Happy Being Bitterned

It has been awhile, but finally back at it. I took some time off to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and to get rested up for the big push to the end of the year. Purely based on the 1100+ emails sitting in my inbox from WordPress I was the only one that has been slacking – will attempt to catch up although at some point the hole becomes insurmountable. To my credit, I have been busy away from the keyboard – got all the exterior Christmas decorations/lighting done (not at the Halloween level, but still significant), finished the interior decorating along with the big ass Xmas tree (just under 14 feet) and addressed the annual leaf horde. That latter one is probably more exhausting than my last two ultras put together. There are times when living in a forest has its down point. One being when the moles mount their counteroffensive to take back the relatively small part I cleared for a yard. It is fierce, nerve-racking, messy and bloody. Those bastards are getting smarter on every attack – next time I am fully expecting archers with flaming arrows and oil filled catapults to be rolled up to the forest edge (a mole army led by Merlin himself). Woods living also gets interesting when winds crest over 30mph, but it is the fall effect that could make one bitter. 2 full days of raking and burning in November to get the early drops taken care of and now another 3 full days/nights dealing with the final dumping – Consider me eternally grateful for Prometheus’ gift to humanity.

The good news is, no matter how tiring it might be, being outdoors will never make me bitter. Come to think of it, few things in the birding world get me more excited than being outdoors and discovering a Bittern in the wild.

American Bittern found at Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center in Port Aransas, TX in January 2021

How’s that for a contrived lead in to today’s featured feathered friend? Per my comments in the November posts I am desperately trying to get my unique species birding life list to 300 by the end of this year. Although the left sidebar running count isn’t updated yet, that number stands at 295 giving me.. one sec, subtract that..carry the one, multiply by the inverse, find the limits, solve quadratic…x=5 – yes, that gives me 5 species to go and a little less than a month to get that accomplished. If you read my Blue-Winged Warbler post (link here), then you already know that today’s American Bittern feature brings that gap down to 4.

American Bittern found at Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center in Port Aransas, TX in January 2021

Hi the jump to read more about the guzzling drunk.

Continue reading Happy Being Bitterned

Turkey Incognito

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Even if you are not from the states, hopefully, we all have something to be thankful for even if there isn’t a designated holiday in your neck of the woods.  This year is a bit of redemption for me from the last couple of years.  If you happen to recall, two years ago I was shocked to learn I didn’t have an appropriate topic to honor the day.  Ended up going with a substitute featured feathered friend – the Turkey Vulture (link here).   To my credit, at least it had the name of the traditional protein right in the name (and large, with some red, funny looking… you get the picture).  Last year I was so embarrassed I completely skipped the topic and announced I was unofficially stepping out of the corporate arena (link here).  Simply skipped right over the day itself and picked back up with part two of the Cedar Waxwing series (link here).  The hope being no one noticed I didn’t have a bird in the hopper that even remotely related to a Turkey – sigh.  Well, this year you are in luck.

White Wild Turkey found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, TX in January 2021

Hit the jump to find out about our incognito Turkey

Continue reading Turkey Incognito

At Least no Worries

Welcome to October everyone! The stress of the Halloween event is now passed and almost everything is packed up and put away until next year. Unfortunately, that reduction of stress has been replaced with concerns about this weekend’s ultra trail race. I am officially at the point where internal demons start cracking through the positive defenses – did you train enough, it would be tragic if you clipped a root, moles are out putting traps on the course, did you see those temps inching up, those shoes don’t seem broke in enough and a litany of other worries that always plague the few days before a big test. Honestly, anyone confident about a 50 mile race should probably consider some therapy sessions ha. Anyway, now in the final tapers. Did break in a new pair of shoes yesterday to have as a backup (actually a backup for the backup that I already broke in earlier in the year). These are a new version of my standard trail shoes – lower lugs, updated tread pattern and most of all, the “lyte” version for those later miles when the legs feel like they have cement blocks attached to them. Did manage to laugh at myself when I almost “supermaned” going down a hill yesterday. My usual ASIC Gel Fujitrabuco lugs are thicker and longer, reminiscent of my many years on the baseball field. Never have failed me especially in the 6 hours of rain and mud of my last 50K (link here). The new ones are lower and sharper with a chainsaw like pattern. I’ve gotten use to the very slight slip as the larger lugs sink in and stupidly assumed the same with the lyte pair. Started down a steep hill, made the first plant and literally rocketed forwarded way over my feet as the new tread grabbed instantly and immediately transferred the energy forward. Caught myself, laughed off the close tumble and went to work harnessing the change. My only worry is whether it will self clean like the standard lugs on soggy trails. Stay tuned for the upcoming uber-exciting dissertation on the wonders of Body Glide hehehehe. I know, I know, you are here for the featured feathered friends, not to read babble on my masochist hobby So, let’s get to it.

