Rough to the Touch

Another post from the great north with some good news to share.  Linda has now made it through her four surgeries and has been officially discharged from the hospital.  “Hip Hip Hooray!”  I’ve been through a number of “situations” over the years (unfortunately, many of them self-induced).  Some of those bumps in the road took just about every ounce of fortitude I had to get through.  Even with all that, I have to bow to the resolve Linda has shown over the last 4 weeks – three of which has been spent up here in Viking territory.   Weeks of being poked, prodded, sliced, sawed, cracked, studied, sampled, wired, tested, extracted, stitched, scanned, radiated, incubated, anesthetized, sponged, pressurized, cauterized, medicated, IV’d and worst of all bombarded by some of the worst TV shows imaginable (think marathons of Yes to the Dress, Millionaire Listings and in the I’d rather beat my head with a hammer than watch category, Below Deck private yacht cruises).  I can’t even find the words to convey how proud I am of her up with all that and staying positive even though she has many more months of recovery ahead of her.

On a personal front, just glad I do not have to write up the latest +1 to my birding list from a truly uncomfortable folding hospital chair!

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow at Starved Rock State Park, Illinois May 2015

Many of the plus ones as of late (well, to be honest, most of the posts this year) have come from birding trips to fiscally more responsible states than Illinois.  In a change of pace, today’s featured feathered friend comes courtesy of a trip up to Starved Rock State Park which is a relatively short drive away.  Ron and I had the opportunity to do some birding together back in May 2015.  Not exactly the best weather as we were drenched by morning showers and it didn’t really lighten up much the rest of the day.  Any shots deep under the tree canopy required dizzying levels of ISO and significant time in the digital darkroom.   We still managed to have a lot of fun as is always the case when out with Ron in the field – even managed to get a few new feathered specimens in the tin.  The Northern Rough-Winged Swallow you see before you is one of those new additions.

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow at Starved Rock State Park, Illinois May 2015

Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about our uniquely textured Swallow.

Continue reading Rough to the Touch

The Non-White Pelican

Coming to you once again from the land to the North.  Things seem to be progressing overall up here at Mayo, however, there are those points where frustration starts to step in.  Linda has now made her way through three different surgeries in under a week and now preparing for the fourth and hopefully final one.  Her valve replacement appears successful, but the heart rhythm hasn’t returned to a proper level requiring a permanent pacemaker to be put in.  At this point, we are just waiting around to find out when that is going to happen.   Comforting to know she is being cared for by some of the best there is.

Thought I would get started with a new post until news came through on the schedule.

Brown Pelican found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

If you recall from the previous post, I had dragged out the soapbox and was venting some displeasure on some of the bird names out there.  Specifically bird names based on features that are difficult to tell with one in your hands much less trying to discern the characteristic out in the field.  My blogger friend CJ noted the Latin naming takes some of that out of the equation, but Aythya collaris just doesn’t roll off the tongue like Ring-Necked Duck and it gives my Latin education brother Ron a definite advantage (not to mentioned it is impossible to see the “collaris”… sorry).  While looking through the post queue, noticed this series.

Hit the jump to see some of my favorite pics of this coastal bird.

Continue reading The Non-White Pelican

Ring Me Up the ABA

A sad day here at Intrigued.  We had to say goodbye to one of our beloved toy Poodles.  Osiris (Rizzi) lived a good long life, became a well decorated Agility Champion on Linda’s guidance and brought us tremendous joy over the years.  Linda, his brothers and I truly miss him.

The stressometer is peaking again which means it is a good time to relax and get the mind focused on something else for a bit – translated,  it is an absolutely great time to get another post out.  Today’s featured feathered friend has what I’ve always considered an improper name.

Ring-Necked Duck found an Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas Gulf Coast January 2017

Hit the jump to read about more about this badly named Duck.

Continue reading Ring Me Up the ABA

A Dull Palm

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 A Dull Palm

Holy Crap, Not a Marsh!

We have now entered phase 2 of Linda’s transformation to the bionic woman.  Thanks to her coming down with a cold the first day of being up in Mayo on phase 1 two weeks ago, the heart surgery had to be pushed a week.  Something about having your chest opened up and having coughing fits seems to be a bad thing.  Once again, we are up in Rochester, but this time the poking and prodding is past and now it’s time to finally get this taken care of.  I know Linda is looking forward to getting this over with so she can get back to running our dogs in agility.  To help cope with the significant amount of downtime involved with this week, most of the spare time since returning home the first time was spent prepping and uploaded images from the image queue – might as well be productive as my body defenses are put to the task fending off whatever still unnamed contagions that will be bombarding me in the community waiting rooms.

Kicking off the Minnesota blogging series is a new bird for the birding list!

