One for the Ladies

Welcome to day 2,667 of the Illinois lockdown! If there is any plus side to all this, the downtime is giving my body a chance to finally get healed from the wear and tear brought on by last season’s race circuit. Not sure if it is just the heavier trail course runs or my hatred for Father Time, but injuries are taking longer to heal. I upped my off-season workouts to better prepare for the pending toll, but that has come at a cost of stressing the supporting cast of muscles and joints. Blew my back out last Monday and trying to get that repaired so I can get back on the trails – downtime just makes this whole situation even worse. Already prepping for the race schedule to be nearly back to back when this all lifts which means everything has to be functioning at peak performance. Lemonade out of lemons, have plenty of time to focus on reducing my backlog!

Common Goldeneye found at at LeClaire Iowa locks in January 2017

While going through the newly discovered images, found this interesting duck staring at me, piercing my soul with a finely focused golden ray. When the pain became too much to bear, called for Linda to help free myself from its deadly gaze. What could this strange creature be – to the reference books! The duller color palette indicated a strong likelihood our specimen was a female which causes some additional work as many of the female ducks tend to start looking alike as they often have mixtures of brown feathering.

Common Goldeneye found at the LeClaire Iowa locks in January 2017

Hit the jump to read and see a bit more about this golden one.

Continue reading One for the Ladies

The Whites on Mountaintops

Greetings from what seems like day 2,367 of the Illinois lockdown! Anytime my running gets curtailed things tend to start dragging. Thanks to a local park and a Corp of Engineer site where I do 90% of my trail and hill training being closed, I’ve had to resort to running county roads and my treadmill. Our rural roads have a nasty crown in them which makes my hips scream and any distance runner can attest long training runs indoors will grind your mind to zombie in nothing flat. I have been able to confirm some stuff during this eternity (okay, more like 4 days). For example, although I had already written off the NFL several years ago in honor of my Father who fought under the symbol they think so little of, I have now found my life is quite fine without any professional sports… not to mention a hell of a lot more productive. Guessing that is exactly what every professional sports franchise fears every single day – when the fans realize you are not a necessity. Now contrast that with things I DO need – you know, like CHECKS ON MY BIRDING LIST. Ron put a major dent in my minuscule lead earlier in the year and I need every little morsel of count I can get which brings me to this.

Mountain Chickadee found at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

If you are like me when I originally took this shot 0.86 dog years ago. We were out in the Colorado region attending the Teacup Dog Agility Association Nationals (brings up fond memories of our beloved Rizzi who took 6th in the nation for his height group – we still miss that little guy who left us in the midst of Linda’ surgery last year). On our way out we swung by the Rocky Mountain National Park for a little birding. While taking in the local Nutcrackers, Marmots and Owls, a Chickadee decided to drop in and see what had everyone’s attention. We have our share of Chickadees here in the Midwest so didn’t get too excited at the time. Nevertheless, staying true to the bird photographer’s code, I made sure to get a few shots in the tin.

Mountain Chickadee found at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

Hit the jump to read about more about this overlooked bird.

Continue reading The Whites on Mountaintops

Just Some Butters to Brighten Your Day

So last post I tried to cheer up the world with some cute furries and a few of their friends. Not sure it worked, but hell it was worth a try. Things are going from bad to worse here as our tax evading governor has now put my state on lockdown scheduled to begin tomorrow at 5pm or so. All non-essential establishments shuttered. This resulted in a quick run to our local grocery store to pick up a few essentials to make it through the next couple of weeks. As I watched the metal shelves slowly reveal themselves I could only think back to my high school days in the retail industry 5- 11pm during the week and 8s on the weekends. Those days were hard enough, yet nothing like what these workers were having to go through now. I also thought about my blogger friend across the pond going through the exact same chaos. So, thought I’d dedicate today’s post to B over at Butterflies to Dragsters.

First off a warning – if you want good shots, got to B’s site. I suck at these winged missiles and my rig really isn’t set up to get the detail they deserve. Not to mention keeping The Beast sighted on these unpredictable Butters will put a serious hurt on the arms. Secondly, you’d think these beauties would be easy to identify – unique patterns, varying color profiles, how hard can it be… answer damn hard. Eventually got what I thought were some close reference pictures and went with it – thank god for DuckDuckGo.

Okay, here we go…

Butterfly from Minnesota Trip July 2017

Found this specimen on our trip up to Minnesota back in July 2017. Birding happened to be a little thin where we were at so I went looking for some other targets. There were tons of these Butters hanging out in the parking lot. I would spot a particularly colorful one, get the glass on it.. shuffle back to get it into focus range and press… well, start to press the shutter when it would take off. Time after time they did this to me. Finally got one or two in the tin and then decided I needed to get a shot of it fully open. Must have been quite the comedy routine for Linda as I ran around trying to get one to stay around long enough and willing to fold its wings down.

Butterfly from Minnesota Trip July 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more average shots of beautiful creatures.

