Tanager Acne

Well, we are back home from our trip up to Springfield, Ohio for the CPE Invitationals. In general a bit of a disappointment. With the exception of Ruger’s impressive showing in his first ever drag race event, the 4 days of showing (1 practice day and 3 days of actual competition), yielded only one qualifying run in Raven’s 9 attempts. He just seemed off and really wasn’t running at his usual pace. Also a lot more standoffish and too aware of the onlookers and hordes of other competitors to really get the job done. Definitely not a fan of having horse dirt between his toes. I felt bad for Linda as she was having to fight through a nasty cold from the moment we got there. Tough to run, much less coerce a less than enthused Poodle through an obstacle course.

Juvi Summer Tanager found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

Hit the jump to read more of about our blotchy friend!

Continue reading Tanager Acne

Not a Vulture

We finally made it up to Springfield, Ohio for the Canine Performance Events (CPE) Invitational Nationals. I must say this is a bit overwhelming and I don’t even have four paws and a tail (although I do have the long nose for it ha). Sources indicated there are around 700 canines performing at this show and based on the large number of campers and dogs everywhere you look – thinking that might be an undercount. Raven hits the agility ring starting tomorrow. Don’t tell him, but Dad will not fault him for being nervous with all the voodoo paws pointed at him from the stands. Ruger and Benji came along for moral support … and we didn’t trust them not to throw a kegger while we were gone. Linda was surprised to see the were also holding an open “drag racing” event here. Think of it as a solo drag race for 50 yards although instead of nitro fuel they only need puppy kisses from Mommy at the finish line. Decided we would let Ruger have a go now that he has officially “crested” the one year old threshold.

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

Hit the jump to read more about our featured feathered friend.. and a lot more about our little dragster.

Continue reading Not a Vulture

Summer Comes Early

I want to start with remembering all those that are serving, have served and on the day we officially honor them, those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can continue to live the values instilled in this country by our founding fathers. Those that have given their lives in combat and the families that have lived/live with that sacrifice shall never be forgotten.

Last post I featured a feathered friend that Ron was able to check off this year …and more importantly… one I’m still missing in my “Average Year” efforts (link here – still not updated). I also noted there was a plan for me to claw back some points. Last Friday Linda and I went to Havana IL and successfully tinned a few sure things. Specifically the Western Kingbird (Link here – why they nest there I have no clue) and the Eurasian Tee Sparrow (link here). Note, if you want to see a limited region for a bird, check out that European Tree Sparrow – basically a small blotch in IL (link here).

Summer Tanager found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

Even managed to get 2 more +1s for the year on the way home that Ron didn’t have ..well, yet. Not that I am competitive or anything (wink), but was feeling pretty good gaining +4 on him. Then opportunity knocked. Brothers and I decided to meet mom’s house to start the long process of cleaning it out. This meant Ron would be traveling down perilously close to Havana on his way to the house. My warnings that the birds had already left for the summer were ignored (no trust ha). Sure enough, he stopped by there and picked up 3 of the 4 Friday tallies. Well, that euphoria didn’t even make it past the long weekend.

So, like the previous post, bringing you another red hued bird.

In contrast to the last post, Ron DOES NOT have this Tanager checked off for this year. It is still a few weeks off from the season, but rather than wait, bringing you summer early! A male Summer Tanager to be exact. The official check for this year came while we were down in southern Texas during January. Ron probably missed getting it by maybe 20 minutes thanks to having to head to the airport to catch his flight home. While he had to sit in the airport lobby, Linda and I headed back to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) in Brownsville. There was a rarity we were chasing there before he had to take him to the airport. I’ll cover that hunt in an upcoming post. For today, just note I managed to tin the Summer Tanager while I was there (and the rarity, but shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone yet).

