From Black Capes to May Capes

Greetings everyone! If you have read any of the previous posts as of late you are already aware that these are busy times here at Intrigued. It is officially one week before our annual Haunted Trail of Tears event. 7 little itty bitty short days left and there is a mountain of work still to be done. The good news is I got the trails cleared and cleaned up so those just need to be mowed and trimmed and we can start staging all the props…. well, those that are built – we are still trying to squeak in a few new scares. Thankfully Ron was able to come down last weekend and again this upcoming weekend to help me work through some sticking points. Based on how this goes every year, sleep will be in short supply right up to the party. On top of all this I still need to get some runs in with the 50 miler just a few weeks after the party. As a result, I am going to let the blogs go dark for a bit. Figured I would leave you with one of the beautiful tins from this year to hold you over.

Cape May Warbler found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

You might have noticed, but I have been gradually amping up the color in the posts over the last couple of months. Today’s posts keeps that theme going with a stunning New World Warbler – the Cape May. Specifically, the adult male. The females and immatures are more muted, substituting the chestnut cheek with a grey toned one and the dark crown is significantly lighter with a more olive hue.

Cape May Warbler found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to see a lot more shots of our brightly colored Warbler.

Continue reading From Black Capes to May Capes

Bottlefed

Greetings everyone! There’s PVC pipes, wires, integrated chips, power supplies, tools and scary props scattered all over my den at the moment. Couple that with my two 3D printers running 24×7 and it can only mean one thing – the annual Haunted Halloween Trail event is approaching fast (link here). Too fast actually. Not sure what the deal is, but when I was working it seemed like I was running around like a crazy person trying to get everything built in the hours before and after work. For the life of me I cannot figure out where the extra 8-10 hours a day I should have now that I am retired goes – yet here I am running around like a crazy person trying to get everything built. The good things is there’s laser focus on the event – no trying to juggle work issues with Halloween challenges. In honor of the fast approaching Halloween season, I wanted to go with a bird that reflected the holiday. Welcome to today’s featured feathered friend.

Female Orchard Oriole found at Dauphin Island, Alabama Gulf Shores in January 2012

Okay, a bit of a confession here. It is really the adult male that has the association to Halloween. Not having those images worked up yet, decided to go with its more yellow/green partner. If nothing else, it does satisfy my promise to continually amp up the bird coloring as we proceeded through the month. A far cry from those more subdued Doves and Sparrows that have been featured earlier in the month, the female Orchard Oriole sticks out in its surroundings.

Female Orchard Oriole found at Dauphin Island, Alabama Gulf Shores in January 2012

Hit the jump to read about our colorful friend.

Continue reading Bottlefed

Laughing Stock

Holy crap, I get disconnected from the Internet for just a couple of days only to get back online and find out we had another embassy overrun. Regardless of the opinions on whether we should have been there or minimally that long etc., those that have served there and especially those that gave the ultimate sacrifice deserve better than the images I am seeing on lame stream media at the moment. I can only imagine what other superpowers are thinking at this moment. Looking through the available images, figured I would go with this for today’s featured feathered friend.

Laughing Gull found at Dauphin Island, Alabama Gulf Shores in January of 2021

The Laughing Gull is not new to the blog. Back in march of 2019, I covered the specimens we found while visiting Tybee Island off the coast of Georgia {shirk eyesight, stare sheepishly at the ground, hum a bit} from our 2015 trip (link here). Yeah, that was a 4 year lag for that. As an act of retribution, today’s images are equally 4 away, but this time the units are months. They still have that new car smell.

Laughing Gull found at Dauphin Island, Alabama Gulf Shores in January of 2021

Hit jump to read about the Dauphin Island Walmart greeter.

Continue reading Laughing Stock

Getting Cheekie

Been a bit out of pocket lately and that is entirely due to Linda and I being out on Exploration Tres and not having Internet for the first part of the trip. Somehow Linda convinced me to head out on the road again in the midst of what should be heavy training for the upcoming 50 mile ultra run. I could say it involved foot stomping, yelling, manhood challenging and all kinds of medieval torture, but that would be a bit of a stretch. Truth is she gets on ebird, finds bird sightings where she wants to travel to and then spends the weeks leading up to departure date blurting out birds I do not have whenever we pass by each other. Kind of like Tourette’s Syndrome for birder wives. Quite devious if you ask me. The silver lining is if I fail on the run I can blame her!

Anyway, while on the road, I have a few cycles to get a post or two out of the way (connectivity permitting). Say hello to today’s featured feathered friend.

Gray-Cheeked Thrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

If you recall, I thought I was setting a drab baseline in my previous post. At the time I was under the impression that it was hard to get much duller than one of those little brown jobbers technically called a Sparrow. Ended up being a bit shocked at the feedback I received contrary to that assumption. Apparently, some of you out there think those LBJs can be snappy dressers. That opinion threw a small wrench in my plans to have a growing crescendo of color as we progressed through the month. What to do, what to do…

Gray-Cheeked Thrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to read a bit more about our shy friend.

