Well, today is officially my one week anniversary of pulling myself away from the big bright light. Beyond the staples in the head becoming quite annoying – not to mention an apparent great conversation starter since going back into the office last Wednesday. Kind of hard to hide and eventually someone starts getting quizzical when you are deliberately trying to keep them to the front of you. Also didn’t help that my supposedly lovely wife is a Facebook junkie – had to threaten her with retaliatory hospital photos from her upcoming surgery if she followed through on her threat to post images from the emergency room! Will post more detail on the mothership blog soon, but for now things are progressing slowly. Did a quick 2 miler on Tuesday, a 4 miler on Thursday and put 6 miles in this morning’s heat. Definitely a long road back to where I was, but as they say in a runner’s world, it’s simply putting one foot in front of the other.
With the hoopla and stress leading up to the race, I didn’t get a chance to really enjoy the 4th of July celebration. Looking through my blog fodder queue, decided today we would feature an All-American bird in honor of our independence.
…and by All-American, I simply mean a bird that happens to have “American” right in its name. In the off chance you happen to be unfamiliar with our long billed friend, that is an American Avocet. Fortunately for my brother Ron, this is not a new bird for my checklist. Linda and I saw our first one back in 2013 on a trip to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve while visiting Nevada. To simply embarrass myself, it didn’t make it on the blog and thus not an official check until December 2017 (link here). Think this may be the first time I’ve been able to get a shot of one of them flying – okay bird counters, take a quick glance and guess how many you estimate in this shot – note, this is a practice test for later in the post.
hit the jump to see A LOT more of these birds.
Continue reading An All American Bird
Well, yesterday was the planned 50K date. I thought things were starting to fall into place – the ankle was healed up enough to bear the dangerous footings on the hilly trails, the rains had subsided enough to let the trails dry up a bit leading to high confidence at the start. I will post the details on my other blog in due time, but I foretold victory or tail between my legs on a previous post. Unfortunately, the day ended prematurely with my tail between my legs along with 4 staples in my head. Mother Nature opted to replace the expected overcast and temps in the 80’s with an overbearing sun and heat index at 100. Fought through 14 miles and decided to rest a bit at a water station. Apparently should have kept going as my body revolted – stood up thinking I might get sick only to gain consciousness with people standing over me with blood covered hands – not a vision I’ll forget anytime soon. Long story short, had a stressful ambulance ride to the ER. Took in 5 IV bags and a set of staples from a large gash in the back of my head having hit a wooden railing following by the sharp edge of a box fan on the way down (so they tell me). Pleaded with the doctors to allow me to go back and finish, but they had my wife on their side. Total failure and my first DNF in 17 years of running. Looks like another solid year of training, but I’ll be back for some unfinished business.
Enough of that embarrassment, let’s get to something much more entertaining.
Today, I’m bringing you the same Raptor species from two different locations along the Texas Gulf Coast back in January 2017. The Northern Harrier is one of my favorite Raptors for a couple of reasons. The first is they are just plain cool to watch while they are scanning the fields and marshes for prey. Deadly aerial skills that allow them turn on a dime or virtually hang in the air leveraging wind dynamics to determine the best angle to pounce.
Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this deadly predator.
Continue reading The Angel of Death
As you can tell, I’ve finally found some spare cycles to get a post out. It has been amazingly busy around Intrigued as of late thanks to two 30 year celebrations at work (wife and I), trying to finalize the schedule for Linda’s heart valve replacement at Mayo’s and then the quickly approaching 50K running event next Saturday (crap, I can’t believe that deadline has come up so fast). As a result, my blogging and, well, just about all my secondary activities have been clipped (especially my Halloween production which is most troubling). Every spare cycle has been spent pounding out miles on the road and on the trails – latter when the rain gods finally give me a chance. I remember Ron mentioning his concern for me reaching my monthly blog quota which at the time still has a few weeks to go. I had some concerns as well, but thanks to a good dose of posts on the mothership blog today’s last minute post will cover that (B. in the UK might appreciate the theme of the pumpkin post – link here). Unfortunately, the last two weeks have had additional concerns that had/have me a bit troubled. A week ago, I was working on more of the bathroom remodeling, simply stepped down from putting up window trim and felt a stabbing pain right in the middle of the tendon than comes down on top of the ankle from the shin into the foot. Actually though it had ripped off. Puffed up and hurt like hell. Had Linda look at it after an ice treatment and we eventually found a puncture point that might have caused it – possibly another bee sting in a critical point like the back episode earlier in the year. Ended up being able to run on it without serious pain so continued on until the swelling subsided 2 or three days later. Then yesterday I was getting the last long trail run in and managed to turn my ankle 90 degrees thanks to not seeing a rock underneath the mud. Unfortunately, that was between mile 8 and 9 which is the farthest point from the car. Knowing what happens if you let your ankle realize it is hurt, journeyed on for another 5 miles. A day later the ankle is still swollen and twinges under weight. Definitely do not need this so close to the starting line. Will nurse it for a few days and give it a short test Wed just so I know what to expect during the race – wish me luck.
