Screw the BiFs, Hello BoSs

Welcome to May everyone! So far it has basically been one rainy day after another – in fact, April was downright rainy as well. I know some of you in the southwest are pretty dry, wish there was a way to get some of our run-off down to you. Read yesterday that Lake Mead is so low they are finding bodies. The positive in all this is our wells should be fully charged. Unfortunately, the “Average Year” efforts are in a stumble with the Dauphin trip cancellation. I have been able to get a few adds .. in between the rains of course.

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow found at Weldon Springs State Park in Clinton, IL

How is that for an absolutely craptastic shot!?! That particular image is the “best” of about a hundred attempts to tin one of these caffeine junkies in flight. For a majority of birds, their flights are fairly predictable. Note position A, then B and you can pretty much assume where C is going to end up along that trajectory. Focus lock the bird at position B and pan with it to estimated point C while engaging continues shutter mode – easy peasy. Even hyper Flycatchers can be mitigated knowing 83.6% of the time they return to the same branch after a quick sortie. (Note, 91.82% of statistics are made up on the fly.. and while at it, 103% of political poll numbers are bullshit. hehehe.) When it comes to Swallows you are probably better off just randomly pressing the shutter at a random spot at a random distance and pray one of them spots a bug in the vicinity. I tried everything short of throwing the kitchen sink in hopes of knocking one out of the sky and the best I could do is the shot above. 30 minutes into it my arms were like spaghetti and had used up all my colorful swear words. Screw these birds in flight (BiFs)!!

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow found at Weldon Springs State Park in Clinton, IL

Frustrated, I brought The Beast down and gave my arms a rest. Started scanning the nearby trees in a last ditch effort to come away with a shot worthy of the +1 for the Average Year. Well, hello there bird on stick (BoSs)! As I was hoping, these Northern Rough-Winged Swallows were staging on a tree next to the bank we were standing on. Now that is muuuuuch easier on the arms.

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow found at Weldon Springs State Park in Clinton, IL

Did I mention it was really windy that day?

Hit the jump to read about other finds from the Swallow family.

Continue reading Screw the BiFs, Hello BoSs

Definitely Not Another Squirrel!

Bad news for those of you out there hoping for another post from the Squirrel family and good news for those that have been filling my inbox up with comments to the contrary. Truth is, I would have gone with another fur focused series if I had one in the queue. I’m only getting home maybe one or two days a week these days if I’m lucky. When I do, I’m more focused on getting the growing list of upkeep items like mowing taken care of over prepping images for the blog. As a result, I’ve been relying on drafts I worked up to use while we were down in Alabama. Thought it would be good to get back to the main staple here at Intrigued – BIRDS!

White-Eyed Vireo found at Quinta Mazaltan, McAllen TX in January 2021

Today’s feature is not a new bird to the blog as it was featured back in November 2018. (link here – but warning, don’t go there). There are few birds that frustrate me more in the field than these here White-Eyed Vireos. Year after year after year I’ve encountered specimens in our many outings and I’ve only managed to feature this vireo that one time back in ’18 and that was ONLY because I wanted to officially get the checkmark. Went with some crappy shots for that post which is why I warned you NOT to go there – if you went there anyway, you might want to go rinse your eyes out – no worries, I’ll wait until you get back.

White-Eyed Vireo found at Quinta Mazaltan, McAllen TX in January 2021

Hit the jump to learn why this bird was on my nemesis list.

Continue reading Definitely Not Another Squirrel!

Things Are Getting Nuts Around Here

Greetings folks. Excited to announce there has been a few rays of sunshine breaking through the dark clouds. Last post I mentioned that Ron pulled triple watch duty so Linda and I could attend several events in the St. Louis area. One of those was the memorial/tribute to Linda’s relative that had transitioned to a better place last year. I am sure she was smiling while looking down at hearing the wonderful stories shared by her family. Monday, Raven competed in the Poodle Agility Nationals at Purina Farms. Went one for three, but his first run was perfection earning him first place in his division. Two proud parents, although Ruger was giving his older brother crap for the other two runs while bragging about how he is going to show him up when he competes against him next year. The last ray of sunshine came this morning. I’ve been hinting at a likely surgery coming up. Today was a third referral consultation. Ended up seeing “one of the experts” who I learned also takes care of the St. Louis Blues. After an extensive exam and review of all the previous tests (MRI, xrays, etc) he was able to diagnose the issue – good news, NO SURGERY unless his recommended physical therapy fails to improve it. There’s a battery of therapy sessions and incredibly painful deep tissue massage/torture in my immediate future, but I pretty much walked out of the office 2 feet off the floor. When that euphoria wore off it was replaced with some definite anger that the local specialists had given me a bad read (and cost me a chunk of change). Lesson here, get multiple references before they cut ya’.

