Low Rider

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.

Double-Crested Cormorant found on Galveston Island, Texas December 2016

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).

Double-Crested Cormorant found on Galveston Island, Texas December 2016

Hit the jump to read more about my education on this particular species.

Continue reading Low Rider

They Who Suck Sap

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.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker found at International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, Wisconsin - April 2014

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.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker found at Kentucky Lake - April 2015

Hit the jump to read some more about Mr. Sappy Sucker!

Continue reading They Who Suck Sap

Panda Bird

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.

Black-Necked Stilt found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge January 2017

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this skinny Panda.

Continue reading Panda Bird

The Wigs

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).

American Wigeon found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

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.

American Wigeon found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this criminal.. I mean cute bird.

Continue reading The Wigs

A Broken Tradition

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.

Turkey Vulture, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas Gulf Coast, December 2016

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

Fresh Hairy

Well, we just made our way back up to Minnesota for Linda’s three month Mayo follow up on her heart surgery.  Just need to make sure her upgrades are working as intended.  Unfortunately, looks like we will need to blow out of here as soon as possible as this place is planning to get 5-10 inches of the fluffy stuff  mixed with strong winds – starting just an hour or so after her last appointment.  Being Midwest natives, snow generally doesn’t get us too anxious – it’s the people that are not used to bad condition driving that breeds the concern.  On our way up we came upon an ominous scene as they were loading a body into the coroner’s vehicle on the side of the road.  According to the local Davenport news, the driver lost control exiting the highway – and that was on dry pavement.  No need to get too worried about things in the future – live in the now I say – and by now I mean showing off my latest +1 on the ol’ bird list.

Hairy Woodpecker found on lot in Brimfield 11/15/201

If you spend any time at all at Intrigued you are fully aware that although I may live in the now in the real world, I actually live years in the past in the cyber world.  Not sure exactly when I lost control of my photography queue, but it is a constant reminder that pressing the little shutter button on the camera is the easy part.  Getting captures moved to long term storage, flipping through the haul to figure out which ones are actually worthy of touching up, toiling away in the digital darkroom, getting the images uploaded and then ….well, then the most fulfilling part, adding words and showing them off to the world.  (Note, Ron used to make fun of me for being so far behind .. until he starting wildlife blogging and is now in the exact same boat hehehe).  Then there are times like today’s featured bird that are fresh out of the tin from an encounter a mere 10 days ago.  Yes, that was days and not years.

Hairy Woodpecker found on lot in Brimfield 11/15/201

Hit the jump to learn more about this surprise encounter.

Continue reading Fresh Hairy

If You Willet They Will Come

Sky dandruff is once again falling on us. At least this time we are in November which makes it a bit more bearable, however, my body is not pleased that Fall was essentially skipped this year. Sure, the pretty colors are a nice benefit for those lucky enough to experience seasons, but there is one primary purpose for Fall – to gradually get the lungs and more isolated appendages accustomed to cold weather running. That’s it, just one reason – well, maybe to also force birds to come through my region on their way back home – but that’s it! Admittedly, my sample set is pretty small as the list of friends that enjoy running is thin enough and those willing to continue training through Midwest winters whittles that down to a mere handful. To a person, there is nothing worse than running one weekend in the high 60’s and then heading out two days later in low 20’s. You can bundle up all you want, but as soon as that cold air hits your unaccustomed lungs you will be thinking about your next trip to Texas!

Willet found at Bolivar Peninsula, Texas Gulf Coast January 2017

Which was exactly what I was doing last week. Dead of night, headlight on, pounding pavement alone in a nearby park, sucking in daggers of cold air all while wondering what my 0.0 friends might think of this obsession. That answer didn’t take long to come up with leaving me many miles to think about my next post. At some point my fingers and toes started going numb – again, thanks to NO FALL they hadn’t toughened up. Told myself I was going to have to use willpower to get me through the hilly back half. Quickly began thinking of warm thoughts of Texas. Willpower, Texas, willpower, Texas, willpower, Texas, damn did my pinkie just fall off!?!, willpower Texas, willpower Texas – hey, I GOT IT!

