Hello everyone! Trying to get ahead of the posting curve as it looks like we might be heading back out for an extended period of time in the proverbial field. If plans work out it will be later this month – cautiously trying to not jinx us as we had some very difficult times trying to get to places towards the end of last year. Unexpected family situations and a bout with Covid threw those plans right into the dumpster. More on that as we electric slide closer to those dates. In the meantime I have some topics in my queue and there are several in Brad’s queue I want to get to before then. He will be traveling as well, so doing my best to get everything timed out correctly. To keep things rolling, here’s a series I took back in January 2022 (essentially yesterday for those of us here at Intrigued ha).
As you can hopefully make out from this distant shot, today’s feature has fur instead of feathers. Hit the jump to learn more about this rather big eared creature that showed up while I was hunting for Clapper Rails.
Just a quick note before we get started. I intentionally let my birthday pass without fanfare last month, but I was planning to make special note of an accomplishment that did occur – As my Dad would quip, must not have been that important or you wouldn’t have forgotten ha. As a quick self-pat on the back, January was the start of my 16th year blogging here at Intrigued. 15 years of observations, wildlife encounters, ramblings and whatnot. Been a blast so far and all the credit goes to you, my wonderful readers, and our staff that keep this little project going. Hippity Hip Hooray! Now staff, let’s get back to work.
Apparently my home state decided to welcome me back with a bit of a warm spell. Admittedly, it was a bit brutal the first week, but mid 40’s for most of this week (possibly in 50’s Sunday), in the Midwest, in early February…I’ll take it. Best of all I’ve been able to train outside and catch back up from the annual lazy January. A bit shocked I’m already up to 9 mile outings, but there’s a long runway to this year’s goals. Already signed up for a midyear 50K which already has the distinction of sending my sorry ass to the hospital (link here and here) and as you probably expected, another attempt at the 100K in the fall (link here). What can I say, I don’t deal very well with failure. There will probably be a few races scattered in here and there, but the training will be designed around these larger events. Today’s featured feathered friend is also fond of running albeit more of a sprinter specialist (you can view larger versions by hitting the image links).
Last post I brought you a ubiquitous resident of Texas (and many of the other southwestern states). A full bodied, dark feathered bird with quite a sassy mouth. Similar to the Great-Tailed Grackle, the Sanderling can be found in Texas. You will not find them at inland Walmarts as these cute birds all have Salt Life plastered on the back of their Jeeps. Tops off, Maui Jims on, cooler in the back, sandal to pedal with the wind whipping through their white/grey toned nonbreeding plumage.
Hit the jump to see a few shots I took of them driving their Jeeps on the beach.
Well, it is a bit bittersweet, but we are officially back in the broke state of Illinois. Part of us misses the warm(ish) sun, soothing waves and inviting beaches we enjoy while on our southern stay. On the other hand, there is something comforting about being home even when the outside temps are struggling to get into double digits (hell, even above zero for that matter). What can I say, I like my “stuff”, ability to stretch out and not hit the side of the RV and, best of all, I finally get to play with my new Christmas gifts. Also helpful to have my larger screens for managing my blog duties. Need to get caught up on the 2023 Average Year (link here), but other than the updated travel video, the 2022 results/recaps are all finalized (link here).
The month of January was one busy birding month. With all the southern Texas locations and the travel to and from, the unofficial 2023 count already stands at 192. That means only 108 more to go in the next 11 months to hit the previously missed 300 threshold (technically 106 as I already picked off two easy ones at my feeders). Of course we all know it gets significantly harder as each one is ticked off. There is one particular bird I am glad is already checked for this year – one that my ears are very relieved are likely to be absent for some months until we head back into the Southwest.
Those that live in that region ALREADY know what our feature bird of the day is. That purplish shimmer, dagger of a bill and equally piercing yellow eyes conjure up images of psychological noise torture used throughout warfare history. There is a theory that the Israelites really used Great Tailed Grackles to bring down the walls of Jericho and not trumpets – UPDATE: our gaggle of curmudgeon lawyers that make life miserable for those of us here at Intrigued demand that I caveat my previous statement with “there are no facts to date supporting said theory”. Truth is they were trained to steer D11’s at the time and the reason many construction companies choose yellow as their base color – in tribute to the eyes of these early skilled soldiers/laborers.
While I sort things out with the lawyers, hit the jump to read more about these squawkers.
