Greetings from the Midwest Tundra. It is currently -7F not including windchill and I am pretty sure that is close to when appendages start falling off. Tonight the first lunar eclipse took place over a supermoon. Thanks to Ron reminding me, I managed to get out and witness it – actually that reads as if I put a lot of effort into it. We were heading back from a night out, stepped out of the car when we got back to the house and looked up. There it was, only a sliver left and radiating the blood moon hues. Thought about getting the Beast and snapping a few shots to share on the blog. Then my nose, ears and a thumb fell off. Decided to pass on that idea – sorry everyone. To our credit, I did help Linda with a photoshoot in the early morning. Her client wanted pictures of her three dogs in the 5″ of fresh powder we received yesterday (on top of the 12″ we already had). Think it was a balmy 5F out then, which was enough to put a serious sting in the fingers. They say positive thoughts can get you through uncomfortable times. Time to click our heels three times and entertain visions from the desert.
Hit the jump to read a bit more about this desert songbird.
Continue reading A Dash of Yellow in the Desert
How is this for a weird experience? I mentioned a few posts back that I was recovering from a back injury, but I didn’t go into too many details. Now that I am completely healed from it, thought I’d loop everyone into a bizarre injury that had me pretty worried. The last thing I need when training for a 50K event is to have an injury – especially in such a critical area. Usually On Sundays, some friends and I do long training runs on a hilly nightmare of a course through a local cemetery (figure they can bury us where we drop). A few weeks ago we were taking on the course in pretty warm weather for an early January day – mid 40’s accompanied with a strong wind. Decided I was too layered up for the conditions so took my Gore-Tex coat off, removed a layer and put the outer shell back on (important tidbit for later). Although a rocky and uneven course, we know every square inch of it – no slips, bobbles or wobbles occurred up to mile two. That is when I felt something pierce my lower back. I noted the strange feeling to my friend and kept on running – quirks and pains happen all the time – runners learn to ignore them because they almost always work themselves out. 2 more miles and my hips started seizing up. 2 more miles and serious pain started radiating from the lower back. 3 miles later we were back at the car and I was trying to figure out a way to stand without letting my friends see any hint of tears. 30 minute drive home and I couldn’t move without a knife twisting in my spine. Most concerning was a 5×8 inch badly swollen red bulge near where the initial stab was felt. All I could think about was the setback to the 50K training (goals are not taken lightly around Intrigued). For brevity, will skip to the juicy part. Got into my doctor the following day – explained the story above preparing myself for the herniated disk diagnosis. Was not expecting the doctor to hypothesize that it sounded like a spider bite. The recluse would have destroyed skin by now, so they speculated Black Widow, grabbed a magnifying glass and went to work finding the holes. Good news, not a Widow, instead they pulled a stinger out of my spine what I imagined to be the size of this bird’s bill.
Not sure who was surprised more, the doctor or me. Apparently a dagger wielding demon of an insect decided to unload all the venom it had a few inches up from my waistline and directly into the center of my spine. From there it traveled my nerve network down into the in the hips and up the back causing the lockup. Remember, this is the first week of January – those things are supposed to have died off or went into hibernation. No way it stung through the outer running shell. We have come to the conclusion that a wasp,hornet,large ass bee or possibly a Tarantula Hawk (link here) sneaked into the coat when I was removing the layer, panicked at mile two and unloaded everything it had into the spine – I could see a blood spot on the base layer next to the skin. The good news is 5 days of steroids had me back on the trails this morning running in 5″ of snow. I bet I know what you are thinking right about now – what the hell kind of bird is that?
Hit the jump to find out!
