Orange You Glad You Found Me

First off, my heartfelt appreciation goes out today on Memorial Day for all those heroes that have lost their lives protecting our citizens as well as those abroad so that was may live in the safety we often times take for granted. I also want to extend a big thank you to those that continue to serve out country on a daily basis. Thank you

Today’s post officially completes my monthly quota (did I just hear kazoos and fireworks!?!) Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to do a little birding with my brother Ron up in Montrose on the Chicago lakefront. For those not aware of that incredible birding place, you need to get up there during the migration and get yourself a whole bunch of checks in your North American birding list – especially in the Warbler category. I do not want to give away the fruits of that labor yet, but let’s just say it was worth the drive!

Keeping with that Warbler theme, thought it would be nice to continue with this…

Orange-Crowned Warbler Shot at Henderson Wildlife Viewing Preserve in December 2014

Now, this particular one wasn’t found three hours to our North. Nope, this one ended up requiring a 4 hour flight to the West to get in the tin. To be specific, these shots were taken back in December 2014 while on a quick trip to Las Vegas. Bet you went soft thanks to recent posts thinking I was going to continue the trend of putting more recent stuff on here. Unfortunately, not.

Orange-Crowned Warbler Shot at Henderson Wildlife Viewing Preserve in December 2014

Hit the jump to find out what this bird is and view a few more pictures.

Continue reading Orange You Glad You Found Me

Red Faced in Vegas

Just got done making another Halloween run.  Was able to pick up some very nice posable skeletons at Target reasonably priced.  I will have to watch those and pick up a few more when then go on sale after the season is over … unless they sell out.. maybe I should go pick some up later tonight hehehehe.  A quick run through the Party City store netted some nice pieces for a scene I was planning along with some silhouettes for a new idea that looks promising – not sure if there is enough time though.  Finally another stop at Menards to buy, you guessed it, more PVC pipe and connectors.  Also picked up a 4×8 sheet of foam as backing for the idea above.  The credit card was smoking tonight, but it’s my personal Christmas and one of the few times we (rather I) pull out the splurge word.  Now on our way back home.  Hate to waste time so popped open the laptop and went to work on the last post for the month.  You have no idea how much of a relief it will be to close this month out.

Going to shift a bit from Texas on this post and bring you shots from another trip that we took earlier that year.

Common Gallinule shot in Henderson, Las Vegas in August 2013

Specifically, we headed out to Las Vegas in August of 2013 – yes, that would officially be over three years ago so a new low point in my posting queue… actually to be technically correct, that would be a new HIGH point in my posting queue.  My queue pushes are exceeding my queue pops.  If only there was a for-loop for writing posts and then that sucker would be drained in no time.  While out in Vegas we managed to drop on over to our favorite bird photography hangout – the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.  Any frequent visitor to this blog will know the magnitude of check marks that site has added to my bird list.  This trip once again delivered some great viewing opportunities including this alcohol guzzling creature.

Common Gallinule shot in Henderson, Las Vegas in August 2013

Hit the jump to view a few more pictures of this red-faced dabbler.

Continue reading Red Faced in Vegas

They Can Hear for Miles and Miles and Miles

Greetings everyone from the blistering hot Midwest.  It’s been a tad on the bake side as of late – not so much the actual temps since those have been ranging in the high 80’s to low 90’s, but the feels like temperature has been a test for the internal thermostat.  Ever since my heat stroke episode (link here), my body has had the nasty habit of panicking whenever it thinks it is going to overheat.  It is kind of intriguing in the sense I’ll be running along in one of my training runs and all of a sudden I’ll go from expected levels of sweat to totally soaked.  The doctors warned me about this happening and I’ve been trying hard to get it reset.  The only way to do that is to keep at it – it is definitely better in the sense it is taking longer at higher temps now before the panic sets in (for the last couple of runs the feels like temp has been tipping the hundred mark).  The Bix 7 race is always a good test of your cooling mechanics since that is traditionally as hot as it gets for the running circuit.  A week to go before that race so fingers are crossed.  In the meantime, I’m sitting here in the air conditioning at a dog show getting a few posts out of the way.

Today’s featured critter falls under the category of “Cute as hell!”
Henderson Nevada - Cute Bunnies August 2013

This ball of fur was just hanging out under some trees enjoying a hot Nevada day at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.  Taking it all in, clearly too young and carefree to realize the dangers it will face in the coming years from all the predators that lurk about the area.  In case you do not know your bunnies (and not talking about the ones on the top shelf of your local magazine store), this is a young Jackrabbit.  They have actually been featured previously on the blog because… say it with me – they are just too damn cute to ignore (link here).  Pretty sure it is the long ears, or fluffy tail or maybe the large round eyes or that button nose … or more likely the fact that all those characteristics reside on a single creature that make them irresistible.  Unlike most animals, these Jackrabbits are not just adorable when they are babies – they still tug at the hearts as the years add up.

