Confidence Restored

Greetings everyone! Please bear with me as I reach up and rip off another page on the ol’ timekeeper. I used to get really excited about April as it was the traditional start of the race season for me. Two back to back half marathons (second one with a 5K event the night before) for the last two weekends. As everyone is painfully aware, these are not normal times and true to course, those square boxes on the calendar are absolutely blank. The first trail run has offered our money back, a reduction in fees or a virtual event and the other road race (Illini Marathon) has been postponed to an unannounced time later in the year. The trail run was a charity event for Make a Wish Foundation and therefore I offered to continue to support the children and just run virtually – the Illini one is going to be an issue as all the races are backing up and guessing there’s either going to be one hell of an end of the season (which already ends with 4 halfs in 6 weeks) or it is going to be a disappointing year for this self-proclaimed medal whore. If that was not depressing enough, the very foundation of my birding identification skills has been rocked

American Robin shot in Iowa in April 2017

Hit the jump to read more about our familiar friend. Continue reading Confidence Restored

One for the Ladies

Welcome to day 2,667 of the Illinois lockdown! If there is any plus side to all this, the downtime is giving my body a chance to finally get healed from the wear and tear brought on by last season’s race circuit. Not sure if it is just the heavier trail course runs or my hatred for Father Time, but injuries are taking longer to heal. I upped my off-season workouts to better prepare for the pending toll, but that has come at a cost of stressing the supporting cast of muscles and joints. Blew my back out last Monday and trying to get that repaired so I can get back on the trails – downtime just makes this whole situation even worse. Already prepping for the race schedule to be nearly back to back when this all lifts which means everything has to be functioning at peak performance. Lemonade out of lemons, have plenty of time to focus on reducing my backlog!

Common Goldeneye found at at LeClaire Iowa locks in January 2017

While going through the newly discovered images, found this interesting duck staring at me, piercing my soul with a finely focused golden ray. When the pain became too much to bear, called for Linda to help free myself from its deadly gaze. What could this strange creature be – to the reference books! The duller color palette indicated a strong likelihood our specimen was a female which causes some additional work as many of the female ducks tend to start looking alike as they often have mixtures of brown feathering.

Common Goldeneye found at the LeClaire Iowa locks in January 2017

Hit the jump to read and see a bit more about this golden one.

Continue reading One for the Ladies

The Whites on Mountaintops

Greetings from what seems like day 2,367 of the Illinois lockdown! Anytime my running gets curtailed things tend to start dragging. Thanks to a local park and a Corp of Engineer site where I do 90% of my trail and hill training being closed, I’ve had to resort to running county roads and my treadmill. Our rural roads have a nasty crown in them which makes my hips scream and any distance runner can attest long training runs indoors will grind your mind to zombie in nothing flat. I have been able to confirm some stuff during this eternity (okay, more like 4 days). For example, although I had already written off the NFL several years ago in honor of my Father who fought under the symbol they think so little of, I have now found my life is quite fine without any professional sports… not to mention a hell of a lot more productive. Guessing that is exactly what every professional sports franchise fears every single day – when the fans realize you are not a necessity. Now contrast that with things I DO need – you know, like CHECKS ON MY BIRDING LIST. Ron put a major dent in my minuscule lead earlier in the year and I need every little morsel of count I can get which brings me to this.

Mountain Chickadee found at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

If you are like me when I originally took this shot 0.86 dog years ago. We were out in the Colorado region attending the Teacup Dog Agility Association Nationals (brings up fond memories of our beloved Rizzi who took 6th in the nation for his height group – we still miss that little guy who left us in the midst of Linda’ surgery last year). On our way out we swung by the Rocky Mountain National Park for a little birding. While taking in the local Nutcrackers, Marmots and Owls, a Chickadee decided to drop in and see what had everyone’s attention. We have our share of Chickadees here in the Midwest so didn’t get too excited at the time. Nevertheless, staying true to the bird photographer’s code, I made sure to get a few shots in the tin.

Mountain Chickadee found at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

Hit the jump to read about more about this overlooked bird.

