Standoff at the OK Blossom

We are two weeks away from this year’s annual Haunted Trail of Tears event and looking around the house as of late and you can definitely tell. Pretty sure every room in the house has some form of prop production happening. My brother Ron was nice enough to come down this weekend and help out designing and building some new additions. He brings the big guns when it comes to the difficult circuits and helps get me through the trouble spots that inevitably pop up. We put together some really nice new scares for the trail this year and cannot wait to see how they look in the dead of night – also vastly improved one of last year’s signature props (link here). Should be some great fun, but still a lot of work to make it to the finish line. Had a few minutes to relax a bit before calling it a weekend and decided to see if I could get a quick post out.

Monarch found at Rollins Savannah, Grayslake, IL in August 2021

In honor of Halloween, I am going to continue with the orange and black theme started in the last post. Giving you a break from the barrage of birds and bring you something a bit outside of my wheelhouse.

Monarch found at Rollins Savannah, Grayslake, IL in August 2021

Hit the jump to see some more shots of our autumn colored friend.

Continue reading Standoff at the OK Blossom

Wanna Race?

Greetings all!  May was a busy month around here at Intrigued and June is looking to be more of the same.  I have a 50K ultra trail coming up the first week of July – a bid for redemption as the first go around at this race two years ago put me in the emergency room (link here).  I don’t do well with failure and need to get this only blemish on my racing career addressed.  Hopefully they’ve learned not to put box fans out in the open at the aid stations ha.  Although it may not have seemed like it from the wildlife side of Intrigued, but May was also a big month for posting – especially on the mothership.  As mentioned in one of those posts, the BARwW  Consortium (Birds Are Rats with Wings) was blasting my inbox with hate mail tired of all the feathers.  Decided to finally address it with a number of posts up there which included a running post (holy crap finally had a REAL RACE link here) and several Halloween posts after that.  While gathering up the images for those posts, noticed this in my cell phone gallery.

Turtle found on our lot

This prehistoric specimen decided to visit us back in May 2019. Every so often during the rainy season the wash will push the Turtles out of our ravines up to higher ground. I’ve made a few posts on our previous visitors (link here and here). This one was significantly younger than the other visits – younger being relative for a creature than has a wild lifespan from 30 to 45 years.

Turtle found on our lot

Hit the jump to read more about our country critters.

Continue reading Wanna Race?

Cadbury Tryouts

Happy Easter everyone! This morning I was out on my 16 mile training run on the trails of Jubilee State Park when I came upon not one but TWO Easter Bunnies. At first I was admittedly a bit startled. Not so much that I would come upon them in the middle of running the woods, but they didn’t exactly fit the model. Sure, both had two rather large ears, but wasn’t expecting them to each have 6 legs, 2 arms and stand 6 feet tall! One of them extended a Happy Easter and then offered me a chocolate rabbit pulled from a leather pouch. “We are playing Easter Ambassadors and offering treats to everyone we see in honor of our Savior’s rising.” I extended my appreciation for the thought, but passed – can’t imagine the gooey mess that would be by the time I finished the run. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Note, this happened at mile 14.5 so assuredly the synapses were experiencing some fatigue, however, the large “U” shapes and the ummm… let’s go with presents left on the rest of the trail provided some evidence to the encounter. By the way, those bunnies must east a LOT! Made it home and thought I would get a post out in recognition of the special day and, of course, relay the events from earlier in the day. Spent a significant amount of time going through the 3+ years of backlogged images only to come up empty – NOT A SINGLE BUNNY PICTURE IN THE QUEUE. At a loss, I decided to hold a Cadbury tryout to see what would be the official substitute for the ’21 Easter Bunny. First up…

WTH, that thing doesn’t even have fur.  “..but look at my big cute round eyes and I have Praying right there in my name”.  Uhhhh nope.  Next.

Continue reading Cadbury Tryouts

Zoomba

Welcome to March everyone!  (or as I like to call it, my second month of less stress and better sleep.)  I gave you a break from all of the birds in the last post.  The choice of material may have not been the wisest decision as I am still waiting to be released from the couch.  Didn’t know those Iowa women could hold a grudge that long.  Good news as today’s featured creature won’t set her off.  In fact, this may turn out to be one of her favorite insects.

