The Dove Parade Continues

It is probably as hard for a tall white skinny natural blonde heterosexual female actress to land a commercial gig these days as it is to find reliable Internet service on our Expedition Tres. If the current administration needs a reality check on what “infrastructure” means they can get their asses out of DC and try to work remotely in the real world. The good news is we’ve had a lot of fun enjoying what our neighbors to the north have to offer in terms of outdoor activities. A few days ago I was able to get some hard trail running in traversing the steep bluffs of Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin (as if the bluffs were not hard enough already, the heat index in the 100’s didn’t help any!). From there we made it up to Duluth, MN where I was able to fulfill a previous commitment to a fellow blogger friend. Canoeist, kayaker and hiker extraordinaire CJ posted on a trip she took to Jay Cooke State Park (link here). Based on her account, I added it to my places to target in the future. Thanks to Linda’s tremendous trip planning skills that can now be officially checked off.

Inca Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

As CJ reported, Jay Cooke is an incredible place complete with a bordering bike trail and plenty of trails to test my endurance. First day took a 14 mile bike ride with Linda and the following day doubled up with a 13 mile run on some brutal elevation changing trails in the morning and then went another 10 miles biking with Linda after that. Another 14 mile biking trip is planned for later today – I might have to crawl my way through the rest of the trip ha! Anyway, big thanks to CJ for the great tip – oh and be sure and check out her site to read about the rest of her travels (link here) – she hangs out across the pond these days.

Inca Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to learn about the star of today’s post!

Continue reading The Dove Parade Continues

Getting Cheekie

Been a bit out of pocket lately and that is entirely due to Linda and I being out on Exploration Tres and not having Internet for the first part of the trip. Somehow Linda convinced me to head out on the road again in the midst of what should be heavy training for the upcoming 50 mile ultra run. I could say it involved foot stomping, yelling, manhood challenging and all kinds of medieval torture, but that would be a bit of a stretch. Truth is she gets on ebird, finds bird sightings where she wants to travel to and then spends the weeks leading up to departure date blurting out birds I do not have whenever we pass by each other. Kind of like Tourette’s Syndrome for birder wives. Quite devious if you ask me. The silver lining is if I fail on the run I can blame her!

Anyway, while on the road, I have a few cycles to get a post or two out of the way (connectivity permitting). Say hello to today’s featured feathered friend.

Gray-Cheeked Thrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

If you recall, I thought I was setting a drab baseline in my previous post. At the time I was under the impression that it was hard to get much duller than one of those little brown jobbers technically called a Sparrow. Ended up being a bit shocked at the feedback I received contrary to that assumption. Apparently, some of you out there think those LBJs can be snappy dressers. That opinion threw a small wrench in my plans to have a growing crescendo of color as we progressed through the month. What to do, what to do…

Gray-Cheeked Thrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to read a bit more about our shy friend.

Continue reading Getting Cheekie

The Song Does Not Remain the Same

Well, I was supposed to get this post out last night. Clearly, that didn’t happen ironically due to completely losing track of time while I was banging away on the skins -eh, more like Kevlar mesh on my electronic drum set. Second only to running, one of the few things I enjoy sweating my ass doing for hours and hours. A great way to log some cardio and eliminate all your stress – win win in by book. Why the irony? Yesterday’s post intended to feature the patron bird of every band.

Song Sparrow found at Chain O' Lakes State Park in June 2019

Yep, that’s the Song Sparrow! Somehow managed to get 10 posts out in July between the wild side here and the mothership blowing my self-imposed 6 posts a month goal right out of the water. Long live being a slave to the grind ha. Guessing you might not have noticed, but I’ve been featuring pretty much fresh content – as in shots taken this year – almost exclusively. Still means the backlog is growing older and older, but at least trying to stay on top of the new stuff (which I’ve barely even begun to scratch thanks to the Texas and then the Alabama Gulf Shores trips). Wanted to go a bit deeper into the queue and pop a few of those off while up for the month – that was the plan.

Song Sparrow found at Chain O' Lakes State Park in June 2019

Hit the jump to read more about our musical friend.

