Days in White Feathers

Other than a likely case of hopefully temporary ear damage we successfully made it through the first night of bands at the Mississippi Valley State Fair beer tents.  As mentioned last post we are playing groupie this weekend and checking out some new local bands and of course our long time favorite Love Dogs who will be taking the stage later tonight.  Just as a quick summary and to add to my memory banks when I’m old(er) and wondering where the hell all those years went – the Sugar Nipples ended up being a band with a “named” band than they turned out to be.  We have visions of them being similar to our favorite Vegas band Steel Panther but they fell short.  The capper was when they started repeating songs to fill the gap before the AC/DC tribute band Electric Shock came on.  Luckily shock ended up being really really good … if you like AC/DC classic sets.  One of my biggest accomplishments in life was converting Linda from country to real music.  We have traveled to several AC/DC concerts and our bar was set extremely high of someone wanting to monetize off their name.  Beyond some lead riff mistakes, Shock pulled off an excellent job.  The lead singer had the vocals down and imagine a 5’2″ Angus complete with school boy outfit shredding away the night for 2 hrs.  Oh, and he was from Australia and had devoted most of his life to exactly reproducing the abilities and styles of his mate from the home country.  Would recommend warming up a bit before tackling a song that starts out with such a hard solo – he eventually settled in or the alcohol compensated as the night progressed.  Can’t wait until tonight, and guessing you can’t wait to get to the meat of this post!

American White Pelican shot in Davenport IA on the Mississippi River in February 2014

Yes, once again featuring a bird from the backlog.  This one is slightly different though – the last one came to you courtesy of 2015 where this one, with a sigh, comes to you from the wayback machine of February 2014.  Wait a minute, “where the hell did all those years go”.   Noting how much grief my brother Ron gave me for being 2 years behind, can’t wait for the comments when he sees I am 4 years in lag.

American White Pelican shot in Davenport IA on the Mississippi River in February 2014

Hit the jump to see and read more about these bundles of white feathers!


Another Bix7 in the Books

This has to be a new record over the last year or two – not one, not two but three non-birding posts in a row.  Basically, I am just buttering you up because you are about to get hit with another wave of birding posts.  Just trying to quell the growing pile of hate mail from all the non-birders out there.   I am an equal opportunity time waster.  Having just completed my second half marathon distance training run in 4 days, figure it would be appropriate to get a running related post out.  So today I bring you the results of the Bix 7 race – you know, that annual race in Davenport, IA that goes for a paltry 7 miles (unless you take that right turn at the top and go for the 2 mile alternative)

…. and this is how I felt afterwards!

2015 Bix 7 Race in Davenport IA

As bad as that looks it is still not INSIDE the ambulance.  Actually we were just goofing around, I didn’t feel that bad at the end but it was harder on me than expected.  Unlike the last couple of years, the weather gods were not helping out as much.  Sure missed those colder starts from the previous years, but still not as bad as it has been – being at the end of July, you can start tipping the mercury in the mid-80’s at the start only to spiral down into a sticky mess half way through the race.

2015 Bix 7 Race in Davenport IA

Hit the jump to see how the race turned out!


Number 9 Number 9 Number 9…

Wow, it is getting down to the wire when I have to resort to a Beatles song for a blog title.  Think of it more of a mocking gesture like when I attend birthday parties and continually tell people “Well it’s my birthday too, yeah”…Yes, I dislike that band.  Anyway, it is literally one day left in the month and I have one post to go to make my quota.  Fortunately for me, I already had this topic planned and just needed make sure I had 5 posts in before today.  It may have been planned, but I needed to successfully complete something first.  If you have been around the blog for at least a few years you know the end of July brings a very important event for me in the running schedule.  The BIX7 race was held in Davenport IA this morning and I was there wearing my racing orange.

