Stoner Bird

Greetings my friends!  Been a bit of time since my last post (well at least on the Wildlife side of Intrigued as I did take a cue from CJ and put a Hmmm post out link here).  I thought things would lighten up at the turn of the decade, but I find myself surprisingly busy.  Some of that was due to a recent loss in the family as my Aunt is now once again united with my father.  I did get an opportunity to catch up with the extended family and even had a chance to spend some quality birding time with Ron.  He stayed overnight at my place on the trip back from the funeral allowing us to head down to Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge the next day.  This netted Ron a +1 and a new birding experience – both of which I’ll let him feature on his blog (nudge, nudge).  Maybe I’ll get around to those captures in say .. oh, I don’t know… let’s go crazy fast and say 2-3 years ha!

In the meantime, let’s travel back in time and see what’s moving on the Texas beaches.

Ruddy Turnstone found on Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Well, lookie there Mr. Orange Legs strutting its stuff.  This particular series comes to you from our January 2017 trip down to Galveston Island.  The Ruddy Turnstone featured here was busy running up and down the shoreline trying to convert all that migration fat into a beach bod that drives the chicks wild.  For those new to these creatures, they fatten up prior to heading out on their impressively long migration.  They spend their breeding months in the arctic tundra and then gorge themselves before making the massive trek to the North and Central American coastlines.

Ruddy Turnstone found on Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Hit the jump to learn more about this yo-yo diet bird.

Continue reading Stoner Bird

As the Royal Terns

Greetings everyone!  Been wrapped up in the chaos we call Christmas and have not had time to really sit down and relax in the warm glow of the computer monitors.  Clearly the financial engine is booming in America as trips to the stores to pick up items to celebrate the now over-commercialized event meant spending three times as long in a checkout line than it took to actually find that perfect gift.  Every store – same story.  I do try to support the local independents – the problem is my time is becoming increasingly valuable to me.  Quite revealing as the mainstream media and self-serving politicians tried their hardest to paint a false recession narrative just a few months back.  In honor of this soaring economy, I bring you royalty (well, at least I’m pretty sure about that).

Royal Tern found on Galveston Island, TX in December 2017

I have not featured a lot of Terns here and not for lack of images.  On the contrary, my photo queue is full to the brim with these sharp looking birds.  They happen to be a family of birds that hang out at my favorite local wildlife refuge in Havana (Emiquon) as well as easy fodder on our multiple trips down the Texas Gulf Coast.  If you have access to a fairly decent sized body of water, then you have a good chance of being able to witness these aerial acrobats in action.  The difficulty is not getting them classified in the right family as their slim/aerodynamic profile and dagger sharp bills tend to quickly differentiate them from the abundance of Gulls sure to be in the same area.  No, the difficulty comes into getting them categorized in the right species as there are at least eleven I can name off the top of my head that are available somewhere in North America.  Granted not as hard as ID’ing one of the twenty or so Gull varieties, but they do have a similar issue in that their coloring doesn’t differ that much – especially out of the breeding season.

Royal Tern found on Galveston Island, TX in December 2017

Hit the jump to learn more about this sleek looking bird. Continue reading As the Royal Terns

Low Rider

My little vacation has come to an end and back to work I go.  Don’t feel too sorry for me, I basically have 4 days of work left before I close the books on this year.  Thankfully, I’ll be able to look forward to a much better year as this one I’d just as soon forget altogether.  We’ll be heading back down to Texas sometime in the first couple of months in hopes of getting the first part of the new year off on the right foot.  Knowing how much content those trips add to the photography queue, figured I’d try my best to pop some of the previous Texas finds off the queue – some of those still need proper IDs and need some final validation from Ron (those damn Terns all look alike from afar).  Fortunately, today’s featured feathered friend was easy to classify.

Double-Crested Cormorant found on Galveston Island, Texas December 2016

This rather smug looking  waterbird was found while visiting Galveston Island State Park back in December 2016 (Yes B in the UK I am still waaaay behind ha).  While exploring the trails and shorelines for Clapper Rails, I came upon this Cormorant hanging out in the packed sand.  Not being up on my Cormorant game, I initially ID’d it as a female knowing the rest of the Cormorants that I’ve photographed were splendored in much darker to all black feathering (link here).  At the time it wasn’t obvious whether this specimen was the standard Double-Crested variety or the Neotropic which I had previously photographed in the same place (link here).

Double-Crested Cormorant found on Galveston Island, Texas December 2016

Hit the jump to read more about my education on this particular species.