Greetings All! Was able to reproduce Brad’s “lost” post so able to bring you post on another form of blogging. As you are reading this, Linda I will be on the road heading back to the tundra..I know, I know, trust me the call of South Padre Island is getting stronger cold mile after cold mile (and looks like snow and ice in our path). Keeping with Brad’s theme, created my own silicaglyph intro (you might have to hit the link to view the larger version to make out the craptastic figures)
I’ll catch back up with you in February, for now, enjoy Brad’s much more entertaining read…take it away Brad…
Long-time readers of Intrigued know that Brian takes many trips in the US to catch photos of rare, and not-so-rare, birds. His life list credits include many birds that barely make it to US soil. Jan and I like to take vacations to really cool places that may or may not have birds. Recently we have begun making more attempts to find wildlife wherever we are on holiday. I think the Intrigued team takes slightly different types of vacations. Though this may be a subtle difference (bird vacations to cool places vs. cool places that just happen to have birds). Now that I’ve got you all warmed up for birds or cute furry animals, I’m not going to write about either of these. At least as far as I know I’m not. This tale is about petroglyphs.
Hit the jump to read more about this early method of blogging!
Greetings everyone! Good news, we survived the storm that passed through Galveston Island last we chatted. I can only imagine how terrifying it must be to be in a trailer with a Tornado barreling down on you. We only reached 60mph gusts and that still put a rockin’ on our small RV. As promised, headed out to the beach to see what interesting things were brought ashore as soon as Mother Nature gave me the chance. Combed the beach and found some really nice (intact) shells, first giving them a nudge to make sure I wasn’t disturbing the sea version of a mobile home – beyond the blue jellyfish washed up everywhere (already gonners), no creatures were harmed.
The plan was to publish the latest from Brad’s queue while we started our trip back to the tundra. Checked the WordPress drafts and shock, it wasn’t there. Craptastic! Hoping it isn’t in the bit-bucket – will check on that when we stop for the night (worst case I have the original copy and can just paste it back into blocks). In the meantime, a perfect time to get a post out I promised B. (from across the pond) several months back. Now for the disclaimer – if you want to see incredible Butter pictures, go to his site (link here). My long-rig is not designed for these delicate looking creatures and my species knowledge would barely fill a thimble.
When the birds are slim in the field, I start looking for other targets to keep me entertained – no Dragons, no furries, might as well give the arms a workout and target these rather spastic flappers. Hit the jump If you want to see some of my better clicks – again, Linda won’t let me take her macro in the field without some ridiculous amount of honey-do commitments, so soft shots it is ha!
Good news, our latest base camp location finally has some decent connectivity. Unfortunately, we also happen to be in the path of a pretty nasty storm that is barreling down on us rather fast. Tornado warnings from Galveston Island (where we are currently camped) to Houston with expected steady high winds, rain and now Linda tells me there is an opportunity for hail. Quite the quandary, hunker down, raise anchor and head for less exposed land or…make a quick walk out to the beach and take in nature’s power. Okay, so there really wasn’t that much of a quandary.
Still an hour or so away from the bad stuff, but the sea gods are starting to get restless. Assuming the storm doesn’t grow out of hand, hoping to go back out when the eye passes over and see what the bird situation looks like or if there are any quality shells the Gulf puked up. Fingers crossed for some fallout activity or high seas blow-ins like a Frigate or Jaeger. Until then, need to take advantage of the connectivity and talk about another “eye” of sorts.
Hit the jump to read more about today’s featured feathered friend.
Not sure where this myth about vacations being relaxing originated from. Obviously not from one of our outings, that’s for sure. We have been basically in birding “beast mode” since we headed south right after Christmas. The days leading up to the new year was focused on trying to reduce the gap from 300 – the days since have been a whirlwind of checks as the Average Year slate was wiped clean. Definitely two sides of the same coin. Every check at the end of the year felt like getting teeth pulled versus the check extravaganza beginning on the first. While Brad was entertaining you with his +1, Linda and I (and Ron while he was down here) were hitting the south Texas hotspots trying not to miss any key birds that are only accessible in this particular region. Time after the sun went down was spent trying to catch up on my mail (Sisyphus could relate) and doing my best to clean up the Birding Chronicles to close out 2022 and reset for 2023. I need to update the text, but I did get the plot captures updated – 2022 can be found here and the 2023 shell can be found here (note, for ease I added a quick summary on the title page (link here). Thanks to an amazing day today at Brazos Bend State Park, the 2023 stats are already out of date – my latest count is 170! Pretty good for only 20 days into the year.
In honor of the birding “beast mode”, thought I’d go with a beast of a different kind.
Hit the jump to learn more about our surprise while driving to one of our base camps on South Padre Island.
