Sitting Here, Taking a Walk in the Woods

Just sitting here relaxing a bit before tomorrow’s race. Giving the ankle one last rest before strapping on the Nimbus’ and walking to the bottom of Brady Street hill in Davenport Iowa for my 18th running of the Bix 7. Quite shocked the weather gods decided to take pity on us and give us some decent temps for a change. One of my faithful readers mentioned in a comment she was familiar with the race and noted the winners usually hail from Kenya (or Ethiopia). Don’t be fooled, they are all training at top tier schools in the US. It is true, they definitely dominate the podiums at this race, but typically they are not prepared for the humidity that accompanies this race (as well as the Steamboat Race in June link here). I am always surprised to see how hard they are having to push themselves as they are returning up the 2 mile hill as I’m coming down – yes, I’m at around the 2.5 mile mark and they are heading into their 5th mile. An elite road runner I am NOT! My speed days are long past replaced with the fun of grinding out ultra distances. There are not that many road races that interest my anymore, however, the Bix was the first race I ever entered and hands down it has the BEST post race party of any event out there. Linda is from Davenport and told me about this race when I was looking for something to fill the gap when I hung up my gi.

Good weather, a course completely lined with onlookers cheering us on (yes, even the slow ones like me), a distance that should be a walk in the park for me and a great afterparty – can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday. Oh, did I mention that Linda participates as well – they have a two mile option that takes you up the .8 mile long steep hill at the start and then directs you back down at the next block. Wish us luck!

In honor of the stress free Bix distance, thought I would feature a real “walk in the park” for today’s final post of the month.

Common Yellowthroat found at Jubilee College State Park in July 2022

Hit the jump to see this small collection of shots that normally would have gone straight to the archives.

Continue reading Sitting Here, Taking a Walk in the Woods

Hey, Stop Hitting on my Wife

I mentioned in a previous post that Ron and I had the opportunity to get a little birding in at the end of last week. Not only did that allow us to get a quick break from the stress building up over the last 6 or 7 weeks, it also provided a huge boost to our “Average Year” counts. We took a setback when we canceled the Dauphin migration trip originally planned in April. We have managed to claw back some of the migrating checks thanks to a trip up to Montrose Bird Sanctuary, a new place called LaBagh Woods (will definitely have a future post on that gem) and then several locations around our favorite Chain ‘O Lakes State Park area. That two day trip allowed me to bump up my ’22 count to 245!!! Apologies, I still need to update the Birding Chronicles stats page (link here). Then Ron followed that up with a side trip, managing to get this species checked off his list.

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

That was a good pick up on me as I haven’t been able to locate ones of these fireballs yet. In honor of his accomplishment, decided to go ahead with this series from an encounter I had while we were down at Dauphin Island back in April of last year. I also get to continue my green theme from the last two posts.

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

Hit the jump to read more about our encounter with this brilliantly colored bird.

Continue reading Hey, Stop Hitting on my Wife

Scarlet for Valentine’s

Once again the white fluffy stuff is coming down. Luckily the accumulation has been manageable so far and not one to complain since it means our wells will benefit as it melts off in a month or so. Unfortunately, not the best of timings as Linda and I had to renew our qualifications on the range this morning. Last time it was also snowing, but 2 degrees (F) out making conditions completely miserable. Still chilly today, but definitely better. Now that the fingers are all warmed up, figured I’d bang out a quick post (bad pun). Decided to wait on the previously planned post and continue with the Valentine’s theme. This was mainly due to a few people asking for details on how our annual “Date Night with a Skunk” went.

Brian and Linda Dinner with a Skunk Wildlife Prairie Park February 2019

Quick background. We are members of Wildlife Prairie Park, a now privately owned park focused on the wildlife historically common to the Midwest. They have a number of captive animals and birds to enjoy and really nice grounds for walking, birding, mountain biking, trail running etc. We happen to volunteer there helping them photographically chronicle their progress on a new bird related endeavor they embarked on last year (3+ years still to go on that). This park used to be owned by the state, but since Illinois is essentially a fiscally failed state (scratch the “essentially” and just go with it IS a fiscally failed state), some private investors ended up taking it back and turning it around. One of their annual fundraisers is an elaborate Valentine’s dinner complete with drinks, dancing (if you are into that), 5 course meal, door prizes and you guessed it… an evening with a local resident Skunk – a play on the love stricken Pepe Le Pew cartoon (not sure this cartoon fits in this day and age anymore). For several years now, along with some friends we have been attending this event and yes, getting our pictures taken with an absolutely adorable Skunk. Just in case you are wondering, de-scented and basically a domesticated version of their more common wild brethren that have a habit of causing neighborhood dogs to get tomato soup baths. Our friend Sung took our pictures above before the night took on an unexpected elation moment only to result in a major disappointment.

Before I get to that, let’s shift to the real feature for today’s post.

tLL

Hit the jump to see a few more pictures of the featured bird and find out how the dinner party went.

Continue reading Scarlet for Valentine’s

Another Check in the Bird List – The Scarlet Tanager

Can you tell I’m !#%!@@#$@ cooped up in the house this weekend with a hell spawned cold?  If memory serves (and it is on the fritz at the moment) this is the third post in three days.  Blogging at least keeps my mind off of the missed training runs this has caused which couldn’t happen at a more inconvenient time… but more on that in less than a month.  To be honest, today’s post is really more about a half check than a full check on the Life Birding List.  Linda and I headed out to a photo shoot at Wildcat Den about 30-40 minutes outside of Davenport in Muscatine County, Iowa.  We were in Davenport for our 3 day concert extravaganza (yes, that will be a future post topic) and figured it would be a good opportunity to take some shots at the State Park.  So we strapped on the backpacks, cleared out the memory cards and grabbed the cameras.  Needless to say with opportunities for wildlife, The Beast was in tow.

For the first hour there was not much action in the feathered category.  I decided to focus on some large butterflies while Linda busied herself with some water landscape shots.  From there we moved deeper into the State Park when Linda (so she says) pointed out a reddish bird sitting in the dense trees.  Having learned from previous mistakes, I dropped the tripod down and did my best to get a preliminary shot so I wouldn’t be leaving empty handed.  Once I had sufficient attempts  from afar, I slowly moved in to try and better the shot.  Out of all of them, this is probably the best one.

Hit the jump to see more pictures of this distinctive bird  … prepare yourself, some are a little scary

Continue reading Another Check in the Bird List – The Scarlet Tanager