Batting Leadoff for the Yellow Bandits

I cannot believe we are nearing the close of July. It probably doesn’t help now that I joined the retired ranks I’m unable to remember what day of the week it is, but flying through an entire month, now that I notice. Technically more “running” than “flying” as this was the first multi-race month in a very very long time. In honor of kissing another month goodbye, thought I’d go with this for today’s featured feathered friend.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to see just a couple more shots of our colorful bandit.

Continue reading Batting Leadoff for the Yellow Bandits

Tippy Envy

Howdy all you wildlife fans! The oven has reached max out here in the Midwest with the temps back in the nineties. By itself, that is pretty bearable, but when you add in the humidity levels and the feels likes levels cresting in the 105s to 110s then it gets more punishing. Of course, this is also a sign the annual running of the Bix7 road race is on its way and sure enough yesterday was the day. After a year’s absence due to that ass Covid, it was once again time to get really sweaty traversing the bluffs of the Mighty Mississippi River for delicious Whitey’s Popscicles (link here) at the post race party. There will be a full post on the mothership site, but in short it was a hot one (high 80’s before the gun went off with the heat index that day topping out at 103). A big congratulations to Linda for completing the 2 mile Quick Bix this year. She missed an additional year as she had her heart surgery prior to the canceled year.

Will have to check the finish line pictures, but pretty sure my legs were as red as today’s featured feathered friend.

White-Tipped Dove found at Bensten-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Over the last few years I’ve retooled my body to handle the long grind of ultras letting go of the fast turnover indicative of the shorter road courses. Had to put those old skills back into play with the 7 miles of the Bix and the legs let me know they didn’t appreciate the amped up pace – good news is the big hills were a hell of a lot easier. While the legs take some time to recover, thought I’d put out a quick post continuing the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park “Dove Parade”.

White-Tipped Dove found at Bensten-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to learn about the next entry in the Dove Parade.

Continue reading Tippy Envy

Project Nikon Cozy

Well, Mr. Heat Mizer has decided to turn it up for this Midwest weekend. Hard to complain too much as we have been pretty lucky thanks to the cooling brought on by the nonstop rain. Unfortunately, we are currently heading up to the Quad Cities to run the Bix7 kicking off tomorrow morning (link here). Much rather endure this weather for 7 miles versus the monster 34 a few weeks ago (link here). Was planning on taking it easy anyway and this will just be a constant reminder to do just that. In the meantime, I hate to waste cycles in the car and thought I’d go with something I don’t need to do a lot of research on.

Project Nikon Hauler 2020

Hit the jump to see what surprise awaits behind that door!

Continue reading Project Nikon Cozy

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Welcome back everyone! Had my first run this morning since the long event and the body is a little better than expected even though it was a short 7 miler. Most of the kinks are out and just need to work a bit more on the heat conditioning before hitting it hard again. All this rain, as of late, has been keeping the temps down – with the wet stuff moving on, the mercury and humidity are starting to creep up again. You could almost mistake this for summer again ha! Speaking of mistakes…

Mourning Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

…tonight’s featured feathered friend managed to fool me in the field. This specimen was found at the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park back on our holiday trip to Texas in the beginning of the year. Ironically, we were there in hopes of tinning a rarity that had shown up. Eventually got that bird, the Ruddy Ground Dove and already posted on that experience (link here).

Mourning Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to learn about how I was deceived.

Continue reading A Case of Mistaken Identity

A Totem for Linda

Was on the fence about what to feature in my upcoming post.  I happen to be in one of those rare times where I have plenty of options with images all processed up and ready to go.  Then an interesting thing happened which tipped the scales in favor of this rather stoic looking Hawk. 

Red-Shouldered Hawk found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

I happen to really like the shot above and purposely let the barrel of The Beast out to give you the full view of the sight that caught my attention.  Linda was the one who spotted this one while we were standing outside Quinta Mazaltan in McAllen, TX back in January.  For someone who denies being a “birder” or as she puts it, one of “those people” she is certainly gaining an eye for our feathered friends.  Linda can also identify a large swath of birds just from following me out into the field – another fact she will deny in public.  Back to the image, the scene made me smile – from the Hawk’s perspective. “What ya’ feeling like for dinner honey?  How about some Purple Martin.  Yes, and I know just the place to get a carry out!”  For the concerned, you can rest easily knowing no Purple Martins were hurt in the making of this post. 

