Been a weird couple of days. We ended up getting absolutely slammed with storms last night with an initial round of hail. As I type, we are probably less than 15 minutes from the start of what looks to be several more rounds of angry weather, except this time with a forecast of ping pong ball sized hail. Mother Nature spurned. Managed to get my butt out of bed early today in hopes of getting at least 13 miles pounded out assuming the ground wasn’t too saturated. What I wasn’t expecting is the highly humid steamy temps – by mile 10 I looked like Johnny Storm had flamed on. Heeding the “Linda Voice” (surgically embedded while I was sleeping) decided to shut it down only to resolve the gnawing defeat by going back out for another 5 right before dinner (and before the storms were supposed to hit). All this to simply say I’m exhausted and decided to go with something we will not be seeing tonight.
How is that for a curveball!?! Technically, more like a knuckleball as there isn’t a perceivable spin. I am in the midst of processing more images from the Vegas and Dauphin trip and wanted to give Brad a break before his next feature. Looked in my queue and decided it was time to finish this draft.
Prepare yourself before you hit the jump, you are about to endure several more moonings!
Howdy everyone! Good news, had my annual physical today and based on the results, I can, indeed, confirm I am still alive. It was touch ‘n go there for a while – especially when they had three nurses holding me down while another stuck a railroad spike in my arm to suck out gallons and gallons of my precious life-juice. I have to find out what strength regiment those ladies keep, holy cow, they’d mop up on the Steer wrangling circuit. A lot of stress to go through just to hear those sweet sounding 5 little words “Keep doing what you’re doing”. My doctor is trained well, as long as my numbers remain impeccable, he overlooks the occasional visit for ultra “mishaps”.
While I sip on some orange juice to recover from the earlier bloodletting (before heading out on today’s long training run), thought I would go ahead and get another post out for the month. This will buy me a few days as I verify everything is ready to go for Brad’s upcoming post. Since I introduced you to Guadalupe River State Park in the previous post, figured I would feature another feathered friend captured at that same location.
Hit the jump to read more about our buffy colored friend!
If things go as scheduled in the coming weeks (and that is a big fingers crossed) we should be back on the hunt come April. Last year we received some very sad news at this time requiring us to cancel our plans to catch the bird migration at Dauphin Island, Alabama (link here). To be honest, the loss has yet to transition from the “difficult” stage – every holiday, every noteworthy experience and every milestone that has happened since has been paired with a sour element knowing we wouldn’t be able to share it with her. That trip has now been rescheduled, although something tells me I’ll be thinking less about the Gulf crossers and more about the time spent trying to express the appreciation for all she had done for us. It is what I didn’t get the chance to say that saddens me the most.
With the coming travels, I am trying to stay on top of the posts in between working on the latest batches of images from Texas and now Vegas. I do have a pretty good safety net thanks to a number of really nice features Brad has added to the queue. I’ll definitely be rolling a few of those out this month and then leverage his larger efforts while we are traveling. Found this series of images from last year’s Texas shoot. This beautiful white Duck is what triggered the memories.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I generally refrain from featuring “domestic” waterfowl. That doesn’t mean I do not fill up my digital cards when we encounter them, rather tend to put them to the side assuming our readers would rather read/learn about wilder encounters. Every once in a while, the end products turn out pretty nice and I go ahead and add them to the queue (link here). I think this series fits that select category.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our Duck in white satin.
After a seriously bumping landing in Vegas and a similar rough landing on the way back, I can now proclaim we had a successful birding trip in Sin City. During the course of outing, I am quite religious about copying all the contents of the digital card(s) to two separate portable drives at the end of each day. Recharge the battery(ies), format the card(s) and get ready for the next day. I am careful about only using one drive to do any quick validations and count tallies to insure one copy stays pristine. At the end of the trip, those two drives end up being uncomfortably close together, causing a high degree of worry until the contents of one of the drives is copied onto the highly redundant NAS drives and another copy on the work drives for later digital processing. Can you tell I’ve lived an Information Technology life – TRUST NO ELECTRONIC DEVICE MADE BY HUMAN HANDS ha. Everything safely copied – stress levels return to normal. I did get a chance to update this year’s Average Year stats (link here). Official count comes in at +26 for the Vegas trip with 9 new lifers bringing the current total to 237 with 14 lifers (Ron currently sits at 158 with 12 lifers). 35 birds ahead of last year’s pace – not too shabby only a few months into ’23.
