Drum roll please… it’s dog show weekend! That is good news for my readers as that typically means – post-a-paloosa. There is a lot of down time with these events and I cannot think of a better way to fill them… except of course, some ultra trail training. Unfortunately, running for a lot of miles in unfamiliar places can get you lost or worse, find yourself reliant on your survival skills. I’ll leave the trails for closer to home. So posts it is! This show might be a be interesting for Linda. She managed to dislocate a toe a few days ago. I came running in to help at first call. On second thought that might be a stretch. I waited out the standard oouch ooochie ooochiiiii calls assuming it was a stub which just has to be ridden out. Problem was.. I thought that was just about to run its course when it took a dark turn to a much higher pitched series of “OH MY GOD”s. Okay, time to ride in on the white pony. I was not expecting to come into the room and see 9 of her toes staring at me and one outlier pointed 90 degrees to the right. I think I might have laughed – not my best moment from a husband perspective… sorry, it was funny and Linda’s eyeballs out of their sockets by about 2 inches was just amping the humor. Say what you will about my sympathy gene, my personal experience with resetting wayward appendages during sporting events was just the ticket. Deftly moved the crooked toe in line with the others and then went to work on the emotional part. Not to be deterred, our trooper will be taking on the courses with a mighty purple toe. Oh, and big thanks to our call a friend Dr. G. for setting her mind at ease that she will indeed live to run another day – apparently Linda believes the word of a real doctor over my personal experiences (I’m hurt). Sorry for the long lead in.. how ’bout a bird with big toes!?!
A bit of a departure for me in the digital dark room. There are some standard treatments I do to all my images to get them into my preferred style. Every photographer has their own signatures, some more subtle than others. One of the areas I do not tend to rely on is hard contrast. My eyes view life more on the soft side versus cold sharp edges. As a result, that area is used primarily to slightly dampen unintended jitters. However, there is one time when I do like a bolder pop.
You happen to be looking at one of those times. Beautiful white birds in dark, dingy settings has a natural contrast that truly intrigues me. How do these birds manage to keep themselves so clean while strutting around in the muck. Suspect there is a local distributor of Oxy Clean making a fortune. Hit the jump to experience some more shots from the dark waters.
Continue reading Dark Waters
Some days turn out to be one of those where you wonder when it is all done if there is an ounce of energy left in your body. Today was one of those days for me. Normally, we would be putting on our annual Halloween Haunted Trail event tonight, however, with all that Linda has been through and for better alignment with my partner in haunt’s schedule we pushed it to next week – all I can say is thank god for that as yesterday we had a major storm rolled through that completely flooded out part of our trail system through the woods (60 mph winds, hail and buckets of rain). Can’t imagine how sucky it would have been trying to get everything set up not to mention having to make our guests trudge through the mud. Instead, today was dedicated to getting all the props built over the course of the year out of the basement (Linda put her foot down) and depending on how the weather went, start work on a new 24’x8′ bridge over an ever growing stream. Thanks to friends helping out we were able to meet Linda’s demand in the morning and then we decided to wade through pooled water on the trail and get some work done on the bridge. 6 hours later we had the entire outer rails built (doubled up 2x10s to 24 feet as well as the inner cross supports on 2′ centers. I bet my friends do not offer to help me out next year ha! This is one of the rare times where I can count the number of muscles in the human body as every single one is screaming at me. While I am letting the Aleve kick in decided to blast a post out – not to mention the chair looked really comfy.
Last post I featured the Great Blue Heron – the big kahuna in the Egret family was feeling jealous – thus the green hue on the lores. Nothing is worse than dealing with a bunch of slighted, whiny Egrets, “did you post yet, did you post yet, are you going to make a post on us, why are you such an Egret hater, did you post yet, I thought you were going to post, Egret discriminator, when is that post coming…”. It just keeps repeating until you give in and …well, feature them in a post.
hit the jump to see a few more shots of this beautiful bird.
Continue reading The Ones Without Galoshes
I’ve been featuring a lot of birds as of late and just wanted to assure all my readers out there that … you are in store for a lot more of them. Just being honest, my backlog of bird shots is so large now it is going to buckle the floor in my den. So, if you happen to like bird posts, you are going to be extremely happy over the next couple of months. Now, on the other hand, if you happen to consider bird posts as simply pointless filler between my liberal rants or book reviews… well, my absolute apologies. There is a reason I am trying to get through the bird posts as fast as possible – no, I am not going to reveal why until I get further along with that project. I’ll try to sprinkle some non bird posts in whenever I can, but for now, check out one of the Greats
Obviously the Great Egret is not a new bird on my list – it appeared on Life Intrigued way back in 2011 (link here). The best thing about the hobby of bird photography is even though you have a bird on your list already … you can always try to improve your shots. Maybe you can get it in a new setting, displaying some new behavior or maybe just improve on the technicals of taking a photograph. With the exception of those damn Coots, I’ll still take shots of whatever I see that has feathers. Just so happens that the Great’s are a lot easier to see (ha).
Hit the jump to see a couple more pictures of this long necked member of the Egret family.
Continue reading The Big Boys Come Out to Play
Big day today, finally completed a project I’ve been working on for several months. This is actually a double benefit since not only can I set my sights on a new endeavor, there’s one more post topic in the hopper. Now only need to process the 20o pictures and get them ready for the blog .. don’t panic, probably won’t subject you to all of them … or maaaayybbee hehehe. Until then, figured I’d try to wrap up the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve visit. Other photo shoots are starting to back up in the queue and need to get at least a few of them out of the way to make room for the new year. You may recall there was a post earlier in the month on the Great Egret (link here). We were lucky enough to have multiple encounters with various Egrets and at one point they decided to put on a show!