Red-Shouldered Hawk found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

Hit the jump to find out what got me thinking about this Hawk – hint A SNAKE!

Continue reading A Totem for Linda

Newly Designated Mascot for CMAR

Those that follow the Intrigued mothership are already aware of the good news, but the mere fact there is a new post here officially confirms to all my readers that the running demons were left slain last Saturday. The redemption is complete as my one blemish on the race record has been officially erased. Yep, the 2019 PR for failure at the Cry Me a River (CMAR) 50K Trail Race (link here) has been superseded by the successful completion of this year’s running (2020 was canceled for obvious reasons). To say I’ve been fretting about this event would probably be considered an understatement by my wife. Although I had trained my ass off, the inevitable doubts were coming to a crescendo as I walked to the starting line. The standard neurotic runner fare “Why was this body part hurting, did I taper to quick.. too long, should have done more double days, damn vacation days cost me valuable runs, hey, there’s a squirrel”. More details than you would ever want to know are up on the mothership (link here), but for a quick summary the temps stayed well under the 100+ heat index experience in ’19 that were responsible for taking me out. Unfortunately, that issue was replaced by RAIN, a LOT of rain, really, I mean torrents of rain coming down for the entire back half of the 11 hours it took me to complete the event. That course is brutal enough dry – having to negotiate the continuous climbs and descents in slick mud made for one hell of a day. Two of the usual stream crossings turned into a step and pray game through 2+ foot rapids. Proud to say I never went down the entire 34+ miles (yeah, their course was long adding to the punishment). Couldn’t be happier with results and owe a lot of that success to Linda who coordinated the multiple chase points to keep me hydrated/nourished and spirits up through the entire challenge. I did think about the blog while navigating my way through the endless downpour – ‘cuz that’s what I do ha! Decided the perfect post to follow that race was this featured feathered friend.

Louisiana Waterthrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

This bird fit on many different fronts. First off, the obvious as it literally has water in its species name. In case you are not familiar with this pink footed bird it is a Waterthrush. Like the course, it is deviously deceptive. You would think it was part of the Thrush family by the name alone, however, it is really a Warbler. As with the race map it certainly looks flat until you are trying to figure out exactly where the “flat” part of Illinois is. Lastly, like the run, this bird was difficult both trying to get in the tin and harder still was trying to properly ID the specific Waterthrush species. The difficulty of the 50K goes without saying.

Louisiana Waterthrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to learn more about this newly designated CMAR mascot.

Continue reading Newly Designated Mascot for CMAR

Blemish No More

Well, by the fact you are reading this post means my latest physical challenge didn’t succeed in killing me – yeah! So, as a quick recap for those that are not regular readers of this side of Intrigued, yesterday was a big day for yours truly. A day that has been nagging at me for two solid years thanks to a …hmmm… let’s just refer to it as a blemish on my running career. A mishap that ended up in with an unexpected ambulance ride to the emergency room. The event was the Cry Me a River Trail Run (CMAR) held along the bluffs of the Illinois River. Back in 2018 I had run the half marathon distance and learned just how hard this course was – beaten to hell, but left grinning ear to ear in absolute enjoyment – trail runners can be a strange lot ha (link here). So much fun, I committed to the 50K the following year. That was supposed to be 31+ miles (more on the ‘+’ later), but I only made it ~14 before dropping from heat exhaustion. Passed out and hit a box fan on the way down earning myself a 2 inch gash in the back of my head (link here). The minute I regained consciousness there was one thing dominating my thoughts – redemption .. actually make that two – redemption and that’s a lot of wasted blood. My first DNF (did not finish) in any race and it gnawed at me every day. Trained my ass off to make another go at it last year, but thanks to that damn pandemic the race was canceled – ANOTHER year of gnawing and hard training in hopes this was the year to rid my record of those three humbling letters.

