When Birding Gets Stressful – for Ron

Well, I was all ready to head out and get my run in this morning when I opened the door to sleet. Umm, where the hell did that come from!?! Normally that wouldn’t bother me much, but the sleet was essentially horizontal thanks to the 20mph wind that was accompanying the ice balls. One view of that and Inner Bri (I call him Ibbie) was quick to point out “Hey dude, you know you are retired right?”. Now Ibbie has a habit of getting me in trouble, however, this time he was right. Quickly checked out the forecast and sure enough, likely better (slightly) conditions in a few hours so waffles it is! In the meantime, what to do, what to do. Hey, I know, how about we get ourselves closer to the list goal.

Kentucky Warbler found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

I hit you with a few of the duller Warblers the last couple of posts and thought it was time to start stepping it up in the color arena – plus I promised CJ (link here) I would give her something brighter to enjoy her morning coffee with. Will quickly admit, these are not shots that will ever make it on our house walls or the galleria ledge (link here), but this featured feathered friend almost cost my brother Ron extra nights in Alabama. To set the stage, this yellowish bird with the unique highlighting comes to you from our April trip to Dauphin Island along the Alabama Gulf Shores. I’ve previously noted the incredible birding we had that vacation thanks to the fallout and this is another treasure that came home with us.

Hit the jump to read a bit more about how this one almost didn’t make it into the tin.

Continue reading When Birding Gets Stressful – for Ron

They Be Ballers

Good news, I successfully got back out on the trails the other day! Well, sort of. The important thing is the ankle held up during a 7 mile test run on one of the harder trail courses in the area. I’ve been slowly building strength back on the road and only dabbling on uneven ground up to this point. The crazies were starting to claw their way to the surface. It was time to put those demons to rest and assess the progress. A couple of twinges thanks to a few roots and rocks lurking under the heavy blanket of leaves and some extra gasps of air from the never-ending hills reminded me to keep the pace under control. Made it back to the truck with a giant smile on my face with thoughts of doing it again … until the voice in my head that sounds just like Linda immediately screamed “NO!”. On the down side, a injury that I’ve been dealing with for a majority of this year is starting to get very angry so that is the next item to address. As they say, wrestle one worm at a time, which brings us to today’s featured feathered friend.

Worm-Eating Warbler found at Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to read more about our quad striped specimen.

Continue reading They Be Ballers

Puddle Bouncing

It would appear as I am easing into November! I’d blame it on the laid back life of a retired person, but truth is I am probably busier now than I was when I was living the daily grind. Actually, coming up on my one year anniversary of my last day at work (not my retirement date thanks to strategic use of my vacation time). I can say the replacement “work” is far more enjoyable and usually consists of spending time in our woods, running, building Halloween props and pouring through thousands of images in my massive backlog of photography trips. Cannot remember the last time I called it a night when I wasn’t completely exhausted – I take that as a win. Part of this drive is due to a deadline and this post gets me one step closer to that end.

Northern Waterthrush found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Honestly, deadline may not be the appropriate word now that I’m in the last phase of my life and technically there is only one of those technically left and that is literally in the name. Let’s go with “goal” instead – much better sounding and at least in the sports world, traditionally paired with people cheering when you accomplish it – yep, whole letter better. Don’t get me wrong, goals are serious business around Intrigued and I’m no stranger to medical attention trying to insure I don’t fail. Luckily, this particular one will not require that kind of physical commitment, as it simply means several more of these.

Northern Waterthrush found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Not specifically more of these Waterthrushes, rather more of what it represents, a new addition to my personal birding list. Back in January of this year I committed to the goal of getting my life list up to 300. Not a number that is going to turn any heads in the birding world for sure – probably illicit more snickers than applause. It is what it is and hang my hat on the small hook made from the fact the species needs to be photographed and get its own official post before the tick is awarded. Question remains whether there are 9 more after this to get me across the finish line. That’s a future issue, let’s live in the moment.

