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!
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!
Hill the jump to see a few more pictures of this rather drab looking shorebird.
Continue reading If You Willet They Will Come
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.
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.
Caution – some scenes after the jump will not be appetizing.
Continue reading Fell on Black Days
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.
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.
Hit the jump to learn a bit more about Mr. Tri.
Continue reading Well, Hi There Tri
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.
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.
Hit the jump if you want a pre-Halloween scare.
Continue reading Hold My Beer Honey
Deep inhale, deep exhale. There is something to be said about perseverance. One of those words that pack a lot of meaning into a mere 4 syllables. Half physical, half mental, a quarter of support from family and friends with heaping spoonfuls of luck that together give you a formula for success when whatever barrier before you takes well beyond 100% to make it through (don’t worry, I stayed awake in my math classes ha). I find runners tend to embrace this word, wrap themselves in its comfort like a warm blanket straight out of the dryer. Eyes forward, focused on the finish line.
My mantra, “one foot in front of the other”. No more, no less. Ignore the failure demons in your head and focus on the immediate that is within your control. Sure, there will be pain, sure there will be some self-doubt, but as long as that back foot makes it even the slightest amount of distance ahead of the front foot you will eventually get there… and when you get there, you can raise your wings, turn to your doubters and gloat like a proud Pelican.
Hit the jump to see a few more pictures of our friends from the southern coastline!
Continue reading Pressure Relief
I’d like to say things are starting to settle down around here, but that wouldn’t exactly be accurate. This Saturday I once again toe the line in hopes of getting the 50K trail run check on the life list. If you recall, my first attempt back in July didn’t exactly go that well … and that is likely an understatement of the epic level of failure that was (link here). Fortunately, we are past the super hot days of summer and the current forecast looks like a very cool 40-50’s day (with a dip into the 30’s the night before). So, I do have that going for me and likely a new angel on my shoulder to help me through the rough points. They have promised me there will be NO box fans at the aid station so bloodletting should be at a minimum ha. Immediately after that is our annual Halloween party having been postponed due to our recent loss. Get past that and we are downhill to the end of what has turned out to be a year I’d rather forget. While I am waiting for Linda to finish up her cardio rehab for the day, decided to be productive – watching other people workout has to rate up there with one of the most boring ways to spend an hour second to maybe playing Tic-Tac-Toe against yourself.
Say hello to the King of South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. We met this specimen on our trip down the Texas Gulf Coast back in December 2016 (which puts this almost 3 years old if my high levels of education serves me right). This dude (it is the male of the species) was hanging out on a sign near the end of the boardwalk passing the day taking mental pictures of all the flightless humans walking by.
Hit the jump to catch a couple more shots of the Belted Kingfisher.
Continue reading It’s Good to be the King
First off let’s all give Ron a big Happy Birthday! I have no idea why he is aging so fast while I, the baby of the family, remain frozen it time in my late 20’s. Quite amazing really and owe it all to the miracle of running. Ron on the other hand sports the 0.0 magnet on the back of his vehicle and can tell you all about the pterodactyls he used to photograph on his birding outings hehehehe. Let it be known one of the best things about being the baby of the family … you ALWAYS get to make fun of your older brothers on their birthdays without repercussions. I imagine Ron reading this post and looking like this…
Wait, this isn’t what Ron is looking like, rather EVERY bird he comes into contact when we are out birding together. It is well documented that birds typically hate him for some unknown reason. My theory is he is a CAT person. Natural born killers I say. Maybe I should put together a post of birds attacking him – I think you would get a kick out of it
Hit the jump to see a few more pictures of this real life angry bird.
Continue reading Get that Bird Some Happy Pills
Every once in a while I catch a break and it looks like this weekend fits those parameters. As I sit here typing it is raining, as it did the day before that and the day before that and many of the days even ahead of that. Apparently the weather gods didn’t notice our annual outdoor Halloween event had been moved a week out. I can’t imagine what a nightmare it would have been trying to put up and take down all the decorations on the muddy trails – not even sure the ATV could have made it through the pooling water and saturated ground. The wet stuff has made it somewhat inconvenient getting the outdoor pre-work done (mowing, trimming and building the bridge), but the indoor stuff is coming along ahead of schedule… well, except for my self-imposed monthly post quota. One more post to go after this one as the calendar page is beginning to curl up. In honor of the marshy like feel to the trails at the moment, thought it would be appropriate to feature this distinctive Wren.
Hit the jump to read and see a bit more about this member of the Wren family!
Continue reading I Call this Workout Marshfit
Some days turn out to be one of those where you wonder when it is all done if there is an ounce of energy left in your body. Today was one of those days for me. Normally, we would be putting on our annual Halloween Haunted Trail event tonight, however, with all that Linda has been through and for better alignment with my partner in haunt’s schedule we pushed it to next week – all I can say is thank god for that as yesterday we had a major storm rolled through that completely flooded out part of our trail system through the woods (60 mph winds, hail and buckets of rain). Can’t imagine how sucky it would have been trying to get everything set up not to mention having to make our guests trudge through the mud. Instead, today was dedicated to getting all the props built over the course of the year out of the basement (Linda put her foot down) and depending on how the weather went, start work on a new 24’x8′ bridge over an ever growing stream. Thanks to friends helping out we were able to meet Linda’s demand in the morning and then we decided to wade through pooled water on the trail and get some work done on the bridge. 6 hours later we had the entire outer rails built (doubled up 2x10s to 24 feet as well as the inner cross supports on 2′ centers. I bet my friends do not offer to help me out next year ha! This is one of the rare times where I can count the number of muscles in the human body as every single one is screaming at me. While I am letting the Aleve kick in decided to blast a post out – not to mention the chair looked really comfy.
Last post I featured the Great Blue Heron – the big kahuna in the Egret family was feeling jealous – thus the green hue on the lores. Nothing is worse than dealing with a bunch of slighted, whiny Egrets, “did you post yet, did you post yet, are you going to make a post on us, why are you such an Egret hater, did you post yet, I thought you were going to post, Egret discriminator, when is that post coming…”. It just keeps repeating until you give in and …well, feature them in a post.
hit the jump to see a few more shots of this beautiful bird.
Continue reading The Ones Without Galoshes
The Halloween prop shop is in full production as we get closer to the haunt event. This year’s effort should be epic if I get everything done in time – every year there are always a few ideas that don’t make it onto the trail just purely due to only being given a mere 60 seconds in every minute (damn thee Father Time, damn thee!). The good news is I had a giant breakthrough in a design of a motor housing tonight which I’ve been struggling with for couple of days. The best part about all the Halloween activities is I get to dust the rust off my 3D solid modeling and electronics education. Now just sitting here waiting for the 3D printer to finish with my new parts – since I don’t like to just sit figured why not claw a bit of ground back on the post quota..
Decided it was time to feature the second part of my series on the big birds. If you recall, I covered the first set back in June – where the hell has the summer gone!?! (link here). That set of Great Blue Herons was brought to you from the great birding mecca of South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. This second series comes from a couple of different places although still down on the Texas Gulf Coast from our trip down there in late December 2016 into early January 17. These first two specimens were found at Galveston Island. They were so intent on Froggies stupid enough to wander too close to natures living spear that they didn’t pay me any attention. Ended up being able to move in to the point where The Beast couldn’t retract enough to get those long bodies in the frame. No worries, always happy when I can put some nice close ups in the tin.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Great Blue.
Continue reading Great Blue Take Two