An Even Dozen

Lifeintrigued Blog Summary 2019

At some point in the previous year I must have forgotten how much time these blog summaries take. Not so much the high level commentary, but gathering up all the year end statistics rivals the daunting 50K. Oh, did I mention I checked the 50K off my life list -yeah, I did that ha! Truthfully, 2019 turned out to be one of those years I’ll probably try hard to put past me. Something tells me it will keep flashing into conscious for some time. The running addiction sent me to the doctor earlier in the year thanks to a marksman hornet/bee that nailed by spine and then I lost a battle with the Heat Miser that landed me in the ER with a set of shiny new staples. Watching Linda go through her surgery and recovery still takes the top spot on my stressful experiences – a distinction that doesn’t come lightly based on some of life’s challenges that fill the rest of that list. Then there’s still trying to keep my emotions in check whenever a random event triggers a cherished memory with my father. Fortunately for me, blogging is the best therapy for the money. It has been a fantastic grounding that allows me to document my thoughts, events, opinions, adventures, accomplishments and progression on the things that intrigue me in this thing called life – the fact that the completion of 2019 represents the 12th consecutive year of producing the flagship LifeIntrigued and its offshoot WildlifeIntrigued is testament to the joy it brings me. Through this effort, I’ve been able to meet new friends across the world, share experiences, explore differing perspectives and learn about their cultures and hobbies from their own blogging efforts – ex: CJ has introduced me to the world of canoeing/kayaking, adventures in the Netherlands and St Louis zombies (https://thecedarjournal.com/blog/ ) – B has been ramping up my Butterfly/Dragonfly/Birding knowledge from the UK while taking me to places like the Berlin Wall that seemed so far away from my stomping grounds in the broke state of Illinois (https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/blog/). A big thanks to all you birding bloggers out there that challenge me every day to get better at my photography craft and special gratitude to all those that take the time to read my musings, comment and show your appreciation through likes. Shout out to Brad M. who catches all my typos so I at least appear halfway credible.

Even with some of the downsides in ’19 there were still some very bright spots that I can’t overlook. Seeing Linda on the upside of her recovery brings a big smile to me every time I see her. Can’t wait to witness her tear up the dog agility competitions now that she can keep up with Raven. On the personal front, getting the 50K trail checked off was big for me. Failure doesn’t sit well with me and being able to recover and redeem myself in a little more than 3 months took some pushing (especially with all the chaotic things happening during that time). Add to that the 17 (at least) new checks on the NA bird list (link here) which kept me in striking reach of Ron (yes, he who owes me bigly ha!). Was able to meet up with Ron for some local birding adventures (and one not so local) – always fun times to be had in the field and going through the tins trying to ID the day’s haul. Goal this year is for me to get him posting more on his own blog (link here). He was the catalyst for me to start this whole blog endeavor 12 years ago. Although the surgery limited us on our usual travel, Linda and I were able to catch a few short trips allowing for some good birding opportunities that have filled up the blog hopper for likely years to come (Lake Tahoe, Henderson NV, St. Louis) as well as quick excursions to local hotspots. I promise to try and get those tins posted at a fresher rate this year. If nothing else, having just celebrated another birthday it is starting to limit how far back I can easily recall.

Keeping with tradition, it’s time to look back at the year’s output and self-evaluate. Did I hit my self-imposed monthly quota, did my photography show progress and what posts intrigued my readers ..or more important which topics missed the mark. So with that, I bring you the 2019 year end summary. If you are curious, hit the jump below to see the individual stats and accomplishments. Thanks again for all your help throughout the year and for spending precious time on my little project. Can’t wait to see what intriguing things 2020 throws at us. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to get you crispy pictures in the tin to share.

Thank You!

And now, the annual stats for the year’s worth of blogging.

Hit the jump to see the 2019 stats!