Henderson Nevada - Cute Bunnies August 2013

Hit the jump to see a couple more shots of the adorable Hare

Continue reading They Can Hear for Miles and Miles and Miles

Pin The Tail Revisited

Since there was a definite outcry of support for more birds after the last post, I’ve decided to appease the teaming millions and feature a bird for this post.  This particular set of pictures is actually a bit of a surprise.  If you recall, I introduced the Northern Pintail back in June of last year (link here).    In that post I mentioned there was a better set of pictures likely to come from the second day of shooting.

I managed to process this second set of images yet they didn’t find their way onto the blog.  Nothing like spending time on something only to find there were no fruits of the labor.  As you can tell, the missing images were found (while processing the Katydids from the last post).  I do like these shots better – the previous ones were mostly from behind and didn’t give a good view of the overall bird.  The right side view:

the left side view:

and the front!  That pretty much covers all the angles with the tail side covered in the previous post.

Hit the jump to read some more about the Pintails

Continue reading Pin The Tail Revisited

Henderson – It’s a Wrap

Today’s topic seemed a perfect fit for today’s blog for a number of reasons.  For starters we just finished up our latest bird shoot down in Texas.  Although that trip was somewhat exhausting (7 days, 7 different hotels) we did manage to shoot what we went there to find.  Which, by the way, is absolutely awesome and can’t wait to post the results here.  I was able to finish up not one, but two more phases of Project Auuunnooold.  It’s the end of the month and lastly, the final wrap on our first two visits to the ,  Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.  This comes as a bitter-sweet event.  Bitter in the sense that this shoot produced an amazing number of new checkmarks and interesting photos.  The Sweet part is it will allow me to move on to the other shoots that have been piling up in the queue – and trust me, there is a LOT in the hopper at this particular point in time.

Let’s recap why the Henderson Preserve was such an amazing birding location!

Overall Posts Pertaining to Henderson: 22

Number of New Birds to the Blog: 21

Number of Birds Featured: 32

Number of non-Bird Posts: 2 (The Coyote and the Jack Rabbit)

No other place has come close to being this productive from a non-captive environment perspective.  In closing this shoot out, I just wanted to provide a few more shots that caught my eye when closing out the catalog from the digital darkroom.  First off is a few more of the Northern Harrier that was hunting in the area.  This bird of prey must have known we were there since it would drift his hunting circles away from us every time we came close.  It is hard enough to keep The Beast on target with something close, but downright nightmare trying to keep the focus on something that doesn’t even fill the focus point.

As a result, there are “plenty” of blurred shots that hit the cutting room floor, but some turned out decent enough to process.   Not as crisp as the previous set (link here), but definitely closer so you can make out the features better.

The next one could use a little more lightening in the dark room – likely pushed the shutter speed in favor of keeping the blur down.  Mainly putting it here because the composition looked nice in the frame.

Hit the jump to see the last of the Henderson shots.

Continue reading Henderson – It’s a Wrap

Angels of the Ponds

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

Revisiting the Great Egret – This Time With Foot Zoom

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

A Juvi or a Bittern – Tough to Tell

Looks like today I can report the tale of two lists.  First off, thanks to confirmation from Ron I can now add two more check marks to my birding list.  This is definitely one of those very pleasing moments when I can make that mark next to another entry, but when you actually get to make two marks at once .. through the roof.  If you recall, a few posts ago (link here), I had made some speculation on some bird identifications that were stumping me.  Figured the suggested identifications were my best guesses, but looks like Ron was in agreement with both of them – SWEET!  That Yang and the Um thingy once again makes its presence known around here.  With the good of the bird checks comes the equally bad entry on The List.  Those who know me, know you never ever want to make it on that list since it signifies a personal lifetime ban.  Surprisingly, I was able to locate an old copy of it online (link here).  I have to admit that Best Buy made its way off the list thanks to Circuit City closing leaving no other competition in the area.  There are some other additions, but today’s add is Eddie Vedder and of coarse ANYTHING he is affiliated with.