Continue reading Just Some Butters to Brighten Your Day

Coronatherapy

Howdy everyone! It seems the world is under a bit of stress as of a late that quite frankly is making everyone batshit crazy. I was thinking to myself that the world just needs to relax a bit, take a deep breath and get their vitals back under control. It’s times like this the US.. if not the world, should be coming together. Instead we have the lamestream media lathering everyone up and politicians using the virus as a soapbox for whatever ax they feel they need to grind. If only we took this much national interest in stopping childhood cancer or helping veterans integrate back into our communities – but we don’t. Instead we run around calling everyone a racist if they call out Wuhan while being perfectly okay with Ebola. Toilet paper may be in short supply, but stupidity appears to be in abundance. I feel sorry for those on the front lines – the doctors willing to risk exposure to alleviate the symptoms of others, the truckers who drive tirelessly to deliver TP and other essentials to our local stores, the retail clerks who put the product on the shelves and those who continue to make product to keep society going. Countless others of course making it happen – to those I salute you.

Decided we need something to cheer us all up. So, for the next couple of posts I’m going to focus on things that will hopefully put a smile on your face and maybe warm your heart a bit. Not much, but at this point – maybe every little bit helps. Will probably be light on words, but heavy on cute things like …

Bunny at Clinton Lake, June 2014

There, any chance that made you smile … just a bit. That’s a Clinton Lake IL Bunny and I just want to grab it up and cuddle it. Although, before I did that I’d take that nasty tick off it (just below the ear in the neckline). Thought I’d point that out in case Ron saw it without warning and he jolted back in terror – not a fan of ticks that Ron ha!

IL Bunnies, not your thing? Well, how about a Rocky Mountain National Park Bunny!?!

Bunny taken at Rocky Mountain Park, Estes Park, CO May 2014

Hit the jump, there might a few more smiles under there!

Continue reading Coronatherapy

A Case of the Blues in the Ill

The hysteria continues to thrive around us. Shelves laid bare in the paper aisle, shopping carts full of anything that has the word antibacterial on it and to top it off we have people that aren’t even accountable for the outcome pontificating on TV about how they would solve the crisis – comical in the instances where they were in charge and didn’t do jack. Regardless, since my last post they have closed down all our state parks, banned eating in restaurants and shuttered bars. Wait, this just in, CDC is discouraging any gathering over 50 people. So, now not only are my official races canceled I can’t even continue with my training runs in the safety of Jubilee State Park. Hell, I can’t even bird in my favorite park which means I have no way to keep the internal crazies at bay.

Eastern Bluebird found at Jubilee State Park June 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Blues.

Continue reading A Case of the Blues in the Ill

Yellow and Orange in Yellow

I have always found units of measure to be the foundation for life. They have the unique ability to deliver a multitude of feelings. Used at the appropriate time they can bring happiness, yet can be used deviously to bring on depression. Similarly playing the fence to deliver a feeling of accomplishment while equally adept at demoralizing. Of course, there’s the inherent use to impress although quickly turned to deliver a sobering cold fish slap across the face. It might be hard to imagine a tiny 5 letter word like “units” having such an impact on our day to day activities. Perhaps you need some examples. Clearly it sounds a whole lot better to North American males to hear their average life expectancy is 27,740 days rather than a mere 76 years. Better yet, how about 665,760 hours – now we’re talking. Nothing like walking into work touting you’ve just completed a 50K only to have some snide remark like “well, that’s only around 30 miles” – bastard! Hey buddy, that’s 158,400 feet back at ya’. Everything equals out of course, as the consumption rates clearly differ, but the fact remains that numbers are a double edged dagger (keeping with the pointy things theme from last post). So, by now you are probably wondering where I’m heading with all this. Well, 1 year ago we came upon this interesting bird.

Hooded Grosbeak found at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

See, you are probably thinking to yourself, “man, Bri’s on his game for today’s post – so unlike him to deliver a snap to post execution in a single year. Way to go Bri!” (that would be both the feeling of accomplishment and impression if you are keeping score). Yep, this post was from 2013 and comes to us from Yellowstone National Park. Quick math, carry the 1, subtract the denominator, build a 3×3 matrix or whatever the crap they do in common core these days… wait a minute that is more than a year. Nope, one itty bitty cute and cuddly “dog” year.

Hooded Grosbeak found at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Hit the jump to find out what the latest add to the birding list is.

Continue reading Yellow and Orange in Yellow

Strutter

Well, it’s March and at recent glance my last post came courtesy of February. Now that is some mighty fine procrastination if I do say so myself! Some of the delay was thanks to a quick trip to Vegas to get a little birding done in Henderson, some more Valley of Fire and still more in Red Rock Canyon. May have even managed to add a couple more entries on the bird the life list. If all goes as normal they might make their appearance here in hmmm, add that to that, carry the 1, give a slight buffer to complete the processing.. yep, 3 years sounds about right. Granted Ron has been on my case about my snap to post lag so there is a chance these might jump the queue – maybe even ahead of the Ron Who Owes Me Bigley haul (as he has yet to post about that event – give him hell people!) Then to top it all off, I’ve had to battle a broken garage door opener over the last two days. Ended up having to replace the internal gearing which was quite the ordeal. For the record, the genius that attached the metal drive gear to PLASTIC worm gearing is an engineering idiot. Of course, the best part of successfully defeating the mechanical gremlins is being able to strut around the house rhetorically asking “Who Da Man!?! Which is what I thought of when I saw this Tricolored Heron walking around the water like it owned the place.

