Chairman of the Board

I now know what my hell would be like – plenty of downtime, but NO internet.  We just got back from UKC Premier held in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Basically Dog-A-Palooza as there were dogs competing everywhere you looked, prissy confirmation dogs in the midst of working dogs – dock diving, luring coursing, precision coursing, drag racing, weight pulling, nose work, obedience, rally and our specialty agility.  A lot going on, but huge gaps between Linda’s runs which I usually fill with posts… granted I have decent access.  What’s gives Kalamazoo, still relying on two cups and a string?  Instead, being in Michigan, decided to ponder who has the worst governor.  Both our governor and Michigan’s used pandemic as an excuse to destroy their economies (ours to get federal bailout for systemic fiscal failures, Gretchen tried to be VP).  Both felt they were above the lockdown protocols they forced on their constituents (after trying to lock us down, our governor sent his family to Florida and then Wisconsin, Gretchen went to Florida with her daughters).  Both are habitual liars except Gretchen can’t stop doubling down after being caught in lie after lie about her trip.  Ours is a tax evader and Gretchen is so vindictive she repeatedly goes after a barber even though their state judicial system clipped her.  Honestly, I can’t decide – looks like the only option is to head to the polls.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

Blackpoll Warblers that is! ILL-noise is way too far gone to fix the political corruption – there actually might be more Illinois governors now that have served time than those that managed to weasel their way out without being caught. Michigan, you are on your own up there. The good news is Warblers could care less about our politics. Assume they worry more about how to complete their migrations every year. The Blackpoll pictured here is one of those that put my distance running to shame. Imagine having to fly nonstop from the eastern coasts all the way to South American every fall. Interesting enough, Cornell noted that they take a less intense spring trek opting to pass through the Caribbean Islands before heading to Canada and Alaska.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

Hit the jump to read a bit more about our long distance flier.

Continue reading Chairman of the Board

Well Engineered Bird

Pretty much on the go these days.  We had to leave the great-nephew’s graduation/family reunion a day early in order to make our way up to Michigan for the UKC Agility Nationals competition.  Raven and Linda qualified for the national ranks this year and was invited to compete with the rest of the ranked boys and girls.  Planned on leaving the reunion on morning rise to give us sufficient time to repack us and the dogs – that was the plan until we heard the words “water balloon fight”.  Decided we could spare a few hours to experience the perfect way to spend a hot Midwestern summer day.  Quickly learned the old days of trying to slip the rim of a balloon over a water spigot without it breaking, trying to cut the water off before the balloon overfills and finally getting it successfully tied without dropping it are LONG GONE.  A clever engineer (guessing) looked at the struggles of a kid trying to rain bombs on his enemy and came up with a better plan.  Have you seen the new water balloon system (link here).  Unbelievable!  Hook up a bunch with a single nozzle, let the water flow and presto 35 perfectly shaped bombs.  They even fall off when they are full or simply jerk the nozzle down and they all plop off perfectly sealed thanks to a rubber collar that slides off the fill straw.  I watched in horror as the kids prepared over 1,000 water bombs in probably less than 15 minutes. Ummm, honey, thinking it might be time to go ha!  What followed can only be defined as perfectly engineered fun – well, after the first barrage  of bombs from the kids directed at the still stunned adults.  Luckily some of the kids were still developing their arms allowing us to catch and retaliate.  That worked great until those little bastards realized they could throw above us and let the balloons bust on the RVs and shower us.  We finally got the upper hand, but there wasn’t a dry set of clothes anywhere to be seen – just miles and miles of smiles. 

In honor of that experience, thought I’d go with this featured friend for today’s post.

Juvi White Ibis found at Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

Why go with this rather odd looking bird?  Well, the first reason was pretty easy.  I was flipping through my backlog of images specifically looking for a bird that is commonly associated with “water”.  As we are in the later part of the week I allowed myself to go back in the catalog and found our rather odd looking friend.  It also luckily met my second criteria of being purpose built – correctly engineered (or evolved) if you will. 

Hit the jump to read more about our young bird.

Continue reading Well Engineered Bird

Dauphin Island Greeter

The oven is on here in the middle of Iowa.  Over here celebrating the high school graduation of one of my many great nephews (-in-law this time).  Good food, good drinks, good greets, good times and good god a lot of sweat.  Have a hot trail run coming up in about four weeks, so the extra heat conditioning will definitely come in handy.  For the record, Linda still thinks I’m thoroughly Cuckoo for trying to redeem myself at the Cry Me a River 50K (link here).  Question is – would that be a Yellow-Billed or a Black-Billed!?!