Linda took my traditional pre-race picture and I must say I look a lot happier than I did for the Steamboat Race.  I can contribute a lot of that happiness to not having a bad hamburger the night before.  In fact, we made doubly sure nothing like the night before Steamboat happened again.   Instead,  Linda made my favorite spaghetti recipe rather than risk  another carry out catastrophe.  In the past, this has been the race I’ve trained for all year.  Normally I would be peaking at 8 miles the week before the race with plenty of hill work and a healthy dose of 5K speed runs to get the leg turnover I wanted.  That was not the case this year due to a Life List event planned for later in the year that is pretty much getting my full training attention.  This year I lined up with a completely retooled body.  I probably hit the line at around 153 pounds as a result of a planned shedding over 12 pounds of weight since late last year (click here if you want details on some of the loss).  With the weight off I could focus on resetting the body to meet the demands of the future event.  This brought me to a peak of 12.3 miles but at the cost of my previous speed, losing at least a minute per mile on average.  With all that considered along with the Bix@6 training run earlier in July the initial projections was to come in around the 63 minute mark…. ummmmm that didn’t end up happening.

Hit the jump to read details of the race and see the all important post race pictures.


These Mallards Play in Water

I figured I would go ahead and close out the Davenport Iowa bird shoot.  We’ve done the eagles, the gulls and now presenting..


That’s right, the Mallard Duck.  This guy was enjoying the 50 degree weather in march.  The shot turned out pretty good with the green shimmering nicely in the sun and you can even make out the water droplets on the duck’s feathers.  This was pretty fitting since the Quad Cities’ minor league hockey team is actually named The Mallards.  Here is another one with a different direction to the sun giving a slightly different shimmer pattern.

Mallard Duck

There were actually a number of them (can’t remember the proper term for a grouping of ducks at the moment).


Believe me, it was extremely tough to get them to all go in the same direction.  You also have a nice mixture of the females included in this shot – clearly they were stiffed when the coloring was handed out.

Follow the jump to see some more shots of the Mallard


Dr. Livingston I Presume


This post is a first for our little off-ramp on the Information Highway.  Today we have, in a sense, a guest blogger.  The pictures contained in this post were actually taken by my wife.  As with the previous posts, these were taken up in Davenport IA.  We had parked at the rollers on the Mississippi River looking for eagles and she decided to snap a few shots of a flying gull.  It actually took a while to identify this particular bird.  Previously, we had always referred to them as seagulls.  That name was mysteriously missing from the field guides I use.  After looking and relooking and re-relooking we have decided to go with a Herring Gull.  The beak does not appear to have a strip (ring-billed gull) on it and the range appears to fit.


Although they are often considered the vermin of the airways, these birds do have a certain aura about them that gives the appeal of a heavenly glow.  A very pure white with a touch of highlighting like a quill dipped in the inkwell.


While I was trying to identify the species, it occurred to me I couldn’t see his feet (one of the gull types has yellow feet).  Guessing the belly is pretty fluffy allowing him to tuck them under for greater aerodynamics – or possibly warmth.  I saved the best image for last.  I really like this shot and left it a little larger to hopefully show a little more detail.  The sunlight radiates through the wings almost to the point of transparency.  Personally, I think their quite beautiful, but then again, I do not have to live with the pain of their constant scavenging.

Gull from the Heavens

Thanks again to the wife for taking some pretty shots


Riding On The Edge

While taking pictures of eagles down on the backwaters of the Mississippi we came upon a very interesting scene.  So interesting in fact, I had to take a few shots to prove it.

Ice Racer

The adrenaline junkie above was racing in circles on ice out in the middle of the backwater.  Although you cannot really tell it from the picture, he was on the throttle pretty good.  It took me a couple of attempts to even get him in the picture due to misjudging the pan.  This was old news to my Davenport IA born wife who apparently knew this was a common activity in the winter months.  I did not get a close look at the tires, but she says they have metal studs in the tread to keep traction.

However, the fact that people race motorcycles on the ice was not the most intriguing aspect of this scene.  I purposely cropped the image above so you would not jump to the odd part to quick.  When would you expect this activity to happen in Iowa… December, January, February?  Nope.. This picture was taken on 3/1 on a day where the temperature was up in the 50’s.  Here is a widened shot.

Ice Racer

The white stripe about 2/3rds of the way up is the line they were racing on.  Did you notice the water above that?  As you can tell by the land even above that, the winter months were passed.  I guess if you want to improve you need some incentive.  Losing an edge will surely drop that motorcycle in the middle of the water and last time I checked they do not float that well.