Continue reading An Even Dozen

Standing Tall in the Aftermath of Tragedy

Greetings from the white tundra. For those curious (and hopefully in warmer climates) it is currently 3F out with 18 mph winds with warnings of windchill temps below 20F. A far cry from the relative desert like conditions the Texas Gulf Coast is getting at the moment – although I did think it would be warmer than high 50’s/lows 60’s. Time for Linda and I to get back in our RV and get our butts to some warmer settings ha! I have been holding off on talking about our holiday activities, but most of you know we once again headed back to the Texas border for a little R and R after a rather rough ’19. Kicked the year off right birding the Gulf Coast and checking our favorite spots along the Rio Grande. It will be a while before the fruits of that endeavor get fit for consumption 3..4..5..6 years…hehehe..

Whooping Cranes in Rockport, Texas December 2017

In the meantime, thought I would go with the bird that has a lock at the top of my list for favorite North American birds. Now, a bit of this decision was based on the fact if you read my previous bird post you should already be standing about 10 feet away from your monitor. Hoping that is sufficient distance to make these pictures somewhat viewable – keep thinking to yourself that there’s at least one bird somewhere in the shot – to help you out, it is white and really tall. These birds top out in the 5 foot range and command attention whenever in their presence. Reminds of the traveling basketball team for the Great Egrets.

Whooping Cranes in Rockport, Texas December 2017

Take a few brief steps toward the keyboard and hit the jump to read more about these Cranes (then quickly take a step back).

Continue reading Standing Tall in the Aftermath of Tragedy

A Softer Side of Blue

We are closing out a long two weeks of travel with an agility show at the Purina grounds near St. Louis MO. Usually these shows drive me crazy with the amount of downtime involved.  Get the agility course set, receive instructions from the event judge, walk the course to become familiar with it, wait for your dog’s turn in the ring, enjoy the maximum of 2 minutes of excitement as Raven leads Linda through the obstacles, watch Raven bask in the post run accolades and then sit for what seems hours as the rest of the dogs compete and they start setting for the next round.  Absolutely brutal especially since this is really Linda’s thing as I am the designated Sherpa.  It is a great feeling to see Linda back on her feet and enjoying herself in the ring again – it was getting rough leading up to the surgery as I could tell she was really struggling to get through the stop and start sprinting between the obstacles – looks harder than my ultra marathon.  This time I could use the rest to get the batteries recharged again and the downtime means I get a chance to pound out some posts – yeah!

LL

Was checking the post queue and decided I would break down and go with one that has been in there for a while.  Each time I considered going with it I decided the execution was too poor and opted to wait.  Unfortunately, the soft images are of a bird I have yet to checked off my official list and I need to push my counter up (hmmm, wonder why).  So, without further delay, take a few steps back from your monitor so these images of a nonbreeding Blue Grosbeak do not look so bad.

LL

Hit the jump if you really want to see some more soft shots of Mr. Blue.

Continue reading A Softer Side of Blue

More Days in White Feathers

Greetings all once again!  Starting to get in the groove of the new year now that the “Ron Owes Me Bigly” mission is coming to closure – not the “owes me” part, rather the initial mission part.  He’s in the midst of doing some packing, but I am sure as soon as that settles down, he will be getting those fingers oiled up and letting everyone know about said mission in due time… nudge, nudge.  Meanwhile my immediate mission is to get the photo queue whittled down a bit.

American White Pelican shot in Alton IL in March 2014

Thought I’d go ahead and get the big boys out of the way – well, at least some of the pictures in the hopper of the American White Pelican.  Whitey is one of those species we have easy access to in the heartland.  Cornell documents their regional map as breeders across our northern border and spotty locations in the west with a wintering destination along our southern border.  Then they got out their yellow crayon and colored everything in between for migration.  Truth is, we can find this full-bodied birds patrolling our waterways pretty regularly outside of the dead of winter.

American White Pelican shot in Alton IL in March 2014

Hit the jump to read and see a bit more about this tank of a bird.