Least Grebe found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2021

Hit the jump to see a few more images of this alligrebe.

Continue reading At Least no Worries

Sing Pretty and Carry a Lethal Dagger

So far so good, our toy poodle Raven (link here) is doing awesome in the Teacup Dog Agility Association (TDAA) competition we are at this weekend. 5 courses five qualifiers along with a TMAG 5 title (Teacup Master Agility Games number 5 which requires 50 qualifying runs in games courses). Hopefully he and Mom can continue the success tomorrow and then into the big boy competition next week at the AKC agility meet. That meet is local for us, but for now I am making the most out of the downtime associated with this travel event. Keeping not one, but two themes going with this third post of the weekend. First is my promise to bring the color and then thought I’d work in the Halloween angle that has been consuming every cycle I can spare. Did manage to get a post out earlier today on my new Westworld 2.5 Posey line if you are curious about the Haunted Trail prop progress (link here). As for now, take a look at our Halloween themed featured feathered friend.

Altamira Oriole found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Typical of a lot of Orioles, this male Altamira Oriole sports the brilliant orange adorned with black highlights. This particular specimen comes to you from our annual January trip down the Texas Gulf and then along the southern border to McAllen Texas. This particular day at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park outside Mission was incredibly productive.

Altamira Oriole found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to read more about our Halloween themed bird.

Continue reading Sing Pretty and Carry a Lethal Dagger

Not the Rumps Currently in the News

Greetings everyone! We are finally back home now having completed our intended mission on Exploration Tres. I am still absolutely shocked at the lack of connectivity we faced as we move further and further north. Guessing some of it has to do with our provider as we really only have one option that has sufficient coverage by our home here in the country and they tend to be weaker as we travel out of the state. The rest of the issue is Linda keeps dragging me into deep woods in remote parts of the country – if you don’t hear from me in a while and find out Linda is in Tahiti with the dogs…do me a favor and drop a line to 911 for me hehehehe. The birding was a bit hit or miss on the trip so the backlog queue didn’t grow that much. On the odd front, this is the first time since I can remember I didn’t tin one of these.

Immature Yellow-Rumped Warbler found at Quinta Mazaltan, McAllen TX in January 2021

The shots in this series failed to give you a view of their primary tell-tale characteristic, so you may not recognize tonight’s featured feathered friend. Imagine that yellow patch on the side of the breast to also be found on the rump – yep, this is the very ubiquitous Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Although the species can be found in the entirety of North America dependent on their seasonal regions, this happens to be my first immature – well, at least that I am willing to show you ha!

Immature Yellow-Rumped Warbler found at Quinta Mazaltan, McAllen TX in January 2021

Hit the jump to read a bit more on our delicately colored specimen.

Continue reading Not the Rumps Currently in the News

The Dove Parade Continues

It is probably as hard for a tall white skinny natural blonde heterosexual female actress to land a commercial gig these days as it is to find reliable Internet service on our Expedition Tres. If the current administration needs a reality check on what “infrastructure” means they can get their asses out of DC and try to work remotely in the real world. The good news is we’ve had a lot of fun enjoying what our neighbors to the north have to offer in terms of outdoor activities. A few days ago I was able to get some hard trail running in traversing the steep bluffs of Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin (as if the bluffs were not hard enough already, the heat index in the 100’s didn’t help any!). From there we made it up to Duluth, MN where I was able to fulfill a previous commitment to a fellow blogger friend. Canoeist, kayaker and hiker extraordinaire CJ posted on a trip she took to Jay Cooke State Park (link here). Based on her account, I added it to my places to target in the future. Thanks to Linda’s tremendous trip planning skills that can now be officially checked off.