Willet found at Bolivar Peninsula, Texas Gulf Coast January 2017

Hill the jump to see a few more pictures of this rather drab looking shorebird.

Continue reading If You Willet They Will Come

Fell on Black Days

Welcome to November everyone! Every day I wake up, do a mental check of all the things on the to-do list and then look over at the calendar for a cold shot of reality – where in the hell has this year gone!?! Already checked that I didn’t get shorted calendar pages – yep, 12 pages, each full of squares representing a timespan of life you will never get back. . Minute after minute of lost opportunity (mostly to that ultimate waste of productivity – sleep). It doesn’t help that we already had snow on the ground and my list is full of outside work earmarked to get done BEFORE the white stuff invades. Add to that a back that is still mending and you have a recipe for the blahs. Seems like a perfect time to feature the color black.

Black Vulture found outside Rockport, Texas in December 2016

How’s that for some bleak? The black robed ministry of the dead. In my parts, we are subject to their more flashy kin, the Turkey Vulture (link here). Essentially the same profile – long black bodied, purpose designed bill and featherless head, however, the Turkey was given a decorative red head (not to be too harsh, but seems like lipstick on a pig if you ask me). The Black Vulture is .. wait for it … wait for it… all black. Kudos to the individual responsible for naming this creature for choosing a moniker you can associate in the field with very little effort.

Black

Caution – some scenes after the jump will not be appetizing.

Continue reading Fell on Black Days

Well, Hi There Tri

Here I sit wondering. was it having to load and then unload 20 bags of cement, or shoveling 30 5 gallon buckets of coal shale, or hand carrying said buckets some distance away, or moving a bunch of 4x8x3/4 treated plywood, or loading and unloading cement pavers, or having to haul 16 large tubs full of Halloween decorations back onto the tall shelving in my outbuilding, or complying with Linda’s demand to take out the trash that has resulted in destroying my lower back? Finally gave in to the nagging pain and had my chiro snap it back in place. Now just need to get the swelling down before another weekend’s worth of work stares me in the face. The good news is, right now, sitting doesn’t hurt as bad as standing which makes getting a post out one of the few things I can get done during the healing process. Oh, for the record – I am certain it was the trash duties that did this to me!

Took a gander at the photo queue and found a series featuring these beauties.

Ticolored Heron found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center January 2017

When it comes to Herons, the Great Blue holds command from a sheer size perspective, but when it comes to elegance, I think the Tricolored variety takes the cake…or maybe in this context, the fish. Something about the slate blue/grey interlaced with lavender and then contrasted with the white on the belly give this smaller Heron a regal look. An image that stands in contrast to the wet and muddy environments they tend to hang out in.

Ticolored Heron found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center December 2016

Hit the jump to learn a bit more about Mr. Tri.

Continue reading Well, Hi There Tri

Hold My Beer Honey

Well, I promised a fellow blogger over at the Cedar Journal (https://thecedarjournal.com/blog/), a steady stream of bird posts in recognition of finally getting out of the pressure cooker. Probably over promised, but contrary to the great philosopher Yoda, sometimes “Try, there is”. Linda and I are starting to plan out the winter vacation. It is no secret we have spent a number of previous years birding the Texas Gulf Coast and then along the Rio Grande River. There are a number of other birding places we are considering, but hard to pass up the opportunity to get the abundance of birds down there in the tin – and Ron hasn’t ventured down there yet so any new checks allows me to claw back ground on his bird count. All that planning got me thinking there are plenty of bird shots still to post from our previous Texas trips.

Loggerhead Shrike found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Texas January 2017

Took a quick look to see what was available in the queue and found this set back from the December 2016 trek. The Loggerhead Shrike is not a new bird to the list having been featured previously back in November 2016 (link here). The Loggerhead has decided the entire southern region is a sufficient kill zone year round with some forays into the central north during breeding season to spread their reign of terror on even more victims.

Loggerhead Shrike found at Galveston State Park, Texas January 2017

Hit the jump if you want a pre-Halloween scare.

Continue reading Hold My Beer Honey