Tricolored Heron found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center December 2017

Probably successfully rebuilt a carburetot for his ‘Stang and making sure all the ladies in the area took notice. Them Tri’s are a handy bunch. This particular specimen was spotted at the South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center back in December 2017. And you thought I was kidding about the size of the image queue. To my credit, I have been putting a serious dent in the multiple Texas trips over the last couple of years.

ricolored Heron found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center December 2017

Continue reading Strutter

You looking at Me !?!

It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the reduction in days in this month has a tendency to cause stress in my blogging activities. Those precious days between the 28th and say 30/31st is often my “get down to business” days. That’s when I take out my trusty TI60 calculator, punch in 6 for my self-imposed quota of posts per month (note, that includes post on the mothership Intrigued site, not just the wildlife blog), count up each of the posts made in the current month, hit the minus button and then insert the recently summed number of posts and hit equals button. After a burst of electrons through an array of ands/ors/nands/nors logic gates the liquid crystal is signaled to delivers the painful blow. Then the scramble begins to address the missing posts. Granted, this year, gives me an extra day this month.. but that has already been earmarked for birding (need to keep the hopper full for the 2025 posts hehehe). Linda enjoys teasing me while I am trying to stay focused on the posts – I shall let the Great-Tailed Grackle demonstrate the look I give her.

Great-Tailed Grackle found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, December 2016\

That pretty much sums it up! I will admit, this has absolutely zero impact on my wife’s behavior beyond extra volume to her laugh. Then she’ll start touching my stuff and moving it just enough to cause my OCD to fire – evil woman! The good news is I wasn’t far off this month and was able to close the gap pretty quickly – for the record this is the 6th so all is good. I might feel better, but this rather torqued looking creature is likely still holding a grudge against me. In fact, every time I come in contact with the Great-Tailed Grackle I get the feeling I wronged its ancestors in some way and it’s taken a lifelong blood oath to extract a compensating revenge. Is it just me or do others have this same experience with this disgruntled bird? – Ron you don’t count as all birds basically hate you.

Great-Tailed Grackle found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, December 2016

Hit the jump if this Grackle hasn’t already scared you too much.

Continue reading You looking at Me !?!

Scares and Calms

Apologies to my wildlife readers. It has been a while since I’ve had the chance to feature one of our feathered friends. It’s not that I haven’t been busy – in fact just the opposite. Decided it was time to bring you a little haunt for February – screw you mushy and smoochie Valentine’s Day, we scare aficionados are putting our zombie masks on and shuffling all over this shortened month. Thanks to many hours (and days) later the full Haunted Trail of Tears 2019 series was released. If you want to know how we do Halloween … wait.. how about Februween … then take a gander at the tour posts. Warning check your fears at the door ha!

Hoping that didn’t scare your feathers up. Maybe a therapy duck will help calm the nerves.

Mottled Duck found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center December 2016

There now, breathe in, breath out while staring at the purdy duck. Immerse yourself in the warm comfort brought by the tranquil waters of the Texas Gulf Coast. By the way, let me know if that worked to calm your nerves – I’ll pick me up a bunch of Mottled Ducks and hit our local ICU and pay it forward for the great therapy dogs they let Linda enjoy while she was up at Mayo. If there is any chance of convincing a hospital director to let me bring a duck into their establishment, it better be clean. Of all the ducks I’ve come across I think the Mottled might have the best chance. I’ve never seen one of these specimens that didn’t look like it came straight from the salon.

Mottled Duck found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center December 2016

Hit the jump to learn about my new business idea!

Continue reading Scares and Calms

Stoner Bird

Greetings my friends! Been a bit of time since my last post – well at least on the Wildlife side of Intrigued as I did take a cue from CJ and put a Hmmm post out (link here). I thought things would lighten up at the turn of the decade, but I find myself surprisingly busy. Some of that was due to a recent loss in the family as my Aunt is now once again united with my father. I did get an opportunity to catch up with the extended family and even had a chance to spend some quality birding time with Ron. He stayed overnight at my place on the trip back from the funeral allowing us to head down to Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge the next day. This netted Ron a +1 and a new birding experience – both of which I’ll let him feature on his blog (nudge, nudge). Maybe I’ll get around to those captures in say .. oh, I don’t know… let’s go crazy fast and say 2-3 years ha!

In the meantime, let’s travel back in time and see what’s moving on the Texas beaches.

Ruddy Turnstone found on Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Well, lookie there Mr. Orange Legs strutting its stuff. This particular series comes to you from our January 2017 trip down to Galveston Island. The Ruddy Turnstone featured here was busy running up and down the shoreline trying to convert all that migration fat into a beach bod that drives the chicks wild. For those new to these creatures, they fatten up prior to heading out on their impressively long migration. They spend their breeding months in the arctic tundra and then gorge themselves before making the massive trek to the North and Central American coastlines.

Ruddy Turnstone found on Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Hit the jump to learn more about this yo-yo diet bird.

Continue reading Stoner Bird