Continue reading The Whites on Mountaintops

A Case of the Blues in the Ill

The hysteria continues to thrive around us. Shelves laid bare in the paper aisle, shopping carts full of anything that has the word antibacterial on it and to top it off we have people that aren’t even accountable for the outcome pontificating on TV about how they would solve the crisis – comical in the instances where they were in charge and didn’t do jack. Regardless, since my last post they have closed down all our state parks, banned eating in restaurants and shuttered bars. Wait, this just in, CDC is discouraging any gathering over 50 people. So, now not only are my official races canceled I can’t even continue with my training runs in the safety of Jubilee State Park. Hell, I can’t even bird in my favorite park which means I have no way to keep the internal crazies at bay.

Eastern Bluebird found at Jubilee State Park June 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Blues.

Continue reading A Case of the Blues in the Ill

Yellow and Orange in Yellow

I have always found units of measure to be the foundation for life. They have the unique ability to deliver a multitude of feelings. Used at the appropriate time they can bring happiness, yet can be used deviously to bring on depression. Similarly playing the fence to deliver a feeling of accomplishment while equally adept at demoralizing. Of course, there’s the inherent use to impress although quickly turned to deliver a sobering cold fish slap across the face. It might be hard to imagine a tiny 5 letter word like “units” having such an impact on our day to day activities. Perhaps you need some examples. Clearly it sounds a whole lot better to North American males to hear their average life expectancy is 27,740 days rather than a mere 76 years. Better yet, how about 665,760 hours – now we’re talking. Nothing like walking into work touting you’ve just completed a 50K only to have some snide remark like “well, that’s only around 30 miles” – bastard! Hey buddy, that’s 158,400 feet back at ya’. Everything equals out of course, as the consumption rates clearly differ, but the fact remains that numbers are a double edged dagger (keeping with the pointy things theme from last post). So, by now you are probably wondering where I’m heading with all this. Well, 1 year ago we came upon this interesting bird.

Hooded Grosbeak found at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

See, you are probably thinking to yourself, “man, Bri’s on his game for today’s post – so unlike him to deliver a snap to post execution in a single year. Way to go Bri!” (that would be both the feeling of accomplishment and impression if you are keeping score). Yep, this post was from 2013 and comes to us from Yellowstone National Park. Quick math, carry the 1, subtract the denominator, build a 3×3 matrix or whatever the crap they do in common core these days… wait a minute that is more than a year. Nope, one itty bitty cute and cuddly “dog” year.

Hooded Grosbeak found at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Hit the jump to find out what the latest add to the birding list is.

Continue reading Yellow and Orange in Yellow

Strutter

Well, it’s March and at recent glance my last post came courtesy of February. Now that is some mighty fine procrastination if I do say so myself! Some of the delay was thanks to a quick trip to Vegas to get a little birding done in Henderson, some more Valley of Fire and still more in Red Rock Canyon. May have even managed to add a couple more entries on the bird the life list. If all goes as normal they might make their appearance here in hmmm, add that to that, carry the 1, give a slight buffer to complete the processing.. yep, 3 years sounds about right. Granted Ron has been on my case about my snap to post lag so there is a chance these might jump the queue – maybe even ahead of the Ron Who Owes Me Bigley haul (as he has yet to post about that event – give him hell people!) Then to top it all off, I’ve had to battle a broken garage door opener over the last two days. Ended up having to replace the internal gearing which was quite the ordeal. For the record, the genius that attached the metal drive gear to PLASTIC worm gearing is an engineering idiot. Of course, the best part of successfully defeating the mechanical gremlins is being able to strut around the house rhetorically asking “Who Da Man!?! Which is what I thought of when I saw this Tricolored Heron walking around the water like it owned the place.

Tricolored Heron found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center December 2017

Probably successfully rebuilt a carburetot for his ‘Stang and making sure all the ladies in the area took notice. Them Tri’s are a handy bunch. This particular specimen was spotted at the South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center back in December 2017. And you thought I was kidding about the size of the image queue. To my credit, I have been putting a serious dent in the multiple Texas trips over the last couple of years.

ricolored Heron found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center December 2017

Continue reading Strutter

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

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