Continue reading The Song Does Not Remain the Same

Batting Leadoff for the Yellow Bandits

I cannot believe we are nearing the close of July. It probably doesn’t help now that I joined the retired ranks I’m unable to remember what day of the week it is, but flying through an entire month, now that I notice. Technically more “running” than “flying” as this was the first multi-race month in a very very long time. In honor of kissing another month goodbye, thought I’d go with this for today’s featured feathered friend.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to see just a couple more shots of our colorful bandit.

Continue reading Batting Leadoff for the Yellow Bandits

Tippy Envy

Howdy all you wildlife fans! The oven has reached max out here in the Midwest with the temps back in the nineties. By itself, that is pretty bearable, but when you add in the humidity levels and the feels likes levels cresting in the 105s to 110s then it gets more punishing. Of course, this is also a sign the annual running of the Bix7 road race is on its way and sure enough yesterday was the day. After a year’s absence due to that ass Covid, it was once again time to get really sweaty traversing the bluffs of the Mighty Mississippi River for delicious Whitey’s Popscicles (link here) at the post race party. There will be a full post on the mothership site, but in short it was a hot one (high 80’s before the gun went off with the heat index that day topping out at 103). A big congratulations to Linda for completing the 2 mile Quick Bix this year. She missed an additional year as she had her heart surgery prior to the canceled year.

Will have to check the finish line pictures, but pretty sure my legs were as red as today’s featured feathered friend.

White-Tipped Dove found at Bensten-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Over the last few years I’ve retooled my body to handle the long grind of ultras letting go of the fast turnover indicative of the shorter road courses. Had to put those old skills back into play with the 7 miles of the Bix and the legs let me know they didn’t appreciate the amped up pace – good news is the big hills were a hell of a lot easier. While the legs take some time to recover, thought I’d put out a quick post continuing the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park “Dove Parade”.

White-Tipped Dove found at Bensten-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to learn about the next entry in the Dove Parade.

Continue reading Tippy Envy

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Welcome back everyone! Had my first run this morning since the long event and the body is a little better than expected even though it was a short 7 miler. Most of the kinks are out and just need to work a bit more on the heat conditioning before hitting it hard again. All this rain, as of late, has been keeping the temps down – with the wet stuff moving on, the mercury and humidity are starting to creep up again. You could almost mistake this for summer again ha! Speaking of mistakes…

Mourning Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

…tonight’s featured feathered friend managed to fool me in the field. This specimen was found at the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park back on our holiday trip to Texas in the beginning of the year. Ironically, we were there in hopes of tinning a rarity that had shown up. Eventually got that bird, the Ruddy Ground Dove and already posted on that experience (link here).

Mourning Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to learn about how I was deceived.

Continue reading A Case of Mistaken Identity

A Totem for Linda

Was on the fence about what to feature in my upcoming post. I happen to be in one of those rare times where I have plenty of options with images all processed up and ready to go. Then an interesting thing happened which tipped the scales in favor of this rather stoic looking Hawk.

Red-Shouldered Hawk found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

I happen to really like the shot above and purposely let the barrel of The Beast out to give you the full view of the sight that caught my attention. Linda was the one who spotted this one while we were standing outside Quinta Mazaltan in McAllen, TX back in January. For someone who denies being a “birder” or as she puts it, one of “those people” she is certainly gaining an eye for our feathered friends. Linda can also identify a large swath of birds just from following me out into the field – another fact she will deny in public. Back to the image, the scene made me smile – from the Hawk’s perspective. “What ya’ feeling like for dinner honey? How about some Purple Martin. Yes, and I know just the place to get a carry out!” For the concerned, you can rest easily knowing no Purple Martins were hurt in the making of this post.

Red-Shouldered Hawk found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

Hit the jump to find out what got me thinking about this Hawk – hint A SNAKE!