Without further rambling I present to you an incredible transformation.  Take a look at this boring, plain looking Butterfly.

Mexican Bluewing found at Estero Llano Grande State Park, Weslaco, Texas in January 2021

Now for the surprise transformation.  Our dull subject has a secret rave side.  Fold those fragile wings down, catch some light and presto – vegas baby!

Mexican Bluewing found at Estero Llano Grande State Park, Weslaco, Texas in January 2021

Hit the jump to see all the beauty this Butterfly has to offer. Continue reading Zoomba

The Spider Punisher

Happy anniversary to my wife.  Astute Intrigued blog readers should immediately cry foul as I already posted on our wedding anniversary a few weeks back.  Well, I didn’t specify in my opening exactly what the anniversary was – in truth it is her one year anniversary of her heart valve replacement surgery at Mayo.  An extremely stressful time for me and I can only imagine what she must have been going through on her end.  All is well now, her cuts have healed,  she’s made it through her cardio rehab, now close to completely recovered from the unexpected paralysis and once again able to do her favorite activities.  Congratulations to Linda and our bottomless thanks to the doctors and employees at Mayo.   I definitely do not have a good topic to go with such an anniversary, but I do have a …

Black and Yellow Garden Spider found on lot in Brimfield IL, September 2016

… yep, a Spider!  One of those creatures that are rarely featured here on the blog.  There’s a couple of reasons for that.  First being I don’t spend a lot of time out in the field with small glass.  When I go, I go big as most of my subjects prefer to stay as far away from me as possible.  The small creatures are better left for the light glass (macros and maybe some low wides).  We do have a nice macro glass, but that encroaches on Linda’s domain.  Besides, why not get a workout while enjoying one of your favorite past times.  The second reason is, although I live in the middle of a forest, it really do have that much variety in Spider species.  I can give you all the Wolf Spiders you can take, small ones, medium ones, large ones and “holy crap that’s a monster!” size.  We do have the Recluse but I would rather just leave those alone and then a smattering of other far less exciting web spinners that will make the ground look like hundreds of tiny lights when you shine a light on a summer’s night.

Black and Yellow Garden Spider found on lot in Brimfield IL, September 2016

Hit the jump to read a bit more about the Punisher!

Continue reading The Spider Punisher

Just Some Butters to Brighten Your Day

So last post I tried to cheer up the world with some cute furries and a few of their friends.  Not sure it worked, but hell it was worth a try.  Things are going from bad to worse here as our tax evading governor has now put my state on lockdown scheduled to begin tomorrow at 5pm or so.  All non-essential establishments shuttered.  This resulted in a quick run to our  local grocery store to pick up a few essentials to make it through the next couple of weeks.  As I watched the metal shelves slowly reveal themselves I could only think back to my high school days in the retail industry 5- 11pm during the week and 8s on the weekends.  Those days were hard enough, yet nothing like what these workers were having to go through now.  I also thought about my blogger friend across the pond going through the exact same chaos.  So, thought I’d dedicate today’s post to B over at Butterflies to Dragsters.

First off a warning – if you want good shots, got to B’s site.  I suck at these winged missiles and my rig really isn’t set up to get the detail they deserve.  Not to mention keeping The Beast sighted on these unpredictable Butters will put a serious hurt on the arms.  Secondly, you’d think these beauties would be easy to identify – unique patterns, varying color profiles, how hard can it be… answer damn hard. Eventually got what I thought were some close reference pictures and went with it – thank god for DuckDuckGo.

Okay, here we go…

Butterfly from Minnesota Trip July 2017

Found this specimen on our trip up to Minnesota back in July 2017.  Birding happened to be a little thin where we were at so I went looking for some other targets.  There were tons of these Butters hanging out in the parking lot.  I would spot a particularly colorful one, get the glass on it.. shuffle back to get it into focus range and press… well, start to press the shutter when it would take off.  Time after time they did this to me. Finally got one or two in the tin and then decided I needed to get a shot of it fully open.  Must have been quite the comedy routine for Linda as I ran around trying to get one to stay around long enough and willing to fold its wings down.