Continue reading Purple Shimmers in the Desert
Greetings to all from the big white tundra we like to call the Midwest. A bit of an icebox at the moment as we are dealing with ~12″ inches of the fluffy stuff. Add to that a layer of ice that accumulated overnight from freezing drizzle and you have yourself a recipe for hilarity. Case in point. Our dogs decided that 4:50am is a perfectly good time to demand I take them out. Wipe the sleep from the eyes, remind the legs they were designed to move me from one place to another, put some shoes on and leash up the dogs – you would think by their expression I take evil enjoyment out of cinching up their necks as opposed to the truth there are “eyes in ‘dem trees” that think 4:50am is a perfect time for an early morning snack. Shut the alarms down and take a groggy step off the porch onto the wet concrete. Except it wasn’t just wet, nope, black ice quickly causing my feet to go eye level and my eyes to go feet level. Just got my back all healed up and now I’m being snickered at by sure footed furballs. Later that morning, a semi ended up jackknifing by the main highway exit I use to get to work shutting down that access and choking up all the alternative routes (which had their share of wrecks as well). Some days were just designed to stay in bed and enjoy thoughts of warmer locations.
Like for instance the desert – specifically the Mohave Desert in Las Vegas. The Rock Wren was not the only bird hanging out at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area back in November 2018. Unlike that bird (link here) and Abert’s Towhee (link here). that came before it, this bird possesses coloring that contrasts sharply with the desert floor. Yep, this one is adorned in a pretty blue and grey palette.
Hit the jump to find out what kind of bird this is!
Continue reading Blue Tones in the Desert
Getting my exercise in alternative ways today. Seems Old Man Winter has decided the Midwest needed a serious coating of white. Snow has been coming down in our area since 9pm last night and not planned to let up until 2am tomorrow. Good for our wells, but not for the body. Finally got my back functioning again and was hoping to take an easier trajectory to the daily workouts. So far everything is holding together – did a mid-shovel this morning to get the pavements cleared, but will probably be heading out soon to clear off the 4 hours of new powder that has been dropped and break out the tractor to clear the 300′ of driveway.
In the meantime, thought I’d recall warmer times in the Mojave Desert.
Feel bad for bringing you another fairly dull colored bird, but the desert birds tend to inherit the hues of their surroundings. Nonetheless, this little bird represents the second +1 for the young year. Those that happen to be familiar with our feathered friends will probably recognize it as part of the Wren family. Although unable to bring this element to bear, the chatter these hyperactive birds emit is also a dead giveaway. All that is left to do is identify which type it is.
Hit the jump to find out what this new bird is!
Continue reading Rocking Vegas
Today I watched a Subway employee sort cheese. Actually, sorting might be the wrong word since that it implies there were multitudes of different cheeses thrown in a giant pile that needed to be properly organized. Yep, wrong word. Let’s go with “aligning” cheese. I was in somewhat of a hurry thanks to having recently injured my lower back during a run (interesting story, will save for another lead in). It basically hurt to stand (…or sit… or lie down) and therefore wanted to get back to the car and home before someone saw tears welling up. The Subway employee was standing at the counter directly in front of the lady ahead of me. There she proceeded to align the pepper jack cheese. One by one down the foot long stack of triangles. Ever find yourself staring at something and too mesmerized to look away? One eye was on the cheese dance, the other was on the lady ahead of me trying to predict her breaking point. Word to the wise, psych classes are NOT healthy for you. To her credit, she waited until the cheese was sorted and properly stored in the container at which point she gave her order and asked for .. wait for it ..wait for it .. Swiss. The Swiss bin was empty forcing her to go back and get new packages. To her credit, she just took 4 pieces and finished her sandwich. With that done, she came back in front of me to get my order .. umm no, she opted to take the rest of the Swiss triangles out of the bag, align and put in the bin not looking at me once. “Rest” is somewhat of a guess since I turned and hobbled out the store. Nothing like having a direct reminder not to leave my customers hanging … especially my loyal readers. So, without delay, I give you the first +1 of the year.
This would be the very rare Headstick Sparrow. These brown jobbers develop antler like protrusions in the middle of their head providing a built in defense against aggressive Owls and the ability meld into underbrush when land predators come calling. Don’t worry, Linda isn’t buying it either. I think the words “crappy photographer” just rang out from her den. Sigh, okay, this is not a Headstick Sparrow, but it is from the Sparrow family – the Abert’s Towhee. Here is a better shot sans stick.
Hit the jump to read a bit more about this secluded Sparrow.
