For the regulars to the blog, you know Linda and Raven finally get to compete in the agility ring this weekend. We had to travel down to southern IL for them to get the chance to run. Rules have been bouncing all over the place for these competitions. IL is slowly loosening the restrictions on businesses and gatherings over 10 to 20 people, however, there is still a lack of clarity on the real requirements. Our trip up to Chain O’ Lakes a few weeks back was actually to participate in an agility show that ended up being canceled by their police chief (never should have asked), yet this one is still on (probably didn’t ask). Some shows require masks only while running the dog, others require masks only when not in the ring, some allow spectators, some allow only the dog owners and then there are those that only allow the handler of the dog running in the current jump height. Ridiculously confusing from my opinion. The competition down here requires masks except in the ring, no spectators in building and only the dogs and their owners in the jump height can be in the building. That means I have to keep myself entertained in the RV. Traveling 3 hours down to an event and not being able to see your kid participate would normally be frustrating, however, it appears Raven is a bit rusty and well, stunk it up today.
Hit the jump to read more about our striped friend.
Continue reading Captain Mercaptan
Merry Christmas Eve everyone! Not sure if I am going to get around to posting tomorrow, so thought I would go ahead and put one out there today. Finally feels like Christmas in the Midwest thanks to a lot of white stuff coming down at the moment. Looks like 2-4 inches when it is all done for the day. A perfect dusting to add to the holiday atmosphere – not to mention our well could sure use some recharging. Today’s post is actually inspired by a recent set of pictures my brother Ron posted from his recent Florida trip. He was able to witness and get in the tin the brutality of the Loggerhead Shrike. You have to feel a little bad for whatever creature crosses its path at feeding time. I wonder if he would be willing to guest blog on that series of shots – think you would enjoy that in a squeamish sort of way. .
In light of that, thought I would roll out my example of the circle of life. Warning though, bunny lovers might want to skip this particular post.
That there is a Cooper’s Hawk that I encountered while visiting Red Rocks Ampitheatre back in May 2014. We were out in Colorado for a Teacup Dog Agility Nationals. Linda knows how to bribe me to go with her. Simply mention Red Rocks Ampitheatre and my bags will be packed in a jiffy. I’ve posted a number of shots from my explorations at that place in the past. A number of those were +1’s on the birding list. Even got a nice fox while out there (link here).
From the birding list perspective, the Cooper doesn’t represent a +1 having posted most recently from an encounter in Champaign IL (link here).
Hit the jump to see some more images from the Ampitheatre.
Continue reading Circle of Life Plays Out in a Theatre Far Away
“You lured me away from home, just to save you from being alone
You stole my soul and that’s a pain I can do without”
So, as the adage goes, stories of my demise are greatly exaggerated. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for one of my 3TB work drives. It no workie anymore. Work drives are my day after day use – digital darkroom processing, searches general access and always connected to my main computer for ease. Luckily, all of my photos are backed up on a fully raided NAS drives. So nothing lost (relief). However, it took 6 nonstop days to copy back from the NAS drive onto a brand new working drive. Yes, there is a tremendous amount of finger crossing that nothing goes wrong with the originals while copying back. All done now, nothing lost but my time away from the blog. Let’s remedy that now!
Today’s featured feathered friend comes to us courtesy of Red Rocks Amphitheatre on a trip to Colorado back in May 2014. The Black-Billed Magpie is not a new bird to the blog having been previously featured back in July 2008 (link here). That also happens to be the first time I had ever encountered this colorful bird. We were passing through South Dakota on our way to visit Yellowstone. One of the great things about having a photography blog over the last 10 years is you get a firsthand look at how you are improving your craft. Those initial first shots are quite the fuzzy mess.
