A Grey Day

Ever have one of those days in the field when you come up on a subject that just doesn’t want to cooperate with you no matter how hard you try.  Perhaps you are initially elated to witness a bird for the first time and as the encounter plays out that early jubilation fades away leaving a soured feeling behind.  Has that frustration embedded itself so deep in your psyche that you are willing to simply clear the digital record and forget the whole event?…

Grey Hawk found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, TX in January 2020

Yeah, me neither ha!  When the feathered friend is already in the tin, then that may be  different story.  When it comes to +1’s you take what you can get, work it as much as it deserves in the digital darkroom and be happy you can make the little mark next to a new entry in the check list.

Hit the jump to learn about one such experience – warning, the images  only get WORSE!

Continue reading A Grey Day

Effortless Ladder-Backed

Had to take Linda in for her eye appointment today and since they only allow the patient into the building these days, I’m stuck sitting in the truck.  Becoming a common theme lately as we’re trying to get all of our health appointments out of the way so we do not have to worry about them if we decide to hit the road early next year. Since there is not a whole lot to do sitting in a truck on a cold rainy day,  opted to bring along the ol’ laptop and recall some warmer times.   Fortunately – or maybe that is unfortunately for you – there is still a staggering amount of images from Texas sitting in the blog queue.  I came upon this one first so Pecker it is.

Ladder=Backed Woodpecker found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Texas in January 2018

Our featured feathered friend comes to us primarily from the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.  This state park is located in Mission Texas directly on the US-Mexico border.  For my international followers, that puts you directly on the traditionally understood northern banks of the Rio Grande River.  Note the word “traditionally” there.  As the border between the two countries is defined by a meandering river, at any given spot you may find yourself looking at Mexico to the south, east west and not until my last trip down there did I realize that in some points you can actually look north to Mexico.  At the time the latter happened to us, we were a little concerned that we had made a seriously wrong turn or the GPS thought it would be fun to play a trick on us.  A quick check of the map set us at ease we were still on US soil. Put that little tidbit in our memory banks.

Ladder=Backed Woodpecker found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Texas in January 2018

Hit the jump to catch a few more shots of our small Woodpecker.

Continue reading Effortless Ladder-Backed

A Hummer Quandary

Well, our trip to Mayo was successful. Linda checked out fine and we were able to get all of our questions fully answered with positive dispositions so SUCCESS on that front. Now we just need to take some precautions to make sure we didn’t inadvertently get exposed to COVID or any other rare transmittable disease. As Linda was verifying her tests/appointments before we left, she noticed that 1/3 of their total staff across all their medical facilities were sick or quarantined with COVID-19. We followed all protocols so not too concerned, but clearly it has made its rounds through the medical fields. I also thought of two more positives out of the pandemic (planting a lemon tree). First, from personal experience I can inform all married males that it takes roughly 8 months before the “ring dent” disappears. Linda and I have an agreement – I only have to wear my ring when out in public and Linda only has to wear her ring all the time. As our public engagements have been limited, my ring has sat proudly on my dresser for most of the year. Hoping for your wife’s sake that information won’t prove too useful. Secondly, if you happen to go into a cold environment (like Minnesota), my preferred mask, the gator, provides a nice extra bit of warmth to the neck and face. Now to take a sip from my glass of lemonade.

Okay, now for a call for help from all my birder friends.

Black-Chinned Hummingbird found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Texas January 2018

What we have here is a Hummingbird. That is the part of the identification I am absolutely sure about. No question about it, tiny bird, long pointy bill and often located near containers full of sugar water. It gets increasingly harder from there. Now, when it comes to Hummers, you can usually start eliminating a number of the species based on region alone.

Black-Chinned Hummingbird found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Texas January 2018

Hit the jump for my super-useful Illinois Hummer identification algorithm and see my plea for help!

Continue reading A Hummer Quandary

Bomb Chachalaca

Howdy all!  Let it be known that rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.  Seems like a tired record these days, but the hustle and bustle is reaching peak levels.  The Halloween party is mere weeks away which brings with it outright panic.  This year it is twice the levels thanks to having to do the inside decorations and possibly the cooking along with the massive outdoor trail setup due to Linda still playing the recovery card (yes, I’ve been asking every one of her doctors just how many of those cards are left in the deck – good thing she can’t throw anything in her current state).  Waaaay behind on posts for the month, not to mention falling behind on reading the output of the others I follow.

