I Mock Your Quota Concerns

Let’s see, a one, a two, a three, a four, a five… uhhh a five…crap! I’m guessing everyone out there is figuring this time I was surely beat. Even with the late blitz I’m STILL one short for the monthly quota. Is it time to panic, time to break out the shame sign and walk the local mall?  That would be a big fat NOPE. One advantage of being so far behind on processing my photo shoots is I have a lot to choose from when in a bind. Like the Copperhead posting (link here), I’ve opted with pulling one off the back of the FIFO queue.

This a brand new bird to the blog and to my birding list.  My brother once asked me if there were birds that  could be considered common that I haven’t had the opportunity to shoot yet.   The answer to that thought provoking question is “yes”.  One of the birds that has surprisingly alluded me is the Purple Martin.  For a bird supposedly in everyone’s backyard around my neck of the woods, it has failed to make its way into my tin.  Another supposedly common bird that was lacking from the list is this one – the Northern Mockingbird.  Not so common around where I am, but definitely inhabits a large cross section of places Linda and I have been while out on shoots.   As you can see, that is no longer the case.

This particular specimen was found while we were visiting  the Biltmore Estates near Ashville,  North Carolina.  We actually spent two days exploring this amazing place.  The first day we arrived in the late afternoon and opted to simply explore the grounds and save the house viewing for the next day.  When we first arrived the first thing I noticed was how perfectly laid out and clean the grounds were – it was like someone had handpicked the placement of every element of the forest.  To my surprise, this ended up being the case as the construction pictures revealed that there was nothing in the area when the house was built.  Along with that, they also cared for a massive flower garden.  Clean forest and tons of flowers – what better conditions can you ask for when in search of birds.    I’ll probably go into detail in a later post on the house, but we managed to pull a Big Ben, Parliament moment when we got there.  Somehow we managed to miss the parking lot turnoff which meant we had to traverse the entire grounds a second time before we could get out and explore.  If you have never been there, let me tell you, that is not a short drive.

Check out how much meaner this bird looks when you are head on – I can imagine how prey must feel – well, those with eyes – they are omnivores.

Hit the jump to even more pictures of the Mockingbird!

Continue reading I Mock Your Quota Concerns

Wait, That Head’s Flat

This month on flying by and I’m running a little behind on my posts. This of course is nothing new around here at LifeIntrigued but things have definitely been hectic as of late. We did just get back from a quick vacation out east to see hurricane Arthur. Well, not exactly to SEE Arthur but sure enough as soon as we picked our vacation destination the weather gods decide to throw us one of the few hurricanes that has hit the US in some time (a slap in the face to the current administration that keeps claiming Globull Warming is going to produce horrendous hurricanes, frog plagues and whatever else they can try to claim to push their hidden agendas). For the record, Arthur hit us with a category two and based on observations at the NC Outer Banks did relatively minor damage. It did manage to get us half off our camp site for a night since the pool wasn’t open yet. This being kinda ironic since our site was 20 feet from a sand dune that stood between us and the OCEAN!

In light of being behind and almost giving up any hope of ever being caught up on photo shoots, I’m going to break from tradition and jump right to the new stuff. I know, I know crazy talk. Going all out here and bringing you something that hasn’t been featured yet on the blog (at least I can’t recall) and that is partly due to the risk of having to sleep in the shed…..

I can only imagine the “talk” I’m going to get as soon as Linda sees this post.  My only out (and why I chose this time) is that today is our Anniversary and I made her something special to celebrate the occasion.  There might be a future post on that but trying to figure out if it is worth revealing that at the risk of losing my mancard.

So, we found this nice specimen while coming back through the Smokey Mountains on our way home.  Going out was all about the birds so on the reverse we were trying to find as many waterfalls as possible for Linda.  One of the reasons for heading through Ashford NC was due to the fact they had a lot of waterfalls.  One of these that Linda tracked down on Google was located in Gorges State Park  (link here).  For starters, that park has one of the nicest visitor centers we have ever seen – even tops most of the national park visitor centers we have been in.  A quick trip in there confirmed the waterfall location and what later figured out was incorrect trail mileage.  The ranger gave us twice the distance not knowing the distance he had was round trip.  This meant the 1 mile trip to the selected waterfall was only a quarter mile down and back.  As we were heading out of the center to the designated parking area Mr. Slither was basking in the sun on the other side of the road.  Based on how bad the birding was that week I jumped out of the car and went to work – Linda actually thought the snake was dead which is the only reason she stopped the RV at all.

On the contrary it was quite alive but relatively subdued to my presence.  Thanks to The Beast a safe distance could be maintained.  All of the snakes that I’ve come into contact with the exception of the Water Moccasin (or Cottonmouth) have been non-venomous.  The tell-tale round shape of the head was always the standard safety checkoff.  This particular snake didn’t seem to fit that profile so went to check out the head.  Sure enough, this one was flat and diamond profiled which means keep the ‘F’ away (think there is probably a common rhyme to help remember that like poison ivy but that is my memory jogger hehehe).   Okay, so there will be no picking it up.  Again, due to The Beast a proper safety zone could be maintained.  Thankfully there were no other cars on the road.

Hit the jump to see and read more about this slithery encounter

Continue reading Wait, That Head’s Flat