A Mellow Fellow

We are still in bonus time here at blog headquarters.  I was able to get my monthly quota in pretty quick this month thanks to a strong push out of the gate.  That means we get some extra time to focus on subjects that have already been featured in a previous post.  I’ve typed it once, I’ve typed it a hundred times, the greatest thing about being a birder photographer is every outing is like a new beginning.  Even if you have a bird in your gallery, you can always try to improve your image.  Better technical, more interesting posture or even unique behavior.  Note, “birder photographer” was not a typo.  It is amazing how many times the question comes up as to whether you are a birder or a photographer as if they are exclusive titles.  With my brother Ron on this, we are answering this question with a resounding “Yes” from now on hehehe.

So, welcome back to the blog…

Yellow Warbler shot on Colorado Trip - May 2014

… the Yellow Warbler.  You may recall that this brightly feathered bird made its debut back on April 15th, 2015 (link here). Mr. Yellow from the previous post was found at Lake Andes in South Dakota.  This new specimen was spotted on our trip to Colorado back in May of 2014.  True to the statement above, I happen to like these first two shots better than the previous set (especially the first one).

Yellow Warbler shot on Colorado Trip - May 2014

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

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Just Me and My Peeps

Well, at least I was strong out of the gate this month.  Unfortunately, things have slowed down a bit as of late due to massive amounts of spring cleaning taking place around the house.  Cleaning brought a bonus with it this year.  Linda was continually making comments regarding my Halloween Lab still sitting in the middle of our newly remodeled basement.  Personally, I think this is a fabulous place for animatronics construction, but I can see her point – it has been there pretty much since last August.  Decided it was best to heed the warnings and cleaned out the small room previously used for the remodeling staging.  I must say it looks pretty nice and might put a project post on it when I get time – expecting big things now from the evil depths of the new lab!  Knowing my readers have been waiting patiently, decided it would be prudent to dust the cobwebs off the blog.

Say hello to my little feathered friend.
Birding Texas November 2013
Want to spend a day nose deep in reference books, try to ID a non-breeding adult shorebird.  You have to admire the experts in this field since they basically ALL look alike – at least to me. For starters, I usually check the regions to see if there can be any narrowing there.  This particular specimen was taken at Galveston, Texas back in Nov 2013.  Well that did little to narrow the field since the Texas Gulf is a favored stomping ground for all the Peep breeds..
Birding Texas November 2013

Hit the jump to find out what this Peep is!

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The Ugly Duckling

We are hot out of the chemicals today! Over the weekend I was able to power through a few more months of back processing in the digital darkroom.  For those keeping track (and I know you are), I am officially only 23 months behind on my photography queue.  May not seem like much, but that represents a lot of work on this end – combing through thousands of shots each month, picking out good candidates, processing them in Lightroom and Photoshop and then deciding which ones are worthy enough to put on display to the public.  Notice I didn’t say “pretty” enough to put on display!?!  That’s because there are posts like this one …
Muscovy Duck shot in Ft Myers in March 2015
that just might frighten my readers.  Some creatures just ran out of luck when it came to the cuteness DNA gene.  Take for example the Sloth or the Blobfish.  I guess if you are going to put things in perspective, the Blobfish is clearly the winner of the least likely to get invited to a prom award.  Clearly there is at least one creature for everyone or we wouldn’t have the ability to even view such oddities.
Muscovy Duck shot in Ft Myers in March 2015

Hit the jump to see a few more varieties of this intriguing duck

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Book Recollection: 51 Birding Tips

Good Birders Don't Wear White - Lisa WhiteTurns out February was a very good month for getting through my reading queue. This is the first of no less than 4 books that had all their pages perused and turned. Granted one of these books was for pleasure only – a rarity since I like to try and get something out of my time spent with an author. One of the books covered war photography and the other two had a bird theme. We’ll get to the other three books soon enough, but let’s start with one of the bird related ones. Today’s featured recollection is about a book entitled Good Birders Don’t Wear White with a subtitle of 50 Tips from North America’s Top Birders. This sounded intriguing when it came up on an Amazon search for something else I was looking for. Ended up adding it to my wish list which Linda used for a birthday gift. Unfortunately, she purchased two of them accidentally thanks to a shopping cart snafu. Rather than bother with returning it, my brother Ron ended up getting some extra reading material. There were big expectations now that it essentially cost us double – Ron, don’t read this review if you had your heart set on reading it.