In recognition of being immobilized at the moment, figured it would be fitting to feature a creature that has a natural ability to leverage the concept of immobility.
Yes, bringing out one of the big boys of the birding world on this final day of June. Truth be told, I do not feature this bird much on the blog thanks to the thousands of images already in the portfolio. The Great Blue Heron is one of the birds you can see just about everywhere in the continental US. They do prefer to breed in southern Canada and down into the Dakota areas, but for the most part spend their time year-round wading through any body of water they can find across the states (except for a very odd finger down the eastern part of Idaho, Utah area according to Cornell – may be the Rockies, will have to investigate that a bit more later).
Hit the jump to view a few more shots of these dagger-billed Herons.
Continue reading Concerns Warranted
Greetings Intrigued fans. This was a pretty busy weekend as we headed up north for a little fun in the sun and, of course, a bit of agility dog showing. Linda decided she wanted to ignore the advice of her heart specialist and get a few agility runs in with Raven. He needed one more successful standard run to move to the next competition level. She promised to take it easy in the ring so I relented and agreed to it. Should probably mentioned she did bribe me with the opportunity to get some trail running training in (their trails were not flooded out like our local ones are) and the cherry on top, a day of birding with Ron and his wife. Raven ended up getting it done in the ring going 3 for 4 while Linda managed to keep her heart under control. I managed to get a solid 13 miles in putting me in good position for next week’s 15K considered Illinois’ toughest, but reminded me just how hard the 50K is going to be a few weeks later. Still a bit sore from yesterday’s run, was still able to get a solid day of birding in – think we came in at the high 30’s species mark for the day. Once all that was out of the way, we had to race home to watch the St Louis Blues try to claim the Stanley Cup. One frustrating element was the lack of Internet where we were camping arrrrrgggghhhh! Had plans to get caught up on my running post – nope. While sitting here watching the Blues (now down 2 goals) thought I’d jump on the computer and crank out a quick post.
It’s a bittersweet post today as this officially wraps up all the worthy shots from the Georgia birding trip back in May 2015. With all the bird shots out of the way, it is time to give some time those non-feathered creatures hanging out in the region. Before I begin though, if you are looking for good shots of dragons and butters you should leave this post immediately and head on over to see B’s work over at Butterflies to Dragsters (link here). I’m a bit embarrassed to even put these out after seeing his work behind the macro. So, if you are still here, let’s get to some non-birds shall we.
Hit the jump to see the last shots from the Georgia trip.
Continue reading Featherless
30 years ago today, I woke up early, put the suit on my parents were gracious enough to buy me so I looked decent for my corporate interviews. I wasn’t heading to an interview that day, rather to my new job with wide eyes, a little bit of fear and ambitions to help build a better world. That day I joined 16 other individuals also entering the corporate world many of which have stayed very close friends to this day. One in particular turned out to be extra special as I eventually married one of those classmates – Linda. As you can infer she is also celebrating her 30 year anniversary. Since those first few months in the college grad training program I’ve had the opportunity to see far off places, engage with coworkers all across the world on a daily basis and develop/design/architected systems that play critical roles from engineering, manufacturing, financial and IT. Sure doesn’t feel like it’s been that long until you remember back on the on the great people you have met along the way. The best part of it all (besides marrying my best friend of course) is the financial independence it has brought allowing me to pursue my other passions which brings us directly to today’s post!
Yep, the second part of the Georgia birding dump. As before, this is basically a close out set of birds photographed while on our trip back in May 2015. The shot above is likely a female brown-Headed Cowbird. Not the best angle for identification since the tail, back and half of the face is obscured. Going solely on the thick black conical bill and the overall gray-brown coloring. Unfortunately, the Brown-Headeds are on my top 5 most hated birds list due to being brood parasites – let’s move on shall we.
Hit the jump to see a few more closing shots of the Georgia haul.
Continue reading Georgia Bird Burst Pt 2 of 2
It has been a whirlwind for us since we headed out on our trip to Lake Tahoe last Thursday. I think we pretty much hit every weather condition we possibly could have starting out with Midwest heat and nonstop rains on our way to the airport. Landed in Reno for a cold shot to the system as it was down in the high 30’s low 40’s which gave way to low 30’s, rain, sleet and golf ball sized snowflakes for our stay at Lake Tahoe. Reversed those weather patterns on our return back to the broke state of Illinois which put the weather cherry on top with today’s tornado warnings. Fortunately, it was a small bit of tribulation that was quickly replaced with jubilation as the targets of my trip are safely in the tin! Oh, and my nephew, Ron’s son, Matt successfully tied the knot with his wonderful bride Anna. Before I get to the Tahoe prizes, I need to finish up the Georgia Trip back in May 2015 that has been consuming the blog output as of late. Being through with the series shots, thought I would go ahead and just give a blast of other birds that caught my eye while out on the hunt.