Butterfly from Minnesota Trip July 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more average shots of beautiful creatures.

Continue reading Just Some Butters to Brighten Your Day

Featherless

Greetings Intrigued fans.  This was a pretty busy weekend as we headed up north for a little fun in the sun and, of course, a bit of agility dog showing.  Linda decided she wanted to ignore the advice of her heart specialist and get a few agility runs in with Raven.  He needed one more successful standard run to move to the next competition level.  She promised to take it easy in the ring so I relented and agreed to it.  Should probably mentioned she did bribe me with the opportunity to get some trail running training in (their trails were not flooded out like our local ones are) and the cherry on top, a day of birding with Ron and his wife.  Raven ended up getting it done in the ring going 3 for 4 while Linda managed to keep her heart under control.  I managed to get a solid 13 miles in putting me in good position for next week’s 15K considered Illinois’ toughest, but reminded me just how hard the 50K is going to be a few weeks later.  Still a bit sore from yesterday’s run, was still able to get a solid day of birding in – think we came in at the high 30’s species mark for the day.  Once all that was out of the way, we had to race home to watch the St Louis Blues try to claim the Stanley Cup.  One frustrating element was the lack of Internet where we were camping arrrrrgggghhhh!  Had plans to get caught up on my running post – nope.  While sitting here watching the Blues (now down 2 goals) thought I’d jump on the computer and crank out a quick post.

It’s a bittersweet post today as this officially wraps up all the worthy shots from the Georgia birding trip back in May 2015.  With all the bird shots out of the way, it is time to give some time those non-feathered creatures hanging out in the region.  Before I begin though, if you are looking for good shots of dragons and butters you should leave this post immediately and head on over to see B’s work over at Butterflies to Dragsters (link here).  I’m a bit embarrassed to even put these out after seeing his work behind the macro.  So, if you are still here, let’s get to some non-birds shall we.

Georgia May 2015 finds

Hit the jump to see the last shots from the Georgia trip.

Continue reading Featherless

Me Thinks it’s a Sphinx

UPDATE 12/1/2019 – Finally getting around to this but wanted to give a quick update that the https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org website came through and confirmed this was a Modest Sphinx Moth (link here)

Welcome to the New Year everyone!  Hope your holiday celebrations were fun and safe.  I did take some time off from the wildlife posts to get through a backlog of Halloween Haunted Trail and running features on my other blog.  Those were way overdue and I hate to leave loose ends hanging about as we cross into the new year.  One loose end that still needs addressing is my year end blog summary.  That takes a lot of time and I wanted to spend that instead getting ready to head back to work tomorrow.  10 days off is wonderful, but in reality, it just means twice as much work to greet you when you make it back to your office.  It’s also college bowl day so enjoying some rare football (now that I’m in my second year of boycotting the professional version).  It is pretty hard for me to just sit and watch TV – seems like such a waste of time.  So, thought I would combine it with putting out my first Wildlife post of 2019.

Possible Sphynx Moth fond outside entrance to Rhythm City Casino, Bettendorf, IA

Hit the jump to learn what my guess is for the huge Moth.

Continue reading Me Thinks it’s a Sphinx

Sorry Katy, You Ugly

I’ve been hitting you with an unhealthy dose of bird posts as of late … and for that I’m not sorry – ha.  Just kidding, I know there are loyal readers out there that prefer the non-aviary topics (and I know that from all the hate mail I get when their tolerance is crested).  The good news is I have tried to remedy that with a quick post on … wait for it… something that doesn’t have feathers.
Shield-Backed Katydid shot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park back in July 2014

Something tells met some of you may have just taken a few steps back from the monitor just then.  I cannot lie, I am having to force myself to stay at the keyboard just to get through this post.  This bug basically looks straight out of a horror movie and it creeps me out staring just at the picture.  It took incredible willpower to stand there in person looking at it through the camera eyepiece.  Guessing you are wondering what this thing is and will not settle for the answer “It’s a bug!”.  Scouring the Internet (a fancy and technically deceiving phrase for basically going straight to Google), I came up empty.  By the way, just in case you get an inkling to do some Google oogling under the phrase “creepy looking bug” – DO NOT DO IT – you will not be able to go outside for a month!  Luckily,  my brother Ron had better luck and was able to successfully identify “the bug”.  This ladies and gentlemen is referred to as a  Shield-Backed Katydid. Coincidentally, that happens to be Latin for “creepy ass bug”.
Shield-Backed Katydid shot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park back in July 2014

