ground back on the post quota..
Decided it was time to feature the second part of my series on the big birds. If you recall, I covered the first set back in June – where the hell has the summer gone!?! (link here). That set of Great Blue Herons was brought to you from the great birding mecca of South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. This second series comes from a couple of different places although still down on the Texas Gulf Coast from our trip down there in late December 2016 into early January 17. These first two specimens were found at Galveston Island. They were so intent on Froggies stupid enough to wander too close to natures living spear that they didn’t pay me any attention. Ended up being able to move in to the point where The Beast couldn’t retract enough to get those long bodies in the frame. No worries, always happy when I can put some nice close ups in the tin.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Great Blue.
Continue reading Great Blue Take Two
Greetings from the northern state of Minnesota. Should not be a surprise by now, but we are up at Mayo getting Linda’s heart a slight rebuild to take care of a birth defect. I am going to spare you the details, but the good news is the new valve is officially in and functioning. There have been some unexpected events and side effects that the doctors are currently working to resolve. Hoping Linda will be back on her feet soon and checking the Iron Man off her bucket list… okay, that last part might not be true, she leaves the running to me. Her attitude is good and I know the thought of being able to run her dogs in agility again is keeping her drive up. To help pass the time and give a bit of relief on the stressometer, thought I’d go ahead and see if I could get a post out. Let me introduce you to my little friend.
Pretty stoic looking if you ask me. This somewhat overall dullish looking bird with the yellow butt happens to be a Warbler. Now Warblers are known for being pretty flamboyant especially in the Spring or breeding plumage. It just happens this particular Warbler is one of the more ornate ones out there. Imagine that yellow coloring on the under feather washing through the belly and shooting highlights to the back of the head where the white highlights are shown on this specimen. Now add to that a bright rusty colored cap and you have yourself one “purdy” bird. The truth is I have shots of this bird in its breeding plumage thanks to a trip to Montrose with my brother Ron. We are still trying to get those pictures properly ID’d so I can start posting those … and racking up the +1’s. Hey Ron, let’s get that done, my peeps are waiting!
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this colorful Warbler disguised for the off-season.
Continue reading A Dull Palm
Well, yesterday was the planned 50K date. I thought things were starting to fall into place – the ankle was healed up enough to bear the dangerous footings on the hilly trails, the rains had subsided enough to let the trails dry up a bit leading to high confidence at the start. I will post the details on my other blog in due time, but I foretold victory or tail between my legs on a previous post. Unfortunately, the day ended prematurely with my tail between my legs along with 4 staples in my head. Mother Nature opted to replace the expected overcast and temps in the 80’s with an overbearing sun and heat index at 100. Fought through 14 miles and decided to rest a bit at a water station. Apparently should have kept going as my body revolted – stood up thinking I might get sick only to gain consciousness with people standing over me with blood covered hands – not a vision I’ll forget anytime soon. Long story short, had a stressful ambulance ride to the ER. Took in 5 IV bags and a set of staples from a large gash in the back of my head having hit a wooden railing following by the sharp edge of a box fan on the way down (so they tell me). Pleaded with the doctors to allow me to go back and finish, but they had my wife on their side. Total failure and my first DNF in 17 years of running. Looks like another solid year of training, but I’ll be back for some unfinished business.
Enough of that embarrassment, let’s get to something much more entertaining.
Today, I’m bringing you the same Raptor species from two different locations along the Texas Gulf Coast back in January 2017. The Northern Harrier is one of my favorite Raptors for a couple of reasons. The first is they are just plain cool to watch while they are scanning the fields and marshes for prey. Deadly aerial skills that allow them turn on a dime or virtually hang in the air leveraging wind dynamics to determine the best angle to pounce.
Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this deadly predator.
Continue reading The Angel of Death
Well, I’ve just turned another year older which always brings an immediate reaction of “where the hell did that year go!”. Every year I set my sights on getting a bunch of stuff accomplished like finally getting caught up on my photography queue and designing out that cool Halloween decoration I’ve been mulling over the past 6 months. Then I wake up to Linda wishing me a happy birthday and bam, another cold flounder up across the face – crap, my queue is still three years deep and although I did get to a record number of Halloween props for this year’s haunted trail… I know I could have done more – what a slacker. Definitely need to recommit myself to being more productive. One area that has been going well as of late is my bird count.
That there is the latest addition to my checklist. Should be assumed by now, but this sleek black bird comes to you courtesy of the Texas Gulf Coast. In particular, this addition was made in the Galveston Island area. These initial specimens were spotted in the Galveston Island State Park while on a birding trip back in January 2017. At the time I thought I was simply filling up my digital card with more pictures of Double-Crested Cormorants. These interesting looking birds are fairly common at waterways across all of the United States at some point during the year. When they are not riding the waves, they are generally just hanging around on docks and poles enjoying the lazy day – might even see them with their wings splayed out trying to get them to dry in the sun.
Hit the jump to read more about this new addition.
Continue reading A Telling White Line