Hit the jump to put the moment in motion.

Continue reading Puddle Bouncing

Pygmy Pirates – the Nastiest of Them All

Let’s just go ahead and make it an even 290 shall we! If you have been checking back for the latest posts, then you are very aware I finally invested time to update my bird count. One of my goals this year was to make it to the 300 mark by the end of December. We are quickly approaching that deadline as apparent by my favorite orange and black sections in the local stores are quickly becoming scrubbed from sight in favor of the over-commercialized red and white fanfare. I can’t even describe the level of sadness and disappointment this brings watching my holiday being pushed aside by greedy merchants. If there is a upside to this travesty it is the fact they tend to clearance their remaining items allowing me to scoop them up at a reasonable price point. For those new to haunting NEVER buy items at full price (advice that, ironically, probably fuels the desire to push the accelerator pedal to Christmas). Enough ranting, show me the meat!

Pygmy Nuthatch found at Davis Creek Regional Park, Lake Tahoe, CA in May 2019

Hit the jump to read a bit more about the latest Lake Tahoe pirate find.

Continue reading Pygmy Pirates – the Nastiest of Them All

Mysterion of the Birding World

Good news for my readers, it’s dog show time – more specifically, the annual National Poodle Specialty Event being held at Purina Farms outside St. Louis. I simply refer to it as Wall to Wall Poodles – white ones, black ones, silver ones, apricot ones, small ones, medium ones, big ones, “foofy” ones, agile ones and every “oodle” in between. Imagine a cute bomb going off in a large convention center. We also get to see not only Raven’s breeder from Minnesota, but Ruger gets to see his breeder from New York, his full sister (Willow) from Michigan and his half brother (Riot). Should be a fun couple of days – let’s hope Raven is ready to kick some butt. The good news quip at the start wasn’t because I thought you would be super interested in our dogs, rather these events mean I have a lot of free time I find best spent on the keyboard.

To kick it off, I am delighted to introduce you to one of my absolute surprise +1’s from our Lake Tahoe trip back in May 2019.

California Quail found at outside Lake Tahoe in May 2019

While tracking down the White-Headed Woodpecker series from the previous post, I stumbled on a set of shots which piqued my interest. I made a note to remind myself to head back to that queue once the Woodpecker post was out the door. Apparently, I put that small piece of paper next to my Honey-Do list … naturally I didn’t notice it hehehe. instead I took on the surprisingly difficult task of updating my bird list count. As of that particular day at that particular second the count stood at 288. Updated my NA Bird Gallery (link here) and even updated the little counter on the left nav bar. Tied up the final steps in the process, clapped my hands in self-celebration and then let out a huge sigh as the breeze from the enthusiastic clap gently blew a small piece of paper right of the desk and into my lap. CRAP!

California Quail found at outside Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Hit the jump to learn about my pleasant surprise – A real life Mysterion (as in South Park).

Continue reading Mysterion of the Birding World

You Are Making This Too Hard

I must declare, the last couple of days have absolutely been wonderful. No, it is not because I have tuned out the news – although that would definitely be a good guess. Nope, it is entirely due to getting the chance to spend time outdoors, specifically in our woods. There are few things that brings as much joy as being able to haul out the tools (lopper, rake, ax, chainsaw, tiller etc.) and work the land so to speak. The mission this week, start cutting in a switchback trail to make it easier to traverse the steep terrain to the valley that runs through the middle of our lot. Yesterday I got to stand in the middle of virgin woods and plan out the trail, trying my best to minimize impact to the multitude of trees (contrasted with the absolute malice shown to the intense briar that has nearly bled me dry over the years). Today I got to start clearing the first segment and show my enjoyment by the sweat rolling of my body. Just wish I had full use of my foot, although it definitely felt better to be back in the dirt. In tribute to the fun time outdoors, thought I’d go with a post from the woods family.

