Bad news for those of you out there hoping for another post from the Squirrel family and good news for those that have been filling my inbox up with comments to the contrary. Truth is, I would have gone with another fur focused series if I had one in the queue. I’m only getting home maybe one or two days a week these days if I’m lucky. When I do, I’m more focused on getting the growing list of upkeep items like mowing taken care of over prepping images for the blog. As a result, I’ve been relying on drafts I worked up to use while we were down in Alabama. Thought it would be good to get back to the main staple here at Intrigued – BIRDS!
Today’s feature is not a new bird to the blog as it was featured back in November 2018. (link here – but warning, don’t go there). There are few birds that frustrate me more in the field than these here White-Eyed Vireos. Year after year after year I’ve encountered specimens in our many outings and I’ve only managed to feature this vireo that one time back in ’18 and that was ONLY because I wanted to officially get the checkmark. Went with some crappy shots for that post which is why I warned you NOT to go there – if you went there anyway, you might want to go rinse your eyes out – no worries, I’ll wait until you get back.
Hit the jump to learn why this bird was on my nemesis list.
This being a short month, I’ve been watching the calendar closely so I do not blow my self-imposed monthly post quota. Even with that extra scrutiny, I still feel I’m lagging behind. It hasn’t helped that I’ve had a myriad of doctor appointments to take care of and a dentist appointment this week that ended up with multiple needles being shoved halfway up my nose (“Hey, is that grey matter I see on that railroad spike you call a needle!?!). One more doctor visit left this month and then I should be free for two months until I can get in to finally see my referral consultation – very much appreciate all the well wishes in the comments, especially Brad who offered me a pint of his blood (Cat family bonds run strong!). On a happier note, we had the chance to run up to Iowa today to play Santa Claus – unfortunately had to miss Linda’s family Christmas and then we spent the next month in Texas. We joked we wanted to wait until there was snow on the ground unlike the real date ha! While there, Linda drove me around to some birding hot spots. True to winter form, the Eagles were thick on the Mighty Mississippi. Quick count was at least 30 of those majestic birds were hunting the frigid waters down by I280. In tribute to that success, thought I would go with another sure bet when it comes to winter birding.
Today’s featured feathered friend is a winter bird only in the sense we have encountered them only in our winter excursions. You will not see this particular bird ANYWHERE near cold temperatures unless you count the bizarre cold snaps that have hit Texas the last couple of years. Their region maps consists of year round residency along the coasts of Central America and just barely into the southernmost tip of Texas.
Hit the jump to read more about this LOJ (warning space aliens may be watching)
Hello everyone! The busy commercial holiday season is upon us. End of the year tasks to finish up, decorations to finish, cards to stuff and stamp, gifts to acquire, hours of baking to prepare for family/friends gatherings all adding to a stressful end of the year. Thank god I do not have to worry about performance reviews anymore – well, beyond my wife’s daily assessment of my worthiness hehehe. My go to stress relief has always been physical exertion – younger years getting bruised up in the dojo, later years having the pavement hammer my knees and now, well, I seek the calming therapy of nature…and, of course, getting every ounce of energy consumed running the hills and valleys on the now very muddy trails.
My friend Ryan and I added a new element to our trail run today – orienteering. That would be a fancy of way of saying we got our asses lost ha! I happen to pride myself on having a fairly decent internal GPS. As long as I can keep track of which direction I am heading at any given time and roughly the much easier measurement of distance Bri will make it back to the car. If all else fails, point the feet in the right compass point and walk straight – at some point something will look familiar or worse case a few cuts and scrapes later you’ll be back to the start. I can’t say I’ve ever gotten lost on the SECOND time at running a course before today. I also try to lay out my course to always turn one direction until I have to turn the other (a concept left over from my coding recursion days). The course we were replicating today was set up by another group we joined a couple of weeks back. Left, right, right, straight, right, left, left, straight then right and the mess continued until somehow they led us back to the parking lot.
Hit the jump to read more about the latest addition to the bird list!
Greetings everyone! Coming off a wonderful night hanging out with some great friends getting caught up with what’s been happening in their lives since last we met – in some cases that’s been more than a year thanks in part to the pandemic. One of those friends reminded me I had 4 birds to go to meet my goal. So, while I shake off the last of the spirits in my machine, thought I’d see if I could cut a bit into that deficit. To set the stage I am generally not a fan of “surprises”. I’ve found over the years that a vast majority of those incidents result in some kind of bad experience. In the corporate world, I dreaded system surprises – ghosts in the mechanical machine if you will. Those in the IT/Systems world know NOTHING positive EVER comes from a code surprise. When it does, you tear your hair out until you determine a way to get the failure to predictably repeat thus solvable. In private life this fear of the unexpected jolt is equally favored to the bad side of the ledger. “Wow, surprised how hard that cement step is that I just launched my chin into while second guessing a new skateboard stunt” or “Amazing my hand made it through that sharp opening – wait, what’s all that blood from”. Add to those examples my surprise on how painful a blow to the back of the head from a box fan can be (once I regained consciousness). A few stunners do end up on the good side – meeting Linda on day one of my career and later her agreeing to spend the rest of her life with me are up there at the top hehehe. Today’s featured feathered friend happens to be one of those surprises that also landed on the positive side.
Not the most flamboyant of birds I’ve brought your way for sure. Unfortunately, this specimen lost a bit of its luster thanks to less than ideal shooting conditions. It is hard enough to shoot in dense woods on its own, but when you have to shoot across rays of light penetrating through small gaps in the trees it gets a bit tricky. I had my settings dialed in for black subjects hanging out in the canopy (more on that in a bit). Perfect for those conditions – not ideal for capturing this Finch that popped out on the trail ahead of me. Did my best to pull it out in the digital darkroom at the expense of the yellow highlights on the outer edges of its tail and wings. For the birders out there that are unfamiliar with the Pine Siskin, visualize the overall coloring being a bit tanner and more of a lemon yellow piping.
Hit the jump to find out more about this new addition along with a “bonus”.
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.
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.
Hi the jump to read more about the guzzling drunk.
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.
Hit the jump to find out about our incognito Turkey
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.
Hit the jump to see a few more images of this alligrebe.
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.
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.
Hit the jump to read more about our Halloween themed bird.
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.
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!
Hit the jump to read a bit more on our delicately colored specimen.
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.
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.
Hit the jump to learn about the star of today’s post!