Hit the jump to continue reading about Ron’s missing check

Continue reading Summer Comes Early

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

Nixon’s Accomplice

Finally catching a warming spell here in the tundra. Might even get to see the gravel in our extended driveway for the first time since being back from this year’s annual trip to the Texas Gulf Coast. Apologies again for bringing the cold down to all those cities we passed on our trip – honestly, it was not intentional ha! I just realized I let a rather important milestone pass by without mentioning it. Managed to once again trigger the increment button on the age counter in mid January, but that isn’t that important these days (although it is nice to be assured you still have a physical existence in world). The real fanfare is I hit my one year anniversary of being officially retired. Admittedly, a bit stunned looking at the calendar and realizing it has been that long already. Friend of the blog Brad M. also celebrated his first retirement anniversary and he had a similar feeling on how quick it went. Think he summed it up best when he declared being surprised “was a good sign [our retirement] was the right thing at the right time.” Initially thought I would miss the daily grind a lot more than I did knowing how ingrained the work schedule was in Linda and I’s DNA. Each day of the week was tracked by the required meetings and deliverables due. These days we can’t even remember if the day ends in a ‘Y’ or not. I did take a support call while on our trip, but that was entirely caused by me purposely not properly transitioning a tiny piece of my old role. I thought it was pointless when I was doing it and assumed (hoped) it would die off for the good of the company – apparently some check boxes never go away even if nobody even takes an action on it or worse yet even looks at it (it was a quarterly deliverable and it wasn’t missed for over a year hmmmm). Oh well, Big Yellow keeps rolling without me/us…

Prothonotary Warbler with Pollen Hat at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

Hit the jump to read about a softer yellow machine. One that doesn’t beep when it backs up hehehe.

Continue reading Nixon’s Accomplice

A Lite Brite Peg

Welcome to February everyone! Been a rude awakening on the weather front for us. Came back from or extended Texas trip to 4 or 5 inches of the whitey fluffy stuff already on the ground. Wasn’t really in the mood to deal with that yet, so cleaned off the small portion of cement directly in front of the garage and let the other 300′ of gravel go. Tradition continues, delay now, pay thrice later. Yesterday, Snowmaggedon hit. Thankfully managed to get the blade on the UTV ahead of time. Linda performed her highly scientific method of walking into the yard and sticking a ruler in the snow to determine we came in at about 9 inches of new snow (didn’t help that it was preceded by a couple of hours of rain/sleet as required by all Illinois cold weather events). During the multiple hours plowing and shoveling, my body was constantly reminding me there was an RV sitting right there in the outbuilding, all cleaned and gassed up ready to go…anytime, really anytime, just put that metal thingy in the dash, give a small twist, put the lever thingy in reverse…somewhere warm in relatively no time at all. “Come on Bri, do it for the puppies!” For the record, my inner voice is vindictive and evil. Now it is around 12F degrees out with a windchill at -4 which is just a few degrees beyond my willingness to go for an outdoor run – translated – it’s a perfect time to get the first post of the new month out.

Prothonotary Warbler found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

How is that for a color blast!?! Had a few options in the queue and decided to go with Mr. Yellow here to help brighten my spirits. A few posts ago on the Black-Throated Green Warbler (link here), friend of the blog, Brad, commented that a more appropriate name would have been “Brilliant Yellow Noggin’ Warbler or BYNW”. Those keeping tabs on Intrigued, might have noticed I kind of gave away today’s featured feathered friend in my response. When it comes to brilliant bananas, this Warbler has a head up, not to mention chest and neck. The bird practically glows.

Prothonotary Warbler found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

Hit the jump to read more about the events surrounding this sighting.

Continue reading A Lite Brite Peg

Quick Change Artist

Today comes with a bit of sadness as we are officially on our way back to the broke state of Illinois. Texas has seen fit to help us get acclimated to the cold weather my bones have been subjected to for the past (now) 55 years (yep, had a birthday recently). Been kind of zigzagging our way a bit. Bounced up to San Antonio to see where nearly 40 years ago the Prince of Darkness desecrated a sacred memorial dedicated to those who died at the Alamo whose remains are elsewhere. For those wondering, he did not actually take a leak on the Alamo itself rather across the street in the Alamo Plaza. According to Loudwire (link here), he was also wearing his future wife’s dress because she had taken his clothes to prevent him from doing something stupid. Doubt many people look at Ozzy Osbourne and think “genius”. While there, Linda checked the weather, saw the coming snow/sleet warnings and spun up the crazy train to get us back to South Padre Island to keep our water lines from freezing. Stayed above freezing thankfully, but definitely not conditions we drive all the way to Texas for! Make the most of it as I was able to add not one, but TWO lifers yesterday. While those are awaiting their stint in the digital darkroom, decided to get back on the bird wagon and feature this creature.