White-Headed Woodpecker found at Lake Tahoe, CA in May 2019

Make that the Woodpecker family! The last few posts I have brought you new +1’s from relatively close locations. Going to change that up a bit with today’s featured feathered friend. In fact, this particular Woodpecker is absolutely nowhere near my broke state of Illinois. The White-Headed Woodpecker is a far west year-round resident with a region map that looks like a Rorschach ink blot test as it meanders through California, Oregon and Washington (well, a smidge into Idaho and Canada if we are splitting hairs).

White-Headed Woodpecker found at Lake Tahoe, CA in May 2019

Hit the jump to see some more shots of this attractive Woodpecker and learn how it ended up in my tin.

Continue reading You Are Making This Too Hard

Flying with Scissors

Decided to take a rest from the Halloween Trail packing and relax a bit in front of the keyboard. Exhausted from the effort. No so much the physical effort, rather the drain on the brain. Feel like I’m back in school taking spatial relation assessments trying to organize all decorations into the smallest spaces I can get. Every year the trail gets a little bigger, but my space is currently fixed. Speaking of schooling, what the hell is the required curriculum these days for kids in high school.. hell, kids in college. Maybe I am getting old and crotchety post retirement, but really, is math.. specifically division a testable skill anymore!?! Went to Michael’s the other day to restock my foam pumpkin supply. I grabbed a white one for a change only to find out it was missing the tag when I got to the checkout. Always make a point to check that – apparently forgot or was too damn eager to get out of the store in order to remove the @#!$%@!#$%!@ mask thanks to our tax evading governor playing dictator. I point out the missing tag and noted it was the same price as another one in my cart (with tag). They were 50% off and normally $29.99. Figured she would simply scan the one with the tag twice .. nope..to her defense, maybe that was to keep the inventory count correct. I offered to go get another one as it was my mistake. Nope – she decided to just ring it in as one-off. Nix that inventory thought. Then the girl looks at me and says “half of 29.99, I’m not good at math, do you mind, I have to go get a calculator. Blink, blink begin to open mouth, close mouth, blink, blink and respond with an “okay, but its $15.00” not wanting to go anywhere near the half cent nightmare. She gets calculator, punches in the numbers, hits the results button and proclaims $15.00 (she can round, ‘cuz I know that isn’t what the display said). Then she has a great idea “I think every register should have a calculator!”. Thankfully she couldn’t read my lips. Round up/down and split the change – grade school skills. I spot the scissors next to the register and have visions of grabbing them and stabbing myself in the heart to end my misery. A perfect lead in to today’s featured feathered friend.

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher found at Havana, IL in June 2016

First off, these shots are NOT good by any means. I tried step you down a bit from the last post so the fall wouldn’t be as bad. Not as a excuse as I f’p (fstop of course) all the time, but this series was taken right before my camera body took a failure. Per the last post, my 7000 lost a shutter that day and I should have noticed I was getting a drag on all the shots taken prior to that. Cleaned them up as best I could – my apologies. What you are looking at is a Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher.

Hit the jump to learn the backstory on this wayward Flycatcher.

Continue reading Flying with Scissors

They Really are Purple

And we are officially back with the second installment in the Recovery-a-Palooza series. I am starting to get the jitters now and I am pretty sure my hair is starting to fallout thanks to my body rebelling against sedentary life. Won’t be long and my internal inhibitors will be overwhelmed and the “crazies” will start coming out – NOBODY wants that! The good news is the swelling is subsiding and the bruising remains minimal. On the topic of purple, thought I’d go with these for tonight’s featured feathered friend(s).

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

Good news – these shots are better than what is in the post coming down the pipe. Bad news – my readers out there deserve better for sure. To get the excuses out of the way, I was a bit handicapped the day these were taken. Not too long before this outing, my trusted D7000 workhorse finally succumbed to the torture I had inflicted on it since likely its Nikon debut in 2010. Later coupled with The Beast, that rig was everywhere I was – snap, after snap, after snap, after snap until there wasn’t enough light left in the day to focus. The shutter gave way while taking shots of a rarity in Havana, IL (that would be the post that is coming up). Heartbreak as I pressed the button thingy and nothing went clicky.

