Another Cleverly Named Bird

Now that I have given myself some breathing room with the previous non-bird post, I can check a few more off my NA Birding Life List (yeah).  Today’s featured bird is the Yellow Warbler.
Yellow Warbler from South Dakota

My title needed to be wrapped by the sarcasm tags since we once again have have zero originality in our bird discoverers.  “Hey look, a YELLOW bird!”  This particular specimen was taken on our stop at Lake Andes in South Dakota.  Yes, that is the same location that has been producing new birds for my list in a number of recent posts.  Still not at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve in Nevada levels, but surely worth the jaunt over while on our way to Yellowstone National Park.

Yellow Warbler from South Dakota

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this yella fella.

Continue reading Another Cleverly Named Bird

Cormorant Need Nomorant

It was a big birding day today! Early count puts me somewhere in the 14 to 16 new birds to add to my list and should put some distance from my brother’s recent charge. Based on that haul I can probably take the rest of the year off from bird posts so all of you non-aviary oriented readers out there are probably going to rejoice knowing this is probably the last post of its kind until 2016 (I can already hear the collective cheers).

I have to say, today’s featured bird is one of those I always knew I had in the tin, but just wasn’t sure when it was obtained and which location it was taken at. This is primarily due to the huge delay in getting things processed as of late. Truth to be told it is really which of the location”s” was going to come up first since I know this bird was shot during at least 3 or 4 different shoots.

Double-Crested Cormorant in South Dakota

Turns out, the first one to pop off the queue was the series taken at Lake Andes in South Dakota.  If you recall from the previous posts, Lake Andes turned out to be quite the haul for new birds.  Unfortunately, these particular specimens were holding court a significant distance from where we were able to shoot on the banks.  The Beast was straining with all its might to pull them in and as you would expect (and in this case physically see the results), the shots turned out a little soft.  Not bad for the distance, but definitely not gallery worthy in any manner.  Luckily, the quality of the shot doesn’t come into play on whether you get the checkmark or not (I won’t mention names, but I know someone that is claiming a certain yellow highlighted bird on his birding list that has an equal chance of being a school bus based on the shot results hehehe).

Double-Crested Cormorant in South Dakota

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this large bird.

Continue reading Cormorant Need Nomorant

A Rusty Visitor from Central America

Today we are back at my new favorite South Dakota birding spot.  If you recall, I have had a number of posts already from Lake Andes thanks to the very successful birding outing we had there while making a brief stop on our way to Yellowstone National Park.  As mentioned numerous times before, for a spot that had zero people visiting while we were there and little to no advertising in or around this specific location but for a small sign in the parking lot, this location provided a wealth of new fodder for the blog and numerous ticks on the Bird Life List.  Pretty much the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve equivalent of the South Dakotas!

With that, I’d like to introduce you to the newest member of my birding list, the Orchard Oriole.

Orchard Oriole, Lake Andes, South Dakota

Truth be told, I had no idea what species this bird was while out in the field snapping the shots.  Initial guess was a molting Oriole only because it was similar to the Baltimore Orioles I’ve seen, but a lot duller.  The Baltimores wear a brilliant shade of orange compared to this specimen.  It did sport that daunting dagger of a bill found on Orioles and quite frankly was as flighty as those more colorful versions.  Up, down, left, right, near, far … the damn thing wouldn’t stand still long enough for me to get a good angle on it.  It is a miracle the Beast was able to catch it, much less get all the critical angles to help identify it in the digital darkroom.  Although it would have been ideal to get more of the bill in the next shot, it is still my favorite of the lot since it gives a nice view of the markings making it super easy to identify.

Orchard Oriole, Lake Andes, South Dakota

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this interesting bird.

Continue reading A Rusty Visitor from Central America

What About Bob?

I’m going to apologize right now for bringing out ANOTHER post featuring a bird.  The hate mail is already piling up:

If you post one more bird shot this month I’m going to force you to watch the beginning of John Wick until you are left balling in a fetal position in your basement”

I can’t take it anymore – bird after bird after bird – you’d think nothing intrigues you unless it has feathers on it – damn you birdman”

Maybe a disease will wipe every one of the species out and I’ll be the only one who has a picture of it”

Oh wait, that last one came from my trash talking brother who just scored a new bird I didn’t have…. and you thought I was the competitive one.  To appease both sides of the table, I promise to not feature a bird on the next post and on the bird competition front, this bird is a new check on my list – back at ya buddy hehehe.
Bobolink shot at Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge in South Dakota

Pretty cool bird eh?  I am proud to say this bird was in the top echelon of my wish list.  The reason for this high position is the unique coloring of the creature and how common it supposedly is in the region where I live.  It always amazes me when I read about a bird that has such a footprint around me and I’ve never seen it even once – nada, zippo and nofer.  Combine that with the fact it is far from a sparrow as you can get when it comes to difficulty to identify and you have a situation where it has to be at least in your top 5.  Technically this bird was fourth on the list last year, but picked off three of them already  (the Snowy and two mystery one I haven’t revealed yet) but missed the Painted Bunting when I had a chance (4 out of the top 5 in the tin was pretty impressive last year).  Especially annoying was my brother already had on of these.