2021 Cry Me a River Trail Race 50K
Cry Me River 2021 Race Swag

It all came to a head yesterday morning as I lined up at 8am on the CMAR starting line in an attempt to fulfill a commitment made on a ambulance gurney 2 long years ago. Hit the jump to find out if my attempt was successful… or was this another endeavor cut short with another ride in an ambulance.

Continue reading Blemish No More

Border Watch

Linda is getting some dental work done which means I’m sitting in the car with some free time on my hands. I guess to be truthful, I am really confined to the car due to being in “Bubble Mode” as Linda refers to it. Traditionally, I like to avoid people starting a few days prior to a race – nothing like training your ass off for months only to haul a cold or some other debilitating disease to the starting line. Linda used to call me neurotic, however, in this crazy world I’ve now become the norm – just call it Covid quarantine now ha! Anyway, until she returns to my protective bubble, thought I’d spend the time taking you back to the border.

In a previous post, I took you through the ordeal of getting the immature Vermilion Flycatcher in the tin (link here). If you recall, we were visiting Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park back in January, when I noticed that Flycatcher hanging out on a wire above the border patrol. As luck would have it, another member of the Flycatcher family decided to take its turn on the border watch.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our colorful Flycatcher.

Continue reading Border Watch

Turning Up the Heat

First off, a quick bit of housekeeping. I kind of left everyone hanging after the first part of the Foam Coffin prop for the Haunted Halloween Trail (link here). That has been remedied now with the publishing of the second part, which brings it all together for last year’s signature prop (link here). Feel free to check that out if you are a fellow Halloween aficionado or would like to know what I do when I’m not running or hauling The Beast around.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Today’s featured feathered friend comes to you from Sunday’s run. Well, maybe not technically, but the choice definitely originated over the course of that outing. Long distance running has to be one of the few athletic activities where it is in your best interest to keep your head “out” of the game. The last thing you want is to be mentally aware of every foot strike when you will be at it for hours and hours. My go to distraction is to plan out my next post. It didn’t take very long on that run to know this specimen was the perfect choice.

Oven Bird found at Dauphin Island's Shell Mound in April 2021

Not only was it a new bird for my checklist, it fit the theme of the day. For those not familiar with this intriguing looking bird, it is called an Ovenbird (note, admittedly, I always thought that was two words before doing the research for this post). Regarding the theme part, Sunday’s run was H-O-T. The cooler rain driven temps have left the area heeding to the unrelenting heat and humidity that dominates the Midwest in the heart of the summer. I was definitely feeling that heat on the later parts of my 50k simulation run (1/3 of the course). Whenever I made it to the bottoms of the deep valleys along the Illinois River bluffs it felt like I was in an oven.

Hit the jump to read more about our plump Warbler.

Continue reading Turning Up the Heat

Say Hello to Our Little Friend

Hello everybody. For those wondering, we have been a bit out of pocket for the last week or so. It all started when I woke up to my wife looking at her phone in absolute joy. All my groggy ears could make out was garble that sounded like someone meeting a new baby for the first time.. “how cute”, “adorable”, “oh my” .. the usual fare. I had a moment of “my god what have I done” until she showed me her screen with a YouTube video playing of a puppy. Apparently she had just been alerted by a friend that they were looking for a qualifying home for … well, THIS!

Our new puppy Ruger

We had been looking for a new addition to the family now that our youngest, Raven, had recently turned seven (link here). While finally getting the sleep removed from the eyes, Linda explained how the puppy I was looking at was a performance bred toy Poodle and they were looking for a home where he could continue his champion line in the performance sports – agility, dock diving etc. To be honest, it sounded too good to be true. This puppy was going to be slightly bigger than Raven which is what Linda wanted due to the difficulty our Raven has with the teeter being so light. The video included scenes of him already doing introductory apparatus familiarization, treat awareness and a number of other skills which he already excelled at – far earlier than our other agility champions.

Hit the jump to read more about our new addition.

Continue reading Say Hello to Our Little Friend