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Pearl Jam fan when I bought Ten

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Mother Love Bone and Soundgarden fan when I bought Temple of the Dog

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Pearl Jam fan when I bought Vs

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Pearl Jam fan when I bought Vitalogy

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Pearl Jam fan when I bought Yield

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Pearl Jam fan when I bought Ten for Rockband

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Pearl Jam fan when I bought their guitar sheet music for Ten

I was a law abiding 2nd Amendment practicing Eddie Vedder fan when I wisely chose not to buy his craptastic solo album

… and now this fuck wishes bad things to happen to me (link here).  I wonder exactly what this asshole would think if someone went after his First Amendment rights?  It isn’t worth wasting anymore time on this topic – the money saved on not buying his latest album will nicely offset the cost of the ammunition spent while substituting those CDs for targets.  Welcome to The List.

Cleansing breadth … crap Kozma is sucking it up at the plate for the Cardinals tonight… cleansing breadth.

There, much better.  On to the real topic of this post.  The last plea for bird identification help worked out so well, figured it was worth trying it again.  Once again there’s another bird shot the second day of the Henderson Nevada Bird Viewing Preserve that has me in a quandary.  What seems to be the norm these days, the expectations going into the identification phase were high due to the key features this particular bird possesses.

Stocky frame, dark coloring palette and takes the standard Heron/Egret form in flight.  No problem right.. this has to be a Green Hero… uh, hmm uh.. let me look at those reference books again.  From the reference images, the Green Heron tends to have a rustier neck and a little more yellow on the bill.  They are also a lot more stockier than the specimen here.  Hold on, there should have been a post on one.  Yes, yes, here it is (link here).  Now it is coming back to me – that bird found at Jubilee Park looked a lot different than this one – mainly again due to the stockiness and the varying yet pronounced colors.  This next shot doesn’t show a whole lot more, but does provide some clues to the neck coloring.

Hit the jump to continue the quest to identify this bird

Continue reading A Juvi or a Bittern – Tough to Tell

To Check or Not to Check

I can’t believe it is October already!  Seems like this year is flying by way to fast – pretty soon it will be snowing in Denver.  What!?!  holy crap, it is snowing in Denver today.  Those Globull Warming dudes got some splaining to do.  I warned you on the last post we would once again be spending some time at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve  in the coming posts as I try to close out the second day of shooting there.  The good news is we are almost through that visit.. bad news is we had the opportunity to head back there a few months ago so we are far from over at that birding paradise.  To start the month off, I’m in need of some more help.  I am always amazed at how hard bird identification can be even with what I would consider unique features.  Two birds are featured here that gave me some troubles and thus not entirely sure if I have them right.  If I do, then there will be two new checks in the Bird List.  Always pleased when I can mark up the list and as you have seen in the past posts, this particular birding site was a goldmine of check marks.

First off I bring you this rather plain looking bird:

I suspect your first inclination is to ID it as an American Crow.  Pretty common bird around here so I have the advantage of seeing it just about every day.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time out in Yellowstone so I can definitely tell you how those compare to the mammoth Ravens out there.  But something just didn’t seem right about this one.  It was black (I can always get the easy ones) but the beak just didn’t seem to fit the large but blunter ones on the Crows around here.  The other part that was causing me some confusion was the tail.

It seemed to long and slender relative to the more stockier body frame of the Crow (and definitely smaller all around compared to those Ravens).  This concern sent me pouring over bird references looking for some other alternative.  Eventually I made my way to the Grackles.  Typically the Grackle is easy to distinguish due to the iridescent purple coloring when the light hits them right.  It is hard to tell in this picture due to having little sun at the moment this was taken but the shape is darn close from my perspective.  Post processing may have taken some slight shimmer out since I was thinking it was just a nicely posed Crow at the time.  The yellow eye definitely stands out which is a defining feature for the Grackle – the Crows and Ravens tend to have black on black eyes.  Now the hard part.. which Grackle.  The Common one is close but the images in the books definitely show more of a purple hue and/or more brownish than the full on black this one is sporting.  That left the Boat Tailed, but that is NO WHERE near where we were out in Nevada (more East Coast).  Could it be the Great Tailed Grackle?

To the web!

Take a gander at the set of images at AllAboutBirds.org (link here).  As mentioned, not positive, but it definitely looks similar to the Great Tailed Grackle shown there – and we can definitely dismiss the Common version. Would appreciate any help on this one.  I have no problem accepting that it is a Common Crow or possibly something I overlooked, but keep in mind that yellowish eye.  Definitely distinct.  Sorry I can’t give you any other angles, this was about the sum total of the shots.  With all the new birds there I likely didn’t spend much time on what I assumed at the time was a common bird.  Regardless of what the ID comes out as, the composition turned out nice especially with the first and this one.