Hope you all enjoyed Brad’s Yellowstone series – it definitely has Linda and I motivated to book a trip back out there. It is time for me to get back on the post horse and earn my keep. Ironically, with the prior notes about how well this year’s birding is going, I’ve decided to feature a bird that successfully eluded us this year.
As you will see later in the post, the Grey Hawk (Technically Gray Hawk) has a very limited presence in the United States. Not to be confused with the male Northern Harrier which is often referred to as the Grey Ghost (link here). This Hawk one of the top When we head down to Texas each January, this is one of the targets at the top of the list.
Hit the jump to read more about this relatively rare visitor to our southern border.
Howdy folks. I have good news. Brad has checked in and thanks to a harrowing escape from a very agitated splinter tribe of the Baka, he’ll be returning to home base soon yeah! Best of all, he has digital cards full of future post fodder sure to entertain our readers. I’ll have to wait to hear the full office report out – dodging poison darts sounds like some serious popcorn munching stories. Linda and I are heading out into the field ourselves. Just a week stint for us, although I contend it feels a lot longer with limited amounts of sleep in Sin City. Expecting a big boost to my current Average Year count (link here) currently sitting at a respectable 210 thanks to two recent visitors to our feeders. Just to set the schedule, this will be the last post of the month from me in order to give me a chance to respond to comments etc. before we jet out. Brad will then take the helm to close out what is left of February and the first post or two in March.
With the admin work out of the way, how about we get to today’s featured feathered friend.
Completely opposite the sun soaked issues I had to deal with in the previous Cattle Egret post, today’s series is more of a literal drenching. Rather than having to battle the exposure gods to keep from blowing out the brilliant whites of that Egret, I found myself trying to suck in all the light I could to pull this Green Heron out of darkness. Rain had just passed, the sky was still thick with overcast and the waters around the South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center (and now Alligator Sanctuary) had taken on a dreary tone.
Hit the jump to see a few more pictures of our rain soaked shore hunter.
Quick change of post plans. Originally scheduled to have a two-parter from Brad for these next posts, but I forgot we are sending him on assignment to a dark foreboding destination in a forgotten corner of the world in search of new post fodder. Sure, he was reluctant at first, but got onboard when I explained it was for the good of our loyal readers at the cost of relatively minor inconveniences (Malaria shots for starters). Personal concern for safety was quickly replaced with thoughts of National Geographic level grander and notoriety. Let’s all thank Brad for his dedication and commitment to you and the Intrigued family. If he makes it .. I mean when he makes it back we’ll pop some posts off his queue to feature while Linda and I are sipping umbrella drinks around the pool in a popular desert destination.
In the meantime, you are stuck with me and this here rather gruff looking Egret.
Hit the jump to read more about this blocky Egret more apt to be found in a dry field than standing in the water alongside the rest of its kin.
Hello everyone! Trying to get ahead of the posting curve as it looks like we might be heading back out for an extended period of time in the proverbial field. If plans work out it will be later this month – cautiously trying to not jinx us as we had some very difficult times trying to get to places towards the end of last year. Unexpected family situations and a bout with Covid threw those plans right into the dumpster. More on that as we electric slide closer to those dates. In the meantime I have some topics in my queue and there are several in Brad’s queue I want to get to before then. He will be traveling as well, so doing my best to get everything timed out correctly. To keep things rolling, here’s a series I took back in January 2022 (essentially yesterday for those of us here at Intrigued ha).
As you can hopefully make out from this distant shot, today’s feature has fur instead of feathers. Hit the jump to learn more about this rather big eared creature that showed up while I was hunting for Clapper Rails.
Just a quick note before we get started. I intentionally let my birthday pass without fanfare last month, but I was planning to make special note of an accomplishment that did occur – As my Dad would quip, must not have been that important or you wouldn’t have forgotten ha. As a quick self-pat on the back, January was the start of my 16th year blogging here at Intrigued. 15 years of observations, wildlife encounters, ramblings and whatnot. Been a blast so far and all the credit goes to you, my wonderful readers, and our staff that keep this little project going. Hippity Hip Hooray! Now staff, let’s get back to work.