Continue reading More Days in White Feathers

The Elusive Knautta Bird

So, how does the old Samuel Clemens quip go – “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”.  Although, I will admit, I had always remembered it as “rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated”.  I prefer my version, apparently it was just a derivation.  Hell, even the original quote seems mistaken as Mr. Twain scribed it as “the report of my death was an exaggeration”.   Apparently watching the Jeopardy GOAT competition is starting to impact my post research ha!  Way off base here, yet the theme still applies – I’m still breathing, yet admittedly woefully behind on my posting.  I distinctly get the feeling from the look on today’s featured feathered friend that I have been judged and found lacking.

Likely a Tropical Kingbird found at Estero Llano Grande State Park January 2018

Truth is I decided to start the New Year on a mission we’ll simply call “Ron owes me bigly”.  An endeavor that benefited him almost as equally as it negatively impacted me.  Say it with me everyone, B I G L Y!  Unfortunately, the details of said undertaking will remain a secret for sometime longer in order to give Ron time to reveal the fruits of our labor.  It was the theme of a secret that led to the decision to go with Mr. Yellowbelly for my post.

Likely a Tropical Kingbird found at Estero Llano Grande State Park January 2018

Hit the jump to read more about this mysterious bird!

Continue reading The Elusive Knautta Bird

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas to all my friends across the blogsphere! Was waiting all day for Linda to get the shots taken and worked up in the darkroom. Raven (black) and Benji (white) may look cute to the untrained eye, but these two become little demons when you are trying to get them set for a portrait. Now that Santa has come they know we are unable to hold that over them – last I looked Raven was chewing up the year’s naughty list ha!

Raven and Eddie - Christmas 2019

Linda and I along with the boys hope your individual celebrations were joyous and filled with family, good friends and scrumptious food. It has been an interesting year around the headquarters of Intrigued to say the least. Good times, healing times and unfortunately a time of loss that can now only be filled by our heartfelt memories. As we look to what Christmas future brings we can be thankful for those that helped us through Christmas past and those that we lean on in Christmas present.

Raven and Eddie - Christmas 2019

To all those readers of my muses here and to all those that enlighten, educate and entertain me with your own writings – may your holidays be bright and your thoughts be happy.

Raven and Eddie - Christmas 2019

In case I don’t get back here in time, Happy New Year. Take care and be safe in your travels!

… The Doerflers

 

As the Royal Terns

Greetings everyone! Been wrapped up in the chaos we call Christmas and have not had time to really sit down and relax in the warm glow of the computer monitors. Clearly the financial engine is booming in America as trips to the stores to pick up items to celebrate the now over-commercialized event meant spending three times as long in a checkout line than it took to actually find that perfect gift. Every store – same story. I do try to support the local independents – the problem is my time is becoming increasingly valuable to me. Quite revealing as the mainstream media and self-serving politicians tried their hardest to paint a false recession narrative just a few months back. In honor of this soaring economy, I bring you royalty (well, at least I’m pretty sure about that).

Royal Tern found on Galveston Island, TX in December 2017

I have not featured a lot of Terns here and not for lack of images. On the contrary, my photo queue is full to the brim with these sharp looking birds. They happen to be a family of birds that hang out at my favorite local wildlife refuge in Havana (Emiquon) as well as easy fodder on our multiple trips down the Texas Gulf Coast. If you have access to a fairly decent sized body of water, then you have a good chance of being able to witness these aerial acrobats in action. The difficulty is not getting them classified in the right family as their slim/aerodynamic profile and dagger sharp bills tend to quickly differentiate them from the abundance of Gulls sure to be in the same area. No, the difficulty comes into getting them categorized in the right species as there are at least eleven I can name off the top of my head that are available somewhere in North America. Granted not as hard as ID’ing one of the twenty or so Gull varieties, but they do have a similar issue in that their coloring doesn’t differ that much – especially out of the breeding season.

