Another Lamb Chop Murder

Howdy everyone! It feels like it has been ages since I have had the chance to take a quick break and spend time putting up a post. Just in case you were wondering, Linda is progressing very rapidly. The first week or so was a bit rough adjusting to the recovery protocol – Linda doesn’t take well to just relaxing requiring me to continually remind her she just went through major surgery and needs to give her body time to mend. She started cardio rehab this week which I think is helping her a lot, if nothing else freeing her from the confines of the house. If that wasn’t enough, the calendar turned over resulting in a “holy crap it’s time for the annual Halloween Trail event” panic. It seems like it is so far away and worry free until wham, you have only weeks to go with sooooo many props still to build. When the opportunity to post between all the training (two halfs in next 7 days), taking care of Linda and now Halloween prep.. you take it. Going to be long on pictures today and short on text – luckily today’s featured feathered friend is quite spectacular.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park in December 2017

Nor is this bird camera shy. When you got it, you might as well flaunt it. This beautifully colored bird is called the Great Kiskadee and is right up there in my top 10 attractive birds that I have been able to get in the tin. The Painted Bunting (link here) still holds the top spot, but the Kiskadee is not far behind. It may not have the diversity of palette the Painted does, but the whites, blacks, yellows and chestnut are perfectly coordinated and a testament to the skills of Mother Nature’s interior decorator. There are also some secret colorings I didn’t even notice until several encounters later. They are a bit selective when they show that.. but more on that later.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park in December 2017

Hit the jump to view a lot more pictures of our Bentsen-Rio find.

Continue reading Another Lamb Chop Murder

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

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