Sedge Wren found at Glacial Park Nature Preserve, McHenry County, IL September 2017

Full disclosure, the true significance of this find was not truly appreciated while out in the field.  In fact, it may have been overlooked if it wasn’t for the blitz of activity int the digital darkroom this week.  A few hours before getting to this little specimen I worked on a set of Marsh Wren shots found during one of our trips to the Texas Gulf Coast.  That Marsh was the second encounter I have had with that species – the first was featured back in October 2017 from a previous visit to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (link here).  Ironically a really nice refuge ~2 hrs from where we are right now!

Sedge Wren found at Glacial Park Nature Preserve, McHenry County, IL September 2017

Hit the jump to read more about this cute Wren!

Continue reading Holy Crap, Not a Marsh!

Nothing to See Here

More waiting time, might as well find a comfy place to sit it out and give the fingers a bit of exercise.  Things are progressing well at Mayo.  Linda has finished 4 of her 5 appointments today and now just waiting for a meet with the cardiologist.  I cannot say enough about how efficient Mayo Clinic is.  I realize they have had a lot of practice moving people through, but I could say the same for many other organizations that are nowhere close to the honed processes I am witnessing here.  Check out the plan for the day on the Mayo app, arrive, check-in, execute medical task and you are on your way.  Now the downside is from a social perspective, this area can be a definite downer.  Being at the tops of the medical field brings with it a higher concentration of the serious ailments humans must endure.  You look around and your heart feels for the hardships many of these patients must deal with on a daily basis.  If there is any calming, it is knowing they are at least in the best place possible to get some relief.

Last post, I featured the golden-eyed one (the White-Tipped Dove).  Definitely a stunning feature should you be lucky enough to catch a specimen in enough light to show it off.  While looking at my processed queue found another eye stunner.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, Texas December 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of Mr. Redeye.

Continue reading Nothing to See Here

Some Extra Time with the Tipped One

Greetings all!  It has been a bit sparse out of Intrigued as of late and for that my apologies.  Unfortunately, the production is probably going to stay a bit light for the remainder of this month and then into early August due to most of my time being devoted to helping my wife through her medical situation.  Looking forward to when this is all behind her – until then, my activities will take a backstage.  If there is lemonade in this basket of lemons is there might be a significant amount of wait time involved with all her appointments at Mayo.  Will have my trusty Surface to crank out what I can in those wait cycles – probably good for me to keep my mind busy on other things when she is away.

This being the first day of appointments and sure enough sitting in a waiting room waiting for Linda’s name to be called.  How about we turn our attention to a rather colorfully hued member of the Dove family.
White-Tipped Dove found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in December 2017

The White-Tipped Dove is not a new bird to the blog.  This red-legged Dove was first featured back in February of this year (link here).  If you recall, that post featured an encounter at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge back in January of 2017.  Well, guess what, I had the pleasure of meeting likely another specimen of this species at the exact same location on our December 2017 trip.  Now, that may seem like an odd coincidence, but in truth, you are not going to find them in too many other locations.

White-Tipped Dove found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in December 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the White-Tipped Dove.

Continue reading Some Extra Time with the Tipped One

An All American Bird

Well, today is officially my one week anniversary of pulling myself away from the big bright light.  Beyond the staples in the head becoming quite annoying – not to mention an apparent great conversation starter since going back into the office last Wednesday.  Kind of hard to hide and eventually someone starts getting quizzical when you are deliberately trying to keep them to the front of you.  Also didn’t help that my supposedly lovely wife is a Facebook junkie – had to threaten her with retaliatory hospital photos from her upcoming surgery if she followed through on her threat to post images from the emergency room!  Will post more detail on the mothership blog soon, but for now things are progressing slowly.  Did a quick 2 miler on Tuesday, a 4 miler on Thursday and put 6 miles in this morning’s heat.  Definitely a long road back to where I was, but as they say in a runner’s world, it’s simply putting one foot in front of the other.

With the hoopla and stress leading up to the race, I didn’t get a chance to really enjoy the 4th of July celebration.  Looking through my blog fodder queue, decided today we would feature an All-American bird in honor of our independence.

American Avocet found in Bolvar outside of Galveston Island Texas, January 2017

…and by All-American, I simply mean a bird that happens to have  “American” right in its name.  In the off chance you happen to be unfamiliar with our long billed friend, that is an American Avocet.  Fortunately for my brother Ron, this is not a new bird for my checklist.  Linda and I saw our first one back in 2013 on a trip to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve while visiting Nevada.  To simply embarrass myself, it didn’t make it on the blog and thus not an official check until December 2017 (link here).    Think this may be the first time I’ve been able to get a shot of one of them flying – okay bird counters, take a quick glance and guess how many you estimate in this shot – note, this is a practice test for later in the post.