Greetings everyone! We are essentially at the midpoint of our winter trip south and I must say this has been quite a productive start to this year’s Average Year efforts (not updated yet, but link here). Ron was able to meet us down here for a week and recently headed back (ironically on the day the FAA grounded all planes). Now Linda and I need to head back to get all the birds we hid from him hehehe. We’ll be moving our base camp soon and that means connectivity may be in jeopardy. While we get that straightened out, I’m going to leave you in Brad’s capable hands to keep you entertained. In case you notice a green tint to this post, that’s due to the fact Brad has managed to tin a bird neither Ron or I have…I’ll let him tell the story.
Take it away Brad!
As you may have guessed, Jan and I have traveled to Colorado a few times recently. Our daughter lives there so it gives us a very good excuse to frequent Colorado and all it has to offer. During our visit last spring, we decided to check out some local hiking. Many of the guide books lists dozens, nay, hundreds of hikes from casual walks to the much more adventurous challenging hikes, some involving ropes and harnesses. We decided to see what was close by our hotel near Boulder. After a brief All Trails app search, Jan found Eldorado Canyon State Park. We first went last April, but Jan was hobbled by an injury and couldn’t hike far. We headed back this fall to more fully explore. Once leaving the Boulder area, the highways turned into county or village roads (no center stripes in some cases) and then very quickly into unimproved roads. By “unimproved” I mean not paved but graded every now and then. Oddly enough the roads “improved” a bit once we were inside the park (still not paved though). We’ve learned from last April not to make the rookie mistake of stopping at the very first pull-off.
Hit the jump to read more about Brad’s Colorado adventure at Eldorado Canyon State Park!
It has been a whirlwind of birding since the start of the new year. When it comes to our Average Year efforts (link here), the most exhilarating birding is at the the start – when the counter resets to zero, everything you see with wings means a +1 for the year. Yeah, a Northern Cardinal – check – wow a Carolina Chickadee – check – is that a Grackle, why yes it is – check – IS THAT REALLY A Robin, color me thrilled – check, check, check and on and on. Ron was able to meet us down her for a week to get his year started off on the right foot as well. To be honest, if you miss the border birds, you are probably in a deep hole with tall slick sides. I am still trying to get caught up, but as of January 7th Ron is at 87 and my counter sits at 108. For those keeping track that is over 1/3rd of last year’s total. Ron had to get back home today (of all days, one where the FAA grounded all flights). We have several weeks before we start heading home which will allow me to pad my lead… oops, I mean turn my attention to other creatures…
Hit the jump to see a few more shots from the Gulf waters.
First off, Happy New Year everyone! Apologies for the long delay between posts, hopefully Brad was able to keep you entertained while I was away. Been a bit of a whirlwind around Intrigued since Christmas morning. Our plans to leave the day after ripping open our presents was altered by Mr. Freeze who found out we were attempting to escape his clutches. Started hearing about carnage on our path out of the state due to black ice/blowing snow and opted to hold out a day. Safer for sure, but made for some very long drives trying to get back on schedule. On top of that stress, I was still clutching a thread of hope on the Average Year front (not updated, but link here). My counter was stuck on 290 thanks to the storm and canceled Arizona trip coming into December. Picked up two strays in a small pond about an hour away and FINALLY tinned an elusive winter Sparrow. Even managed to add one more in Rochester during Linda’s checkup setting the counter at 294 for Christmas. Drove Linda nuts with all the possible scenarios that could lead to 6 ticks while on our trek south. Heart was tested by my first experience with a totally pissed off Rattler cocked and ready to take me out in Waco (more on that in a future post) – totally worth it as it led to a new bird lifer.
“Look at him go. This boy can really fly! He’s rounding first and really turning it on now, he’s not letting up at all, he’s gonna try for .
Worked my ass off in Austin trying to find something/anything that would put me at the finish line. Thanks to a very helpful birder who took me to within 5 feet of a bird I needed and a “pay $10 gimme” at another park got the excitement up.
“Here’s the pitch-he’s going, and what a jump he’s got, He’s trying for third, here’s the throw, it’s in the dirt-safe at Third! Holy cow, stolen base!”
297, 3 to go. Poured over the eBird sightings trying to find targets…4 possibilities remained – all with recorded sightings the previous days. Up early on New Year’s Eve with a glimmer of hope. Search, search strike one, go to next place, search, search, whiff, on to another place — optimism fading fast as frustration pushes to the forefront. Wait, is that one – YES, 298.
“The suicide squeeze is on! Here he comes, squeeze Play, it’s gonna be close, holy cow, I think he’s gonna make it!”
Well, I think you probably already know the next line in the song, but night fell and I was..
“Stop[ped] right there!”
Sooooo close. Two less than I wanted. Bittersweet having the finish line in sight, still elated at the same time as I had no ambitions when I started this endeavor I’d be anywhere near a perfect bowling score. By the way, Ron clocked in at 296 with an incredible late surge.
Enough of my challenges, you are really here for this!