Bobolink shot at Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge in South Dakota

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this bird!

Continue reading What About Bob?

A Yellow Fellow

Today’s featured subject is hot off the presses, but unlike the previous post on the Wood Duck, this one is hot off the “processing” press.  The images were actually shot in South Dakota on our way to Yellowstone National Park back in May of 2013.  I know, I know I’m running way behind.  The good news is the birding competition between my brother Ron and I is accelerating my work in the digital darkroom (he’s cranking out new species in Chicago almost daily and even leaving his car to do it hehehe).  In an effort to keep up I present to you the latest entry in my Birding Life List of North America:
Common Yellowthroat from South Dakota

Can you see it?  The yellow is pretty much a dead giveaway if you happen to actually spot it moving in the branches.  The shot above was left in because this was the photography conditions I was fighting just trying to get this specimen in the tin.  It really didn’t want to leave the safety of the branches which were making the Beast focus walk all over the place trying to fight through the numerous focus opportunities.  I’d shuffle to the left to get a clearer shot, it would move to the right, shuffle back to the right and drop down it would fly up and back left… this ridiculous ballet went on way to long but it looked unique enough of a bird at the time to continue the pursuit.  Eventually this flighty bird moved into a less dense area revealing what it was.

Common Yellowthroat from South Dakota

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this cute feathered specimen.

Continue reading A Yellow Fellow

A Flamboyant Crow

And were back!  You are getting blitzed with posts at the moment because I’m taken care of some family matters which requires me to be in a place without that wonderful time waster .. a TV.  Luckily we invested in a hotspot allowing me to stay current with the world.  That doesn’t really take a lot of time – this group of people is killing that group of people, another group of people are spouting lies and still another is trying to take my rights away.  Pretty much sums up my view of the current chaos around the world and in the States.  Once that perception is confirmed I can jump into my little corner of the Internet and escape a bit.  Way I see it, it’s a win win.  Now I remember how my stay in Shenandoah went, but back then I didn’t even have cell phones – (ask Linda about our critter experience while at a payphone one night there) the horror, the horror.  Today we are in a better digital age which allows me to bring you this
Black-Billed Magpies of South Dakota

If you do not recognize this bird you haven’t been to the Northwest.  The Black-Billed Magpie are very populous in that region and thanks to their colorful palette are quite easy to identify.  I say this with a chuckle since I apparently had no clue what they were the first time we came upon them (link here).  Of course, that might be more due to the crap ass shots I was able to capture – I kinda cringe every time I dive back into the blog archives knowing my photography skills needed some serious work back then.  Glad to say there is marked improvement these days.  The following shot is one of my favorites from the Yellowstone vacation shoot.

Black-Billed Magpies of South Dakota

Hit the jump to view a few more shots of the Black-Billed Magpie

Continue reading A Flamboyant Crow

Viewed From Afar (and a request for identification help)

First off, I’ve decided to go ahead and merge in my wildlife observations. I was investigating the option to have a secondary blog out there just for the wildlife stuff, but then decided I really didn’t want to manage another website. I think it still fits the overall theme of observations I see from day to day. I will tag these as Wildlife and likely a subtag with the specific category like birds, snakes (yeah, you’re getting some of those soon), frogs, bears, deer etc.

So… keeping with the South Dakota trip theme, I thought I would start out with some birds we snapped while traveling out there. I’ll start with a flesh eating variety call the Black Billed Magpie. We were touring the Bear Country USA Drive Through Wildlife Park and I saw this fairly pretty blue and white bird on the side of the road.

Black Billed Magpie

I actually didn’t know what it was until I returned home and found it my brand new Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America. I finally broke down and bought an updated guide, but more on that in a future post (I actually selected this book because it finally had a picture of the woodpecker I could not identify in a previous post). As we traveled a little further, I became slightly horrified by the fact that the previously considered “cute” bird was actually a flesh eating demon.

Black Billed Magpie

I had visions of it attacking me, sticking his beak in one of my eyeballs and ripping it out of my head as it flew off into the air leaving a dangling mass of entrails oozing out of my shrieking face – hmmmm in retrospect, I might need to lay off of the late night horror movies. Based on the description in the book, it appears to simply feed off of carrion so likely little to fear here. Although, this shot looks like he is scraping an eyeball of his beak.

Black Billed Magpie

There is another bird (Spotted Towhee) after the jump along with a blue bird I am currently unable to properly identify.

Continue reading Viewed From Afar (and a request for identification help)