Black-Throated Green Warbler found on Dauphin Island in April 2021

Our colorful specimen today also represents a +1 lifer for me. Unfortunately, not eligible for my “Average Year” tally as this Warbler was found on our trip to Dauphin Island last April. That trip is still paying off dividends and a quick look at my queue indicates it will be for many more posts this year as well.

Hit the jump for more on this secretive Warbler.

Continue reading Quick Change Artist

A Chesty Trivecty

Before I get into today’s post, just wanted to mention I finally got my ’21 pumpkin carving project post out. I know some of you enjoy the Halloween related posts which I keep up on the mothership (link here). Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

I was able to get a cold weather run in a few days ago. The first one of the fall/winter season is always a jolt to my system and it didn’t help that this time there was sleet involved. A majority of my race season is in hot weather which the body, barring any extremes, is perfectly happy with. It’s the transition to the colder season that takes a bit getting used to. The temple requires a lot of replenishing oxygen especially on the trails and gulping air is the norm – taking cold air (especially with the sub-20sF, hell, sub zero) directly into the lungs can be a shock to the chest – I call it freeze-lungs.

Speaking of chests, you may have been wondering what was up with the post-a-palooza that recently occurred. We went up to Mayo for Linda’s annual checkup post heart surgery. This gave me some extra cycles in the waiting areas as she went through her battery of pokes, prods and the terrifying let’s see how close to death we can get her by turning off the pacemaker procedure – that one makes me cringe and I’m not even the one going through it. In the end, we received really good news, after two years, everything is working perfectly (when they are not purposely shutting things down) and her heart specialist is good with her getting into a new study involving a more natural blood thinner. Linda actually selected her valve type because of this feature, but she had some complications during the surgery that warranted the extra validation time. All great news!

How about we go ahead and make it a chesty trivecty with today’s featured feathered friend.

Chestnut-Sided Warbler found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

How is that for a beautiful bird (keeping my promise to CJ). There are a lot of Warblers to choose from, but this color burst of a bird is definitely in my top 3 and top 10 across all the birds currently checked off my list. Maybe it’s the dainty size, possibly the brilliant white feathering that makes their strategic coloring pop or the whole package, but this species brings a smile to my face every time I encounter it in the field.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this distinctly colored Warbler.

Continue reading A Chesty Trivecty

When Birding Gets Stressful – for Ron

Well, I was all ready to head out and get my run in this morning when I opened the door to sleet. Umm, where the hell did that come from!?! Normally that wouldn’t bother me much, but the sleet was essentially horizontal thanks to the 20mph wind that was accompanying the ice balls. One view of that and Inner Bri (I call him Ibbie) was quick to point out “Hey dude, you know you are retired right?”. Now Ibbie has a habit of getting me in trouble, however, this time he was right. Quickly checked out the forecast and sure enough, likely better (slightly) conditions in a few hours so waffles it is! In the meantime, what to do, what to do. Hey, I know, how about we get ourselves closer to the list goal.

Kentucky Warbler found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

I hit you with a few of the duller Warblers the last couple of posts and thought it was time to start stepping it up in the color arena – plus I promised CJ (link here) I would give her something brighter to enjoy her morning coffee with. Will quickly admit, these are not shots that will ever make it on our house walls or the galleria ledge (link here), but this featured feathered friend almost cost my brother Ron extra nights in Alabama. To set the stage, this yellowish bird with the unique highlighting comes to you from our April trip to Dauphin Island along the Alabama Gulf Shores. I’ve previously noted the incredible birding we had that vacation thanks to the fallout and this is another treasure that came home with us.

Hit the jump to read a bit more about how this one almost didn’t make it into the tin.

Continue reading When Birding Gets Stressful – for Ron