A Snowy Redemption

Definitely sticking with the game plan for this month, staying ahead of the game and getting the posts out early. It definitely helps when you already have the images worked up in the digital darkroom. To be honest, short of getting the birds in the tin, the major effort in this whole blogging thingy is working up the images to make it worth my reader’s visit time. Of course, this doesn’t always happen, case in point the horrific Cave Swallow pictures I forced upon you a few posts back. I try my best so you can at least tell it is a bird – not to mention Ron is starting to push me with the quality stuff he is putting up over on his blog (link here). You probably didn’t know this, but I credit him for getting me into photography while I was in high school and the reason I can navigate around a camera (although I did introduce him to back-button focus). Today’s featured bird is a bit of an atonement for a slight I made in a recent post.

Snowy Egret found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center December 2016

Within the Cinnamon Teal post (link here), I unintentionally dismissed one of the most regal birds there is (at least in North America). It wasn’t the species that dimmed my excitement, just that I was revved up to add a new +1 to the list. I am lucky enough to have a large number of Snowy Egret shots from just about everywhere we’ve traveled along with tins full from Emiquon and other local water hotspots. When I saw this set of Snowies in the post queue, I immediately decided this was the perfect time to bring them out.

Snowy Egret found at Galveston Island, Texas, January 2017

Hit the jump to see some more picture of this immaculate bird.

Continue reading A Snowy Redemption

Often Heard, Rarely Spotted

In preparation for tomorrow, I did some digging in my out building, found a lawn chair and dragged it out to the middle of the yard. Grabbed a pair of flip flops, a bottle of suntan lotion, cheap sunglasses and my favorite birding reference book. Going to be some fun in the heatwave forecasted to hit sometime tomorrow…40F. However, there are possible clouds and rain sneaking in for the afternoon through tomorrow night. Needless to say, I’ll take it. It might look a bit odd being surrounded by a foot of snow that is still lingering, but I “needz my vitamin D”. In truth, I am skeptical it is going to get that warm with this much snow and ice about, but I will definitely be lacing up the running shoes and getting a few miles in snow, rain or sunshine. It might be a bit sketchy on the footing, but it will help the soul to lift the winter blahs. If nothing else, I can simply recall warmer places… for instance Las Vegas.

First a public service warning to those of you that might have adverse reactions to creatures with red eyes. As with the previous post on the Cinnamon Teal, today’s featured bird also possesses a blood red eye. Feel free to view the rest of the post through your fingers if that will make you feel more comfortable ha!

Spotted Towhee found at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas, Nevada, November 2018

I was just talking to Ron tonight on how odd it is that so many birds have red hued eyes and I am not talking about the night owls squinting through strained eyes and hazy rooms trying to hit the big payout on the one arm bandits (another term that is becoming outdated with the advent of digital technology/machines). We were wondering if it provided some evolutionary benefit, maybe better able to see at dark or perhaps provide better tracking of UV urine trails of prey (yes, some birds have that ability like the Kestrel) or perhaps it is simply a defensive mechanism – if I was a bird I would stay way the hell away from something that had red eyes – clearly bloodthirsty heathens – just saying. Neither of us have a definitive response to the quandary which means I’ll have something to research while enjoying that lawn chair tomorrow. If you happen to have some thoughts on red eyes feel free to let us know in the comments. We here at Intrigued are thirsty for wildlife knowledge.

Short one tonight, but if you hit the jump, I have a few more words and one more image to share.

Continue reading Often Heard, Rarely Spotted

Cinnamon Water

Welcome to February everyone! Not sure how to feel about that yet. On one hand glad to be past the worst of the Polar Vortex which will hopefully allow me to get off that instrument from hell … the treadmill. On the flip side, I am officially one month closer to the 50K which translates to one notch higher on the stressometer. Oh, it also means the post counter goes back to zero so make that two notches on the stressometer. The best way to keep that under control is to start early and that means not a moment to spare. Let’s go back to the spoils from the Vegas trip last November.

Cinnamon Teal found at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, Henderson, NV November 2018

This particular specimen is referred to as a Cinnamon Teal. Not a big stretch to guess how this Teal got its name. Linda and I were nearing the completion of the pond circuit at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve when we noticed an individual pointing above average glass towards the corner of a nearby pond. Talk about a dog whistle for photographers. We slowly made our way over there being very careful not to disturb whatever he was focused on. Eventually I made it to a point where I could see the area of water that was holding his attention. Excitement dimmed just a a bit as his rapid-fire shutter was waving at a Snowy Egret hanging out near the edge of the water. Don’t get me wrong, Egrets are pretty cool, but if there is one sure bet you are going to see at Henderson, it’s a Snowie. Out of courtesy, we hung back until he was satisfied with his shots – not sure he ever knew we were there.