The format of the book is a series of magazine like articles from a number of well known birders (and a bunch of others I probably should know based on their bios at the end of each article). Each author is given 4 to 7 pages or so to bestow pearls of birding wisdom on the reader. The book is actually very short so each is a quick read which worked out perfectly for my pre-sleep reading material. Take in a few different authors and hit the lights to be ready for the next day’s grind.
Edited by Lisa White. It didn’t take long to get through the 261 pages – each tip is a fairly easy read but the real speed element was a result of content – felt like I was rushing through it to actually get a tip that wasn’t obvious or trivial. As far as 50 tips go, it should have been titled 4 good tips buried in a sea of words. Maybe I’ve just been birding too long and the experiences and knowledge has built up more than I thought – would be interesting to see how a new person to the birding world would take to this advice. As noted, there were a few good nuggets like recommending you buy a Duck Stamp to help out conservation efforts, pishing to draw birds out of brush and confirmation that talking to people about birding is a good thing (take that Linda!). However, these are countered with a multitude of tips ranging from the absurd (cranking bird songs through your car stereo) to the insane (recommending I sketch a bird in the field when I have a perfectly good camera with me). In summary, I will add a 51st tip – if you have spare time to read a book related to birding, spend that valuable time with another product – something like Arthur Morris’ book reviewed last time (link here).

You can see some of the takeaways for this book below after the jump, but all in all, this was a disappointment.

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A Sly Red at Red Rocks

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.
Amphitheatre
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.
Amphitheatre

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

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Why So Blue Woody?

So far it has been a pretty productive blogging effort this March.  Think this is my third post and the month is only 5 days old!  Truth be told, there was a slight lull in my daily grind with the recent neck surgery which put a hold on my run training schedule.  This gave a lot of extra time to work up images ahead of time – that is the most time consuming part of this little enterprise.  Fortunately, that lull is over now and I’m back to pounding the pavement every other day (today put in 10 miles, but need to start pushing it – race season commences mid April and losing 13 days because of the stitches didn’t help).  While the legs rest for a bit thought it would be a good time to exercise the fingers and pound out a post (never hurts to get ahead of the self-imposed blogging quota).

Since I led this month with two back to back bird posts, figured it was about time to go with something different…
Steller's Jay shot in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado in May 2014
Ummm, well admittedly that is another bird, but it is different!  This time it is not a new bird on my birding list.  See, completely different.  The Steller’s Jay already debuted on my blog 8 years back (link here) It is quite shocking to think I am in my 10th year of blogging – where has the time gone?  The time not spent running that is ha. Like the previous time, this Steller’s was shot in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado back in May 2014.  If you live in the heartland (or fly over country for the coasters) like me, you are going to have to make your way out west if you want to have a chance to see these rather cool looking birds. Probably a good thing for our birds seeing how intimidating these Jays look in person – might give our local birds a complex.
Steller's Jay shot in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado in May 2014

Hit the jump to see a few more images of the Steller’s and maybe learn some interesting facts.

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A Lazi Bunting

How are doing today everyone?  Just had my humor for the day reading about and viewing all the pictures from our precious Democrat politicians wining and dining with Russian ambassadors.  Suspect the Trump trauma is so severe that the hypocrites have suffered some serious long term memory loss.  That doesn’t bring out the smiles as much as when they come back and try to cover their lies. Kind of reminds me when Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette tried to explain how high capacity magazine bans will reduce gun crime.  Let’s all relish in this classic statement.  “I will tell you these are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those know they’re going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available.”  Yes, folks, when realization hit that she has opened her mouth and proven to the world she has no idea what she is trying to legislate on we get the hilarious response from her office,” she simply misspoke in referring to ‘magazines’ when she should have referred to ‘clips,’ which cannot be reused because they don’t have a feeding mechanism”.  Sorry, I just fell off my chair laughing again.  All you handgun owners with clip feeds are going to be in big trouble.

In honor of the brunt of this humor, thought I would follow up my last birding post with a B[r]unting (hey, I heard that groan all the way over here!).
Lazuli Bunting shot at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, Colorado May 2014
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.
Lazuli Bunting shot at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, Colorado May 2014

Hit the jump to see and read more about this shoot!