Continue reading A Totem for Linda

Newly Designated Mascot for CMAR

Those that follow the Intrigued mothership are already aware of the good news, but the mere fact there is a new post here officially confirms to all my readers that the running demons were left slain last Saturday. The redemption is complete as my one blemish on the race record has been officially erased. Yep, the 2019 PR for failure at the Cry Me a River (CMAR) 50K Trail Race (link here) has been superseded by the successful completion of this year’s running (2020 was canceled for obvious reasons). To say I’ve been fretting about this event would probably be considered an understatement by my wife. Although I had trained my ass off, the inevitable doubts were coming to a crescendo as I walked to the starting line. The standard neurotic runner fare “Why was this body part hurting, did I taper to quick.. too long, should have done more double days, damn vacation days cost me valuable runs, hey, there’s a squirrel”. More details than you would ever want to know are up on the mothership (link here), but for a quick summary the temps stayed well under the 100+ heat index experience in ’19 that were responsible for taking me out. Unfortunately, that issue was replaced by RAIN, a LOT of rain, really, I mean torrents of rain coming down for the entire back half of the 11 hours it took me to complete the event. That course is brutal enough dry – having to negotiate the continuous climbs and descents in slick mud made for one hell of a day. Two of the usual stream crossings turned into a step and pray game through 2+ foot rapids. Proud to say I never went down the entire 34+ miles (yeah, their course was long adding to the punishment). Couldn’t be happier with results and owe a lot of that success to Linda who coordinated the multiple chase points to keep me hydrated/nourished and spirits up through the entire challenge. I did think about the blog while navigating my way through the endless downpour – ‘cuz that’s what I do ha! Decided the perfect post to follow that race was this featured feathered friend.

Louisiana Waterthrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

This bird fit on many different fronts. First off, the obvious as it literally has water in its species name. In case you are not familiar with this pink footed bird it is a Waterthrush. Like the course, it is deviously deceptive. You would think it was part of the Thrush family by the name alone, however, it is really a Warbler. As with the race map it certainly looks flat until you are trying to figure out exactly where the “flat” part of Illinois is. Lastly, like the run, this bird was difficult both trying to get in the tin and harder still was trying to properly ID the specific Waterthrush species. The difficulty of the 50K goes without saying.

Louisiana Waterthrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to learn more about this newly designated CMAR mascot.

Continue reading Newly Designated Mascot for CMAR

Border Watch

Linda is getting some dental work done which means I’m sitting in the car with some free time on my hands. I guess to be truthful, I am really confined to the car due to being in “Bubble Mode” as Linda refers to it. Traditionally, I like to avoid people starting a few days prior to a race – nothing like training your ass off for months only to haul a cold or some other debilitating disease to the starting line. Linda used to call me neurotic, however, in this crazy world I’ve now become the norm – just call it Covid quarantine now ha! Anyway, until she returns to my protective bubble, thought I’d spend the time taking you back to the border.

In a previous post, I took you through the ordeal of getting the immature Vermilion Flycatcher in the tin (link here). If you recall, we were visiting Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park back in January, when I noticed that Flycatcher hanging out on a wire above the border patrol. As luck would have it, another member of the Flycatcher family decided to take its turn on the border watch.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our colorful Flycatcher.

Continue reading Border Watch

Turning Up the Heat

First off, a quick bit of housekeeping. I kind of left everyone hanging after the first part of the Foam Coffin prop for the Haunted Halloween Trail (link here). That has been remedied now with the publishing of the second part, which brings it all together for last year’s signature prop (link here). Feel free to check that out if you are a fellow Halloween aficionado or would like to know what I do when I’m not running or hauling The Beast around.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Today’s featured feathered friend comes to you from Sunday’s run. Well, maybe not technically, but the choice definitely originated over the course of that outing. Long distance running has to be one of the few athletic activities where it is in your best interest to keep your head “out” of the game. The last thing you want is to be mentally aware of every foot strike when you will be at it for hours and hours. My go to distraction is to plan out my next post. It didn’t take very long on that run to know this specimen was the perfect choice.

Oven Bird found at Dauphin Island's Shell Mound in April 2021

Not only was it a new bird for my checklist, it fit the theme of the day. For those not familiar with this intriguing looking bird, it is called an Ovenbird (note, admittedly, I always thought that was two words before doing the research for this post). Regarding the theme part, Sunday’s run was H-O-T. The cooler rain driven temps have left the area heeding to the unrelenting heat and humidity that dominates the Midwest in the heart of the summer. I was definitely feeling that heat on the later parts of my 50k simulation run (1/3 of the course). Whenever I made it to the bottoms of the deep valleys along the Illinois River bluffs it felt like I was in an oven.

Hit the jump to read more about our plump Warbler.

Continue reading Turning Up the Heat