I really like this shot for a number of reasons. Clearly the birds themselves were captured in similarly unique poses which shows off how pretty these birds are. The large one is the Great Egret and based on what I can tell of the bill from this angle, the smaller one is a Little Egret – possibly Snowy but the neck seems a little long for that. They reminded me of Guardian Angels with their pure white wings raised up like that. After a little bit you tend to get curious and your eyes start to wander. Following the Little Egret you notice some Grebes passing by – wonder if the Egret was trying to scare them away from their feeding area. They were coasting by without alarm so doubt the Grebes cared much. Still searching you start looking at what has the Great Egret’s attention. That leads to the American Coot somewhat hidden in the dark colors. Turns out that Coot also has its wings out basically taunting them – I have already documented how those Coots like to mock their pond mates (link here). Some of you may have already seen this shot a little earlier – accidentally put it up on Birding Across America site (link here) before remembering it had not debuted here yet – oops.
Not wanting to be left out, another Egret decided to join the festivities. Can really see the span of those huge white wings on the Great Egret from this angle.
Hit the jump to learn why these Egrets were so annoyed!
Continue reading Angels of the Ponds
I can’t believe it is November already. 2013 has flown by WAAAAY too quick. This generally means I’ve been keeping pretty busy and that is a good thing. Unfortunately, my to-do list doesn’t look one bit smaller as a result – rate added is exceeding rate completed. The good news is Phase 5 of Project Auuuunoooold is completed and another project is nearly done .. translated… look for upcoming posts! In case you were not keeping track (although I know you do), 4 of last month’s 6 posts were not about birds. Seemed like a break was in order from all the bird posts that were coming at you. With the new month that ratio will likely swing back a little – really need to get through the Henderson trip so we can get to the other vacations we’ve taken since then. Hell, there was even another Henderson trip since then and our friends who went with us to Yellowstone this year are already wondering when the pictures will be coming. So how about a bird post!
What a fantastic idea. Seems I have a few shots from the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve in Nevada lying around so let’s dust those off (I know I know .. not much of a surprise there). Today’s featured bird is a revisit of sorts from the first time we covered it back in Nov 2011. The Great Egret (link here) photographed back then was quite a ways off and pretty hard to make out the details. This was not the case at the ponds in Henderson.
We were able to get relatively close – close enough at least for the reach of the Beast. This particular specimen was busy fishing the edges of the pond. It seemed to be aware we were there and would throw a glance in the direction of the big glass every once in awhile, but beyond that pretty much stay focused on what sustenance the water had to offer. It has been mentioned many times in this blog that Egrets and Herons are excellent photography subjects thanks to how calm/still they remain while hunting. Quite handy when the light isn’t optimum since you can open up the aperture or extend the shutter if needed and most of the time the bird will stay stationary long enough to compensate for it.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this majestic bird!
Continue reading Revisiting the Great Egret – This Time With Foot Zoom
I bet you were all ready to read a post about our recent vacation. Unfortunately, I am generally behind on my vacation pictures and if I recall correctly I have not even posted any shots from our Zion trip other than the Phoadtography set (link here). It would be cruel to make you wait until I get completely caught up, but at least allow me the liberty of getting a few of the posts out before deluging you with a gadzillion pictures from our latest trek to the West. Although, I could just be buying some time to get through tagging and filtering all those images, but I’ll never tell… to the post!
If you recall, we took a ride up North so our poodles could compete in the TDAA Nationals (link here). The “Linda” part of that sentence was changed to “we” due to all out bribery. Linda knows I enjoy visiting the Chain O’ Lakes State Park mostly due to the opportunity to see Sandhill Cranes again (link here) and was quick to remind me that the park was on the way. Couple that with a promised stop at the Anderson’s Candy store and there was no hope for resistance. Alas, there were no Sandhill Cranes to be seen anywhere in the park (this is where you shed a tear for my heartbreak… I’ll wait). Come on, pull yourself together, the trip turned out very fruitful. On our way out of the park, I was keeping my eyes focused on the field where the cranes were hanging out the last time. Disappointed at the lack of birds I started to turn back in my seat. That is when a a white spot caught my eye way off in the trees. I yelled out our secret code word for “Stop the car, there is some kind of animal out there that Brian must have a picture of”. The code word is short and sweet to help cut down on the ear to brake response – no, I will not reveal the code word but for effect it isn’t one you would not use in other company.
Linda put the car in reverse and rolled back a little to the observation spot. It was definitely white and definitely sitting in a tree, but exactly what it was remained a mystery. Time to bring out the Beast! The viewfinder revealed that it was a White Egret. Well, that is what I have always called it, apparently it is now just referred to as the Great Egret. Here is my initial shot giving an impression of how far off it was even with the help of the glass – remember, the Beast goes out 400.
The sight line went through a series of trees causing the leaf splotches. Once again, this park had come through. This was the first White errr Great Egret I have been able to photograph and therefore another check on my Bird List. This distance just wasn’t going to do for this opportunity. Time to go cross country. You cannot tell from these shots, but there was a large field in front of his perch that appeared to be thick prairie grass browned from the coming Fall. Two steps later it was revealed that it was not really prairie grass, but more like cattail stalks growing up in the middle of a swamp. My wet shoe and sock was a proof enough. Crap! Out came the cell, a quick call back to Linda (she had driven off to find a pull off) and on came the hiking shoes. Once again I was off to get the shot. Without a doubt, this was great entertainment for the egret. 15 minutes later I was standing in the middle of the swamp trying to find an adequately firm spot to put the tripod. Still not as close as I wanted to be, but navigating much further was going to require some serious rubber boots and the nerves were a little frayed at the though of water snakes closing in for the kill.
Hit the jump to see the rest of the Great Egret pictures!
Continue reading Another Check on the Bird List – The Great Egret