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Getting real used to Linda’s eye-rolls at my bad jokes now that we are both retired and spending extra time together. I will get more than an eye roll if I go down in the heat again so I better keep on her good side. To answer the question in regards to today’s featured feathered friend, it is a Yellow-Billed variety. Not a new bird to the blog as it was already featured first back in 2015 (link here) and again in 2018 (link here). For a bird I saw for the first time only 6 years ago, I am surprised how often I’ve encountered it this year. Wondering if I’m just getting lucky on our expeditions or if there is an explosion of sorts in their population. This particular series comes to you from Dauphin Island – went ahead and processed these when I saw them while working up the Fish Crows in the last post.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots from our brief encounter.

Continue reading Dauphin Island Greeter

The Bob Dylan of the Crow World

Good news for my readers, I’m on the road again. Just a weekend jaunt this time, but good for a couple long drives to and from which means time to get a post or two out. A relief as things have been tight as of late with training and haunted trail builds. Coming at you with something fresh today – extremely fresh for those that know how things usually go at Intrigued! Mentioned it a few posts back, but we had the opportunity to head down to Dauphin Island, Alabama for our second expedition in April. Have to give Linda full credit for that destination decision. She had done some research and learned that Dauphin was a popular migration birding destination and mentioned it a few times as a possible destination. This option was met with a healthy dose of skepticism. I had never heard of the place and well, seemed strange as I consider myself a bit of a birder. Boy was I WRONG (that admission will forevermore be referenced I am sure ha). Dauphin Island is absolutely fantastic for those enamored by feathers and beaks. Beyond that – not exactly sure what else you would do there as access to the beaches/shores on that island is surprisingly limited. To put it into perspective, I went at least +23 for the trip and almost all of that was on the island itself. Due to well established birding rules between Ron and I, the counter cannot increment until they are featured on the blog. For the astute you can read that as at least 23 posts coming your way. I’ll elaborate more on this incredible island as we make our way through those new birds. Until then, definitely a place to Crow about!

Fish Crow found at Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Speaking of Crows — as the first post from the island, we are going to focus on this rather mundane looking black bird. As bland as it may look from the onset, it made me as happy as the most colorful Warbler down there the day Ron and I spotted it. If you’ve been just about anywhere in the US you’ve probably encountered an American Crow. Smaller than their Raven counterparts, the American Crow can still tower over many of our more common NA birds. Problem is they know it and are quite pushy if they mingle with other species.

Fish Crow found at Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hmmm, maybe this isn’t your standard Crow, hit the jump to find out.

Continue reading The Bob Dylan of the Crow World

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?

Not Just a Long Weekend

Unfortunately, I am late on this particular post. It isn’t so much a case of procrastination as I had written the first version prior to Monday. During the course of several activities over the weekend (including birding with Ron), I mulled on the approach I had taken and the words written regarding the topic. Thoughts went back and forth until the time came to publish and I decided to scrap it. I still hold firmly the opinions originally expressed, but decided Memorial Day was a time to honor those that have fought for our freedoms and principles at home and abroad rather than sully it with accounts of worthless politicians and seditious mainstream media.

Vicksburg Mississippi National Military Park January 2021

Instead, I wanted to focus on the brave men and women who volunteered or were called to duty like my Father to defend our nation’s founding principles. To all who have or are serving we owe a level of gratitude that can never be repaid. I would contend that all have been permanently altered to some degree by their experiences. My father would not discuss what he went through during his time in the Army deployed during the Korean War. Piecing together tidbits gathered over my lifetime – a photograph here, a rare comment there or an emotion that momentarily forced its way through his stoic facade weave a tale no one would wish upon their child.

Continue reading Not Just a Long Weekend

Hey Look, Goats!

19 months ago I ran my last official trail race – actually make that my last official race of any kind.  That was the redemption 50K run at Farmdale towards the end of 2021 – before the damn pandemic decided to destroy my running events (link here).  I did participate in one virtual race in April of last year (link here), but frankly, that’s like paying someone to give you a medal for a training run – you were going to do it anyway except now it costs you to go out and run alone.  Now, that was for Make A Wish so the donation fee definitely went to a good cause.  The rest of the 2020 races ended up going to some form of virtual as well – all those I passed on.  Instead I focused on the planned 50 miler at Farmdale – a step up from the 30K the year before.  Trained and trained and trained until the disappointing news came that it was canceled as well.  2020 was a bust, and honestly, it was looking like 2021 was stacking up to be more of the same.  That is until Linda noticed the Blue Chevy Trail Classic Half Marathon at Farmdale Reservoir was taking entries!