I did get a little better when they appeared for a second time back in February 2015 (link here). There is always room for improvement, but these are a far cry from that initial effort. Those were taken from a good distance, where this third installment had much better foot zoom. Thing is, the closer you get to these members of the Crow family, the more you realize just how menacing they look. Something about those dark hoods that energizes the flight instincts whenever they show up in my viewfinder. Truthfully, my encounters with this large bodied birds has been quite cordial. They simply go about their business as if I am not even there. In this encounter on the outer loop of the Red Rocks trail, I heard a weird rustling sound under a bunch of sage. Not wanting to move off the trail, the next 20 minutes was spent trying locate the moving sound. Thinking I was on target, then engaged in some birding yoga in an attempt to find an angle giving a glimpse of the ruckus source. Hear sound, move to approximate location, peer through the brush only to hear it a few feet in another direction. After numerous search cycles it became a quest. I was either going to be eaten by an annoyed coyote or get something in the tin worth blogging about.
During the course of this hunt people would walk/jog by with inquisitive looks. You get this a lot when you are standing around with big glass out in the wild. Embarrassingly my repeated response to their inquiry was “I don’t know” with a couple of “Yeti” just to spice it up a bit. After the fun of taunting me wore off the mystery animal flew up on a nearby post. Yep, a Magpie was just foraging for food in the thick underbrush. At least something went into the tin so it was worth the time … I suppose. Interesting creatures these Magpies – apparently enjoy making fools of us humans.
That’s all I have for you today folks. Just wanted to knock the cobwebs down a bit since it has been a couple of weeks since posting. Take it easy everyone and hopefully my technical difficulties are resolved.
I am glad to be back home now. It was a rather long weekend with the two races at the start of the weekend and then ended with a long day at the Poodle Agility Nationals down at Purina Farm near St. Louis. By the time we made it home last night Linda and I were totally exhausted and the dogs were like potato sacks passed out on the RV bed. That is when you know you have officially got everything you possibly could out of an extended weekend – of course, that made the workday a lot longer to ugh. Luckily, I was able to get at least one post out while traveling leaving me with only one more to hit my monthly quota – might as well get that out of the way while I am thinking about it.
Take a look at this beauty of a bird…
All I can say is gorgeous. It may be due to the fact I am so fond of Halloween, but this has to be one of my favorite color palettes for a bird. Please overlook the composition and technical execution of this batch of photos. This particular specimen was hanging out in clearly the most tangled branch tree it could find to thwart my every effort to get a clean shot. Not sure what kind of tree this was, but it ended up not only providing excellent protection from The Beast, but it also looks quite menacing seeing as how some of the branches look like grey barbed wire.
Hit the jump to find out what this bird is!
Continue reading Never Mind the Bullock’s
Apparently just changing whether it was a +1 or not is not sufficient to officially characterize my last post as bringing you something “different” – as in something other than a bird post. I base this on the number of emails that showed up from my loyal readers essentially stating changing whether it was a +1 or not “is not something different”. I can take a subtle hint (okay, maybe it wasn’t that subtle). As a form of appeasement, I officially bring you something that isn’t related to a bird. Instead, today’s feature is likely something that would EAT a bird given the opportunity.
Decided to do a quick check and sure enough, Foxes do eat birds so we can dispense with the likely. I must admit, that my bird knowledge far outweighs my Fox expertise. To the best of my knowledge bolstered by a healthy dose of Google searches, this specimen is a Red Fox. I was also able to find a few shots on the web that had the dark leg markings. That feature was confusing me a bit since our local Foxes do not seem to display that amount of darkness. The other interesting feature can be seen in the hindquarters.
Hit the jump to read a bit more about this encounter!
Continue reading A Sly Red at Red Rocks
How are doing today everyone? I thought I would follow up my last birding post with a slacker Bunting, yes, quite the “Lazi” Bunting (hey, I heard that groan all the way over here!).
That loyal readers is called a Lazuli Bunting. Like the last post on the Phainopepla, this Bunting also represents a new check in my North American Bird List. Starting to get a respectable number now in a desperate attempt to keep up with my brother Ron’s tallies. I have benefited significantly from his recent introduction into the bird blogging arena – you may not be aware, but we have a birding rule between us that doesn’t allow us to count a new bird on our lists unless we have posted about it first on our blogs. Don’t feel sorry for him though, he was properly warned before taking on this new responsibility. These last two posts alone would put me at 2/3rds of his new (post blog) bird count heheheh.
Hit the jump to see and read more about this shoot!
Continue reading A Lazi Bunting