In light of those good moments, it just seems fitting to bring you the last installment in my balls of cuteness series.

American Red Squirrel found at Bear Head State Park in Ely, MN

Hit the jump to read more about our reddish friend.

Continue reading Things Are Getting Nuts Around Here

How About S’more Squirrels

Thanks to Ron pulling triple watch duty, Linda and I were able to take a quick trip down to St. Louis for a long weekend. This was supposed to be the return leg of our Dauphin Island migration birding trip before that was canceled. The break allowed us to come down for a memorial service for one of Linda’s relatives who passed away last year. Linda’s relatives are scattered from end to end across the states and they wanted to get everyone together as a memorial/reunion in her honor. They had a really nice memorial for her – although it came with a bit more emotion given our current situation. It was great to see the extended families and get caught up on the various happenings. Sorry Facebook, there is no substitute for real social interaction. Second of our events this weekend is Raven’s running at the Poodle Agility Nationals down here at Purina Farms. Raven will be up against the best Poodles here and abroad (at least those that can and are willing to travel out of their countries). The following day I have an appointment with a surgeon to go over some options. One packed longish weekend for sure – again, big thanks to Ron for putting in the extra time.

Unfortunately, this has also made me extremely exhausted as I didn’t get much sleep in the days leading up to the travel down. I still wanted (needed) to get a post out so let me introduce you to tonight’s featured furry friend

Black Squirrel found at Noccalula Falls State Park, Gadsden AL in August 2021

Hit the jump to see more of this cute Black S’more Lovin’ Squirrel.

Continue reading How About S’more Squirrels

‘Dem Be Those Grey Ones

My turn to be on watch, so fired up the ol’ laptop and I thought I’d make another quick post. Even though there is a lot of things going on, there are huge swaths of time just sitting in a chair that need to be put to productive use or I’ll go insane. Last week I spent the time doing a massive frequency analysis of the entire English language and built an impressive spreadsheet as an “aid” to my daily Wordle efforts – old IT guys never miss an opportunity to codify logic problems. This week I’m trying to put out a few posts to see if I can keep my monthly quota streak going. Granted these are word sparse compared to the norm, but I’m sure you would rather look at the pictures than read my ramblings anyway. Oh, and since I really do not have the time to dig into bird species research, you will probably notice a theme.

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Yep, continuing the topic from the last post – more furballs! Apologies for those of you that may not take to kindly to these creatures (and I know you are out there ha). Before I get through this month you are going to feel like someone took a Squirrel, dunked it in a barrel of ice cold water and tail smacked you right across the face. Sorry, I don’t even have a muskrat to offer you to towel off with. What I do have is the first set of images taken from our Lake Tahoe trip.

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Hit the jump if you are up for some squirreling around!

Continue reading ‘Dem Be Those Grey Ones

For The Easily Distracted…SQUIRREL!

Greetings everyone! I planned to wish everyone a happy spring as I’m in the midst of an unfortunate lull in April posting… but last night it got to 29F here and flurries the night before that. Sure doesn’t feel like spring especially out on my long runs. I still have limited time, but I wanted to start trickling out some content – gives me a chance to escape the current situation and keep the dust from getting too thick. Expect these will be more of gallery shows vs entertaining story-telling (I think I just heard a cheer ha).

Need to thank friend of the blog Sandra J. at Into the Light Adventures (link here) for today’s topic. She recently made a post on desert animals that reminded me I had a similar one in the hopper – had the added benefit of aligning with the current squirrely times.

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Hit the jump to see more of the Tahoe Squirrels.

Continue reading For The Easily Distracted…SQUIRREL!

With Darkness Comes Sadness

Before I get into the heart of this post, I wanted to congratulate our little fur covered bundle of energy on his first birthday a week ago Sunday!

Ruger 1 year old

A surprising thing happened the day before his birthday. Linda and I were enjoying our breakfast at the kitchen table when Ruger came bounding in like Tigger. Raven had reminded him the next day he would be turning the big 1. Ruger goes to a chair at the end of the table, nudges it out a foot or so and then proceeds to go back into the living room, puts his butt against a small stool and pushes it all the way into the kitchen – quite the struggle until he finally gets it off the rug and onto the slicker tile flooring. With the stool in position next to the table, he backs up, bolts forward, leaps to the top of the stood and then launches himself up to the seat of the pulled out chair – pretty sure he muttered some older than 1 year old words regarding how high our kitchen table is. Now comfortably situated, he leans on the table with his paws and announces “I want a play date with Happy [his Poodle friend] for my birthday present!!!”. Linda and I looked at each other with open mouths, blinked a couple of times, looked back at Ruger and then glanced back at each other quite shocked – we thought for sure he would say “bouncy house party”. Goes to show you, you never really know what goes on inside the mind of a Poodle. Note, I did point out that there was a step ladder like 5 feet from the table that would have been a lot easier to use. Called up Happy’s mom, relayed the request and received confirmation – now we rock in Ruger’s eyes. A little concerned about what next year’s request is going to be ha!