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Latin for Damn Evil

Well folks, it is a new month.  Anyone that has been around this blog for a while know that means the post quota counter on the wall gets reset to ZERO.  It is a bitter sweet event. It brings with it the personal satisfaction of completing another successful month of blogging but it also means four more weeks of fretting about getting new material out to my loyal readers.  However, this time I am in a very good position – drum roll please …. thanks to a lot of hours in front of this computer I can announce the image queue has been trimmed to January 2016.  That’s right, this photographer is now only a bit more than 2 years behind (champagne for all).  Takes a lot of pressure off when you easily have 2 year’s worth of post material just waiting to be introduced into the world.  Let’s get to it shall we!?!
Phainopepla shot at Corn Creek on edge of Mojave Desert, Nevada in December 2014

So we all know the old saying, March comes in like an evil demon and exits like a cute and cuddly baby chick.  In honor of it actually being March (you’d almost think I plan this stuff out), thought it would be fitting to feature …well… an evil demon of a bird.  I’ll be honest with you, today’s featured bird scares the crap out of me.  It scared me with I was looking through the glass when the pictures were taken, it creeped me out when I was processing the pictures in the digital dark room and looking at it right now makes me want to go find my childhood plush dog, grab a carpet square and ball up like a baby on my den floor.  In case you are wondering my constant toy as kid was a golden colored Snoopy looking stuffed toy named Henry (don’t laugh, but I still have it sitting on the top shelf of my closet).  Wow, how did I get on this…back to demon spawn.

Phainopepla shot at Corn Creek on edge of Mojave Desert, Nevada in December 2014

Hit the jump to find out what this crested specimen is.

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Bee My Valentines

While out on a training run (that’s right Ron, not a “practice” run) I came up with a clever title for a post.  This may seem odd to a non-runner, but trust me, when out on a long run you are looking for ANYTHING to keep your mind off of the fact you are actually on a long run.  The enjoyment of being out in nature – hearing the song birds encourage you along the way coupled with seeing animals frolicking about the woods can only keep you distracted for so long.  Eventually your muscles break through that nature bliss and remind you … well, that you are on a long run.  At those times, I try to concentrate on what’s on tap for the next post.  Now that I had the clever title, I sifted through my image queue and found an appropriate set…
Bee on flower taken at Biltmore Estate July 2014
… and then I forgot to write up the post in order to publish on the appropriate day – total failure.  All that cleverness left in shambles gasping for air on the floor of the digital darkroom.  Finally decided to swallow my pride and go ahead and finish this post 9 days late – sigh.  Now don’t get to lenient on me, these Bee shots were taken all the way back in July 2014.  So technically I’m like 3 Valentine’s celebrations late but let’s call it a rounding error.  I decided to exercise some strategic cropping on these shots thanks to some less than ideal lighting conditions.  That Bee you see above… well, it was a little farther away in the original shot.
Bee on flower taken at Biltmore Estate July 2014
Hit the jump to see a couple more pictures of this busy Bee

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Crown Me

Here I sit in absolute frustration.  The weather is gorgeous out here in the Midwest and I’m stuck inside looking out the window like a kid who broke his arm at the start of summer vacation and wondering how long he has to wait to go play ball with his friends.  Now, I didn’t break my arm so that’s good, but my evil doctor assuredly conspiring with my wife has put a stall on my training plans due to the neck surgery.  Want to drive me nuts, warm up a winter day to 70 degrees and then tell me I can’t strap on the Asics and pound some pavement.  ARRRRGGGGHHHH.  The only upside is I hit my half marathon training peak (12 miles) a few days before the surgery so hoping the fall off is minimal (fingers crossed).  Of course, there is another upside to my sit time – more opportunities for posts!

Getting right to it.. meet Mr. Golden

Golden-Crowned Kinglet shot in Jubilee State Park April 2014

Pretty cute eh!?!  This Golden-Crowned Kinglet was shot back in April of 2014.  Yes, I’m waaay behind, but slowly coming to terms with my latency.  This colorful specimen was photographed in the middle of Jubilee State Park.  For those familiar with the area, the exact location was a small clearing off the road that leads to the back part of the campground.  The easiest way to get there is to walk down the pond trail about a third of the way and then hang a left.  You might encounter some thick brush, but if you follow the deer trails it will lead you to the clearing which actually sits on a bit of a bluff.  This is usually a treasure trove of field birds enjoying the spoils of the open brush with close proximity to the safety at the surrounding tree line.  It might be a bit noisy getting to the spot, so you might have to give some time for the birds to get comfortable again – a little patience usually brings a target rich environment.

Golden-Crowned Kinglet shot in Jubilee State Park April 2014

Hit the jump to see a few more images of this Golden-Crowned Kinglet.

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