Blue Chevy Trail Race, Farmdale East Peoria May 22nd, 2021

Hit the jump to read about my first race since forever.

Continue reading Hey Look, Goats!

Icky Trunks with White Stripes

I get to throw in a new bird from time to time here at Intrigued and on those rare occasions like with the last I go crazy and give you two birds back to back. I know, I know, a lot to take in when that happens ha. You may need to sit down for this in case it becomes too overwhelming – today we are featuring .. wait for it … wait for it.. grab on to something sturdy… the THIRD new bird in a row. Think my heart may have skipped a beat just typing that as I do not think that has ever happened in the 14 years of this here blog. What’s up with all the counter clicking as of late, one word “pressure”. My brother Ron is coming on strong with his counts. 40 new birds when he met us Texas the year before, 20+ new birds from our birding trip to southern Alabama last month and now I find out he just tinned a new one over the weekend. I claw and claw at the dirt, but I just keep losing ground. The only thing going for me is he has a blog (link here) and as a result, he doesn’t get official credit for the +1 until it is featured there – that’s the agreed upon rules (link here – see rule 6!). Taking advantage of his posting sabbatical, let’s officially turn my counter.

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker found at Blackwater River State Forest near Milton, Florida in April 2021

You may have noticed, that you are not actually looking at a bird (although you may have been fooled by my previous blurry finger painting shots of birds and thinking it is in there somewhere ha). You are correct in this case, that is a tree trunk – a longleaf pine tree trunk to be specific. This particular specimen happened to be located in the Blackwater River State Forest in the Florida panhandle near Pensacola. This one happens to have a large white stripe on it with an ID. Over the years we have learned this is a sign you are likely to find something like this higher on the trunk.

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker found at Blackwater River State Forest near Milton, Florida in April 2021

Not always this amount of discoloration, but typically a patch of icky goo with a suspicious hole in the middle. I purposely took this shot due to how surprisingly extensive it was. Linda and I have hunted down these holes for over 6 years now. Traveled to the swamps of Georgia, the luscious forest of North Carolina, braved the heat of Arkansas, twice to Conroe, Texas, risked the suspension of the RV on something they called a road in Louisiana and a number of places in between those while on a birding mission – Linda would refer to it more as an obsession.

Tomato tomauto – hit the jump to reveal the catalyst for our many adventures.

Continue reading Icky Trunks with White Stripes

Ruddy Can’t Fail

Good news everyone, looks like you are in for a surprise with tonight’s post!  Unless you happen to live in southern Central America or a large swatch of South America, in which case I probably overplayed the hype for just a Dove. 

Ruddy Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, TX in January 2021

However, if you are not from those specified places I get to introduce you to …well, a Dove which you probably deduced from the general shape of our featured feathered friend.  A relatively small rounded profile sitting atop a plump chest walking along the ground – yeah, definitely a Dove.  The shape may be similar to the local variety you may be used to, but maybe the colors are throwing you off a bit.

Ruddy Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, TX in January 2021

Hit the jump to discover what kind of Dove this is!

Continue reading Ruddy Can’t Fail

Happy Tears

Well, I finally beat a trail course today that has been putting a serious hurt on me since the day I discovered it.  Even owned it being a bit tired from 3 hours of whacking weeds on the lot.  Not sure what it is about this course.. wait, I do know – the 4 miles of what seems like continuous climb to start and the 2x repeats of 1 mile vertical climbs at the end have my legs and lungs begging for mercy.  The 3 miles on top of the plateau of the big-ass hill aren’t so bad. Yep, basically the start and the end spent traversing the slopes that has been my nemesis – until today!  Of course, now I’m wondering if I’ll ever be able to make it out of this chair tonight ha.  Enough about personal struggles – let’s get to the reason you are here!

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

Before we go any further, please take a few steps away from your monitor.  Can you still read this text without squinting?  If so, please take a few more steps back and try again.  Please repeat until you reach that optimum distance for this particular post.  These shots would be better characterized with finger paints and hoping the extra distance will hide the less than stellar execution.

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

Warning, tears coming after the jump.

Continue reading Happy Tears