Apparently my home state decided to welcome me back with a bit of a warm spell. Admittedly, it was a bit brutal the first week, but mid 40’s for most of this week (possibly in 50’s Sunday), in the Midwest, in early February…I’ll take it. Best of all I’ve been able to train outside and catch back up from the annual lazy January. A bit shocked I’m already up to 9 mile outings, but there’s a long runway to this year’s goals. Already signed up for a midyear 50K which already has the distinction of sending my sorry ass to the hospital (link here and here) and as you probably expected, another attempt at the 100K in the fall (link here). What can I say, I don’t deal very well with failure. There will probably be a few races scattered in here and there, but the training will be designed around these larger events. Today’s featured feathered friend is also fond of running albeit more of a sprinter specialist (you can view larger versions by hitting the image links).
Last post I brought you a ubiquitous resident of Texas (and many of the other southwestern states). A full bodied, dark feathered bird with quite a sassy mouth. Similar to the Great-Tailed Grackle, the Sanderling can be found in Texas. You will not find them at inland Walmarts as these cute birds all have Salt Life plastered on the back of their Jeeps. Tops off, Maui Jims on, cooler in the back, sandal to pedal with the wind whipping through their white/grey toned nonbreeding plumage.
Hit the jump to see a few shots I took of them driving their Jeeps on the beach.
Well, it is a bit bittersweet, but we are officially back in the broke state of Illinois. Part of us misses the warm(ish) sun, soothing waves and inviting beaches we enjoy while on our southern stay. On the other hand, there is something comforting about being home even when the outside temps are struggling to get into double digits (hell, even above zero for that matter). What can I say, I like my “stuff”, ability to stretch out and not hit the side of the RV and, best of all, I finally get to play with my new Christmas gifts. Also helpful to have my larger screens for managing my blog duties. Need to get caught up on the 2023 Average Year (link here), but other than the updated travel video, the 2022 results/recaps are all finalized (link here).
The month of January was one busy birding month. With all the southern Texas locations and the travel to and from, the unofficial 2023 count already stands at 192. That means only 108 more to go in the next 11 months to hit the previously missed 300 threshold (technically 106 as I already picked off two easy ones at my feeders). Of course we all know it gets significantly harder as each one is ticked off. There is one particular bird I am glad is already checked for this year – one that my ears are very relieved are likely to be absent for some months until we head back into the Southwest.
Those that live in that region ALREADY know what our feature bird of the day is. That purplish shimmer, dagger of a bill and equally piercing yellow eyes conjure up images of psychological noise torture used throughout warfare history. There is a theory that the Israelites really used Great Tailed Grackles to bring down the walls of Jericho and not trumpets – UPDATE: our gaggle of curmudgeon lawyers that make life miserable for those of us here at Intrigued demand that I caveat my previous statement with “there are no facts to date supporting said theory”. Truth is they were trained to steer D11’s at the time and the reason many construction companies choose yellow as their base color – in tribute to the eyes of these early skilled soldiers/laborers.
While I sort things out with the lawyers, hit the jump to read more about these squawkers.
Greetings everyone! Good news, we survived the storm that passed through Galveston Island last we chatted. I can only imagine how terrifying it must be to be in a trailer with a Tornado barreling down on you. We only reached 60mph gusts and that still put a rockin’ on our small RV. As promised, headed out to the beach to see what interesting things were brought ashore as soon as Mother Nature gave me the chance. Combed the beach and found some really nice (intact) shells, first giving them a nudge to make sure I wasn’t disturbing the sea version of a mobile home – beyond the blue jellyfish washed up everywhere (already gonners), no creatures were harmed.
The plan was to publish the latest from Brad’s queue while we started our trip back to the tundra. Checked the WordPress drafts and shock, it wasn’t there. Craptastic! Hoping it isn’t in the bit-bucket – will check on that when we stop for the night (worst case I have the original copy and can just paste it back into blocks). In the meantime, a perfect time to get a post out I promised B. (from across the pond) several months back. Now for the disclaimer – if you want to see incredible Butter pictures, go to his site (link here). My long-rig is not designed for these delicate looking creatures and my species knowledge would barely fill a thimble.
When the birds are slim in the field, I start looking for other targets to keep me entertained – no Dragons, no furries, might as well give the arms a workout and target these rather spastic flappers. Hit the jump If you want to see some of my better clicks – again, Linda won’t let me take her macro in the field without some ridiculous amount of honey-do commitments, so soft shots it is ha!