Continue reading Low Rider

Well, Hi There Tri

Here I sit wondering. was it having to load and then unload 20 bags of cement, or shoveling 30 5 gallon buckets of coal shale, or hand carrying said buckets some distance away, or moving a bunch of 4x8x3/4 treated plywood, or loading and unloading cement pavers, or having to haul 16 large tubs full of Halloween decorations back onto the tall shelving in my outbuilding, or complying with Linda’s demand to take out the trash that has resulted in destroying my lower back?  Finally gave in to the nagging pain and had my chiro snap it back in place.  Now just need to get the swelling down before another weekend’s worth of work stares me in the face.  The good news is, right now, sitting doesn’t hurt as bad as standing which makes getting a post out one of the few things I can get done during the healing process.  Oh, for the record – I am certain it was the trash duties that did this to me!

Took a gander at the photo queue and found a series featuring these beauties.

Ticolored Heron found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center January 2017

When it comes to Herons, the Great Blue holds command from a sheer size perspective, but when it comes to elegance, I think the Tricolored variety takes the cake…or maybe in this context, the fish.  Something about the slate blue/grey interlaced with lavender and then contrasted with the white on the belly give this smaller Heron a regal look.  An image that stands in contrast to the wet and muddy environments they tend to hang out in.

Ticolored Heron found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center December 2016

Hit the jump to learn a bit more about Mr. Tri.

Continue reading Well, Hi There Tri

Hold My Beer Honey

Well, I promised a fellow blogger over at the Cedar Journal (https://thecedarjournal.com/blog/), a steady stream of bird posts in recognition of finally getting out of the pressure cooker.  Probably over promised, but contrary to the great philosopher Yoda, sometimes “Try, there is”.  Linda and I are starting to plan out the winter vacation.  It is no secret we have spent a number of previous years birding the Texas Gulf Coast and then along the Rio Grande River.  There are a number of other birding places we are considering, but hard to pass up the opportunity to get the abundance of birds down there in the tin – and Ron hasn’t ventured down there yet so any new checks allows me to claw back ground on his bird count.  All that planning got me thinking there are plenty of bird shots still to post from our previous Texas trips.

Loggerhead Shrike found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Texas January 2017

Took a quick look to see what was available in the queue and found this set back from the December 2016 trek.  The Loggerhead Shrike is not a new bird to the list having been featured previously back in November 2016 (link here).  The Loggerhead has decided the entire southern region is a sufficient kill zone year round with some forays into the central north during breeding season to spread their reign of terror on even more victims.

Loggerhead Shrike found at Galveston State Park, Texas January 2017

Hit the jump if you want a pre-Halloween scare.

Continue reading Hold My Beer Honey

Pressure Relief

Deep inhale, deep exhale.  There is something to be said about perseverance.  One of those words that pack a lot of meaning into a mere 4 syllables. Half physical, half mental, a quarter of support from family and friends with heaping spoonfuls of luck that together give you a formula for success when whatever barrier before you takes well beyond 100% to make it through (don’t worry, I stayed awake in my math classes ha).  I find runners tend to embrace this word, wrap themselves in its comfort like a warm blanket straight out of the dryer.  Eyes forward, focused on the finish line.

Brown Pelican found at Galveston Island State Park, Texas, December 2016

My mantra, “one foot in front of the other”.  No more, no less.  Ignore the failure demons in your head and focus on the immediate that is within your control.  Sure, there will be pain, sure there will be some self-doubt, but as long as that back foot makes it even the slightest amount of distance ahead of the front foot you will eventually get there… and when you get there, you can raise your wings, turn to your doubters and gloat like a proud Pelican.

Brown Pelican found at Galveston Island State Park, Texas, December 2016

Hit the jump to see a few more pictures of our friends from the southern coastline!

Continue reading Pressure Relief

The Ones Without Galoshes

Some days turn out to be one of those where you wonder when it is all done if there is an ounce of energy left in your body.  Today was one of those days for me.  Normally, we would be putting on our annual Halloween Haunted Trail event tonight, however, with all that Linda has been through and for better alignment with my partner in haunt’s schedule we pushed it to next week – all I can say is thank god for that as yesterday we had a major storm rolled through that completely flooded out part of our trail system through the woods (60 mph winds, hail and buckets of rain).  Can’t imagine how sucky it would have been trying to get everything set up not to mention having to make our guests trudge through the mud.  Instead, today was dedicated to getting all the props built over the course of the year out of the basement (Linda put her foot down) and depending on how the weather went, start work on a new 24’x8′ bridge over an ever growing stream.  Thanks to friends helping out we were able to meet Linda’s demand in the morning and then we decided to wade through pooled water on the trail and get some work done on the bridge.  6 hours later we had the entire outer rails built (doubled up 2x10s to 24 feet as well as the inner cross supports on 2′ centers.  I bet my friends do not offer to help me out next year ha!  This is one of the rare times where I can count the number of muscles in the human body as every single one is screaming at me.  While I am letting the Aleve kick in decided to blast a post out – not to mention the chair looked really comfy.

