A Swainson’s Doubletake

Greetings from the snowy Midwest.  We are getting our first real dump of the year and it is a heavy one.  This is somewhat fitting being that this week has been heavy on the heart.  We lost our little buddy Kerby this week and it has left a mighty hole – he was a champion in the agility ring and more importantly in our lives.  I’ll never forget our time together.  Keeping busy always helps me through tough times so no better way than generating new +1’s for the birding checklist.  Today’s feature once again comes from our last September trip to Colorado.

Swainson's Hawk shot on Colorado trip September 2015

That, my friends, is a fine specimen of Swainson’s Hawk.  Normally Hawk identification is a herculean effort just short of trying to distinguish juvenile Sparrows.  It is fairly easy to figure out the easy ones like Red-Tails, but the rest bunch up in their characteristics to the point we end up having to flip a coin.  This was the case here where I really wasn’t sure what this one was until my brother Ron came to the rescue.  He has a really nice reference book to aid in Hawk IDs (sorry, can’t remember the name at the moment) and had recently found/joined a Facebook page specific to assisting in the ID process.  You will not find a better resource than a community devoted to a specific type of bird.  Ron offered to give it a try on a set of fuzzy pictures we had taken by the side of a road on the Colorado plains.  I’ll get to those pictures at the end – opted to go with a better set at the start for the bulk of the post.

Swainson's Hawk shot on Colorado trip September 2015

The pictures you are seeing here came from another observation at a filling station outside of Denver.  We had pulled in for a quick stop to give the dogs a break and top the tank off.  As we pulled into the pump area this  bird caught my eye.  It was literally hovering over a construction site between the station and the highway.  The fact it was just staying in one spot gave me an early impression it was a Harrier.  This changed once the Beast was on point and could make out the more distinctive features of the bird.  Turns out there was a healthy headwind it was leveraging to keep focus on a particular area alongside the construction.  After about a minute it dropped the daggers and dove for the ground.

Swainson's Hawk shot on Colorado trip September 2015

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this Hawk and view a few more shots.

Continue reading A Swainson’s Doubletake

From Creeps to Witches

Howdy everyone!  Just back from a fun day of birding at Weldon Springs near Clinton IL.  Fun mainly in the sense I got to hang out in a nice day with my brother and sister-in-law.  Unfortunately, the feathered variety we were after were fairly scarce.  A possible +1 for the day along with a juvi (I’m sure Ron will correct) Bald Eagle, a Great Heron, plus more Titmice (yes, I verified that usage) and Nuthatches than I could count.  Beyond that .. not so much.  If that +1 turns out to be verified you will likely see that hitting the pages oh, about this same time next year hehehe.

But all that is in the present – we here at LifeIntrigue tend to live in the past – something Ron is beginning to have a good understanding why now that his productivity is outrunning his processing.  For this post at least I am in the same year – hell less than two months ago.  Just doing what I can to get my +1’s out and counted to try and stay within sight of my competition.

Short-Billed Dowitcher shot in Colorado Sept 2015

I have to give a lot of credit to Ron for this particular ID. I had incorrectly come to the conclusion it was a Willet but during our review it became apparent that it is really a Short-Billed Dowitcher.  How fitting to have a Witch to go along with the recent Halloween theme.  Like Last post, this specimen was shot on our September trip to Colorado – this time at Barr Lake near Brighton.

Short-Billed Dowitcher shot in Colorado Sept 2015

Hit the jump to see and read more about this water forager.

Continue reading From Creeps to Witches

A Creep in the Woods

Time for the creeps to make their presence known here at LifeIntrigued!  No, I am not continuing the Halloween theme featured on the previous many posts.  Nope, today we are featuring the creep of the birding world.

Brown Creeper Shot our our Colorado trip 2015

That, my non-birding friends, is a fine specimen of the Brown Creeper.  This is pretty much a Winter bird here in the Midwest but more of a year round resident in the West.  Luckily, Linda and I were on our vacation to Colorado when I spotted this Creeper.  All in all the birding up to that point on the trip was .. how should I put .. let’s go with pathetic.  I could not find anything on numerous stops up to this point.  In fact, this discovery didn’t really happen until we were almost back to the car from a medium out and back hike.

Brown Creeper Shot our our Colorado trip 2015

Hit the jump to read and see more of this distinctive bird.

