A Dash of Yellow in the Desert

Greetings from the Midwest Tundra. It is currently -7F not including windchill and I am pretty sure that is close to when appendages start falling off. Tonight the first lunar eclipse took place over a supermoon. Thanks to Ron reminding me, I managed to get out and witness it – actually that reads as if I put a lot of effort into it. We were heading back from a night out, stepped out of the car when we got back to the house and looked up. There it was, only a sliver left and radiating the blood moon hues. Thought about getting the Beast and snapping a few shots to share on the blog. Then my nose, ears and a thumb fell off. Decided to pass on that idea – sorry everyone. To our credit, I did help Linda with a photoshoot in the early morning. Her client wanted pictures of her three dogs in the 5″ of fresh powder we received yesterday (on top of the 12″ we already had). Think it was a balmy 5F out then, which was enough to put a serious sting in the fingers. They say positive thoughts can get you through uncomfortable times. Time to click our heels three times and entertain visions from the desert.

Verdin found at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, Henderson Nevada, November 2018

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this desert songbird.

Continue reading A Dash of Yellow in the Desert

Purple Shimmers in the Desert

How is this for a weird experience? I mentioned a few posts back that I was recovering from a back injury, but I didn’t go into too many details. Now that I am completely healed from it, thought I’d loop everyone into a bizarre injury that had me pretty worried. The last thing I need when training for a 50K event is to have an injury – especially in such a critical area. Usually On Sundays, some friends and I do long training runs on a hilly nightmare of a course through a local cemetery (figure they can bury us where we drop). A few weeks ago we were taking on the course in pretty warm weather for an early January day – mid 40’s accompanied with a strong wind. Decided I was too layered up for the conditions so took my Gore-Tex coat off, removed a layer and put the outer shell back on (important tidbit for later). Although a rocky and uneven course, we know every square inch of it – no slips, bobbles or wobbles occurred up to mile two. That is when I felt something pierce my lower back. I noted the strange feeling to my friend and kept on running – quirks and pains happen all the time – runners learn to ignore them because they almost always work themselves out. 2 more miles and my hips started seizing up. 2 more miles and serious pain started radiating from the lower back. 3 miles later we were back at the car and I was trying to figure out a way to stand without letting my friends see any hint of tears. 30 minute drive home and I couldn’t move without a knife twisting in my spine. Most concerning was a 5×8 inch badly swollen red bulge near where the initial stab was felt. All I could think about was the setback to the 50K training (goals are not taken lightly around Intrigued). For brevity, will skip to the juicy part. Got into my doctor the following day – explained the story above preparing myself for the herniated disk diagnosis. Was not expecting the doctor to hypothesize that it sounded like a spider bite. The recluse would have destroyed skin by now, so they speculated Black Widow, grabbed a magnifying glass and went to work finding the holes. Good news, not a Widow, instead they pulled a stinger out of my spine what I imagined to be the size of this bird’s bill.

Juvenile Costa's Hummingbird found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV, November 2018

Not sure who was surprised more, the doctor or me. Apparently a dagger wielding demon of an insect decided to unload all the venom it had a few inches up from my waistline and directly into the center of my spine. From there it traveled my nerve network down into the in the hips and up the back causing the lockup. Remember, this is the first week of January – those things are supposed to have died off or went into hibernation. No way it stung through the outer running shell. We have come to the conclusion that a wasp,hornet,large ass bee or possibly a Tarantula Hawk (link here) sneaked into the coat when I was removing the layer, panicked at mile two and unloaded everything it had into the spine – I could see a blood spot on the base layer next to the skin. The good news is 5 days of steroids had me back on the trails this morning running in 5″ of snow. I bet I know what you are thinking right about now – what the hell kind of bird is that?

Hit the jump to find out!

Continue reading Purple Shimmers in the Desert

Blue Tones in the Desert

Greetings to all from the big white tundra we like to call the Midwest. A bit of an icebox at the moment as we are dealing with ~12″ inches of the fluffy stuff. Add to that a layer of ice that accumulated overnight from freezing drizzle and you have yourself a recipe for hilarity. Case in point. Our dogs decided that 4:50am is a perfectly good time to demand I take them out. Wipe the sleep from the eyes, remind the legs they were designed to move me from one place to another, put some shoes on and leash up the dogs – you would think by their expression I take evil enjoyment out of cinching up their necks as opposed to the truth there are “eyes in ‘dem trees” that think 4:50am is a perfect time for an early morning snack. Shut the alarms down and take a groggy step off the porch onto the wet concrete. Except it wasn’t just wet, nope, black ice quickly causing my feet to go eye level and my eyes to go feet level. Just got my back all healed up and now I’m being snickered at by sure footed furballs. Later that morning, a semi ended up jackknifing by the main highway exit I use to get to work shutting down that access and choking up all the alternative routes (which had their share of wrecks as well). Some days were just designed to stay in bed and enjoy thoughts of warmer locations.

Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay found at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV, November 2018

Like for instance the desert – specifically the Mohave Desert in Las Vegas. The Rock Wren was not the only bird hanging out at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area back in November 2018. Unlike that bird (link here) and Abert’s Towhee (link here). that came before it, this bird possesses coloring that contrasts sharply with the desert floor. Yep, this one is adorned in a pretty blue and grey palette.

Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay found at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV, November 2018

Hit the jump to find out what kind of bird this is!

Continue reading Blue Tones in the Desert

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

Me Thinks It’s a Sphinx

Welcome to the New Year everyone! Hope your holiday celebrations were fun and safe. I did take some time off from the wildlife posts to get through a backlog of Halloween Haunted Trail and running features on my other blog. Those were way overdue and I hate to leave loose ends hanging about as we cross into the new year. One loose end that still needs addressing is my year end blog summary. That takes a lot of time and I wanted to spend that instead getting ready to head back to work tomorrow. 10 days off is wonderful, but in reality, it just means twice as much work to greet you when you make it back to your office. It’s also college bowl day so enjoying some rare football (now that I’m in my second year of boycotting the professional version). It is pretty hard for me to just sit and watch TV – seems like such a waste of time. So, thought I would combine it with putting out my first Wildlife post of 2019.

Possible Sphynx Moth fond outside entrance to Rhythm City Casino, Bettendorf, IA

Hit the jump to learn what my guess is for the huge Moth.

Continue reading Me Thinks It’s a Sphinx

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

Dangerous Waters

Hello everyone! We are quickly approaching the end of another year of blogging – my 11th year to be specific – and hoping to get a few more posts out before Father Time turns over the hourglass. The good news is other than a few cleanups here and there I am officially on vacation until the New Year giving me plenty of time to get that done. Of course, there are Halloween props to build (yes, that is a year long activity), books to read, house projects to finally wrap up and fingers crossed, some birding to get to. Fortunately, I was able to get a lot of the images for upcoming musings done while traveling Sunday removing the most difficult part of the blog process. The birds have been dominating the slots as of late and therefore switching it up a bait .. err … bit.
Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

Nothing says Christmas like Alligators. Okay, maybe not, but I needed an excuse to feature this series of shots taken at the beginning of the year (note, that might seem a long time ago, but my back queue of shots has officially crested over 4 years – an embarrassing amount, but relieved to know my brother Ron having once chastised me for my inefficiencies is now experiencing a similar queue buildup ha!). Our menacing looking specimen comes to us courtesy of South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center.

Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this menacing creature.

Continue reading Dangerous Waters