This specimen was found while chasing waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  We were out there in July 2014 on our way to North Carolina.  Unable to remember the name of the actual waterfall Linda wanted to shoot, but if recalling correctly it was not that far from their extremely impressive visitor center. Do not pass checking that out if you are in the area.  While Linda dials in her silky waterfall shots, I’m generally exploring the area for birds (not a stretch there) and if that comes up empty, I transition to dragonflies, then bugs (then cool fungi if you are curious).  There are zero birds in the Smokies and the dragons were nowhere to be found.  Simply looked down at the railing (don’t tell Linda, but right behind where she was standing) this Katydid was hanging out likely annoyed we were disturbing its hunting grounds.  Sorry for the limited shots… was it mentioned earlier this bug creeps me out!?!

A quick fact before I leave you.  The Shield-Backed Katydid were given their moniker for the enlarged dorsal area of the prothorax (apparently also called a pronotum)  which extends down to the abdomen.  All I got for you tonight, hope you enjoyed the post.

Unwarranted Concern

Sorry everyone, it has been an extremely busy month so far and time keeps getting away from me – a lot of that due to running.  I was able to log a 13 mile run today in a very hilly course, so I’m feeling comfortable about my upcoming Toughest Illinois’ 15K race.  The good news on the blog front is I am once again within the 2 year queue window having processes a number of shoots including a run to Starved Rock and another to Kentucky – yes, they include new bird plus ones that are excited about their upcoming blog debut.

Thought I would throw out a quick one tonight just to get the ball rolling for the month.

Snowberry Clearwing shot at Jubilee College State Park in August of 2014

I should probably mention now that I have a pretty significant aversion to bees and hornets.  On the bees front I used to experience significant swelling when I was a young kid whenever a bee would decide to sink its stinger in my tender flesh.  Now that I am older I get a little less anxious around them when they are roaming around SOLO – get ground bees congested in a dirt hole and this dude starts looking for implements of mass annihilation.  Mowed over a nest last year and several played a game of darts on my behalf.  On the Bumblebee front I usually just let them be (see what I did there hehehe) having never met an aggressive one in the field – usually they are too drunk on nectar to care about me.  However, there is one type of large hornet or wasp that used to terrorized our summer Wiffle Ball field.  I have yet to fully ID it, but it was at least 2 inches long, banded with black and yellow with a stinger that would bring some serious tears to a young boy’s eyes.  When I saw this creature through my camera it immediately triggered a flight reaction

Snowberry Clearwing shot at Jubilee College State Park in August of 2014

Could this be the terror of my youth!?!  Concern quickly turned to intrigue and forced myself to try and get some additional shots.  It was big – maybe in the 1 inch body size with a 1.5-2 inch wingspan.  Definitely the right color palette, but something seemed a bit off.  Those wings are much more robust than the standard Bee or Wasp wing and I do not remember either have a furry butt.  Then I saw this image in the digital dark room.

Snowberry Clearwing shot at Jubilee College State Park in August of 2014

That image left me with the impression it was more of a Butterfly than a Bee or Wasp.  Time to hit Google and figure out what this mystery guest was.  From a region perspective, this was found at Jubilee State Park back in August 2014.  Using that information with a smattering of the visual characteristics eventually revealed the answer to the mystery – as best I can tell, this is a Clearwing – likely of type Snowberry.  My fears were unwarranted, for this is a harmless member of the Moth family.  I hope that isn’t what we raged war on as a kid, but I distinctly remember getting stung by one so either we allowed ourselves to exaggerate too much and it was really a hornet or that villain is yet to be properly identified.  The good news is I’ll be able to recognize the Clearwing from this point forward and let myself enjoy the moment rather than fight the flight urge.

Hope you enjoyed this new Moth for the blog – see you again real soon.

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