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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Oh look, I can go even further”
“Just a wee bit more”
“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.
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 …
… 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.