Royal Tern found on Galveston Island, TX in December 2017

Hit the jump to learn more about this sleek looking bird. Continue reading As the Royal Terns

Low Rider

My little vacation has come to an end and back to work I go. Don’t feel too sorry for me, I basically have 4 days of work left before I close the books on this year. Thankfully, I’ll be able to look forward to a much better year as this one I’d just as soon forget altogether. We’ll be heading back down to Texas sometime in the first couple of months in hopes of getting the first part of the new year off on the right foot. Knowing how much content those trips add to the photography queue, figured I’d try my best to pop some of the previous Texas finds off the queue – some of those still need proper IDs and need some final validation from Ron (those damn Terns all look alike from afar). Fortunately, today’s featured feathered friend was easy to classify.

Double-Crested Cormorant found on Galveston Island, Texas December 2016

This rather smug looking waterbird was found while visiting Galveston Island State Park back in December 2016 (Yes B in the UK I am still waaaay behind ha). While exploring the trails and shorelines for Clapper Rails, I came upon this Cormorant hanging out in the packed sand. Not being up on my Cormorant game, I initially ID’d it as a female knowing the rest of the Cormorants that I’ve photographed were splendored in much darker to all black feathering (link here). At the time it wasn’t obvious whether this specimen was the standard Double-Crested variety or the Neotropic which I had previously photographed in the same place (link here).

Double-Crested Cormorant found on Galveston Island, Texas December 2016

Hit the jump to read more about my education on this particular species.

Continue reading Low Rider

They Who Suck Sap

I put my blogging hobby in jeopardy tonight.  Linda and I checked out a German Christmas Market (Christkindlmarket) in downtown Chicago or as I like to refer to it as – Ron’s neighborhood (cue comment ha).  Really nice German/European themed market full of cultural foods and gifts.  We took a special liking to the cider and hot chocolate in souvenir mugs and an amazing amount of really cool glass ornaments.  Show me a colorful glass bird ornament and I switch into “here, take my money” mode.   Problem was it was an OUTSIDE market.  Start with the windy city’s namesake, add in a heaping amount of plunging temperatures gives you some mighty bitter conditions.  Somehow made it back to the hotel without my fingers falling off – still tingle while I type.  In an attempt to bring them back to room temperature, thought I would feature a bird found in much warmer conditions.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker found at International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, Wisconsin - April 2014

Actually this post features specimens found in multiple locations over multiple years and in different months of the year (yes, all warmer than the tundra conditions we experienced tonight).  This featured bird is a member of the Sapsucker species.  It is pretty easy to tell the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker is a member of the Woodpecker family.  Long, powerful bill, well clawed to support hanging on the sides of trees/branches and adorned in the common colors of black, white and red.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker found at Kentucky Lake - April 2015

Hit the jump to read some more about Mr. Sappy Sucker!

Continue reading They Who Suck Sap

Panda Bird

Just sitting here waiting around for Linda to get done with her cardio-rehab session.  Hard to believe she only has one more session in her three month recovery plan.  All is going well and I’m excited to say she has elected to give up all the stress and strain of the corporate world and finally enjoy life to the fullest in her retirement.  Good heart, good feeling and a great husband what more can you hope for (okay, I snuck in that last one hehehe).  The other good news I am thrilled to mention is we will once again be heading back to the Texas Gulf Coast for some fun in the sun – translated – BIRDING!  Time to fill up the hoppers for the coming blogging year – who am I kidding, you probably won’t see those finds until at least 2 or 3 years from now.  The best part is Ron will be joining us this time.  Good for him, very bad for our bird list challenge as I made up some serious ground thanks to the treasure trove of birds down there.  Competition aside, it is always fun to bird with him so definitely looking forward to it.  Until then, I’ll continue to chip away at the last of the 2016/2017 haul.  For instance, this adorable creature.

Black-Necked Stilt found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge January 2017

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this skinny Panda.

Continue reading Panda Bird