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

Hit the jump if you want to see a few more shots of these big Purple Mosquito Eaters!

Continue reading They Really are Purple

Singing Dicks

Well, to slightly tweak an often misquoted Twain quote – “reports of my death are ‘slightly’ exaggerated”. To be honest, I’ve always thought it was “rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated” but learned the truth while doing a quick double check ahead of starting this post. Regardless, good news, I’m still alive – dinged up a bit and hoping no other competitors heard me trying to encourage my body to get the hell across the finish line in the middle of the dark, but hey, still kicking. For several posts I’ve been mentioned the upcoming 50 mile ultra trail race. That was last Saturday and to cut to the chase (see what I did there), I finished every one of those god-foresaken miles. I’ll be putting up a full race review on the mothership blog as soon as I am mentally prepared to relive that experience. Without going into too much detail, there are things you do because they are truly fun, things you do because of other compelling reasons and then there are the things you do to test yourself and further define your boundaries. The latter has a tendency to get into a complete at all cost mentality. Yesterday I had x-rays done on my foot and a follow up discussion with a good friend who happens to be a local foot surgeon. Good news on that front, but I’m in for an extended rest to address some “very angry” components. Rather than just sit and stare at my shiny new super cool belt buckle, thought I’d add another (less strenuous) first, this time to my birding list.

Dickcissal found at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Wilmington IL in May 2016

Say hello to tonight’s featured feathered friend! This is one of those +1’s that have been sitting in my queue for many many years. Part of the delay is due to proximity. Although I do feature easily accessible birds from right here in the broke state of Illinois, I tend to focus on those targets we enjoy traveling tin. Doesn’t seem as exciting if I feature a bird I literally walk out into our woods, snap a few pictures and then hit the kitchen for some tasty waffles.

Dickcissal found at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Wilmington IL in May 2016

Hit the jump to read more about our colorful feathered friend.

Continue reading Singing Dicks

At Least no Worries

Welcome to October everyone! The stress of the Halloween event is now passed and almost everything is packed up and put away until next year. Unfortunately, that reduction of stress has been replaced with concerns about this weekend’s ultra trail race. I am officially at the point where internal demons start cracking through the positive defenses – did you train enough, it would be tragic if you clipped a root, moles are out putting traps on the course, did you see those temps inching up, those shoes don’t seem broke in enough and a litany of other worries that always plague the few days before a big test. Honestly, anyone confident about a 50 mile race should probably consider some therapy sessions ha. Anyway, now in the final tapers. Did break in a new pair of shoes yesterday to have as a backup (actually a backup for the backup that I already broke in earlier in the year). These are a new version of my standard trail shoes – lower lugs, updated tread pattern and most of all, the “lyte” version for those later miles when the legs feel like they have cement blocks attached to them. Did manage to laugh at myself when I almost “supermaned” going down a hill yesterday. My usual ASIC Gel Fujitrabuco lugs are thicker and longer, reminiscent of my many years on the baseball field. Never have failed me especially in the 6 hours of rain and mud of my last 50K (link here). The new ones are lower and sharper with a chainsaw like pattern. I’ve gotten use to the very slight slip as the larger lugs sink in and stupidly assumed the same with the lyte pair. Started down a steep hill, made the first plant and literally rocketed forwarded way over my feet as the new tread grabbed instantly and immediately transferred the energy forward. Caught myself, laughed off the close tumble and went to work harnessing the change. My only worry is whether it will self clean like the standard lugs on soggy trails. Stay tuned for the upcoming uber-exciting dissertation on the wonders of Body Glide hehehehe. I know, I know, you are here for the featured feathered friends, not to read babble on my masochist hobby So, let’s get to it.

Least Grebe found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2021

Hit the jump to see a few more images of this alligrebe.

Continue reading At Least no Worries