Anyway, a small bright moment to start off the post of what is a rather sad post. I was looking through the image queue for a good topic to cover today. After perusing through a number of sets I opted for my latest field adventure. To be honest I almost Titled this post “Technical Limbo: How Low Can You Go”. I thought I had lowered the technical bar pretty far with my previous Bat post, but this adds a whole new level of sadness.

American Woodcock at Tawny Oaks Field Station, Edelstein IL in March 2022

If I dipped a craft brush in a bottle of black paint and flung it at a blue wall I could probably get a blob that looks at least as good as these first few shots. That would have been the easy approach, instead I spent 2 hours in a cold field starting at dusk playing “Hunt the Wumpus” until my fingers were stinging so badly it hurt to push the shutter down. Just to set the record straight, there were ten other people with me so I was NOT the only crazy person in Edelstein, IL that night.

Hit the jump for more splotches… and some surprises (good and sad)

Continue reading With Darkness Comes Sadness

Pixie Stix Fueled Myotis

For those of you on the wild side of Intrigued, you might be thinking Bri’s been slacking off this month. That is understandable as that little post calendar in the left navbar is pretty bare – the one day that is highlighted was technically from the last day in February. Truth is. I’ve been pounding the keys like crazy up on the mothership. What started out as a quick break from birds to clear out my overflowing “fail” folder spiraled into a flurry of activity that I now refer to as “The Haunting of March”. My first post this month was a long comedic (eh, at least an attempted humorous) post on “Things that make me go Hmmmmm” as our blogger friend Cedar Journal (link here) has coined. Basically things that catch my attention and either make me cringe or burst out in laughter (view latest fails here). While compiling the images for that lengthy post, noticed there was a a few props from last year’s Haunted Trail of Tears still in the queue. That had to be remedied. While at it, went ahead and added a walkthrough for a recently completed decoration. That’s when the sledgehammer came down. Went to reference the 2021 trail event and it was missing – my signature event for the year, the spectacle that consumes me year-round, the very essence of my being (so says Linda) was completely null and void. As much as I enjoy all things haunt, that gap immediately brought a wave of dread – those posts are massive and require days in the digital darkroom to compile/fix/filter all the shots taken leading up, during and after the event. I put everything aside and pushed through (didn’t help last week I had an hour plundered from me!!). So, for those who enjoy all things Halloween, feel free to check out all the releases on the mothership – warning, the trail posts will definitely burn a hole in your browser’s cache!

’21 Haunted Trail of Tears Prep and Teardown (link here)
’21 Haunted Trail of Tears Day Walker (link here)
’21 Haunted Trail of Tears Night Terror (link here)
’21 Prop: Gargoyle Sentry (link here)
’21 Prop: Mini-Me Fire Breather (link here)
’21 Prop: Injection Freddy (link here)
’22 Prop: Toxic Spidey (link here)

Although a bit exhausted and still waaaayy behind on reading the great posts of fellow bloggers, I didn’t want to leave you hanging any longer (at least right-side up). Continuing the “comic” theme that started March and then tying into the Halloween topics that followed, I bring you this…

Bat found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Hit the jump to read the background on this spastic Bat.

Continue reading Pixie Stix Fueled Myotis

Burt’s Bees Please

I predicted it – we’ve come to the end of this short month and I’m scrambling to hit my monthly quota. Hats off to my fellow bloggers that are far more productive than I am – not to mention those dedicated souls that are releasing content daily. I need at least one if not two really long runs between posts just to figure out what my next topic is going to be. Luckily I managed to get a decent 9.5 mile run in yesterday that resulted in this bundle of cuteness being selected to close out February.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

Not sure what the key trigger was, but somewhere in the fog of fatigue I remembered our trip to Las Vegas in February 2020 – possibly thinking about warmer climates being confronted with unexpected snow/ice on the difficult ascents and descents where I was training. That led to remembering I had not processed a single picture from that trip – thousands of pictures just sitting there alone in a cold dark folder in a long forgotten drive hoping with all their bits to be found and presented to the world – yeah, my mind is all over the place when trying to forget that my legs aren’t lounging on the beach sipping drinks with tiny umbrellas.

Ross's Goose found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV while there in February 2020

Hit the jump for more background on our extremely cute Goose.

Continue reading Burt’s Bees Please