Rocking Vegas

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.

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

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.

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

Hit the jump to find out what this new bird is!

Continue reading Rocking Vegas

Thank the Quails

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.

Abet's Towhee found at Wetlands Park Preserve in Henderson, Nevada November, 2018

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.

Abet's Towhee found at Wetlands Park Preserve in Henderson, Nevada November, 2018

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this secluded Sparrow.

Continue reading Thank the Quails

Somewhat Red for Xmas

I can tell Christmas is almost here by the signs of growing stress while out and about. It all really starts on Black Friday … let me take that back, thanks to greedy merchants and blunt force trauma of Christmas advertising campaigns it really starts in mid-October. This premature blitz causes some serious angst with me as it is a clear war on my favorite holiday Halloween. Pretty sure the Kringle capitalists want to dispense with the orange and black and force a solid 3 month barrage of sleigh bells and, god forbid, horrible version after horrible version of Santa Baby. It may just be me, but by the time this traditionally festive time comes to a head I am worn out. Sure, I like to entertain myself by spending time at popular merchants observing frantic people desperate to fill the void under the tree or get that hot item that sold out … in October, but you have to feel a bit saddened to see the impact a once joy-centric event now has on society. Linda gives me a hard time about my tradition of going to the stores on Christmas Eve to experience this devolution – this is what psychology enthusiasts do for fun. I cannot speak for other countries and cultures, but if you happen to live in the US, take a look around and start assessing the happiness of those around you, especially on the road, in the parking lots and especially in the cashier lines – what percentage give the impression they are glad to be there? If they do look happy, they are probably psychology majors ha! Feel bad about the downer opening, but really just hoping you can take a breath and remember the holiday should really be about family, relaxation and well, blogging!

Finally worked up a long series for my other blog (ironically focused on Halloween), but before investing in that effort, thought I’d get another bird post out for my wildlife readers. Going with one of the big boys today.

Reddish Egret discovered at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge January 2017

The Reddish Egret is not the largest of the shorebirds, but still tower over the standard peeps and plovers whose shorter legs force them to forage closer to the shore. In fact, just the three toed foot of the Egrets are larger than some of those birds. Those other shorebirds don’t seem to be stressed by the size different, since I have never seen a Reddish, or for that matter any Egret, waste their time harassing the smaller birds – probably worried some stressed out piper trying to get a last minute Xmas gift will go medieval on them. Nope these Egrets are calm, cool and collected as they keep an eye out for an unfortunate frog (now, frogs do have a legitimate reason to be stressed).

Reddish Egret discovered at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge January 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the two-toned Egret!

Continue reading Somewhat Red for Xmas

Another Trya for the Altamira

Well, I had my annual wellness exam with my doctor today. Another year with “impeccable” (doctor’s word, not mine) health stats. A constant diet of running and lifting may take its toll on your time over the year, but it definitely pays off in the numbers. My employer also provides me annual comprehensive lab screenings so I knew the numbers going into today. Ironically, I came out of the office with a hole in my arm and an hour or two later I wasn’t able to lift my arm above my waist. Extremely healthy going in…damaged coming out thanks to my doctor convincing me I should get a tetanus shot with all the trail running. Probably a good plan – I do shed my fair share of blood during the course of the year with the Halloween props, work on the lot and ideas that do not go as planned – but damn this hurts. Making the most out of my gimpy fin, figure it never hurts to stay on top of the blog quota.

Altamira Oriole shot at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2018

Keeping with the theme from the last post, tonight’s offering focuses on a bird that has previously debuted on the blog while trying to get as many Texas birds added prior to the Audubon speech (link here). Like the Woodpecker, it was also found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (along the Rio Grande River) while on a birding trip to South Texas at the beginning of the year. Similar to the situation with the last post, the previous series was taken in rather harsh light.

Altamira Oriole shot at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park

Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this Central America bird.

Continue reading Another Trya for the Altamira

A Better Golden Pecker

Hoped you enjoy the previous relief from the bird posts. I like to mix it up a bit from time to time, but the bird shots clearly dominate my photography queue – at least at the moment. Working on a few more non-feather series and hoping to get them finished up before too long. Until then, you are once again subjected to our winged friends.

Golden-Fronted Woodpecker found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, January 2018

This series features the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker found on our trip to Texas back in the beginning of the year. This isn’t the first time this bird has been featured here at Intrigued. Back in February, this brightly colored species was honored from our trip to Texas in 2017 (link here). I personally think this is a better executed set of pictures – that first set suffered a bit from being in direct sunlight.

Golden-Fronted Woodpecker found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, January 2018

Hit the jump to see more shots of the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker.

Continue reading A Better Golden Pecker

Lost in the Dust

Brace yourself, this is going to be an ugly ride. There are times when I wished I had studied up a bit more before going to a particular birding spot. Typically I’ll jump on the web and try to find a bird list for a destination, but the focus is usually on the entries with the capital ‘C’ next to them. Those represent the species that are common to the area and therefore the list I am more than likely to see depending on what season our trip falls in. A quick check of those against my birding list results in a series of circled birds that are considered my target birds and therefore the ones that require Linda to find creative ways to entertain herself until they are officially in the tin

Common Ground Dove found at Estero Llano Grande State Park, Texas, January 2018

Hit the jump to read a bit more about how this Dove made it into the tin.