Cinnamon Teal found at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, Henderson, NV November 2018

Continue reading Cinnamon Water

Guess I’ll Cave Too

Okay, time to get this post out of the way. It has been staring up at me from the drafts folder for about 6 months now, taunting me every time post day came. “Come on Bri, you gotta feature me eventually if you want that +1”. “No one will notice how crappy these shots of me are, they won’t ridicule you and mock your talents nope, no way hehehehe!” Sigh, the bird’s right, I have to get it featured or I will not be able to claim the check per RB Birding Rule #20. Ron and I have established birding rules born out of someone (name rhymes with con) who has a habit of creatively applying guidelines (link here). Since this represents the 10th post of the month, we are technically in bonus time, let’s go ahead and (cringe) get this out of the way.

Cave Swallow found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2018, Texas

Prepare yourself, this is going to be a rough set. If you squint real hard, you just might be able to make out a bird – maybe take a few steps back and let the eyes float a bit like with those magic eye pictures that used to be the rage a decade back. Hopefully you will be able to make it out. If so, you are squinting at a Cave Swallow.

Hit the jump, but prepare yourself, the images do NOT get any better.

Continue reading Guess I’ll Cave Too

A Dash of Yellow in the Desert

Greetings from the Midwest Tundra. It is currently -7F not including windchill and I am pretty sure that is close to when appendages start falling off. Tonight the first lunar eclipse took place over a supermoon. Thanks to Ron reminding me, I managed to get out and witness it – actually that reads as if I put a lot of effort into it. We were heading back from a night out, stepped out of the car when we got back to the house and looked up. There it was, only a sliver left and radiating the blood moon hues. Thought about getting the Beast and snapping a few shots to share on the blog. Then my nose, ears and a thumb fell off. Decided to pass on that idea – sorry everyone. To our credit, I did help Linda with a photoshoot in the early morning. Her client wanted pictures of her three dogs in the 5″ of fresh powder we received yesterday (on top of the 12″ we already had). Think it was a balmy 5F out then, which was enough to put a serious sting in the fingers. They say positive thoughts can get you through uncomfortable times. Time to click our heels three times and entertain visions from the desert.

Verdin found at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, Henderson Nevada, November 2018

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this desert songbird.

Continue reading A Dash of Yellow in the Desert

Purple Shimmers in the Desert

How is this for a weird experience? I mentioned a few posts back that I was recovering from a back injury, but I didn’t go into too many details. Now that I am completely healed from it, thought I’d loop everyone into a bizarre injury that had me pretty worried. The last thing I need when training for a 50K event is to have an injury – especially in such a critical area. Usually On Sundays, some friends and I do long training runs on a hilly nightmare of a course through a local cemetery (figure they can bury us where we drop). A few weeks ago we were taking on the course in pretty warm weather for an early January day – mid 40’s accompanied with a strong wind. Decided I was too layered up for the conditions so took my Gore-Tex coat off, removed a layer and put the outer shell back on (important tidbit for later). Although a rocky and uneven course, we know every square inch of it – no slips, bobbles or wobbles occurred up to mile two. That is when I felt something pierce my lower back. I noted the strange feeling to my friend and kept on running – quirks and pains happen all the time – runners learn to ignore them because they almost always work themselves out. 2 more miles and my hips started seizing up. 2 more miles and serious pain started radiating from the lower back. 3 miles later we were back at the car and I was trying to figure out a way to stand without letting my friends see any hint of tears. 30 minute drive home and I couldn’t move without a knife twisting in my spine. Most concerning was a 5×8 inch badly swollen red bulge near where the initial stab was felt. All I could think about was the setback to the 50K training (goals are not taken lightly around Intrigued). For brevity, will skip to the juicy part. Got into my doctor the following day – explained the story above preparing myself for the herniated disk diagnosis. Was not expecting the doctor to hypothesize that it sounded like a spider bite. The recluse would have destroyed skin by now, so they speculated Black Widow, grabbed a magnifying glass and went to work finding the holes. Good news, not a Widow, instead they pulled a stinger out of my spine what I imagined to be the size of this bird’s bill.

