Why I Try to Spot the Y

Greetings everyone! I must say, this has been a great month for my bird count. At the end of October I was sitting at 290 which isn’t stellar by ANY means when it comes to the birding community, but something that has taken a decent amount of work to get to – note each of those had to be photographed at an identifiable level of quality. That number put me a mere 10 from a goal I set at the beginning of the year. For simplicity I spread that over the two remaining months making intermediate goals of 5 new additions to my count for each remaining month. I learned early in life to set a goal and then immediately focus on smaller accomplishments that get you to the end point. That strategy has served me well at work, home and my numerous hobbies. Want to get through an ultra-marathon race – NEVER think about the total amount of miles to the end – focus on getting through maybe 5 miles marks or hell, the next tree when the mental darkness starts to set in. The uplifting feeling of accomplishment on the little goals is what keeps you motivated to keep pushing. Well folks, I am happy to say with today’s featured feathered friend I’ve made it to November’s target.

Blue-Winged Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Today I am excited to bring you #295, the Blue-Winged Warbler. It should be no surprise by now, this cute little Warbler comes to you thanks to our trip to the Alabama Gulf Shores. We made our way down there back in April of this year. Like several of the recent posts, this addition to the life list was found at Dauphin Island. I would have been in a world of hurt if we had not caught the fallout down there as that visit really gave a steroid shot to my count. I have to give big kudos to Linda who planned our spring trip around this previously unknown birding location.

Blue-Winged Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to read a bit more about the “Y” bird.

Continue reading Why I Try to Spot the Y

A Chesty Trivecty

Before I get into today’s post, just wanted to mention I finally got my ’21 pumpkin carving project post out. I know some of you enjoy the Halloween related posts which I keep up on the mothership (link here). Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

I was able to get a cold weather run in a few days ago. The first one of the fall/winter season is always a jolt to my system and it didn’t help that this time there was sleet involved. A majority of my race season is in hot weather which the body, barring any extremes, is perfectly happy with. It’s the transition to the colder season that takes a bit getting used to. The temple requires a lot of replenishing oxygen especially on the trails and gulping air is the norm – taking cold air (especially with the sub-20sF, hell, sub zero) directly into the lungs can be a shock to the chest – I call it freeze-lungs.

Speaking of chests, you may have been wondering what was up with the post-a-palooza that recently occurred. We went up to Mayo for Linda’s annual checkup post heart surgery. This gave me some extra cycles in the waiting areas as she went through her battery of pokes, prods and the terrifying let’s see how close to death we can get her by turning off the pacemaker procedure – that one makes me cringe and I’m not even the one going through it. In the end, we received really good news, after two years, everything is working perfectly (when they are not purposely shutting things down) and her heart specialist is good with her getting into a new study involving a more natural blood thinner. Linda actually selected her valve type because of this feature, but she had some complications during the surgery that warranted the extra validation time. All great news!

How about we go ahead and make it a chesty trivecty with today’s featured feathered friend.

Chestnut-Sided Warbler found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

How is that for a beautiful bird (keeping my promise to CJ). There are a lot of Warblers to choose from, but this color burst of a bird is definitely in my top 3 and top 10 across all the birds currently checked off my list. Maybe it’s the dainty size, possibly the brilliant white feathering that makes their strategic coloring pop or the whole package, but this species brings a smile to my face every time I encounter it in the field.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this distinctly colored Warbler.

Continue reading A Chesty Trivecty

When Birding Gets Stressful – for Ron

Well, I was all ready to head out and get my run in this morning when I opened the door to sleet. Umm, where the hell did that come from!?! Normally that wouldn’t bother me much, but the sleet was essentially horizontal thanks to the 20mph wind that was accompanying the ice balls. One view of that and Inner Bri (I call him Ibbie) was quick to point out “Hey dude, you know you are retired right?”. Now Ibbie has a habit of getting me in trouble, however, this time he was right. Quickly checked out the forecast and sure enough, likely better (slightly) conditions in a few hours so waffles it is! In the meantime, what to do, what to do. Hey, I know, how about we get ourselves closer to the list goal.

Kentucky Warbler found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

I hit you with a few of the duller Warblers the last couple of posts and thought it was time to start stepping it up in the color arena – plus I promised CJ (link here) I would give her something brighter to enjoy her morning coffee with. Will quickly admit, these are not shots that will ever make it on our house walls or the galleria ledge (link here), but this featured feathered friend almost cost my brother Ron extra nights in Alabama. To set the stage, this yellowish bird with the unique highlighting comes to you from our April trip to Dauphin Island along the Alabama Gulf Shores. I’ve previously noted the incredible birding we had that vacation thanks to the fallout and this is another treasure that came home with us.

Hit the jump to read a bit more about how this one almost didn’t make it into the tin.