Will be light on the commentary for this collection and let you simply enjoy a variety of shots. Think I mentioned this in a previous post, but the Skidaway Island State Park employed this Great Egret as their “Walmart Greeter”. As we pulled up to the visitor center, Wally here came right up to the driver’s door, looked around the inside of the RV, looked me over a couple of times and took a few steps back to let us proceed. Grabbed The Beast and did my best to get a shot – so close I had to pull all the way back and still barely got the head in.
Hit the jump to see a variety of other specimens from the Georgia birding trip!
Continue reading Georgia Bird Blast Pt 1 of 2
Wanted to get another post out as I’ll be hunting for a White-Headed Woodpecker over the extended weekend. Will likely have difficulties getting to new posts during that time being deep in unexplored wilderness fending off Cougar attacks, dodging Viper strikes, wrestling Bears and befriending wild Wolves to survive long cold bitter nights. Well, for at least part of the trip, there’s a wedding event involved so I’ll have to clean up to at least attend that ceremony … but then back into hiking boots with The Beast to seek out the prize.
As we’ll back in snow conditions for this hunt, thought it would be appropriate to feature creatures that give tribute to the white fluffy stuff.
It is awfully hard to take a birding trip (short or long) where you do not have the opportunity to come upon an Egret or a Heron. If you happen to be a wildlife photographer, I will bet the farm that you have tins full of these birds. Also guessing those primarily came from your early birding years as they are the PERFECT photography subject. When these birds are hunting it will make you wonder if they make Ritalin for Sloths. Need to learn how to use an expensive camera, desire to understand the exposure triangle (ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture), maybe want to practice breathing techniques to stable your long glass – either way, these shore waders are the go to subject.
What you do not often get a chance to get in the tin are Egret/Heron offspring.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots and try your hand at an ID.
Continue reading Summer Blossoms
Well, here I sit with a completely drained body trying to speculate just how bad it is going to be tomorrow when the adrenaline drains out. Don’t feel sorry, I willingly chose to test myself once again on a nasty half marathon trail run. I wasn’t expecting the heat to come in so fast especially after heavy rains the last two days and quite frankly most of this month! I’ll leave the details for a post on the mothership blog, but today’s course was a wicked combination of multiple water crossing (one was a spillway up over the calves), rocks, roots and a nasty collection of hills that beat me down like an after school encounter with the local bully. As soon as you dived into the valleys you were suffocated by Mr. Heatmiser while you tried your best to make sure your shoes came out of the ankle deep mud. Didn’t help I smacked the ground at mile 11 badly bruising my ankle and leaving me wondering if my ribs were still attached – gotta pick up those feet Bri regardless of how tired you are! The good news is there’s new hardware on my running shelf for my efforts so as they say … worth it hehehe.
Going with a short one tonight so I can get a good amount of foam rolling in before crawling (literally) into bed.
Hit the jump to see a couple more shots of the Ibis.
Continue reading Sky Commander
What’s the Rise Against song, “rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated” (an unoriginal play off of Mark Twain). Been a bit since I’ve posted here. In fact, I was blog-shamed by a friend this morning who made note of my lack of production now we are midway through the month. Truth is I’ve been actively posting… just on the flagship blog instead. There were rumblings coming from those followers that the race season had started but no summaries. I was also in danger of falling more than 4 races behind thanks to a difficult half marathon trail run scheduled for this Saturday. Not sure what is harder, navigating the multitude of roots and hills on the run or trying to remember the details of a past race in order to give a proper post. Two of the 4 race posts are officially addressed, so time to stop whining and get back to our feathered friends from Georgia.
Pretty sure the Georgia queue is just about popped at least from a full series perspective. Will probably have a few catch all posts to officially close out the captures during that productive trip to the Georgia swamps back in May 2015. This set happened to catch my eye while in the digital darkroom. There is something about a Northern Mockingbird that can be downright scary. Reminds me of the Seinfeld “Two-Face” episode. One angle they look somewhat innocent, cute if you will. Change the angle of the glass a bit or tilt the head a bit and next thing you know you are running for the darkroom exit.
Hit the jump to be Mocked more.
Continue reading Two-Face
Had a great training run today which translates directly to being completely exhausted. There was finally a break in the rain for a couple of days allowing me to get some quality time in on the trails. They were surprisingly dry considering the amount of water that has poured out of the skies as of late. That didn’t mean there wasn’t any swamps to navigate in the valleys and the one stream crossing required some precise leaps to stray rocks struggling to keep their heads above the onrush, but at least the hills were dry enough to get traction. Clearly need to get a steady barrage of heat conditioning – felt the warmer temps about halfway through the 11 miles. Figured I’d be productive while the legs calm down prior to tackling the mowing (rain on its way back to start the week off).
Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this Chatty Cathy of the birding world.
Continue reading Sitting in Georgia, Looking at Carolina