The hysteria continues to thrive around us. Shelves laid bare in the paper aisle, shopping carts full of anything that has the word antibacterial on it and to top it off we have people that aren’t even accountable for the outcome pontificating on TV about how they would solve the crisis – comical in the instances where they were in charge and didn’t do jack. Regardless, since my last post they have closed down all our state parks, banned eating in restaurants and shuttered bars. Wait, this just in, CDC is discouraging any gathering over 50 people. So, now not only are my official races canceled I can’t even continue with my training runs in the safety of Jubilee State Park. Hell, I can’t even bird in my favorite park which means I have no way to keep the internal crazies at bay.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Blues.
Continue reading A Case of the Blues in the Ill
I can only assume things are getting .. if not already been.. crazy wherever you might call home. All the large events have now been canceled (including two of my scheduled races for April), schools have been shuttered, remote work has been instituted where possible and now we officially have our first confirmed case of the Coronavirus in our local area. I’ll spare you the political gamesmanship that is going on at the same time beyond the tidbit my tax evading governor of our broke state is on TV complaining that people are continuing to go outside – the horror, the horror (oh, but he still wants everyone to go out and vote on Tuesday – long live politics). Will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Lemons out of lemonade, there’s extra time to devote to the image backlog.
The queue can definitely use the extra attention now that it has been drastically inflated thanks to the discovery of the previously mentioned missing directory. Being that it is currently snowing here in the heart of Illinois, decided to take you on a virtual bird walk. There was a series of shots in the queue taken back in June of 2017 courtesy of a stroll through my favorite local state park – Jubilee College. It happens to be only a mile south of us – our woods and those of my neighbor’s all link to this park. A lot of my free time is spent there either training on hills or enjoying birding hikes on their many trails. This collection is more focused on the bird variety discovered that day than the photographic execution. Sometimes you just need to focus on the joy of being outdoors and experiencing nature leaving the stress of getting the camera and light settings mastered. Sean O’Connell said it best “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.”
Hit the jump to do a little virtual birding!
Continue reading A Walk in the Park
Greetings All! Once again I have to face the shame from lack of blogging production. I’ll spare you the details since I’ve already mentioned my current workload in previous posts. Taking a positive position I was able to break away from the toils of the day (or rather the wicked humidity of the day) to put out a quick post. Back to the birds for today’s featured critter.
Kind of cute don’t you think? This little girl comes to us from a few years back. I was doing some hiking in my favorite park – Jubilee College State Park all the way back in August of 2014. I’ve featured this park in numerous posts being as it is where I spend a good part of my spare time either training for runs (every other day) or catch a bit of hiking or birding. Safe to say I am familiar with just about every inch of that park. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt it is only a mile from my house. From a birding perspective, there are several good spots in the park depending on what you happen to be looking for. Want Eastern Bluebirds or Indigo Buntings head up to the flats near the pavilion areas and simply close your eyes and take in their sweet songs from every direction. Prefer raptors or woodpeckers, hang at the edge of the tree lines along the fields or make your way through the wooded trails. It pretty much has an ideal environment for every Midwestern bird species somewhere in its 3,200 acres.
Hit the jump to find out what kind of bird this is.
Continue reading Little Miss Yellow
Not exactly lighting up the stage when it comes to posting this month. Seems like one thing after another as of late. This weekend was mainly focused on the Illinois’ Toughest 15K race in Peoria. I’ll leave the details for the race recap post, but I can safely say that race owned me this year. Made it through, but the body let me down in the wicked humidity. Need to retool the body a bit and hopefully get a lot more heat conditioning training runs in before the next July (expect it to be even hotter for that race ugh). Regardless, there’s a quota to tend to and no time to waste. Luckily I have most of the pictures processed for the rest of this month’s post so the hard part is behind me. With that, let’s bring out the Blues.