Great Egret found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center January 2017

Last post I featured the Great Blue Heron – the big kahuna in the Egret family was feeling jealous – thus the green hue on the lores.  Nothing is worse than dealing with a bunch of slighted, whiny Egrets, “did you post yet, did you post yet, are you going to make a post on us, why are you such an Egret hater, did you post yet, I thought you were going to post, Egret discriminator, when is that post coming…”. It just keeps repeating until you give in and …well, feature them in a post.

Great Egret found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center January 2017

hit the jump to see a few more shots of this beautiful bird.

Continue reading The Ones Without Galoshes

When Lesser is More

Greetings everyone.  Seems like it has been months since I’ve been able to find time to pound out a post.  It has really been only about a week and half but my days have become longer than usual now that Linda is officially home and in recovery mode.  Although she is frustrated by the limited amount stuff she is able to do (both physically and under strict limiting from doctor’s orders), she is apparently able to do a lot more than expected based on comments from the follow up appointments.  Her cardiac rehab specialist couldn’t believe she was so soon out of surgery and able to walk into her office.  No surprises here, that’s my wife, driven to get back in the dog agility ring. Of course, this has forced me to learn new skills like something called “laundry” which translates to shove as many clothes as you can in the hole of the large metal box, pour the sticky stuff from the big white jug into a slide at the top and hit the brightly colored button.  Then there’s grocery shopping which as far as I can tell is to simply walk up and down every aisle and grab 5 of everything that looks yummy and then get sent back with an explicit list of things to get (while picking up even more yummy stuff).  Not sure about this cooking concept either – there are all these appliances and utensils scattered about the kitchen which probably all have some purpose, but not sure what, as the contents of the containers I bring from the various places on the way home all seem ready to eat just as they are.  Oh wait, I have kind of fallen in love with the metal box under the counter they refer to as the dishwasher!

Enough about my domestication as I know you are really here for the birds!

Lesser Scaup found at Galveston Island State Park, Texas Gulf Coast, December 2017

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this frustrating duck!

Continue reading When Lesser is More

Palm Warbler

Greetings from the northern state of Minnesota.  Should not be a surprise by now, but we are up at Mayo getting Linda’s heart a slight rebuild to take care of a birth defect.  I am going to spare you the details, but the good news is the new valve is officially in and functioning.  There have been some unexpected events and side effects that the doctors are currently working to resolve.  Hoping Linda will be back on her feet soon and checking the Iron Man off her bucket list… okay, that last part might not be true, she leaves the running to me.  Her attitude is good and I know the thought of being able to run her dogs in agility again is keeping her drive up.  To help pass the time and give a bit of relief on the stressometer,  thought I’d go ahead and see if I could get a post out.  Let me introduce you to my little friend.

Non-breeding Palm Warbler found at Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Pretty stoic looking if you ask me.  This somewhat overall dullish looking bird with the yellow butt happens to be a Warbler.   Now Warblers are known for being pretty flamboyant especially in the Spring or breeding plumage. It just happens this particular Warbler is one of the more ornate ones out there.  Imagine that yellow coloring on the under feather washing through the belly and shooting highlights to the back of the head where the white highlights are shown on this specimen.  Now add to that a bright rusty colored cap and you have yourself one “purdy” bird.  The truth is I have shots of this bird in its breeding plumage thanks to a trip to Montrose with my brother Ron.  We are still trying to get those pictures properly ID’d  so I can start posting those … and racking up the +1’s.  Hey Ron, let’s get that done, my peeps are waiting!

Non-breeding Palm Warbler found at Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this colorful Warbler disguised for the off-season.

Continue reading Palm Warbler

A Snowy Redemption

Definitely sticking with the game plan for this month, staying ahead of the game and getting the posts out early.  It definitely  helps when you already have the images worked up in the digital darkroom.  To be honest, short of getting the birds in the tin, the major effort in this whole blogging thingy is working up the images to make it worth my reader’s visit time.  Of course, this doesn’t always happen, case in point the horrific Cave Swallow pictures I forced upon you a few posts back.  I try my best so you can at least tell it is a bird – not to mention Ron is starting to push me with the quality stuff he is putting up over on his blog (link here).  You probably didn’t know this, but I credit him for getting me into photography while I was in high school and the reason I can navigate around a camera (although I did introduce him to back-button focus).   Today’s featured bird is a bit of an atonement for a slight I made in a recent post.

Snowy Egret found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center December 2016

Within the Cinnamon Teal post (link here), I unintentionally dismissed one of the most regal birds there is (at least in North America).  It wasn’t the species that dimmed my excitement, just that I was revved up to add a new +1 to the list.  I am lucky enough to have a large number of Snowy Egret shots from just about everywhere we’ve traveled along with tins full from Emiquon and other local water hotspots.  When I saw this set of Snowies in the post queue, I immediately decided this was the perfect time to bring them out.

Snowy Egret found at Galveston Island, Texas, January 2017

Hit the jump to see some more picture of this immaculate bird.

Continue reading A Snowy Redemption