Different but the Same

As of last night, my busy October is now officially over. Most of that was taken up with our own Haunted Trail efforts which consumes my mornings and nights and everything in between and a number of races to close out the official run season. That gives way to some additional Halloween parties where we get to enjoy the Halloween labors from our friends. Two of those closed up this weekend leaving my calendar fairly free beyond a garage full of decorations that need to put away for next year (some of them are still drying out from the multiple days of rain they had to endure before finally getting them all pulled out of the woods). The last critical task for the month is to complete my blog quota and then we’re ready for whatever November has to offer.

Since we talked about the Yellow-Rumped Warbler in my last post figured it made sense to provide an immediate contrast with the other sub-species of this colorful bird.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler - Myrtle shot on Wisconsin trip April 2014

As mentioned previously, there are two main classifications of the Yellow-Rumped. The one we covered in the last post was the Audubon variety as noted by their full yellow throat. The other variety is the Myrtle which you are viewing here. Yes, it has the yellow shoulder patches and the yellow crown in similarity with the Audubon version. And it pretty much goes without saying that it too sports the yellow patch on the rump. This wasn’t very easy to tell in the previous Audubon series, so let’s correct that now.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler - Myrtle shot on Wisconsin trip April 2014

Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this sun painted Warbler.

Continue reading Different but the Same

The Same but Different

Greetings to my readers! A week ago I was standing out in my woods surrounded by a multitude of Halloween decorations. My non-wildlife blog will get an in depth look at that event, but I mainly point this out as a comparative perspective. See, I was standing out in my woods surrounded by creations of the dead IN MY T-SHIRT. October 21st and it was perfect out even in the dead of night. The week before a rainy, chilly, windy mess of a day. Now fast forward a week to today. Once again, standing in the woods surrounded by a multitude of Halloween decorations. This time in someone else’s haunted trail and more pertinent to the lead in – IN 2 SHIRTS, 2 COATS and GLOVES. Talk about one hell of a temperature swing for out here in the Midwest. Think it was even trying to flurry a bit towards the middle of the day. Other than a training run tomorrow, think I’ll just stay in and get caught up on my blog quota for the rapidly closing end of the month.

As a lead in, let’s take a look at a very colorful bird.

OOO

That there is a Yellow-Rumped Warbler. This pretty specimen was shot while on a trip out to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado back in May 2014. Technically it was an add on from a trip to the Denver area for the Teacup Dog Agility Nationals. Linda bribed me with a trip through the park in order to convince me to head out there. I’ve have now tried two times to get the White-tailed Ptarmigan up on the Tundra trail – both coming up empty. Making the best of it, I did get some other specimens in the park, which included the one you are seeing here. Note, I intend to continue going back there until I get that bird checked off my list!

KK

Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this colorful Warbler!

Continue reading The Same but Different

Project Chekov: Yellow-Rumped Warbler and Yellow Finch

If you would been around LifeIntrigued headquarters today you would have seen one very panicked owner tearing his hair out.  Things were going so well and we could see the end in sight for Project Chekov.  Just a couple more posts and the featured birds were already worked up in the digital dark room and ready to go.   Just a little bit more work and pop that bottle of Moscato…. and then the wheels fell off.  I went to research some details on the Yellow Finch which was the targeted featured bird of the day.  A few clicks later and a dash for the reference books informed me that there really IS NOT a Yellow Finch.  They are really named American Goldfinches.  Since I’ve been a little kid I’ve always referred to them as Yellow Finches – WTF.  Hell, they certainly are not Golden – they are YELLOW.  Panic, sweating, shaking .. was this all for not!?!

Then it hit me, there may be a way out, but it was going to take some digging to find TWO shots out of the entire collection of Yellowstone National Park shots taken last May.  There was a chance encounter with a bird – a fleeting moment I was able to capture in the tin.  An hour or so later I was staring at this:

Every photographer has a few shots that he or she will look back on with a huge grin on their face.  This is one of those for me.  We were with our friends (Dr. Giselle and David) on a trail coming back from photographing a waterfall.  All of a sudden an intriguing bird flew in our direction and landed on a nearby branch.  Instincts took over, the Beast was pressed into action, settings manipulated in a flash of an eye and the shutter was pressed.  I had time to press the shutter one more time and that bird was gone baby gone.  If you haven’t worked with big glass before you probably do not understand what a miracle it was to get a single crisp shot under those conditions much less two.  Based on the coloring, I was pretty sure what it was at the time but made a mental note to get back and verify it as soon as possible – that mental Post-It-Note must have flown off on the way back to the car because I forgot about it until today.  The yellow word was a double reminder for “Yellowstone” and the “Yellow” bird that we found there.

A little bit of digging in the reference book brought a huge sigh of relief from me – sure enough it was Yellow-Rumped Warbler.  Now that was close – a 5 second encounter on a trail out in the Wilderness had saved nearly a month long project.  For the curious, this appears to be the Audubon variety based on the strong yellow marking on the neck and missing the white eyebrow.  It was located in their Summer/Migration spot so guessing it had just arrived being that it was May when we were there and still pretty cold in the area.  All I can say to that bird is thank you thank you thank you for a brief but project saving encounter.  Oh, and of course another check mark in the birding list (technically there was a poor shot while covering a previous Yellowstone shot but we’ll consider these better shots as the official sighting).

Hit the jump to read about the originally planned featured bird

Continue reading Project Chekov: Yellow-Rumped Warbler and Yellow Finch

A New Warbler Addition

Since you patiently read through the last somewhat boring bird (the Mallard) post, I figured it would be prudent to now offer the latest new bird to my collection (the one I promised at the start of the Wisconsin Birds series).  With that…. drum roll … I’d like to introduce what I believe to be the Yellow-Rumped Warbler.

