You looking at Me !?!

It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the reduction in days in this month has a tendency to cause stress in my blogging activities.  Those precious days between the 28th and say 30/31st is often my “get down to business” days.  That’s when I take out my trusty TI60 calculator, punch in 6 for my self-imposed quota of posts per month (note, that includes post on the mothership Intrigued site, not just the wildlife blog), count up each of the posts made in the current month, hit the minus button and then insert the recently summed number of posts and hit equals button.  After a burst of electrons through an array of ands/ors/nands/nors logic gates the liquid crystal is signaled to delivers the painful blow.  Then the scramble begins to address the missing posts.  Granted, this year, gives me an extra day this month.. but that has already been earmarked for birding (need to keep the hopper full for the 2025 posts hehehe).   Linda enjoys teasing me while I am trying to stay focused on the posts – I shall let the Great-Tailed Grackle demonstrate the look I give her.

Great-Tailed Grackle found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, December 2016

That pretty much sums it up!  I will admit, this has absolutely zero impact on my wife’s behavior beyond extra volume to her laugh.  Then she’ll start touching my stuff and moving it just enough to cause my OCD to fire – evil woman!  The good news is I wasn’t far off this month and was able to close the gap pretty quickly – for the record this is the 6th so all is good.  I might feel better, but this rather torqued looking creature is likely still holding a grudge against me.  In fact, every time I come in contact with the Great-Tailed Grackle I get the feeling I wronged its ancestors in some way and it’s taken a lifelong blood oath to extract a compensating revenge.  Is it just me or do others have this same experience with this disgruntled bird? – Ron you don’t count as all birds basically hate you.

Great-Tailed Grackle found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, December 2016

Hit the jump if this Grackle hasn’t already scared you too much.

Continue reading You looking at Me !?!

Scares and Calms

Apologies to my wildlife readers.  It has been a while since I’ve had the chance to feature one of our feathered friends.  It’s not that I haven’t been busy – in fact just the opposite. Decided it was time to bring you a little haunt for February – screw you mushy and smoochie Valentine’s Day, we scare aficionados are putting our zombie masks on and shuffling all over this shortened month.  Thanks to many hours (and days) later the full Haunted Trail of Tears 2019 series was released.  If you want to know how we do Halloween … wait.. how about Februween … then take a gander at the tour posts.  Warning check your fears at the door ha!

Hoping that didn’t scare your feathers up.  Maybe a therapy duck will help calm the nerves.

Mottled Duck found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center December 2016

There now, breathe in, breath out while staring at the purdy duck.  Immerse yourself in the warm comfort brought by the tranquil waters of the Texas Gulf Coast.  By the way, let me know if that worked to calm your nerves – I’ll pick  me up a bunch of Mottled Ducks and hit our local ICU and pay it forward for the great therapy dogs they let Linda enjoy while she was up at Mayo.  If there is any chance of convincing a hospital director to let me bring a duck into their establishment, it better be clean.  Of all the ducks I’ve come across I think the Mottled might have the best chance.   I’ve never seen one of these specimens that didn’t look like it came straight from the salon.

Mottled Duck found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center December 2016

Hit the jump to learn about my new business idea!

Continue reading Scares and Calms

Haunted Trail of Tears 2019 – The Big Event!

Well, I’ve brought you 2/3rds of the Haunted Trail of Tears 2019 over the last couple of posts.  That included the prep, staging and day tour for the 2019 version of Halloween here at Intrigued.  As our guests continually mention, it is hard to really put the trail in perspective unless you are there to experience it.  There’s a natural spookiness brought on by being deep in a woods with little ambient light making for a pitch black backdrop.  Not to mention the sounds of a night out in the country that can make a city dweller shiver and bite their nails.  Now add to that hundreds of decorations and you have yourself a night of fun and scares that rightfully honor our favorite holiday.  One thing for sure, by the time the sun goes down and the trail fires up, my friends in haunt and I are pretty exhausted.  All that is left to do is grab a beer, stoke the bonfire and sit back and enjoy everyone have a fun night out.  Your image cache would catch fire if we showed everything on the trail, so instead, just going to hit on the highlights and provide a few comments where needed to close out the trail posts.  Hit the lights… its show time

“Halloween

You can finally see the latest addition to the trail in its full glory.  Super happy about getting that life-size horse on closeout from Home Depot the following year.  Linda had to put up with it put together in our basement for a whole year – totally worth it.  The Headless Posey also looked awesome illuminated by the flaming pumpkin.

“Halloween

Hit the jump if you are prepared for a few scares.

Continue reading Haunted Trail of Tears 2019 – The Big Event!