Continue reading Lost in the Dust

Let’s Celebrate with Pie[d]

We are officially in December now and thus time to walk over to the big counter on the wall and reset the monthly post quota back to zero – by the way, where the hell did this year go!?! I have single digit days left at work to get this year’s work efforts wrapped up and set the preliminary plan for 2019 before the holiday starts … sigh feel like a race I’m never going to get ahead of. However, on the bright side, I can tell you where a large portion of the year went thanks to crossing off one of my annual goals tonight.

Goal Completed 1000 miles for 2018\

Anyone who follows either of my blogs know I spend my spare time bathed in sweat chasing down Father Time and running from the Reaper. During my Birding and Blogging talks this year I mentioned the reason I run (and lift) is so I can spend all day in the field hauling around big glass in hopes of taking pictures to display in my home gym to remind me why I work out – my circle of life. Always elated when I can check off a goal, let’s celebrate with some pie!

Pied-Billed Grebe found at Padre Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

Well, maybe not the pie you were thinking of. This here is the birder’s version. Actually, I took some liberties here – this is really a Pie[d]-Billed Grebe. If you live anywhere in the US or a large swath of Canada, you have ample chance to get one of this cute creatures in the tin. It is a rare outing when we do not come upon the Pied on one of our water excursions. You might have to keep your eyes open for reasons explained later, but they are probably there hanging out in small groups or more likely solitaire.

Hit the jump to see some cute picture of the Pied-Billed Grebe!

Continue reading Let’s Celebrate with Pie[d]

Totem Spirit

Greetings everyone. We recently made our way back from a week in Las Vegas which means the sleep counter for the month of November took a serious decrement. Not complaining, of course, seeing as how that was pretty much self-inflicted. From a birder’s perspective, Vegas is up there in the top 10 birding places we’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. Actually, should clarify that a bit, the birding is primarily a combination of the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve and the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area inside the Mojave Desert. We opted to rent some glass out there this time rather than hauling out the Beast. I wanted the prime Nikon 600 f/4 but the VR ended up being broken on that option, so settled for the 150-600 f5-6.3 Tamron. I am here to say, Tamaron glass is NOT Nikon glass. Still need to go through the images, but it was a fight the entire time. That glass is way to light to hand hold in the wind and extremely slow to focus compared to my rig making it impossible to nail any in-flight shots. Did manage to get at least one +1 and possibly a couple more. More to come on that front. For now, was totally shocked when I came upon this set of pictures in the queue.

Greater Roadrunner found outside Laguna Atascos National Wildlife Refuge in January 2017

This is not the first time the Greater Roadrunner has appeared here at Intrigued, first appearing way back in May of 2013 (link here). That first encounter was at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve and took some effort to find. It also didn’t allow us to get too close it. Now this specimen was the Walmart greeter for Laguna Atascosa.National Wildlife Refuge. We were navigating the absolutely awful road (if you can call it that) that leads into that refuge when our little feathered friend popped out of the brushline.

Greater Roadrunner found outside Laguna Atascos National Wildlife Refuge in January 2017

Hit the jump to read more about my favorite runner.

Continue reading Totem Spirit

White-Eyed Vireo

Greeting from the Winter Wonderland everyone. Was able to get a good 7 mile run in this morning as the sleet was turning to snow. As soon as I made it back to the house, it was pretty much a light snow that has managed to hang on for the last 9 hours… and by hanging on I mean stay light because now is it’s coming down hard for what they are expecting to be another 9 hours. I can’t remember the last time we had two good snows with a little less than a week before Thanksgiving. Also do not remember having to bundle up as much on my runs this early in November (couple of runs ago it was windchill of 13 – F for my international friends). In an attempt to bring a bit of warmth to my office, let’s head back to Texas and check out my latest addition to the ol’ bird list.

White-Eyed Vireo found at Sabal Palm Sanctuary, December 2017

Hit the jump to find out what bird this is … apologies for the remaining shots.

Continue reading White-Eyed Vireo

A Jay for a Long Day

Hello Everyone! There are times that you think you are never going to get through and then somehow everything comes together and then start believing you have everything under control… then life throws you a curveball and you are back to trying to get wood on a difficult pitch. That is how it has been here at LifeIntrigued over the last several months. The hectic agenda was finally smoothed only to have a loss in the family. With a heavy heart we laid my wife’s mother to rest today in a nice ceremony in her hometown. We will miss her, but she is in a better place now, free from the burdens that weighed her down in her later years.

In Memory, Dorothy Barton

(12/3/1927 – 11/5/2018)

 

It has been said the best way to move on from a bump in the road is to simply continue driving forward. Seems like sound advice to me, so in an attempt to move forward, thought I’d go ahead and put a post out on one of my favorite topics. On this rather dark day, I bring you one of the brightest birds the aviary world has to offer.

Green Jay captured at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Texas January 2018

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this stunning Jay!

Continue reading A Jay for a Long Day