American Avocet found in Bolvar outside of Galveston Island Texas, January 2017

hit the jump to see A LOT more of these birds.

Continue reading An All American Bird

The Angel of Death

Well, yesterday was the planned 50K date. I thought things were starting to fall into place – the ankle was healed up enough to bear the dangerous footings on the hilly trails, the rains had subsided enough to let the trails dry up a bit leading to high confidence at the start. I will post the details on my other blog in due time, but I foretold victory or tail between my legs on a previous post. Unfortunately, the day ended prematurely with my tail between my legs along with 4 staples in my head. Mother Nature opted to replace the expected overcast and temps in the 80’s with an overbearing sun and heat index at 100. Fought through 14 miles and decided to rest a bit at a water station. Apparently should have kept going as my body revolted – stood up thinking I might get sick only to gain consciousness with people standing over me with blood covered hands – not a vision I’ll forget anytime soon. Long story short, had a stressful ambulance ride to the ER. Took in 5 IV bags and a set of staples from a large gash in the back of my head having hit a wooden railing following by the sharp edge of a box fan on the way down (so they tell me). Pleaded with the doctors to allow me to go back and finish, but they had my wife on their side. Total failure and my first DNF in 17 years of running. Looks like another solid year of training, but I’ll be back for some unfinished business.

Enough of that embarrassment, let’s get to something much more entertaining.

Northern Harrier hunting the marshes of Galveston Texas State Park January 2017

Today, I’m bringing you the same Raptor species from two different locations along the Texas Gulf Coast back in January 2017. The Northern Harrier is one of my favorite Raptors for a couple of reasons. The first is they are just plain cool to watch while they are scanning the fields and marshes for prey. Deadly aerial skills that allow them turn on a dime or virtually hang in the air leveraging wind dynamics to determine the best angle to pounce.

Northern Harrier hunting the marshes of Galveston Texas State Park January 2017

Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this deadly predator.

Continue reading The Angel of Death

Concerns Warranted

As you can tell, I’ve finally found some spare cycles to get a post out. It has been amazingly busy around Intrigued as of late thanks to two 30 year celebrations at work (wife and I), trying to finalize the schedule for Linda’s heart valve replacement at Mayo’s and then the quickly approaching 50K running event next Saturday (crap, I can’t believe that deadline has come up so fast). As a result, my blogging and, well, just about all my secondary activities have been clipped (especially my Halloween production which is most troubling). Every spare cycle has been spent pounding out miles on the road and on the trails – latter when the rain gods finally give me a chance. I remember Ron mentioning his concern for me reaching my monthly blog quota which at the time still has a few weeks to go. I had some concerns as well, but thanks to a good dose of posts on the mothership blog today’s last minute post will cover that (B. in the UK might appreciate the theme of the pumpkin post – link here). Unfortunately, the last two weeks have had additional concerns that had/have me a bit troubled. A week ago, I was working on more of the bathroom remodeling, simply stepped down from putting up window trim and felt a stabbing pain right in the middle of the tendon than comes down on top of the ankle from the shin into the foot. Actually though it had ripped off. Puffed up and hurt like hell. Had Linda look at it after an ice treatment and we eventually found a puncture point that might have caused it – possibly another bee sting in a critical point like the back episode earlier in the year. Ended up being able to run on it without serious pain so continued on until the swelling subsided 2 or three days later. Then yesterday I was getting the last long trail run in and managed to turn my ankle 90 degrees thanks to not seeing a rock underneath the mud. Unfortunately, that was between mile 8 and 9 which is the farthest point from the car. Knowing what happens if you let your ankle realize it is hurt, journeyed on for another 5 miles. A day later the ankle is still swollen and twinges under weight. Definitely do not need this so close to the starting line. Will nurse it for a few days and give it a short test Wed just so I know what to expect during the race – wish me luck.

In recognition of being immobilized at the moment, figured it would be fitting to feature a creature that has a natural ability to leverage the concept of immobility.

Great Blue Heron shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

Yes, bringing out one of the big boys of the birding world on this final day of June. Truth be told, I do not feature this bird much on the blog thanks to the thousands of images already in the portfolio. The Great Blue Heron is one of the birds you can see just about everywhere in the continental US. They do prefer to breed in southern Canada and down into the Dakota areas, but for the most part spend their time year-round wading through any body of water they can find across the states (except for a very odd finger down the eastern part of Idaho, Utah area according to Cornell – may be the Rockies, will have to investigate that a bit more later).

Great Blue Heron shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

Hit the jump to view a few more shots of these dagger-billed Herons.

Continue reading Concerns Warranted