Juvenile Costa's Hummingbird found at Henderson Bird Viewing Center in Henderson, NV, November 2018

Not sure who was surprised more, the doctor or me. Apparently a dagger wielding demon of an insect decided to unload all the venom it had a few inches up from my waistline and directly into the center of my spine. From there it traveled my nerve network down into the in the hips and up the back causing the lockup. Remember, this is the first week of January – those things are supposed to have died off or went into hibernation. No way it stung through the outer running shell. We have come to the conclusion that a wasp,hornet,large ass bee or possibly a Tarantula Hawk (link here) sneaked into the coat when I was removing the layer, panicked at mile two and unloaded everything it had into the spine – I could see a blood spot on the base layer next to the skin. The good news is 5 days of steroids had me back on the trails this morning running in 5″ of snow. I bet I know what you are thinking right about now – what the hell kind of bird is that?

Hit the jump to find out!

Continue reading Purple Shimmers in the Desert

Blue Tones in the Desert

Greetings to all from the big white tundra we like to call the Midwest. A bit of an icebox at the moment as we are dealing with ~12″ inches of the fluffy stuff. Add to that a layer of ice that accumulated overnight from freezing drizzle and you have yourself a recipe for hilarity. Case in point. Our dogs decided that 4:50am is a perfectly good time to demand I take them out. Wipe the sleep from the eyes, remind the legs they were designed to move me from one place to another, put some shoes on and leash up the dogs – you would think by their expression I take evil enjoyment out of cinching up their necks as opposed to the truth there are “eyes in ‘dem trees” that think 4:50am is a perfect time for an early morning snack. Shut the alarms down and take a groggy step off the porch onto the wet concrete. Except it wasn’t just wet, nope, black ice quickly causing my feet to go eye level and my eyes to go feet level. Just got my back all healed up and now I’m being snickered at by sure footed furballs. Later that morning, a semi ended up jackknifing by the main highway exit I use to get to work shutting down that access and choking up all the alternative routes (which had their share of wrecks as well). Some days were just designed to stay in bed and enjoy thoughts of warmer locations.

Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay found at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV, November 2018

Like for instance the desert – specifically the Mohave Desert in Las Vegas. The Rock Wren was not the only bird hanging out at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area back in November 2018. Unlike that bird (link here) and Abert’s Towhee (link here). that came before it, this bird possesses coloring that contrasts sharply with the desert floor. Yep, this one is adorned in a pretty blue and grey palette.

Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay found at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV, November 2018

Hit the jump to find out what kind of bird this is!

Continue reading Blue Tones in the Desert

Rocking Vegas

Getting my exercise in alternative ways today. Seems Old Man Winter has decided the Midwest needed a serious coating of white. Snow has been coming down in our area since 9pm last night and not planned to let up until 2am tomorrow. Good for our wells, but not for the body. Finally got my back functioning again and was hoping to take an easier trajectory to the daily workouts. So far everything is holding together – did a mid-shovel this morning to get the pavements cleared, but will probably be heading out soon to clear off the 4 hours of new powder that has been dropped and break out the tractor to clear the 300′ of driveway.

In the meantime, thought I’d recall warmer times in the Mojave Desert.

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

Feel bad for bringing you another fairly dull colored bird, but the desert birds tend to inherit the hues of their surroundings. Nonetheless, this little bird represents the second +1 for the young year. Those that happen to be familiar with our feathered friends will probably recognize it as part of the Wren family. Although unable to bring this element to bear, the chatter these hyperactive birds emit is also a dead giveaway. All that is left to do is identify which type it is.

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

Hit the jump to find out what this new bird is!

Continue reading Rocking Vegas

Thank the Quails

Today I watched a Subway employee sort cheese. Actually, sorting might be the wrong word since that it implies there were multitudes of different cheeses thrown in a giant pile that needed to be properly organized. Yep, wrong word. Let’s go with “aligning” cheese. I was in somewhat of a hurry thanks to having recently injured my lower back during a run (interesting story, will save for another lead in). It basically hurt to stand (…or sit… or lie down) and therefore wanted to get back to the car and home before someone saw tears welling up. The Subway employee was standing at the counter directly in front of the lady ahead of me. There she proceeded to align the pepper jack cheese. One by one down the foot long stack of triangles. Ever find yourself staring at something and too mesmerized to look away? One eye was on the cheese dance, the other was on the lady ahead of me trying to predict her breaking point. Word to the wise, psych classes are NOT healthy for you. To her credit, she waited until the cheese was sorted and properly stored in the container at which point she gave her order and asked for .. wait for it ..wait for it .. Swiss. The Swiss bin was empty forcing her to go back and get new packages. To her credit, she just took 4 pieces and finished her sandwich. With that done, she came back in front of me to get my order .. umm no, she opted to take the rest of the Swiss triangles out of the bag, align and put in the bin not looking at me once. “Rest” is somewhat of a guess since I turned and hobbled out the store. Nothing like having a direct reminder not to leave my customers hanging … especially my loyal readers. So, without delay, I give you the first +1 of the year.

