Greetings to all from the big white tundra we like to call the Midwest. A bit of an icebox at the moment as we are dealing with ~12″ inches of the fluffy stuff. Add to that a layer of ice that accumulated overnight from freezing drizzle and you have yourself a recipe for hilarity. Case in point. Our dogs decided that 4:50am is a perfectly good time to demand I take them out. Wipe the sleep from the eyes, remind the legs they were designed to move me from one place to another, put some shoes on and leash up the dogs – you would think by their expression I take evil enjoyment out of cinching up their necks as opposed to the truth there are “eyes in ‘dem trees” that think 4:50am is a perfect time for an early morning snack. Shut the alarms down and take a groggy step off the porch onto the wet concrete. Except it wasn’t just wet, nope, black ice quickly causing my feet to go eye level and my eyes to go feet level. Just got my back all healed up and now I’m being snickered at by sure footed furballs. Later that morning, a semi ended up jackknifing by the main highway exit I use to get to work shutting down that access and choking up all the alternative routes (which had their share of wrecks as well). Some days were just designed to stay in bed and enjoy thoughts of warmer locations.
Like for instance the desert – specifically the Mohave Desert in Las Vegas. The Rock Wren was not the only bird hanging out at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area back in November 2018. Unlike that bird (link here) and Abert’s Towhee (link here). that came before it, this bird possesses coloring that contrasts sharply with the desert floor. Yep, this one is adorned in a pretty blue and grey palette.
Hit the jump to find out what kind of bird this is!
Continue reading Blue Tones in the Desert
Greetings everyone! I would like take this opportunity to officially welcome my brother Ron to the photography blogging world (cheers, hoorays, clowns.. wait scratch that last evil thought). If you would like to check out his new site, you can visit it by either using the Blog link area in the right navigation pane our simply go here http://rondoerflerphotography.net (link here). Of course, to rub in his superior cache of birds, he leads off with a bird I do not have (dammit!). If that wasn’t enough he includes photos of bird babies which … wait for it .. .wait for it … I do not have either. Now before you go feeling too bad for me — and you should be by now — this foray into the wildlife blogging arena comes at an expense. One trait of my middle brother is he is extremely competitive. My other brother and I have just learned to live with this unique trait Ron has from the rest of our family – we considered an intervention many years back, but decided it would become a contest on how long he could hold out and opted to not waste the time. It is because of this trait I had to break down and create an official set of birding rules for us. This official list can be found on a previous post (link here). Please take note of Rule 06: If you have a working blog you must feature the bird before counting. Guess what folks, Ron has a birding blog. As explicitly stated in our official birding rules, he now has to feature every bird on the blog before it can be officially counted. I kind of feel bad for him. Well, for a few minutes at least, but then I realized I was up on him like 160 to TWO (although, I am not competitive). Regardless, check out Ron’s site – he has that thing looking really sharp.
To be honest, this post is mainly to welcome Ron and picked a post topic that I didn’t need to spend a lot of time on.
That my friends is what I refer to as a Lizard. I can also tell you that my lovely wife always refers to them as snakes with legs. This specifically means she gets near hysterical when she sees one and has a tendency to rip my clothes to pieces trying to hide behind me (don’t believe me, ASK HER).
Unlike my wife, I hope you like looking at picture of Lizards I took out on our trip to Vegas.
Hit the jump to see a few more Lizard shots!
Continue reading The Lizard King
Well, I kinda lied in my last post. Ron and I had planned to do a little birding in Allerton Park yesterday, but Ron ran into a bit of bad luck that knocked him out of the event. Probably not a bad thing in the end due to the stifling heat that we are currently experiencing out her in Flyover Country. To put it in perspective, I had Linda drive me to the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve. I noticed a nice trail in the back of that park while getting in a 6 mile run there Friday evening. We had a couple of hours after the dog show, so took some time to see if it was worth us hitting it on our next trip over there. It is actually a pretty nice trail that runs along the Sangamon River – bad thing is after 2 miles I was soaking wet from the heat. The feels like temperature at home when we got back was 112!
Fortunately, the heat isn’t a problem for today’s featured creature.
That there is what they call a Tortoise. Guessing you were thinking Turtle. They are both reptiles and that is the common name associated with the hard shells, but there is actually a definite distinction between the two. For starters, Tortoises are land dwellers, where Turtles spend most of their time in water habitats. Clearly this was the case with these specimens seeing as how we took them outside the headquarters of Red Rock Canyon in Nevada. This dwelling distinction also leads to another difference – Turtles have webbed feet and very sharp claws to navigate the water and pull themselves up on logs etc. to sun.
Hit the jump to see a few more pictures and learn a few more facts picked up from some quick research.
Continue reading Slow Motion Life
Ahhhh, my first day of the holiday season vacation! Of course, this just means I swap career work items for honey do work items but it sure feels great to be able to sleep in a bit. Knowing all the things I have to get done over this break, figured it would be prudent to get some December posts out of the way. So, I bring you today’s featured feathered friend.