This male Warbler was shot at Devil’s Lake near Baraboo Wisconsin.  As with the rest of this series it was taken over last Easter Weekend.  We were actually up on the very picturesque cliffs overlooking the glacier formed lake when this bird flew over my head and landed in a nearby tree.  At the time I trying my best to capture Turkey Vultures which were circling the cliffs.  The frustration levels were mounting trying to get The Beast zeroed in and focused on those birds which, due to the height of the cliffs, were actually speeding by below us.  The yellow markings on this Warbler were pretty unique which caught my attention immediately.  Screw the Vultures, we’ve got a new bird to track down.  One thing that became painfully clear with this Warbler (and likely generalized to all of these Warblers) is it did not want to stay in one place very long at all.  It would land, give me about 3 seconds to get the big glass in position, get the exposure settings right and finally take one shot.

Hit the jump to see more pictures of this new Warbler

Continue reading A New Warbler Addition

Well, It’s a Bird, but Your Guess is as Good as Mine

My typing fingers are worked to the bone, my eyes struggle to remain open and my body has become one with the office chair.  Yet, I am pleased since this post brings me to the end of the wildlife shots from the Yellowstone vacation last year.  It is slightly embarrassing to have taken this long to get this done, but we literally have thousands (yes plural) of shots from that trip.  Needless to say I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the great shots Linda took – especially the water fall silks.

This last set is an interesting one in the sense your guess is as good as mine as to what these birds are.  I probably went through the field guides about 30 times trying to pin these birds down with very little success.  As with the unknown ducks, these may be shots of females that are not sufficiently described in the guides or possibly migrated out of their standard regions and thus are not usually seen there.  If I am lucky, one of my millions of readers (you believing that?) will recognize one and drop me a comment.

Fasten your seatbelts, the mystery tour is starting.  Basically all I have to go on is the silhouette of this particular bird which is very little help when trying to identify a bird.  Based on comparing the head outline and the wider fantail, my guess is an Olive-sided Flycatcher.  Admittedly, the tail is a little wider than the guide specimen, but other than that it appears pretty close.  It also says they sit on the highest twigs.. well, that appears to match.

I spotted this particular bird out in the middle of a large field (and pretty far out).  I was unable to get a good clean shot of the bird mainly due to the impressive air acrobats that were being executed at the time.  Twisting, turning, diving, loops, it was was quite impressive.  It may have been attacking prey but it never came up with anything.  It was probably just showing off to a potential mate.  It really didn’t match exactly like any of the hawks in the various books beyond the tail striping.  There is a lot of white on the underwings which doesn’t fit with my decision to identify it as a Red-tailed Hawk.

You know, I am still not sure about this one.  The red-tailed doesn’t really have the striping this one has and in this shot, the profile looks a lot leaner.  None of the other specimens really have the whiteness shown under the wings.  There is a chance it is an Osprey, but it would be much darker on top.  Just a second, this is bugging me, let me check another reference…..  sigh, I just can’t tell.  I am less confident it is a red-tailed hawk now and now considering a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk or possibly an American Kestrel.    Note I asked Linda for her opinion and she decided it was a never before seen bird and to name it after me.  This is the kind of help I’m dealing with people 8^(

The next one is probably a Tree Swallow.  It’s a crappy shot, but decided to include it because it was clearly an inspiration for something.  Any guesses?  If you said our stealth wing planes you’re tracking with me.  It would be interesting to know if this is where they got the idea from … or maybe not interesting to know if they’d have to kill me after telling me.

If the hawk above was hard to decide, this one is downright impossible.  As with the hawk, I’ve scoured my resources looking for some clue that would lead me to the proper identification.  There were a number of these birds flying around the rising steam pools around Yellowstone.  This particular one would fly around for awhile and then land in the rocks for a brief rest.  I almost with with a White-throated Swift, but the guides says it never perches.  Never is such a definite word but my pictures never show one clinging to the rocks.

The Violet-green Swallow does nest in colonies on cliffs which checks with my visuals.  Clearly there is room for debate on this one.  Well, not such much debate as I’d probably cave in to any viable alternative (that matches that region).

Strangely enough, this bird exactly matched none of the blue colored birds in the books.  It clearly has blue wings, but the head and body are sporting a pretty solid grey.  It is this grey that makes me throw out the Mountain Bluebird (which is all blue) .  It also lacks any orange which rules out the Western Bluebird, the Eastern Bluebird, the Blue Grossbeak and the Lazuli Bunting.

I also know the Blue Jay and the Steller’s Jay so that left me with the Western Scrub-Jay.  In contrast, it is suppose to have a bluer head the picture being compared to shows fatter in the body.  It did say it likes to hang around campsites and picnic areas which coincides with where these pictures were taken.

Here are two pretty poor shots of a interesting bird.  It is actually the first bird other than the finch I’ve seen sporting the bright yellow markings.  It refused to sit still for a microsecond in order to get the lens focused, but for the most part you can see the yellow on the rump and the second one shows some yellow on the head.  Based on those weak observations, I have officially called this a Yellow-rump Warbler.

Apparently the female is a little duller in the head (coloring fools 8^)  so the above one is likely a female.  The fuzzy shot below is likely of a male because it is smarter.. I mean sharper colored.

Okay, it’s audience participation time.  Hit the jump to see more!

Continue reading Well, It’s a Bird, but Your Guess is as Good as Mine