Abet's Towhee found at Wetlands Park Preserve in Henderson, Nevada November, 2018

This would be the very rare Headstick Sparrow. These brown jobbers develop antler like protrusions in the middle of their head providing a built in defense against aggressive Owls and the ability meld into underbrush when land predators come calling. Don’t worry, Linda isn’t buying it either. I think the words “crappy photographer” just rang out from her den. Sigh, okay, this is not a Headstick Sparrow, but it is from the Sparrow family – the Abert’s Towhee. Here is a better shot sans stick.

Abet's Towhee found at Wetlands Park Preserve in Henderson, Nevada November, 2018

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this secluded Sparrow.

Continue reading Thank the Quails

Our Amps Go To 11

LifeIntrigued Blog Summary 2019

Another full year of blogging is in the books! I guess more literally, in the Word document that contains the annual collection of posts. Hard to believe our little production at Intrigued has been going this long. Most of that endurance is thanks to all my readers whose time and comments make the effort so fulfilling. Over the course of this year I once again made new friends, some in far off lands (note, that includes basically anywhere outside the continental US). The world and the people in it continues to fascinate me on a daily basis. I get a bit more knowledgeable with each new observation, more intrigued with each new find and every resulting introspection or recollection. The experiment of breaking off my wildlife posts from the mothership has ended up becoming a flagship of its own taking command of a majority of blogging time. I still tend to the parent with posts covering my other hobbies, social observations and when required commentary on a broken political system. Meanwhile the Wildlife division has been busy bringing an amazing number of new birds to my life list along with forages into the larger and the smaller that walk, crawl, slither and fly past my camera’s sensor.

This year also brought new opportunities for me thanks to a lot of encouragement from my wife. I agreed to give two presentations, one focused on birding and blogging to our local Audubon Society and then again later in the year to the local camera club (thanks to the president of that club being present at my Audubon talk) with more of a technical photography slant. As I had feared those presentations took a tremendous amount of time to gather images and prepare the presentation, but in the end, extremely glad I took them up on those offers – two of the most enjoyable times I’ve ever had publicly speaking. I have spent a career giving very technical presentations to small and large groups as part of my day job. it was refreshing to talk about the hobbies that consume my free time outside of those hours. That event also got my butt in gear to finally get most of the Texas birding shots processed and posted (thus the huge boost in my birding list).

Admitted, I am a few days late on this assessment tradition. At the end of each year I like to take a moment to look back at the year’s output as a complete body of work. Did I hit my self-imposed monthly quota, was there any progression on my photography, what posts did my readers like, and where did I miss the mark. So with that, I bring you the 2018 year end summary. Hit the jump below to see the individual stats and accomplishments. However, before you do that, I do need to thank some people. First of all, those that take the time to read my musing. Without you, this would pretty much just be a long talk with myself. Knowing that others are investing time pushes me to try and put out the best product I can. It is also a way for me to share my experiences, learn from other perspectives and gather feedback on IDs and my photography – all things that add to my personal growth and for that extremely appreciative. Next on the list is my brother Ron. He was the catalyst for blogging and provides a tremendous amount of help with his post comments and even more behind the scenes. He helps me research IDs and critiques my shots allowing me to at least act like I know what I’m talking about. Not to mention a lot of the photographs that make it on the blog are a result of birding outings we go on together. The person that probably endures the most thanks to this blogging affliction is Linda. I cannot count of the number of times she has had to pull yeoman .. err yoewoman duties behind the wheel on long trips while I pounded out a post to keep my blog quota streak going. Not to mention driving me around birding hotspots while I hung my head out the window listening for bird calls or worse, subjecting herself to embarrassment while I pulled out my camera phone to capture something that made me laugh (happens a lot more that I am willing to admit). I need to do a better job in 2019 of making it up to her.

It is shaping up to be another big year at Intrigued. There are new goals for running, new target birds and hopefully a number of trips to keep the hopper full. Planning to make 2019 even better than 2018.

Thank You!

And now, the annual stats for the year’s worth of blogging.

Hit the jump to see the 2018 stats!

Continue reading Our Amps Go To 11