Going with a quick one today so I can get back to prop building.  Today’s featured feathered friend is making its second appearance on the blog.

Plain Chachalaca found at Bentsen-Rio Grand Valley State Park in January 2018

You may recall this rather interesting looking bird is called a Plain Chachalaca – cha-cha-la ca.  Our previous sighting was at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge back on our December 2016 trip down the Texas Gulf Coast (link here).  This happens to be one of those birds you don’t tend to forget after your first encounter and quick to recall as soon as your ears catch tone of their presence.  Their song signature is what led to the name.  Cornell declares it sounds like a “raucous” and very repetitive “chac, a lak”.  I on the other hand I feel it sounds more like two Bullfrogs being rubbed together in hopes of being able to start a fire.  Even their call is annoying as hell – would describe it as what it sounds like when you quickly squeeze the air out of Possum lungs.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this Central American chicken.

Continue reading Bomb Chachalaca

Another Lamb Chop Murder

Howdy everyone! It feels like it has been ages since I have had the chance to take a quick break and spend time putting up a post. Just in case you were wondering, Linda is progressing very rapidly. The first week or so was a bit rough adjusting to the recovery protocol – Linda doesn’t take well to just relaxing requiring me to continually remind her she just went through major surgery and needs to give her body time to mend. She started cardio rehab this week which I think is helping her a lot, if nothing else freeing her from the confines of the house. If that wasn’t enough, the calendar turned over resulting in a “holy crap it’s time for the annual Halloween Trail event” panic. It seems like it is so far away and worry free until wham, you have only weeks to go with sooooo many props still to build. When the opportunity to post between all the training (two halfs in next 7 days), taking care of Linda and now Halloween prep.. you take it. Going to be long on pictures today and short on text – luckily today’s featured feathered friend is quite spectacular.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park in December 2017

Nor is this bird camera shy.  When you got it, you might as well flaunt it.  This beautifully colored bird is called the Great Kiskadee and is right up there in my top 10 attractive birds that I have been able to get in the tin.  The Painted Bunting (link here) still holds the top spot, but the Kiskadee is not far behind.  It may not have the diversity of palette the Painted does, but the whites, blacks, yellows and chestnut are perfectly coordinated and a testament to the skills of Mother Nature’s interior decorator.   There are also some secret colorings I didn’t even notice until several encounters later.  They are a bit selective when they show that.. but more on that later.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park in December 2017

Hit the jump to view a lot more pictures of our Bentsen-Rio find.

Continue reading Another Lamb Chop Murder

Guess I’ll Cave Too

Okay, time to get this post out of the way.  It has been staring up at me from the drafts folder for about 6 months now, taunting me every time post day came.  “Come on Bri, you gotta feature me eventually if you want that +1”. “No one will notice how crappy these shots of me are, they won’t ridicule you and mock your talents nope, no way hehehehe!”  Sigh, the bird’s right, I have to get it featured or I will not be able to claim the check per RB Birding Rule #20.  Ron and I have established birding rules born out of someone (name rhymes with  con) who has a habit of creatively applying guidelines (link here). Since this represents the 10th post of the month, we are technically in bonus time, let’s go ahead and (cringe) get this out of the way.

Cave Swallow found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2018, Texas

Prepare yourself, this is going to be a rough set.  If you squint real hard, you just might be able to make out a bird – maybe take a few steps back and let the eyes float a bit like with  those magic eye pictures that used to be the rage a decade back.  Hopefully you will be able to make it out.  If so, you are squinting at a Cave Swallow.

Hit the jump, but prepare yourself, the images do NOT get any better.

Continue reading Guess I’ll Cave Too

Another Trya for the Altamira

Well, I had my annual wellness exam with my doctor today.  Another year with “impeccable” (doctor’s word, not mine) health stats.  A constant diet of running and lifting may take its toll on your time over the year, but it definitely pays off in the numbers.  My employer also provides me annual comprehensive lab screenings so I knew the numbers going into today.  Ironically, I came out of the office with a hole in my arm and an hour or two later I wasn’t able to lift my arm above my waist.  Extremely healthy going in…damaged coming out thanks to my doctor convincing me I should get a tetanus shot with all the trail running.  Probably a good plan – I do shed my fair share of blood during the course of the year with the Halloween props, work on the lot and ideas that do not go as planned  – but damn this hurts.  Making the most out of my gimpy fin, figure it never hurts to stay on top of the blog quota.