The good news is he was smart enough not to be out there on his own. This rider was actually going faster than the other one.   I left the water on this image for the full effect as well.

ICe Racer

While reviewing the other shots I took, I stopped on the next one because of the background.  It looked pretty eerie with the dark trees meshing with a similarly colored ground.  In fact, it looked like a scene right out of Sleepy Hollow or Harry Potter.

Ice Racer

Okay, maybe without the ice and the motorcycle rider and the… alright so maybe I watch too many stupid movies.  This brings to mind my 7th grade teacher who felt concerned enough to point out to my family that my horror book consumption might be at an unhealthy level.  I countered with the fact that a 7th grader spending his time reading 500+ page books rather than playing Atari (dating myself) can’t be that bad.

Anyway, I found it interesting and decided to share.  Clearly they knew what they were doing and against my best wishes, I did not see a single crash or an unplanned bath.


Eagles Through the D90

 Juv Eagle Taking Flight

I can’t remember if I mentioned if previously, but we purchased a new camera a month or so ago.  The previous pictures (particularly the wildlife photos) were taken with a Nikon D70.  I actually really like that camera and does a great job with the exception of low light.  The 70 can only go to 1600, but the Nikon D90 can go to 3200 which makes it better for the indoor dog show pictures my wife spends her time on.  The remainder of this year will be spend trying to figure out how to use all those new features.  We took it on a test run up in Davenport IA again and the shots were fantastic.  The reduction for this website cuts the quality some, however, they still stand out in my opinion.  The image above of the juvenile taking flight is one of my favorites.

For some reason there were no eagles at our standard spot (at the locks in Davenport).  It was a little late in the season and the temps were starting to head upwards generally signaling their departure.  Disappointed, we headed back to Davenport to see if they were down on Rockingham.  As we drove along the river I noticed a pair of them sitting up trees.  They were actually perched on the opposite side of the road from the river and basically in the front yard of a mansion.

Eagle Pair

This had the added benefit of a clean shot since it was the only tree (granted huge) in the yard.  I learned my lesson a long time ago, so the image above was a quick shot from afar.  Never waste the moment by trying to get too close before the first shot.  Eventually, I worked my way a little closer which didn’t seem to bother them at all.  It never occurred to me before how much more sinister the juveniles look than the matures.  Guessing the juvi is a little cocky sitting next to the 2nd in charge of the skies (Owls being the top of the chain since they will actually attack and kill an eagle).   I finally moved into position and capture this stunning shot.  The full sized image is a lot better and really brings the talons out on the mature.  I’ll probably make this my background.

Eagle Watch

Follow the jump to see some more pictures we captured while we were up there.


Happy New Year from the Eagle's Nest – Part 1 of 2

Hey, we made it to another year in spite of Nostradamus.  A few quick edits a new edition through the press and they will be good for at least another year of doomsday prophecy.  I hope everyone had a safe and fun Eve and kept the roads dry for the safety of others.  It is another year and true to my previous summary, I am going to continue with this little side project for sometime longer.  Keeping with my new goals (it is still early in the resolution season), today’s topic is more graphic.  Actually, it was so graphic the post was broken into two parts.  Unfortunately, the second part has some images of graphic violence but I think they you will still like them unless you are from PETA and don’t understand that violence in nature exists every day – hunter vs. prey has been around since the world decided plants taste like crap.

On the first day of 2009, I bring you America’s Pride:

American Bald Eagle

While Linda and I were in Davenport, IA over the holidays, we stopped down at the Bettendorf locks to snap a few shots of these majestic birds.  Every winter they migrate down (think that is right) to the Quad Cities area to feed off the Mississippi River.  It is absolutely stunning to witness these birds first hand and not have to look at an injured one through glass or chicken wire.  It is obvious they know they are at the top of the flighted foodchain.  Here is a view from the side that gives a better perspective of the weapon that obviously demands respect wherever they roam.

American Bald Eagle from the side

Since I have a lot of pictures today, I’ll go ahead and let you follow the jump to see the rest of them instead of overwhelming my home page.