You looking at Me !?!

It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the reduction in days in this month has a tendency to cause stress in my blogging activities. Those precious days between the 28th and say 30/31st is often my “get down to business” days. That’s when I take out my trusty TI60 calculator, punch in 6 for my self-imposed quota of posts per month (note, that includes post on the mothership Intrigued site, not just the wildlife blog), count up each of the posts made in the current month, hit the minus button and then insert the recently summed number of posts and hit equals button. After a burst of electrons through an array of ands/ors/nands/nors logic gates the liquid crystal is signaled to delivers the painful blow. Then the scramble begins to address the missing posts. Granted, this year, gives me an extra day this month.. but that has already been earmarked for birding (need to keep the hopper full for the 2025 posts hehehe). Linda enjoys teasing me while I am trying to stay focused on the posts – I shall let the Great-Tailed Grackle demonstrate the look I give her.

Great-Tailed Grackle found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, December 2016\

That pretty much sums it up! I will admit, this has absolutely zero impact on my wife’s behavior beyond extra volume to her laugh. Then she’ll start touching my stuff and moving it just enough to cause my OCD to fire – evil woman! The good news is I wasn’t far off this month and was able to close the gap pretty quickly – for the record this is the 6th so all is good. I might feel better, but this rather torqued looking creature is likely still holding a grudge against me. In fact, every time I come in contact with the Great-Tailed Grackle I get the feeling I wronged its ancestors in some way and it’s taken a lifelong blood oath to extract a compensating revenge. Is it just me or do others have this same experience with this disgruntled bird? – Ron you don’t count as all birds basically hate you.

Great-Tailed Grackle found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, December 2016

Hit the jump if this Grackle hasn’t already scared you too much.

Continue reading You looking at Me !?!

Scares and Calms

Apologies to my wildlife readers. It has been a while since I’ve had the chance to feature one of our feathered friends. It’s not that I haven’t been busy – in fact just the opposite. Decided it was time to bring you a little haunt for February – screw you mushy and smoochie Valentine’s Day, we scare aficionados are putting our zombie masks on and shuffling all over this shortened month. Thanks to many hours (and days) later the full Haunted Trail of Tears 2019 series was released. If you want to know how we do Halloween … wait.. how about Februween … then take a gander at the tour posts. Warning check your fears at the door ha!

Hoping that didn’t scare your feathers up. Maybe a therapy duck will help calm the nerves.

Mottled Duck found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center December 2016

There now, breathe in, breath out while staring at the purdy duck. Immerse yourself in the warm comfort brought by the tranquil waters of the Texas Gulf Coast. By the way, let me know if that worked to calm your nerves – I’ll pick me up a bunch of Mottled Ducks and hit our local ICU and pay it forward for the great therapy dogs they let Linda enjoy while she was up at Mayo. If there is any chance of convincing a hospital director to let me bring a duck into their establishment, it better be clean. Of all the ducks I’ve come across I think the Mottled might have the best chance. I’ve never seen one of these specimens that didn’t look like it came straight from the salon.

Mottled Duck found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center December 2016

Hit the jump to learn about my new business idea!

Continue reading Scares and Calms

Stoner Bird

Greetings my friends! Been a bit of time since my last post – well at least on the Wildlife side of Intrigued as I did take a cue from CJ and put a Hmmm post out (link here). I thought things would lighten up at the turn of the decade, but I find myself surprisingly busy. Some of that was due to a recent loss in the family as my Aunt is now once again united with my father. I did get an opportunity to catch up with the extended family and even had a chance to spend some quality birding time with Ron. He stayed overnight at my place on the trip back from the funeral allowing us to head down to Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge the next day. This netted Ron a +1 and a new birding experience – both of which I’ll let him feature on his blog (nudge, nudge). Maybe I’ll get around to those captures in say .. oh, I don’t know… let’s go crazy fast and say 2-3 years ha!

In the meantime, let’s travel back in time and see what’s moving on the Texas beaches.

Ruddy Turnstone found on Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Well, lookie there Mr. Orange Legs strutting its stuff. This particular series comes to you from our January 2017 trip down to Galveston Island. The Ruddy Turnstone featured here was busy running up and down the shoreline trying to convert all that migration fat into a beach bod that drives the chicks wild. For those new to these creatures, they fatten up prior to heading out on their impressively long migration. They spend their breeding months in the arctic tundra and then gorge themselves before making the massive trek to the North and Central American coastlines.

Ruddy Turnstone found on Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Hit the jump to learn more about this yo-yo diet bird.

Continue reading Stoner Bird

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