Continue reading When Birding Gets Stressful – for Ron

They Be Ballers

Good news, I successfully got back out on the trails the other day! Well, sort of. The important thing is the ankle held up during a 7 mile test run on one of the harder trail courses in the area. I’ve been slowly building strength back on the road and only dabbling on uneven ground up to this point. The crazies were starting to claw their way to the surface. It was time to put those demons to rest and assess the progress. A couple of twinges thanks to a few roots and rocks lurking under the heavy blanket of leaves and some extra gasps of air from the never-ending hills reminded me to keep the pace under control. Made it back to the truck with a giant smile on my face with thoughts of doing it again … until the voice in my head that sounds just like Linda immediately screamed “NO!”. On the down side, a injury that I’ve been dealing with for a majority of this year is starting to get very angry so that is the next item to address. As they say, wrestle one worm at a time, which brings us to today’s featured feathered friend.

Worm-Eating Warbler found at Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to read more about our quad striped specimen.

Continue reading They Be Ballers

Puddle Bouncing

It would appear as I am easing into November!  I’d blame it on the laid back life of a retired person, but truth is I am probably busier now than I was when I was living the daily grind.  Actually, coming up on my one year anniversary of my last day at work (not my retirement date thanks to strategic use of my vacation time).  I can say the replacement “work” is far more enjoyable and usually consists of spending time in our woods, running, building Halloween props and pouring through thousands of images in my massive backlog of photography trips.  Cannot remember the last time I called it a night when I wasn’t completely exhausted – I take that as a win.  Part of this drive is due to a deadline and this post gets me one step closer to that end. 

Northern Waterthrush found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Honestly, deadline may not be the appropriate word now that I’m in the last phase of my life and technically there is only one of those technically left and that is literally in the name. Let’s go with “goal” instead – much better sounding and at least in the sports world, traditionally paired with people cheering when you accomplish it – yep, whole letter better. Don’t get me wrong, goals are serious business around Intrigued and I’m no stranger to medical attention trying to insure I don’t fail. Luckily, this particular one will not require that kind of physical commitment, as it simply means several more of these.

Northern Waterthrush found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Not specifically more of these Waterthrushes, rather more of what it represents, a new addition to my personal birding list. Back in January of this year I committed to the goal of getting my life list up to 300. Not a number that is going to turn any heads in the birding world for sure – probably illicit more snickers than applause. It is what it is and hang my hat on the small hook made from the fact the species needs to be photographed and get its own official post before the tick is awarded. Question remains whether there are 9 more after this to get me across the finish line. That’s a future issue, let’s live in the moment.

Hit the jump to put the moment in motion.

Continue reading Puddle Bouncing

From Black Capes to May Capes

Greetings everyone! If you have read any of the previous posts as of late you are already aware that these are busy times here at Intrigued. It is officially one week before our annual Haunted Trail of Tears event. 7 little itty bitty short days left and there is a mountain of work still to be done. The good news is I got the trails cleared and cleaned up so those just need to be mowed and trimmed and we can start staging all the props…. well, those that are built – we are still trying to squeak in a few new scares. Thankfully Ron was able to come down last weekend and again this upcoming weekend to help me work through some sticking points. Based on how this goes every year, sleep will be in short supply right up to the party. On top of all this I still need to get some runs in with the 50 miler just a few weeks after the party. As a result, I am going to let the blogs go dark for a bit. Figured I would leave you with one of the beautiful tins from this year to hold you over.

Cape May Warbler found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

You might have noticed, but I have been gradually amping up the color in the posts over the last couple of months. Today’s posts keeps that theme going with a stunning New World Warbler – the Cape May. Specifically, the adult male. The females and immatures are more muted, substituting the chestnut cheek with a grey toned one and the dark crown is significantly lighter with a more olive hue.

Cape May Warbler found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to see a lot more shots of our brightly colored Warbler.

Continue reading From Black Capes to May Capes

Bottlefed

Greetings everyone! There’s PVC pipes, wires, integrated chips, power supplies, tools and scary props scattered all over my den at the moment. Couple that with my two 3D printers running 24×7 and it can only mean one thing – the annual Haunted Halloween Trail event is approaching fast (link here). Too fast actually. Not sure what the deal is, but when I was working it seemed like I was running around like a crazy person trying to get everything built in the hours before and after work. For the life of me I cannot figure out where the extra 8-10 hours a day I should have now that I am retired goes – yet here I am running around like a crazy person trying to get everything built. The good things is there’s laser focus on the event – no trying to juggle work issues with Halloween challenges. In honor of the fast approaching Halloween season, I wanted to go with a bird that reflected the holiday. Welcome to today’s featured feathered friend.

Female Orchard Oriole found at Dauphin Island, Alabama Gulf Shores in January 2012

Okay, a bit of a confession here. It is really the adult male that has the association to Halloween. Not having those images worked up yet, decided to go with its more yellow/green partner. If nothing else, it does satisfy my promise to continually amp up the bird coloring as we proceeded through the month. A far cry from those more subdued Doves and Sparrows that have been featured earlier in the month, the female Orchard Oriole sticks out in its surroundings.