The tail matched the twig angle and the head aligned with both the upper and lower branches giving a nice framing effect.  If you have time, take a stab at it and use the comments for any ideas.

Hit the jump for the second bird featured in this post!

Continue reading To Check or Not to Check

My What Big Ears You Have

Howdy Everyone!  Guessing you were thinking I had forgotten about getting my 6th post in for the month and was sharpening your claws to pounce all over me for finally blowing the streak.  No worries, although blasting out all the posts early in the month does make me get a little lazy for the rest of the days – well on the post front that is, the rest of the time  is pretty busy in the digital darkroom trying to get the next set of images done.  You may be happy to know that the shots from the second day at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve are now completed.  Unless you are totally fed up with that topic from all the posts over the last couple of months, in which case you will probably NOT be happy since you can guess what is on the schedule for October.

This weekend has been quite the whirlwind for us.  As of last count I think I put myself in peril at least twice over two consecutive days and managed to make a quick run up to Chicago to see a friend married off.  Originally we planned to try and get by to see my brother who lives in “The City” (he loves it when I use that reference – for the record anyone East of 39 and North of 80 lives in “The City” for us downstate hicks.  Timing ended up not working out but we need to make it up there one of these days to see his .. wait for it .. CATS (my dogs just shuddered).  The wedding ended up taking place at the South Shore Cultural Center and I’ll probably end up making a post devoted to just that.  For those not familiar with this place it is where the Obama’s got married – a feature this is COMPLETELY LOST on me.  It was definitely quite the gala which appears to be the norm these days in “The City”.  Details likely to be forthcoming, but let me give you one key piece of advice that you best heed unless you like to live on the edge.  Peril event number one was trusting the GPS to get us from Countryside to the Center.  It declared a quick 30 minute trip that basically took us directly east to the location.  Not being familiar with the area we left an hour early instead.  1 hour and 20 minutes later we were sneaking our way into the ceremony (luckily it started 15 minutes late so we just missed the opening parade.  Let me tell you, that 1 hour and 20 minutes was one of the scariest trips I’ve taken in a loooong time.  Linda about heaved that GPS out the door … to afraid to actually roll the window down ended up saving it.  Every stop light/sign was a test of nerves while everyone standing around on the street (and IN the street) was looking at us all dressed up in the Beemer.  I don’t profile.. I use deduction.  Where the HELL is that conceal and carry bill going to be actionable!!  We went a different way back that took us all of 20 minutes and didn’t cause any additional gray hairs.  Just to round out the other peril, I had to get back early today to get my 12.5 mile run in – another half is coming up and I need to solve whatever happened last time before toeing that line again.  Had to spend some quality time getting my head cleared after that run and the legs are STILL screaming at me.

“What the hell is the purpose of this post Brian!”  Oh, sorry about that, mind started drifting again (did I mention I had to run 12.5 miles today..).  This topic was actually picked last night during the wedding ceremony.  There are some statements I am pretty sensitive to and I always pay special attention to the vows (my wife stating “To Honor and Obey” is a highlight of my wedding and on no less than 10,00o copies spread out in various locations for security just in case something (err more like someone)  should ever happen to it (hehehe).  My friend failed to get this sneaked in, but the sermon was intriguing.  I’ve never seen the person presiding over a wedding concentrate so much on the bad side of marriage – he must have spent 20 minutes talking about “When she annoys him” and “When he makes her mad” (and I swear he said pisses off).  Odd, but then he referenced “When they have children”.  Whoa – that just seemed presumptuous to me .. if nothing else definitely puts pressure on right from the start (I may just be overly sensitive to that).  For some strange reason I immediately decided on my next post.

Just seemed fitting at the time.  This was taken at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve and, as indicated above, on the second day of shooting.  Actually, to be more accurate, it was taken as we were heading back to the visitor center from another long day of shooting.  I like rabbits and do my best to let them live a happy a life on my property.  Sure it is a pain in the butt thanks to the dogs thinking they are a lot funner chasing than playing with their boring toys.  Our youngest dog also thinks their droppings are a delicacy – he needs to be reminded every time he goes out that the nose stays out of the grass.  Unfortunately, those pesky Coyotes think the bunnies are the delicacy and keep them pretty much on the run.  The enemy of my friend is my enemy too as a slight derivation of the adage.

Hit the jump to see a couple more pictures of this specimen

Continue reading My What Big Ears You Have