I took this while out hiking the Red Rock Canyon in Nevada (outside of Las Vegas). We’ve been there a couple of times now and based on the previous posts and some that are still in the hopper, I must say it has produced a surprising number of checks in the bird list – add in the marks gained from Henderson and Nevada has been very very good to me – they obviously have better wildlife than they do politicians. For those not aware, this particular specimen comes from the Dark-Eyed Junco family. Their long black hood is pretty distinctive in the birding arena. The Dark-Eyed Juncos have been featured on the blog a number of times now (links here, here and here). Because of they are relatively common (they show up in droves here every Winter). I usually don’t get too excited about capturing them but as a rule, “never pass up a bird shot”. Once again this principle has likely led to a new mark in the bird list.
If you look at the specimens in the links above or live in the Midwest you are familiar with one variation of the Dark-Eyed Junco – the Slate Colored group. They are aptly named in that they are pretty much dark gray colored from head and top feathering through to the tail. Typically they have a white underbelly with some variation in gender. There is a White-Winged group, a Gray-Headed group and a Pink-Sided group to name a few, but none of those variations have the distinctive executioner hood. It is this specific feature that led me to the determination that this is an Oregon group Dark-Eyed Junco.
Hit the jump to see a couple more pictures of the Junco (a different one to be specific) and learn a few facts about this little bird.
Continue reading On the Trail of Oregon
I’m having some serious concerns about a race I have this Sunday. It’s time for the annual IVS Half Marathon in the hills of Springdale Cemetery. Even when I’m healthy this race can take its toll on me, evident by last year’s struggle in the frying pan (link here). Unfortunately I fell victim to the Peoria Plague last Saturday and I just can’t seem to shake it. This week was a big project at work which didn’t give me much time to nurse it, so it sunk its teeth in deep. Hit my last 12+ miler last Friday, missed my 8 miles taper last Sunday, did hit my 6 mile taper Tuesday but felt like crap afterwards and then decided against the 4 mile run scheduled for yesterday. Suck Suck Suck. Topping it off I messed up my back sometime this week .. Suck Suck Double Suck. I worked from home today to force myself to keep down and opted for a quick adjustment at the chiro in an attempt to get that calmed down. Back feels much better now (legs were an inch off.. would have been running in circles ha) and some light at the end of the tunnel on the plague. I primarily breathe through my mouth during the run so that mitigates some of the stuffiness. One more day of doing nothing (which absolutely kills me) and hopefully my temple will be whole again – keeping the fingers crossed. Figured I’d crank out a happy post to keep my mind off of the race.
Noticed this bird while reviewing the Red Rock Canyon shots in the digital darkroom. I initially passed it off as a House Wren and set it to the side noting the execution on the shots was less than stellar. I have them around here anyway and even featured one during Project Chekov (link here).
At the time I didn’t really think much about it until one day I was looking through the bird references when I came to the House Wren section. Something caught my eye which made me hesitate a bit. Something was amiss but couldn’t put my finger on it. Tail up, wings sharp and down. Even had the spotting on the wings and tail feathers. Nothing to strange but the spidy senses were on full on alert. What the hell? Decided there was a kink in the system and started turning the page….and then it came to me. Quickly flipping back to the House Wren confirmed my deduction. The page I turned to featured the Bewick’s Wren.
Find out the details on this bird after the jump!
Continue reading When a Wren Isn’t Just a Wren
Taking a quick recovery break from last night’s final long training run. The IVS half is coming up in a week and start my taper tomorrow. I wasn’t able to get the desired 10 mile run in due to a swarm of lightning that convinced me to bail out a mile early. Last weekend a lightening bolt took a 5 inch chunk out of my neighbor’s huge oak tree from top to bottom – a helpful reminder not to roll the dice with nature. 9 miles should be fine for race day prep .. besides, the last mile or so I was pushing it to make it back to the truck before it let loose. Not one to just sit around just watching the boob tube (although the Illini are kicking butt), thought it would be a good time to crank out a post!
Unlike the previous post. today’s featured bird didn’t take long to lock in an identification. If you haven’t noticed a theme yet, the birds of late have all been from our Red Rock Canyon in Nevada shoot. This is a wonderful park not far from Las Vegas and a standard stop for us when we haul our photography equipment out there. Definitely a good place to add to your Birding List if you are light on your land birds – which I happen to be at the moment… although building fast.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Western Scrub-Jay
Pretty cool looking bird with the white eyebrow liner and the white speckled in the throat area. When the bird list was checked it was discovered that there was a question mark in the check box. This usually means a possible ID was made but lacking a good confirmation. Similar to the Gray Vireo and Townsend Solitaire which both have question marks in their check box until the bird in the previous post is officially confirmed (still looking for some help on that by the way).
The question indicator resulted in a quick search of the blog to figure out where it was previously referenced. Looks like there were two possible sightings – one in 2008 (link here) and one in 2010 (link here). Reviewing those two possible shots, the conclusion is neither one of those is a Western Scrub-Jay. Not sure what the 2008 one is yet, but the 2010 is most likely a Clark’s Nutcracker. So good news, I can replace that question mark with a solid check now.
Time for the classic EddieSoft pose…
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Western Scrub-Jay
Continue reading Send in the Scrubs