Altamira Oriole shot at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2018

Keeping with the theme from the last post, tonight’s offering focuses on a bird that has previously debuted on the blog while trying to get as many Texas birds added prior to the Audubon speech (link here).  Like the Woodpecker, it was also found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (along the Rio Grande River) while on a birding trip to South Texas at the beginning of the year.  Similar to the situation with the last post, the previous series was taken in rather harsh light.

Altamira Oriole shot at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park

Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this Central America bird.

Continue reading Another Trya for the Altamira

A Better Golden Pecker

Hoped you enjoy the previous relief from the bird posts.  I like to mix it up a bit from time to time, but the bird shots clearly dominate my photography queue – at least at the moment.  Working on a few more non-feather series and hoping to get them finished up before too long.  Until then, you are once again subjected to our winged friends.

Golden-Fronted Woodpecker found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, January 2018

This series features the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker found on our trip to Texas back in the beginning of the year.  This isn’t the first time this bird has been featured here at Intrigued.  Back in February, this brightly colored species was honored from our trip to Texas in 2017 (link here).  I personally think this is a better executed set of pictures – that first set suffered a bit from being in direct sunlight.

Golden-Fronted Woodpecker found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, January 2018

Hit the jump to see more shots of the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker.

Continue reading A Better Golden Pecker

A Jay for a Long Day

Hello Everyone!  There are times that you think you are never going to get through and then somehow everything comes together and then start believing you have everything under control… then life throws you a curveball and you are back to trying to get wood on a difficult pitch.  That is how it has been here at LifeIntrigued over the last several months.  The hectic agenda was finally smoothed only to have a loss in the family.  With a heavy heart we laid my wife’s mother to rest today in a nice ceremony in her hometown.  We will miss her, but she is in a better place now, free from the burdens that weighed her down in her later years.

In Memory, Dorothy Barton

(12/3/1927 – 11/5/2018)

 

It has been said the best way to move on from a bump in the road is to simply continue driving forward.  Seems like sound advice to me, so in an attempt to move forward, thought I’d go ahead and put a post out on one of my favorite topics.  On this rather dark day, I bring you one of the brightest birds the aviary world has to offer.

Green Jay captured at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Texas January 2018

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this stunning Jay!

Continue reading A Jay for a Long Day

Buffy the Nectar Slayer

If a +3 three weekend is worth celebrating, then surely adding another +1 for the week is worthy of a Snoopy happy dance.  I would do just that, but Linda is home and knowing her she’d sneak a picture of it and then post it on Facebook to all her friends. Then Facebook would probably mine it and start sending dance lesson opportunities.  It’s amazing when you pre-think through your actions how boring your life becomes.  Maybe this is the key difference between childhood and adulthood – The Embarrassment Factor. If had actually considered some of my actions when I was a kid, me thinks I would not have had nearly as much as fun as I did.  Granted, I would have had far less stitches and Tetanus shots ha!  This all brings me full circle to today’s post.  Linda is forever embarrassing me by retelling my reaction to learning that a Painted Bunting was hanging out at place we visited in Georgia (wait, hmmm, that post may not be out yet – ignore that if it isn’t).  It is this ribbing I take that has caused me to pre-think my actions when I learned this Hummer was hanging out at the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park near Mission, Texas.

Buff-Bellied Hummingbird found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2018

In a much more controlled manner, I calmly walked out of the visitor center and forced a restrained walk over to the specified spot – a feeder we actually passed on our way in.  Successfully prevented another embarrassing Facebook post, although my inner being was doing one hell of a Happy Feet rendition.  This was one of the new birds I was hoping to get in the tin on our birding trip last January 2017.  Here in the Midwest (link here), we are treated to only one kind of Hummer unless one gets mistakenly lost during migration.  I did pick a new one at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve – the Black-Chinned variety (link here).   Other than that, the list is pretty bare when it comes to these incredibly fast creatures.

Buff-Bellied Hummingbird found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2018

Hit the jump to find out more about this bird.

Continue reading Buffy the Nectar Slayer