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..
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.
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
We are closing out a long two weeks of travel with an agility show at the Purina grounds near St. Louis MO. Usually these shows drive me crazy with the amount of downtime involved. Get the agility course set, receive instructions from the event judge, walk the course to become familiar with it, wait for your dog’s turn in the ring, enjoy the maximum of 2 minutes of excitement as Raven leads Linda through the obstacles, watch Raven bask in the post run accolades and then sit for what seems hours as the rest of the dogs compete and they start setting for the next round. Absolutely brutal especially since this is really Linda’s thing as I am the designated Sherpa. It is a great feeling to see Linda back on her feet and enjoying herself in the ring again – it was getting rough leading up to the surgery as I could tell she was really struggling to get through the stop and start sprinting between the obstacles – looks harder than my ultra marathon. This time I could use the rest to get the batteries recharged again and the downtime means I get a chance to pound out some posts – yeah!
Was checking the post queue and decided I would break down and go with one that has been in there for a while. Each time I considered going with it I decided the execution was too poor and opted to wait. Unfortunately, the soft images are of a bird I have yet to checked off my official list and I need to push my counter up (hmmm, wonder why). So, without further delay, take a few steps back from your monitor so these images of a nonbreeding Blue Grosbeak do not look so bad.
Hit the jump if you really want to see some more soft shots of Mr. Blue.
Continue reading A Softer Side of Blue
Greetings all once again! Starting to get in the groove of the new year now that the “Ron Owes Me Bigly” mission is coming to closure – not the “owes me” part, rather the initial mission part. He’s in the midst of doing some packing, but I am sure as soon as that settles down, he will be getting those fingers oiled up and letting everyone know about said mission in due time… nudge, nudge. Meanwhile my immediate mission is to get the photo queue whittled down a bit.
Thought I’d go ahead and get the big boys out of the way – well, at least some of the pictures in the hopper of the American White Pelican. Whitey is one of those species we have easy access to in the heartland. Cornell documents their regional map as breeders across our northern border and spotty locations in the west with a wintering destination along our southern border. Then they got out their yellow crayon and colored everything in between for migration. Truth is, we can find this full-bodied birds patrolling our waterways pretty regularly outside of the dead of winter.
Hit the jump to read and see a bit more about this tank of a bird.
Continue reading More Days in White Feathers
So, how does the old Samuel Clemens quip go – “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”. Although, I will admit, I had always remembered it as “rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated”. I prefer my version, apparently it was just a derivation. Hell, even the original quote seems mistaken as Mr. Twain scribed it as “the report of my death was an exaggeration”. Apparently watching the Jeopardy GOAT competition is starting to impact my post research ha! Way off base here, yet the theme still applies – I’m still breathing, yet admittedly woefully behind on my posting. I distinctly get the feeling from the look on today’s featured feathered friend that I have been judged and found lacking.
Truth is I decided to start the New Year on a mission we’ll simply call “Ron owes me bigly”. An endeavor that benefited him almost as equally as it negatively impacted me. Say it with me everyone, B I G L Y! Unfortunately, the details of said undertaking will remain a secret for sometime longer in order to give Ron time to reveal the fruits of our labor. It was the theme of a secret that led to the decision to go with Mr. Yellowbelly for my post.
Hit the jump to read more about this mysterious bird!
Continue reading The Elusive Knautta Bird
Greetings everyone! Been wrapped up in the chaos we call Christmas and have not had time to really sit down and relax in the warm glow of the computer monitors. Clearly the financial engine is booming in America as trips to the stores to pick up items to celebrate the now over-commercialized event meant spending three times as long in a checkout line than it took to actually find that perfect gift. Every store – same story. I do try to support the local independents – the problem is my time is becoming increasingly valuable to me. Quite revealing as the mainstream media and self-serving politicians tried their hardest to paint a false recession narrative just a few months back. In honor of this soaring economy, I bring you royalty (well, at least I’m pretty sure about that).
I have not featured a lot of Terns here and not for lack of images. On the contrary, my photo queue is full to the brim with these sharp looking birds. They happen to be a family of birds that hang out at my favorite local wildlife refuge in Havana (Emiquon) as well as easy fodder on our multiple trips down the Texas Gulf Coast. If you have access to a fairly decent sized body of water, then you have a good chance of being able to witness these aerial acrobats in action. The difficulty is not getting them classified in the right family as their slim/aerodynamic profile and dagger sharp bills tend to quickly differentiate them from the abundance of Gulls sure to be in the same area. No, the difficulty comes into getting them categorized in the right species as there are at least eleven I can name off the top of my head that are available somewhere in North America. Granted not as hard as ID’ing one of the twenty or so Gull varieties, but they do have a similar issue in that their coloring doesn’t differ that much – especially out of the breeding season.
Hit the jump to learn more about this sleek looking bird. Continue reading As the Royal Terns
My little vacation has come to an end and back to work I go. Don’t feel too sorry for me, I basically have 4 days of work left before I close the books on this year. Thankfully, I’ll be able to look forward to a much better year as this one I’d just as soon forget altogether. We’ll be heading back down to Texas sometime in the first couple of months in hopes of getting the first part of the new year off on the right foot. Knowing how much content those trips add to the photography queue, figured I’d try my best to pop some of the previous Texas finds off the queue – some of those still need proper IDs and need some final validation from Ron (those damn Terns all look alike from afar). Fortunately, today’s featured feathered friend was easy to classify.