Continue reading Thank the Quails
Another full year of blogging is in the books! I guess more literally, in the Word document that contains the annual collection of posts. Hard to believe our little production at Intrigued has been going this long. Most of that endurance is thanks to all my readers whose time and comments make the effort so fulfilling. Over the course of this year I once again made new friends, some in far off lands (note, that includes basically anywhere outside the continental US). The world and the people in it continues to fascinate me on a daily basis. I get a bit more knowledgeable with each new observation, more intrigued with each new find and every resulting introspection or recollection. The experiment of breaking off my wildlife posts from the mothership has ended up becoming a flagship of its own taking command of a majority of blogging time. I still tend to the parent with posts covering my other hobbies, social observations and when required commentary on a broken political system. Meanwhile the Wildlife division has been busy bringing an amazing number of new birds to my life list along with forages into the larger and the smaller that walk, crawl, slither and fly past my camera’s sensor.
This year also brought new opportunities for me thanks to a lot of encouragement from my wife. I agreed to give two presentations, one focused on birding and blogging to our local Audubon Society and then again later in the year to the local camera club (thanks to the president of that club being present at my Audubon talk) with more of a technical photography slant. As I had feared those presentations took a tremendous amount of time to gather images and prepare the presentation, but in the end, extremely glad I took them up on those offers – two of the most enjoyable times I’ve ever had publicly speaking. I have spent a career giving very technical presentations to small and large groups as part of my day job. it was refreshing to talk about the hobbies that consume my free time outside of those hours. That event also got my butt in gear to finally get most of the Texas birding shots processed and posted (thus the huge boost in my birding list).
Admitted, I am a few days late on this assessment tradition. At the end of each year I like to take a moment to look back at the year’s output as a complete body of work. Did I hit my self-imposed monthly quota, was there any progression on my photography, what posts did my readers like, and where did I miss the mark. So with that, I bring you the 2018 year end summary. Hit the jump below to see the individual stats and accomplishments. However, before you do that, I do need to thank some people. First of all, those that take the time to read my musing. Without you, this would pretty much just be a long talk with myself. Knowing that others are investing time pushes me to try and put out the best product I can. It is also a way for me to share my experiences, learn from other perspectives and gather feedback on IDs and my photography – all things that add to my personal growth and for that extremely appreciative. Next on the list is my brother Ron. He was the catalyst for blogging and provides a tremendous amount of help with his post comments and even more behind the scenes. He helps me research IDs and critiques my shots allowing me to at least act like I know what I’m talking about. Not to mention a lot of the photographs that make it on the blog are a result of birding outings we go on together. The person that probably endures the most thanks to this blogging affliction is Linda. I cannot count of the number of times she has had to pull yeoman .. err yoewoman duties behind the wheel on long trips while I pounded out a post to keep my blog quota streak going. Not to mention driving me around birding hotspots while I hung my head out the window listening for bird calls or worse, subjecting herself to embarrassment while I pulled out my camera phone to capture something that made me laugh (happens a lot more that I am willing to admit). I need to do a better job in 2019 of making it up to her.
It is shaping up to be another big year at Intrigued. There are new goals for running, new target birds and hopefully a number of trips to keep the hopper full. Planning to make 2019 even better than 2018.
And now, the annual stats for the year’s worth of blogging.
Hit the jump to see the 2018 stats!
Continue reading Our Amps Go To 11
Welcome to the New Year everyone! Hope your holiday celebrations were fun and safe. I did take some time off from the wildlife posts to get through a backlog of Halloween Haunted Trail and running features on my other blog. Those were way overdue and I hate to leave loose ends hanging about as we cross into the new year. One loose end that still needs addressing is my year end blog summary. That takes a lot of time and I wanted to spend that instead getting ready to head back to work tomorrow. 10 days off is wonderful, but in reality, it just means twice as much work to greet you when you make it back to your office. It’s also college bowl day so enjoying some rare football (now that I’m in my second year of boycotting the professional version). It is pretty hard for me to just sit and watch TV – seems like such a waste of time. So, thought I would combine it with putting out my first Wildlife post of 2019.
Hit the jump to learn what my guess is for the huge Moth.
Continue reading Me Thinks It’s a Sphinx