Female Orchard Oriole found at Dauphin Island, Alabama Gulf Shores in January 2012

Hit the jump to read about our colorful friend.

Continue reading Bottlefed

Laughing Stock

Holy crap, I get disconnected from the Internet for just a couple of days only to get back online and find out we had another embassy overrun. Regardless of the opinions on whether we should have been there or minimally that long etc., those that have served there and especially those that gave the ultimate sacrifice deserve better than the images I am seeing on lame stream media at the moment. I can only imagine what other superpowers are thinking at this moment. Looking through the available images, figured I would go with this for today’s featured feathered friend.

Laughing Gull found at Dauphin Island, Alabama Gulf Shores in January of 2021

The Laughing Gull is not new to the blog. Back in march of 2019, I covered the specimens we found while visiting Tybee Island off the coast of Georgia {shirk eyesight, stare sheepishly at the ground, hum a bit} from our 2015 trip (link here). Yeah, that was a 4 year lag for that. As an act of retribution, today’s images are equally 4 away, but this time the units are months. They still have that new car smell.

Laughing Gull found at Dauphin Island, Alabama Gulf Shores in January of 2021

Hit jump to read about the Dauphin Island Walmart greeter.

Continue reading Laughing Stock

Getting Cheekie

Been a bit out of pocket lately and that is entirely due to Linda and I being out on Exploration Tres and not having Internet for the first part of the trip. Somehow Linda convinced me to head out on the road again in the midst of what should be heavy training for the upcoming 50 mile ultra run. I could say it involved foot stomping, yelling, manhood challenging and all kinds of medieval torture, but that would be a bit of a stretch. Truth is she gets on ebird, finds bird sightings where she wants to travel to and then spends the weeks leading up to departure date blurting out birds I do not have whenever we pass by each other. Kind of like Tourette’s Syndrome for birder wives. Quite devious if you ask me. The silver lining is if I fail on the run I can blame her!

Anyway, while on the road, I have a few cycles to get a post or two out of the way (connectivity permitting). Say hello to today’s featured feathered friend.

Gray-Cheeked Thrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

If you recall, I thought I was setting a drab baseline in my previous post. At the time I was under the impression that it was hard to get much duller than one of those little brown jobbers technically called a Sparrow. Ended up being a bit shocked at the feedback I received contrary to that assumption. Apparently, some of you out there think those LBJs can be snappy dressers. That opinion threw a small wrench in my plans to have a growing crescendo of color as we progressed through the month. What to do, what to do…

Gray-Cheeked Thrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to read a bit more about our shy friend.

Continue reading Getting Cheekie

Newly Designated Mascot for CMAR

Those that follow the Intrigued mothership are already aware of the good news, but the mere fact there is a new post here officially confirms to all my readers that the running demons were left slain last Saturday. The redemption is complete as my one blemish on the race record has been officially erased. Yep, the 2019 PR for failure at the Cry Me a River (CMAR) 50K Trail Race (link here) has been superseded by the successful completion of this year’s running (2020 was canceled for obvious reasons). To say I’ve been fretting about this event would probably be considered an understatement by my wife. Although I had trained my ass off, the inevitable doubts were coming to a crescendo as I walked to the starting line. The standard neurotic runner fare “Why was this body part hurting, did I taper to quick.. too long, should have done more double days, damn vacation days cost me valuable runs, hey, there’s a squirrel”. More details than you would ever want to know are up on the mothership (link here), but for a quick summary the temps stayed well under the 100+ heat index experience in ’19 that were responsible for taking me out. Unfortunately, that issue was replaced by RAIN, a LOT of rain, really, I mean torrents of rain coming down for the entire back half of the 11 hours it took me to complete the event. That course is brutal enough dry – having to negotiate the continuous climbs and descents in slick mud made for one hell of a day. Two of the usual stream crossings turned into a step and pray game through 2+ foot rapids. Proud to say I never went down the entire 34+ miles (yeah, their course was long adding to the punishment). Couldn’t be happier with results and owe a lot of that success to Linda who coordinated the multiple chase points to keep me hydrated/nourished and spirits up through the entire challenge. I did think about the blog while navigating my way through the endless downpour – ‘cuz that’s what I do ha! Decided the perfect post to follow that race was this featured feathered friend.

Louisiana Waterthrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

This bird fit on many different fronts. First off, the obvious as it literally has water in its species name. In case you are not familiar with this pink footed bird it is a Waterthrush. Like the course, it is deviously deceptive. You would think it was part of the Thrush family by the name alone, however, it is really a Warbler. As with the race map it certainly looks flat until you are trying to figure out exactly where the “flat” part of Illinois is. Lastly, like the run, this bird was difficult both trying to get in the tin and harder still was trying to properly ID the specific Waterthrush species. The difficulty of the 50K goes without saying.

Louisiana Waterthrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to learn more about this newly designated CMAR mascot.

Continue reading Newly Designated Mascot for CMAR