This rather smug looking waterbird was found while visiting Galveston Island State Park back in December 2016 (Yes B in the UK I am still waaaay behind ha). While exploring the trails and shorelines for Clapper Rails, I came upon this Cormorant hanging out in the packed sand. Not being up on my Cormorant game, I initially ID’d it as a female knowing the rest of the Cormorants that I’ve photographed were splendored in much darker to all black feathering (link here). At the time it wasn’t obvious whether this specimen was the standard Double-Crested variety or the Neotropic which I had previously photographed in the same place (link here).
Hit the jump to read more about my education on this particular species.
Continue reading Low Rider
I put my blogging hobby in jeopardy tonight. Linda and I checked out a German Christmas Market (Christkindlmarket) in downtown Chicago or as I like to refer to it as – Ron’s neighborhood (cue comment ha). Really nice German/European themed market full of cultural foods and gifts. We took a special liking to the cider and hot chocolate in souvenir mugs and an amazing amount of really cool glass ornaments. Show me a colorful glass bird ornament and I switch into “here, take my money” mode. Problem was it was an OUTSIDE market. Start with the windy city’s namesake, add in a heaping amount of plunging temperatures gives you some mighty bitter conditions. Somehow made it back to the hotel without my fingers falling off – still tingle while I type. In an attempt to bring them back to room temperature, thought I would feature a bird found in much warmer conditions.
Actually this post features specimens found in multiple locations over multiple years and in different months of the year (yes, all warmer than the tundra conditions we experienced tonight). This featured bird is a member of the Sapsucker species. It is pretty easy to tell the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker is a member of the Woodpecker family. Long, powerful bill, well clawed to support hanging on the sides of trees/branches and adorned in the common colors of black, white and red.
Hit the jump to read some more about Mr. Sappy Sucker!
Continue reading They Who Suck Sap
Just sitting here waiting around for Linda to get done with her cardio-rehab session. Hard to believe she only has one more session in her three month recovery plan. All is going well and I’m excited to say she has elected to give up all the stress and strain of the corporate world and finally enjoy life to the fullest in her retirement. Good heart, good feeling and a great husband what more can you hope for (okay, I snuck in that last one hehehe). The other good news I am thrilled to mention is we will once again be heading back to the Texas Gulf Coast for some fun in the sun – translated – BIRDING! Time to fill up the hoppers for the coming blogging year – who am I kidding, you probably won’t see those finds until at least 2 or 3 years from now. The best part is Ron will be joining us this time. Good for him, very bad for our bird list challenge as I made up some serious ground thanks to the treasure trove of birds down there. Competition aside, it is always fun to bird with him so definitely looking forward to it. Until then, I’ll continue to chip away at the last of the 2016/2017 haul. For instance, this adorable creature.
Hit the jump to read a bit more about this skinny Panda.
Continue reading Panda Bird
Welcome to December everyone! That moment in time when you look at the calendar and realize there are no more pages on it – that’s it, nada, kaput, this year be gone. All those plans, all those goals and all those to-do’s still stuck with magnets to the refrigerator door. It is a bit depressing if you dwell on the lost side of the equation and forget about the wins over the last eleven months. It was nice to get my official bird count pushed up to 254 and I know there are at least 15 to 20 still in the queue that I still need to get to (recall that I don’t take the +1 until it has debuted here at Intrigued). I also managed to get Ron a big check in his list earlier in the week – I know he is excited to tell everyone about that so I’ll give him the privilege of posting on that. Until then going with a bird that was originally featured here back in May of 2015 (link here).
Definitely able to improve on the shots this time – those previous ones from the outing at Chain O’ Lakes with Ron were well…. let’s go with craptastic. It is always a bit painful when I link back to my old work. The plus side is I can definitely see the progression behind the glass over the nearly 13 years I’ve been doing this whole blog thing. Don’t get me wrong, nowhere near where I would like to be, especially compared to all the great shots I see my friends and fellow bloggers putting up. At least I try to be conscious of the foreground reeds now ha! So, this is the American Wigeon. Definitely prettier than the Turkey Vulture I had to hit you with for the Thanksgiving post.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this criminal.. I mean cute bird.
Continue reading The Wigs
Each year around this time, I check the image queue for the traditional Thanksgiving Day post. Admittedly, I was a bit shocked when the queue was devoid of Wild Turkeys – a jestful reference in tribute to all the Turkeys that show up on many of our kitchen tables today. Of course, those are mere hybrids of the wild version having been “engineered” to maximize the meat at the cost of making them completely useless from a bird perspective. Their wild versions are not the most adept in the flight category, but at least they can get off the ground and make it to a nearby tree if so desired – domestic Turkeys are chained to the couch with remotes in hand . Alas, the tradition has been broken. I will have to put the Wild Turkey on the top of the 2020 hunt list (right below the elusive Snow Bunting), so this doesn’t happen again. While I am at it, might even help Ron get a decent shot in the tin as his luck with these game birds ranges somewhere between “it’s in there somewhere” and “damn, them Turks have Cheetah speed to cause a blur like that”.
All hope is not lost, I did find a substitute.
Definitely not one that poses any threat of ending up on our dinner tables, but it at least has “Turkey” in the name. The Turkey Vulture is not new to Intrigued, having debuted all the way back in 2014 (link here) and popped up several time since then (link here). Unlike true Turkeys, these rather ugly looking creatures can fly … well at least soar with the best of them. No hopping from tree to tree, these strong winged Vultures will ride the thermals to dizzying heights, making it look effortless as they slowly circle the grounds below looking for victims of predators, age, illness and the most wasteful of all… humans in their deadly deuces and curly-wurlies.
Hit the jump to read a bit more about this substitute bird.
Continue reading A Broken Tradition