Haunted Trail of Tears 2019 – Day Tour

It is time for part two of the Halloween Trail of Tears 2019 posts.  Last post I took you through the multi day..err..weeks…err months process just to get ready for the one night event.  That doesn’t even cover the work that goes on non-stop throughout the year to bring new additions to the trail.  That pretty much just gets us to the starting line.  Once everything is put together (to a point it can still be transported into the woods), it is time to start creating the experience.  Up to a few years ago we did this all in about a day starting after work on Friday and then through until ~5-6pm the next  day literally adding new and fixing stuff that wasn’t working right up to the point guests start arriving.  With the size this has grown into since then, I have to take at least two days off of work to even have a chance of getting done – still a battle against time. The way the trail works is it gets scarier and more adult the further you go.  The guests are responsible for how far they want to take it and more importantly how much to expose their kids to.  We spend a lot of time making sure the kids and squeamish adults can have a good time if they only get a portion of the trail.  Go the whole way and the nightmares are on you ha!

Keeping with tradition, bringing you the daylight tour.  There is one caveat this year.  We were too busy to get the shots done before the event started – as I said, a battle against time and Mr. Murphy.  These shots were actually taken the next morning before tear down and thus some of the props had already been through a night’s worth of wear and tear as in the shot below.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears October 2019

New for this year was the life size zombie horse and companion homemade headless horseman.  There was a lot of concern about a) fire deep in the woods, b) stability of the flaming pumpkin, c) how flammable the decoration might be and d) how hard it was going to be to get this monstrous prop down the big hills to the haunted trail.  As a result, I added a solid stand to hold the flaming pumpkin and opted to keep the decoration up by the house.  This way everyone could experience it and I could still keep an eye on it.  You will see in the after dark post the stand merged into the darkness quite nicely.  We received a lot of compliments for this new prop addition and can’t wait to take you through the build (upcoming post).

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears October 2019

Hit the jump to see some scenes from the Haunted Trail day tour.

Continue reading Haunted Trail of Tears 2019 – Day Tour

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears – The Prep

Well, it is time to get this set of posts out.  I have been avoiding it due to some emotional memories that come along with this year’s Halloween extravaganza.  Waiting any longer isn’t going to change the situation so I need to get the Haunted Trail of Tears 2019 taken care of while I can still remember all the work it takes to make this thing happen.  Original intent was to slam this into just two posts, but there are way too many images to force on you all at once.  As a result, went ahead and extracted the prep series out separately – this way you can ease into the barrage of photos that’s coming your way!

With Linda’s surgery, in August, we opted to push the date a week to give her extra time to recover and more importantly me time to make up for the lost weeks being up at Mayo.  I had spent a large part of the summer building the new all-weather prop sensors.  Think by the end I had produced over 60 of those devices building on our previous design with an added feature of being able to put the batteries in ahead of time so we could simply switch them on come event start – I cannot even begin to explain how great that was both in savings during the activation step and then more importantly being able to turn them off at the end and not have to worry about getting them out of the woods if bad weather hit us (like last year.. and year before that …).  Unfortunately, that meant rewiring all the props to use the new sensor.  Thankfully, Ron came to my aid and helped get everything converted over!

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears October 2019

I also had to finish up a number of new props that where being worked on since a month after last year’s effort (yep, there is no Halloween downtime here at Intrigued ha).  Here’s Ron with a major addition for this year’s trail.  Something tells me you can guess what that is.  Linda was excited about finally getting that life size horse out of the basement after 10 months.  Ron actually came down a week ahead of the planned date which was greatly appreciated.  It is hard enough to get all of last year’s props out and each year it grows bigger and bigger.  The zombie horse was just one of the new items making its debut this year.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears October 2019

Hit the jump to learn what happens behind the scenes of the Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears extravaganza.

Continue reading Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears – The Prep

Stoner Bird

Greetings my friends!  Been a bit of time since my last post (well at least on the Wildlife side of Intrigued as I did take a cue from CJ and put a Hmmm post out link here).  I thought things would lighten up at the turn of the decade, but I find myself surprisingly busy.  Some of that was due to a recent loss in the family as my Aunt is now once again united with my father.  I did get an opportunity to catch up with the extended family and even had a chance to spend some quality birding time with Ron.  He stayed overnight at my place on the trip back from the funeral allowing us to head down to Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge the next day.  This netted Ron a +1 and a new birding experience – both of which I’ll let him feature on his blog (nudge, nudge).  Maybe I’ll get around to those captures in say .. oh, I don’t know… let’s go crazy fast and say 2-3 years ha!

In the meantime, let’s travel back in time and see what’s moving on the Texas beaches.

Ruddy Turnstone found on Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Well, lookie there Mr. Orange Legs strutting its stuff.  This particular series comes to you from our January 2017 trip down to Galveston Island.  The Ruddy Turnstone featured here was busy running up and down the shoreline trying to convert all that migration fat into a beach bod that drives the chicks wild.  For those new to these creatures, they fatten up prior to heading out on their impressively long migration.  They spend their breeding months in the arctic tundra and then gorge themselves before making the massive trek to the North and Central American coastlines.

Ruddy Turnstone found on Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Hit the jump to learn more about this yo-yo diet bird.

Continue reading Stoner Bird