Continue reading A Creep in the Woods

Project Hot Knife 2015

It is time to officially close out the 2015 Halloween season.  As a last tribute to my favorite holiday I bring you this year’s pumpkin carving.

Halloween Pumpkin Carving 2015

Unlike most years, this one didn’t utilize half cuts due to two key reasons.  The first reason is basically time.  I’ve been revving on high for a while now to get through the party and now back to finishing up Project Auurrrnnoooollld.  I am so close now I can taste it – only two real tasks to go and I can finally bring you the fruits of that multi-year labor.  The other limitation was a poor crop of images to select from.  If you’ve seen my other pumpkin posts you know that I mine every source  I can find looking for a high contrast images to use as a basis for my carvings.  My favorite web resources are Tattoo sites and, of course, Google Images – this year … not much turned up.  Luckily this popped up while looking at a Pinterest board for Halloween props.

Finally something to work with – before I go any further, the rights for this image remain with the owner (unfortunately not sure who that actually is).  Okay, back to your regularly scheduled programming.  This image has the perfect combination of creepiness and … CONTRAST which is essential for a good transfer to a pumpkin.  For a quick test you can simply bring it up in your favorite graphics program and reduce the color count to 3 or 4.

Hit the jump to see how this turned out in pumpkin form!

Continue reading Project Hot Knife 2015

The Trail Haunts Awaken Again – Part 2 of 2

Well, now that you know how much work goes into building our haunted trail, let’s focus on the fruits of that labor for today’s topic. The full trail experience is too much for a post, so I am only going to feature a few of the shots here. If you want t0 experience the entire trail both from a day and a night walkthrough, please check out or web gallery on Smugmug (Eddiesoft.Smugmug.com). Even with the condensed version, this post is full to the brim with pictures. Rather than type a lot, I’ll just try to point out a few things along the way starting with the daylight shots

As mentioned previously, we try to start the trail off with more family friendly decorations.

Haunted Trail 2015

These are Pauls’ air Frankenstein’s. Think this is the first time he has put them together – a family that scares together stays together.

Haunted Trail 2015

More blowups further down the path. Paul had another nice touch putting the thin ghost in between the other ghost themed items. That thing never wants to say up so he fixed that problem by tying it to the larger blowups on the sides.

Haunted Trail 2015

Hit the jump to see the rest of the trail pictures .. including the walk in the dark!

Continue reading The Trail Haunts Awaken Again – Part 2 of 2

The 2015 Haunted Trail – Part 1 of 2 – The Build

It is a sad day in the LifeIntrigued household today – Some consider it the start of the Black Friday month, but around here it signals the end of my favorite month.  Why is that our favorite month … because it has Halloween of course!  To be more specific, it is the month we get to transform our house and woods into a celebration of the darker side.  The Haunted Trail was built once again for the enjoyment of our Annual Halloween Cookout.  Like previous years, the trail will be featured in an upcoming post.  Unlike the past, there’s a special treat this year.  Thanks to my brother we have pictures of the build process for the first time ever!

Haunted Trail 2015

Every year we strive to make the trail a little better – a little more scarier, a little more to experience.  Those new items are generally purchased during the  previous year’s Halloween markdowns (pretty sure I’ve not paid full price for most of my items – hit Menards, Spirit, Halloween City the week after Halloween and you can find some nice deals – just have to wait a year to enjoy them).  This year we rolled out all the new Posey’s that were constructed during the Winter months (link here).  – by rolled, I literally mean rolled hehehe. Ron thought the pile of dead guys in the cart looked spooky on their own – luckily we didn’t have to explain ourselves to any strangers.

The entire process of building the trail takes about 6 days.  The first day involves cleaning up the trails themselves.  Wandering branches are pruned, obstacles like hedge apples removed for the safety of our guests and probably most appreciative is the thorn bushes are cut back to prevent any unwanted bleeding.  The second day is trimming all the weeds on the trail themselves (the trails is too steep in some locations to get a mower in so that is all done by hand with a gas powered weed trimmer – this takes 6 to 7 hours to complete.

Haunted Trail 2015

Hit the jump to see how the rest of the days fall out.

Continue reading The 2015 Haunted Trail – Part 1 of 2 – The Build