To be more specific, that would be an Eastern Bluebird couple. This elegant pair was captured not far from my house in Jubilee College State Park near Brimfield IL back in May 2015 That park is pretty much my stomping ground for birding and running (better bring your hill climbing muscles if you want to explore or run a lot of that park). On that particular day I had parked at the end of the main campground road and spent most of the morning following a Kickapoo Creek feeder that runs through the heart of the park. For the most part not a lot of birds made it into the tin that AM so decided to call it an early day and head back to the truck.
As I neared the parking lot I spotted the female (the more drab of the two if you are not familiar with this particular bird) staring intently at the ground from atop a nearby fence post. Curious, I kept my distance and took in the scene wondering what was so interesting to Ms. Blue. It didn’t take long to figure it out – after about 30 seconds she launched from her perch, took a low trajectory path just above the grass and scored a tasty morsel for herself. For some reason I didn’t think to have the camera ready and missed it completely – sometimes you just have to live in the moment and simply enjoy life in motion. As if that wasn’t cool enough, not long after that, a bright blue flash came gliding through the same area of the field and demonstrated its predator ability as well. Those two were going to eat well that day!
… but wait…
Turns out this Bluebird couple was taking care of a new brood! The male was the first to deliver the special package while the mother looked on – between you and I, I think she was just showing off that her catch was bigger than her husband’s! It is about this time that the male discovered The Beast pointed at it… and more importantly pointed in a threatening manner at his family. Guessing I looked like a giant bug that would definitely one up his wife’s recent score. Not wanting to disturb his family or cause any undue stress, the glass was lowered and officially called it a successful day.
It wasn’t lost on me that there was a bit of irony as I left the parking lot – hehehehe.
Time to hit the hay – no worries, I’ll be back soon.
Sorry everyone, it has been an extremely busy month so far and time keeps getting away from me – a lot of that due to running. I was able to log a 13 mile run today in a very hilly course, so I’m feeling comfortable about my upcoming Toughest Illinois’ 15K race. The good news on the blog front is I am once again within the 2 year queue window having processes a number of shoots including a run to Starved Rock and another to Kentucky – yes, they include new bird plus ones that are excited about their upcoming blog debut.
Thought I would throw out a quick one tonight just to get the ball rolling for the month.
I should probably mention now that I have a pretty significant aversion to bees and hornets. On the bees front I used to experience significant swelling when I was a young kid whenever a bee would decide to sink its stinger in my tender flesh. Now that I am older I get a little less anxious around them when they are roaming around SOLO – get ground bees congested in a dirt hole and this dude starts looking for implements of mass annihilation. Mowed over a nest last year and several played a game of darts on my behalf. On the Bumblebee front I usually just let them be (see what I did there hehehe) having never met an aggressive one in the field – usually they are too drunk on nectar to care about me. However, there is one type of large hornet or wasp that used to terrorized our summer Wiffle Ball field. I have yet to fully ID it, but it was at least 2 inches long, banded with black and yellow with a stinger that would bring some serious tears to a young boy’s eyes. When I saw this creature through my camera it immediately triggered a flight reaction
Could this be the terror of my youth!?! Concern quickly turned to intrigue and forced myself to try and get some additional shots. It was big – maybe in the 1 inch body size with a 1.5-2 inch wingspan. Definitely the right color palette, but something seemed a bit off. Those wings are much more robust than the standard Bee or Wasp wing and I do not remember either have a furry butt. Then I saw this image in the digital dark room.
That image left me with the impression it was more of a Butterfly than a Bee or Wasp. Time to hit Google and figure out what this mystery guest was. From a region perspective, this was found at Jubilee State Park back in August 2014. Using that information with a smattering of the visual characteristics eventually revealed the answer to the mystery – as best I can tell, this is a Clearwing – likely of type Snowberry. My fears were unwarranted, for this is a harmless member of the Moth family. I hope that isn’t what we raged war on as a kid, but I distinctly remember getting stung by one so either we allowed ourselves to exaggerate too much and it was really a hornet or that villain is yet to be properly identified. The good news is I’ll be able to recognize the Clearwing from this point forward and let myself enjoy the moment rather than fight the flight urge.
Hope you enjoyed this new Moth for the blog – see you again real soon.