First off, want to extend a belated Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms out there. I can’t imagine the stress and willpower it takes to raise a child, especially one like me – hats off, keep up the good work. I purposely waited to publish this post as this weekend brought with it a tremendous amount of sadness. Yesterday officially marks the end of a complete cycle of holidays/celebrations since losing my mother on Mother’s Day last year (technically a week ago because of the floating holiday – link here). As the year went by I would slowly come to terms with the emptiness and then a holiday or event would immediately bring it back front and center – major holidays – one less gift to ponder, birthdays – one less card to receive or buy, exciting life accomplishes – one less phone call and most of those are coupled with one less visit. I think it was extra hard as Mom was the last of the parental figures in our lives – we were officially on our own. Decided to go for a short five mile run yesterday to be with my thoughts. Eleven emotional miles later I had remembered numerous good times, reminded myself all the sacrifices she had made, recommitted to all the life lessons she lovingly bestowed and gave one last thanks for the moral foundation instilled in me. Acceptance will be easier from this point on. Our Mom and Dad were a true blessing.
In recognition of a long year, thought I would go with a featured feathered friend that also knows a thing or two about “long”.
Hit the jump to learn more about the prolonged hunt for this long-billed one.
A friend of mine has been getting me all teased up for a vacation trip to Hawaii. He is headed there soon and busy pointing out all the birds from that region he’s already managed to get in the tin. Linda and I had plans to go there for our 25th wedding anniversary, but we ended up postponing it due to other commitments. Every year since then we have tried to plan a makeup trip – again to no avail. Last year we decided that this would be our retirement gift to ourselves and put the trip on the shelf until we decide it’s time to divorce ourselves from the daily grind. So every time someone mentions they are heading to the islands my fingers get all twitchy like, a tick develops in the shoulder and my eyes start to blink uncontrollably until I make Quasimodo look like GQ material. They have some stunners of birds there that I need to see… damn, there goes that twitch again. Oh well, I can at least live vicariously through my friend’s captures until we decide to turn our badges in. You’ll be mine Red-Crested Cardinal .. some day… some day. Until we get to go island hopping, I can still continue hunting for all the continental US birds that still continue to elude me. Today’s featured bird first fell victim to my hunt back in December 2015 (link here).
Wait.. ummm, a little late on this, but for those that might be slightly concerned over wildlife with red eyes, you might want to be cautious – the light on these shots were not as conducive to getting the nice red highlights, but they do possess the dreaded early morning Vegas eyes. If you recall back on that initial encounter, we were at Corn Creek Visitor Center outside Las Vegas, Nevada. While birding the Mojava Desert over New Year’s, we found a Phainopepla hanging out at the top of a tree. Those shots had to be heavily processed to account for horrible backlighting. In oddly similar manner, we discovered this new specimen. Like before, we were in Vegas, in Late November (close enough to the New Year’s timeframe), and once again it was sitting at the top of a tree in horrible backlight.
Welcome to February everyone! Not sure how to feel about that yet. On one hand glad to be past the worst of the Polar Vortex which will hopefully allow me to get off that instrument from hell … the treadmill. On the flip side, I am officially one month closer to the 50K which translates to one notch higher on the stressometer. Oh, it also means the post counter goes back to zero so make that two notches on the stressometer. The best way to keep that under control is to start early and that means not a moment to spare. Let’s go back to the spoils from the Vegas trip last November.
This particular specimen is referred to as a Cinnamon Teal. Not a big stretch to guess how this Teal got its name. Linda and I were nearing the completion of the pond circuit at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve when we noticed an individual pointing above average glass towards the corner of a nearby pond. Talk about a dog whistle for photographers. We slowly made our way over there being very careful not to disturb whatever he was focused on. Eventually I made it to a point where I could see the area of water that was holding his attention. Excitement dimmed just a a bit as his rapid-fire shutter was waving at a Snowy Egret hanging out near the edge of the water. Don’t get me wrong, Egrets are pretty cool, but if there is one sure bet you are going to see at Henderson, it’s a Snowie. Out of courtesy, we hung back until he was satisfied with his shots – not sure he ever knew we were there.
Greetings from the Midwest Tundra. It is currently -7F not including windchill and I am pretty sure that is close to when appendages start falling off. Tonight the first lunar eclipse took place over a supermoon. Thanks to Ron reminding me, I managed to get out and witness it – actually that reads as if I put a lot of effort into it. We were heading back from a night out, stepped out of the car when we got back to the house and looked up. There it was, only a sliver left and radiating the blood moon hues. Thought about getting the Beast and snapping a few shots to share on the blog. Then my nose, ears and a thumb fell off. Decided to pass on that idea – sorry everyone. To our credit, I did help Linda with a photoshoot in the early morning. Her client wanted pictures of her three dogs in the 5″ of fresh powder we received yesterday (on top of the 12″ we already had). Think it was a balmy 5F out then, which was enough to put a serious sting in the fingers. They say positive thoughts can get you through uncomfortable times. Time to click our heels three times and entertain visions from the desert.
Hit the jump to read a bit more about this desert songbird.
Admittedly, when things get tight I go to my ace in the hole. Lucky for me, I was able to finish processing all the shots from our first day at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. If you recall, on our trip to Nevada last year we stopped in to that gem of a preserve. Per previous posts, this area already provided two blog posts for brand new birds to my collection – specifically, the Green-Winged Teal (link here) and the Greater Roadrunner (link here). Here’s a little secret. Those were not the only two new birds this shoot produced! I was able to add another new check in the bird list with today’s blog entry.
Anyone want to take a guess on what this might be? Really take a guess – a little validation would help me at this point. This little bird took me some extra time to eventually come to a consensus on what it was… or actually what I think it is. To accomplish this I employed my brand new bird reference guide I picked up while out in Yellowstone. While perusing the various gift shops in the park, The Stokes Field Guide To The Birds of North America caught my eye. It isn’t often a book on birds shows up I do not already have, much less ever seen. The key aspect of this particular reference was the ABUNDANCE of pictures. None of the books on my shelves come close to having the quantity of actual photographs contained in this book – in particular the fact it has shots of the female, the male, the juvenile and even seasonal and regional differences. Truly awesome and it was instantly “mine” – didn’t hurt we got a discount being Yellowstone Association members but truth be told I would have gladly paid full price (shhhh don’t tell anyone). After about 40 minutes of thumbing through the book I decided to go with … drum roll .. a Verdin. The only concern was the region but a closer look (need a brush up on my state shapes) shows that it does venture into Southern Nevada. A friend at work (thanks John!) helped me verify the region today so thinking that concern is past me. As with any bird post at Lifeintrigued – you are more than welcome to debate any identification. So for now were going with a Verdin. This bird is especially cool since it doesn’t come anywhere near where I live making the trip that much more fruitful.
According to Stokes, this bird prefers desert scrub along washes and streams. The desert part was dead on and it was alongside one of their ponds which kinda fits the water reference. That is about the sum total of info I got out of the book. Again, that was purchased to help identify the bird, I have our friends over at Wikipedia and an abundance of info on the web to fill the data gap – finding out what the hell it is the real battle. Another site did mention they like thorny scrub – based on the shot above and the one below, this one was right at home.
Hit the jump to read more about this cool looking bird.