Gaining My Marbles

I almost went with “A Wasted Endeavor” for the title of this post, however, my not so clever play on losing my marbles won out in the end. A little insight into the inner workings around here at Intrigued – there’s one key ingredient that brings it all together. Sure, the foundation of it all relies on being able to make it out in the field and discover content to feature. Then there’s the digital darkroom where I try to make everything as pretty as I can for you. There’s close to three years of outings in the queue that I am desperately trying to get through (thus the more than usual production as of late). Have to get everything uploaded to the galleries in order to reference into the posts and then the actual finger pounding the keyboard to give it all context. The fact is, all of those elements require a bit of effort on my part. Not exactly the effort you might be thinking of …

Marbled Godwit shot on Bolivar Peninsula Texas January 2017

I’m talking about the effort involved in trying to maintain your sanity being a distance runner. Trust me, people like me who feel guilty when not meeting the mileage quota for the week probably need some therapy – “Hello, my name is Brian and I am a Runner. [all] Hello Brian.” To keep myself from thinking about every step during the run, I set my mind to planning out the next post. What is worth my reader’s time, what interesting photographs do have that will give life to that topic and the most important element – what is the title going to be. It is downright embarrassing how many miles I cover thinking about that component. Hardest part is being able to remember what I came up with by the time I hit the stopwatch. To be honest, it really is a giant life circle. I exercise so I can go into the field, hike all day with heavy equipment, take photos to bring back and then use my exercise time to put it all together. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. Honestly, there isn’t anything I’d rather be doing to pass my free time than out in the wild staring down the barrel of large glass at a new bird for my North American Birding List. In retrospect, that seems like a long intro to simply introduce the first Marble in my collection.

Marbled Godwit shot on Bolivar Peninsula Texas January 2017

Hit the jump to learn more about this tall wader.

That there is a Marbled Godwit. There are actually multiple specimens here. One from Galveston Island State Park and another one from the Bolivar Peninsula from our trip back in January 2017. The birds found in those two locations were virtually identical with the exception the Bolivar one has a bit darker markings on the belly. The Godwits happen to be one of those shorebirds that can be easily identified if you know what you are looking for. Their large body size prevents you from having to stare at reference books for hours and hours try to isolate the subtle differences in the medium to small peeps.

Marbled Godwit shot on Galveston Island Texas January 2017\

The grey legs saves you the hassle of trying to figure out the relative size differences between the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. Then there’s the lance of a bill that gives it an unfair advantage at the annual birding pole vault championships (Godwits have owned that competition since they introduced that sport into the birding games back in 1896). Their arch rivals the Long-Billed Curlew always give them a battle, but the Godwit has a unique advantage. Unlike the Long-Billed, the Godwit’s pole bends upward. This gives it an extra spring factor that propels them over the sand bar.

Marbled Godwit shot on Galveston Island Texas January 2017

Compare that to the Curlew which has an equally long pole, but it is curved downward (link here). This forces the Curlew to plant the pole at a lower angle. It is quite the comical scene when they get that angle a bit off and end up face planting in the soft sand sure to bring laughter from the onlookers – contrary to what you might have heard, birds are not good sports when it comes to earning medals.

Marbled Godwit shot on Bolivar Peninsula Texas January 2017

Clearly, the long bill allows the Marbled Godwit to extend itself further out from the shore in search of aquatic insects and mollusks. Add in the longer legs and they can distance themselves from competition with all the smaller stature plovers and peeps forced to chase the tide as it washes back. I think this specimen was simply showing off.

Marbled Godwit shot on Bolivar Peninsula Texas January 2017

“Oh look, I can go even further”

Marbled Godwit shot on Bolivar Peninsula Texas January 2017

“Just a wee bit more”

Marbled Godwit shot on Bolivar Peninsula Texas January 2017

“Hey, I think there’s a pirate ship down here”

Here’s a better shot of the large feet these birds possess. I wish I had been able to get a picture of the toes spread out a bit to give you a better feel for those. Big feet for a big bird. It also gives another perspective of that upturned two-toned bill.

Marbled Godwit shot on Galveston Island Texas January 2017

Eager to find some interesting facts to pass along, I headed off to Cornell’s website to see what they had to share. Telling you right now, it’s pretty weak there. They did point out that the Godwit spends its summers along the US and Canada border regions, breeding in the prairie fields and available wetlands. During the winter months, they vault out of there to the coasts. Ummmmm nothing else really worthwhile beyond that. Ugh.

I should probably mention why I almost went with a different title. Turns out Ron and I have gone out in search of this bird a couple of times. There were reports that one was lost and hanging out down in Havana at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge and Goofy Ridge area. We headed down there but came up empty both times. At the time we were bummed we couldn’t get this species added to our list. Little did I know it was already sitting in our queue — wait, let me rephrase that – Little did I know it was sitting in MY queue. Let me just get my pen out and make that check in MY list – sorry Ron, looks like you will need to travel down to Texas.

Well folks, that brings us to …

Marbled Godwit shot on Bolivar Peninsula Texas January 2017

… the end.

Thanks for reading about my latest addition. Note, Ron has called into question what year the pole vault was added to their games so you might want to do a bit of research before you spread that little tidbit – everything else I’m sure is 100% accurate… maybe not.

7 thoughts on “Gaining My Marbles”

  1. Yes, Brian soaks in the sun down in Texas photographing beautiful birds while I’m facing snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures up near Chicago. He manages to make it appear as if it doesn’t bother him. You would think Brian would bring me back one of those birds so I can take a picture of it! It could stay at his house until it warms up here.

    I’ve already brought up a remote webcam type of arrangement so I can take credit for taking pictures through his camera from up here. This is not directly addressed in our rules for birding–and there are a lot of wild scenarios covered in those rules–but Brian wasn’t cooperative. So someday I’ll have to take a ride down south, I guess.

    There are actually a handful of birds that I have photographs of that Brian does not, as I like to mention now and again and again. He would cut that number down very quickly if he would take a trip to California, though, my lone advantage. Plus his photographs are gorgeous.

    You have a very nice blog! Brian has also been to Georgia and Minnesota for birding. Alas, poor me, no.

    Ron

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  2. Ha, yes, you do have a number of birds I do not. Clearly have me on all your cool shots of Australian birds that you will probably be able to hang over me for a long time. For some reason, the Chicago area keeps handing you rare birds – word has it there’s a fast bird service up there where you simply go through their drive thru – order from the menu of strange birds and they bring it out, set it on a fake tree and let you take a picture of it right from the car. I personally think this is a violation of the rules, but I’ve combed through our mutually agreed upon birding rules and can’t find a specific rule violation to call out – still looking.

    Wait, was that my wife just recommending we head out to California on our next birding trip!?! Well, yes, dear, I would love to make a brief visit to that state…

    Still envious of that Ground Dove and you scored on me big time with your latest pics of the Shrike doing horrendously sadistic things to a lizard. Are you ever going to feature those shots on your blog?

    Oh, and Paula, let’s not encourage Ron to head to Texas. It’s already hard enough to keep him in my sights when it comes to our bird count. Every trip he takes to Montrose (basically in his backyard) causes me to lose even more ground — hehehehe.

    Thanks for commenting everyone – appreciate it!

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    1. Those flecks are distinctive on the Marbled – always a plus when you can zero in on some key features that distinguish it from all the other shorebirds that look almost identical on first viewing – of course, that upward bill is very unique on this one. Glad you could stop by.

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  3. Pingback: Wildlife Intrigued

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