Inca Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

As CJ reported, Jay Cooke is an incredible place complete with a bordering bike trail and plenty of trails to test my endurance. First day took a 14 mile bike ride with Linda and the following day doubled up with a 13 mile run on some brutal elevation changing trails in the morning and then went another 10 miles biking with Linda after that. Another 14 mile biking trip is planned for later today – I might have to crawl my way through the rest of the trip ha! Anyway, big thanks to CJ for the great tip – oh and be sure and check out her site to read about the rest of her travels (link here) – she hangs out across the pond these days.

Inca Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to learn about the star of today’s post!

Continue reading The Dove Parade Continues

Batting Leadoff for the Yellow Bandits

I cannot believe we are nearing the close of July. It probably doesn’t help now that I joined the retired ranks I’m unable to remember what day of the week it is, but flying through an entire month, now that I notice. Technically more “running” than “flying” as this was the first multi-race month in a very very long time. In honor of kissing another month goodbye, thought I’d go with this for today’s featured feathered friend.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to see just a couple more shots of our colorful bandit.

Continue reading Batting Leadoff for the Yellow Bandits

Tippy Envy

Howdy all you wildlife fans! The oven has reached max out here in the Midwest with the temps back in the nineties. By itself, that is pretty bearable, but when you add in the humidity levels and the feels likes levels cresting in the 105s to 110s then it gets more punishing. Of course, this is also a sign the annual running of the Bix7 road race is on its way and sure enough yesterday was the day. After a year’s absence due to that ass Covid, it was once again time to get really sweaty traversing the bluffs of the Mighty Mississippi River for delicious Whitey’s Popscicles (link here) at the post race party. There will be a full post on the mothership site, but in short it was a hot one (high 80’s before the gun went off with the heat index that day topping out at 103). A big congratulations to Linda for completing the 2 mile Quick Bix this year. She missed an additional year as she had her heart surgery prior to the canceled year.

Will have to check the finish line pictures, but pretty sure my legs were as red as today’s featured feathered friend.

White-Tipped Dove found at Bensten-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Over the last few years I’ve retooled my body to handle the long grind of ultras letting go of the fast turnover indicative of the shorter road courses. Had to put those old skills back into play with the 7 miles of the Bix and the legs let me know they didn’t appreciate the amped up pace – good news is the big hills were a hell of a lot easier. While the legs take some time to recover, thought I’d put out a quick post continuing the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park “Dove Parade”.

White-Tipped Dove found at Bensten-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to learn about the next entry in the Dove Parade.

Continue reading Tippy Envy

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Welcome back everyone! Had my first run this morning since the long event and the body is a little better than expected even though it was a short 7 miler. Most of the kinks are out and just need to work a bit more on the heat conditioning before hitting it hard again. All this rain, as of late, has been keeping the temps down – with the wet stuff moving on, the mercury and humidity are starting to creep up again. You could almost mistake this for summer again ha! Speaking of mistakes…

Mourning Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

…tonight’s featured feathered friend managed to fool me in the field. This specimen was found at the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park back on our holiday trip to Texas in the beginning of the year. Ironically, we were there in hopes of tinning a rarity that had shown up. Eventually got that bird, the Ruddy Ground Dove and already posted on that experience (link here).

Mourning Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to learn about how I was deceived.

Continue reading A Case of Mistaken Identity

A Totem for Linda

Was on the fence about what to feature in my upcoming post.  I happen to be in one of those rare times where I have plenty of options with images all processed up and ready to go.  Then an interesting thing happened which tipped the scales in favor of this rather stoic looking Hawk. 

Red-Shouldered Hawk found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

I happen to really like the shot above and purposely let the barrel of The Beast out to give you the full view of the sight that caught my attention.  Linda was the one who spotted this one while we were standing outside Quinta Mazaltan in McAllen, TX back in January.  For someone who denies being a “birder” or as she puts it, one of “those people” she is certainly gaining an eye for our feathered friends.  Linda can also identify a large swath of birds just from following me out into the field – another fact she will deny in public.  Back to the image, the scene made me smile – from the Hawk’s perspective. “What ya’ feeling like for dinner honey?  How about some Purple Martin.  Yes, and I know just the place to get a carry out!”  For the concerned, you can rest easily knowing no Purple Martins were hurt in the making of this post. 

Red-Shouldered Hawk found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

Hit the jump to find out what got me thinking about this Hawk – hint A SNAKE!

Continue reading A Totem for Linda