Continue reading Getting Cheekie

Newly Designated Mascot for CMAR

Those that follow the Intrigued mothership are already aware of the good news, but the mere fact there is a new post here officially confirms to all my readers that the running demons were left slain last Saturday. The redemption is complete as my one blemish on the race record has been officially erased. Yep, the 2019 PR for failure at the Cry Me a River (CMAR) 50K Trail Race (link here) has been superseded by the successful completion of this year’s running (2020 was canceled for obvious reasons). To say I’ve been fretting about this event would probably be considered an understatement by my wife. Although I had trained my ass off, the inevitable doubts were coming to a crescendo as I walked to the starting line. The standard neurotic runner fare “Why was this body part hurting, did I taper to quick.. too long, should have done more double days, damn vacation days cost me valuable runs, hey, there’s a squirrel”. More details than you would ever want to know are up on the mothership (link here), but for a quick summary the temps stayed well under the 100+ heat index experience in ’19 that were responsible for taking me out. Unfortunately, that issue was replaced by RAIN, a LOT of rain, really, I mean torrents of rain coming down for the entire back half of the 11 hours it took me to complete the event. That course is brutal enough dry – having to negotiate the continuous climbs and descents in slick mud made for one hell of a day. Two of the usual stream crossings turned into a step and pray game through 2+ foot rapids. Proud to say I never went down the entire 34+ miles (yeah, their course was long adding to the punishment). Couldn’t be happier with results and owe a lot of that success to Linda who coordinated the multiple chase points to keep me hydrated/nourished and spirits up through the entire challenge. I did think about the blog while navigating my way through the endless downpour – ‘cuz that’s what I do ha! Decided the perfect post to follow that race was this featured feathered friend.

Louisiana Waterthrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

This bird fit on many different fronts. First off, the obvious as it literally has water in its species name. In case you are not familiar with this pink footed bird it is a Waterthrush. Like the course, it is deviously deceptive. You would think it was part of the Thrush family by the name alone, however, it is really a Warbler. As with the race map it certainly looks flat until you are trying to figure out exactly where the “flat” part of Illinois is. Lastly, like the run, this bird was difficult both trying to get in the tin and harder still was trying to properly ID the specific Waterthrush species. The difficulty of the 50K goes without saying.

Louisiana Waterthrush found at Shell Mound on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to learn more about this newly designated CMAR mascot.

Continue reading Newly Designated Mascot for CMAR

Turning Up the Heat

First off, a quick bit of housekeeping. I kind of left everyone hanging after the first part of the Foam Coffin prop for the Haunted Halloween Trail (link here). That has been remedied now with the publishing of the second part, which brings it all together for last year’s signature prop (link here). Feel free to check that out if you are a fellow Halloween aficionado or would like to know what I do when I’m not running or hauling The Beast around.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Today’s featured feathered friend comes to you from Sunday’s run. Well, maybe not technically, but the choice definitely originated over the course of that outing. Long distance running has to be one of the few athletic activities where it is in your best interest to keep your head “out” of the game. The last thing you want is to be mentally aware of every foot strike when you will be at it for hours and hours. My go to distraction is to plan out my next post. It didn’t take very long on that run to know this specimen was the perfect choice.

Oven Bird found at Dauphin Island's Shell Mound in April 2021

Not only was it a new bird for my checklist, it fit the theme of the day. For those not familiar with this intriguing looking bird, it is called an Ovenbird (note, admittedly, I always thought that was two words before doing the research for this post). Regarding the theme part, Sunday’s run was H-O-T. The cooler rain driven temps have left the area heeding to the unrelenting heat and humidity that dominates the Midwest in the heart of the summer. I was definitely feeling that heat on the later parts of my 50k simulation run (1/3 of the course). Whenever I made it to the bottoms of the deep valleys along the Illinois River bluffs it felt like I was in an oven.

Hit the jump to read more about our plump Warbler.

Continue reading Turning Up the Heat

Chairman of the Board

I now know what my hell would be like – plenty of downtime, but NO internet.  We just got back from UKC Premier held in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Basically Dog-A-Palooza as there were dogs competing everywhere you looked, prissy confirmation dogs in the midst of working dogs – dock diving, luring coursing, precision coursing, drag racing, weight pulling, nose work, obedience, rally and our specialty agility.  A lot going on, but huge gaps between Linda’s runs which I usually fill with posts… granted I have decent access.  What’s gives Kalamazoo, still relying on two cups and a string?  Instead, being in Michigan, decided to ponder who has the worst governor.  Both our governor and Michigan’s used pandemic as an excuse to destroy their economies (ours to get federal bailout for systemic fiscal failures, Gretchen tried to be VP).  Both felt they were above the lockdown protocols they forced on their constituents (after trying to lock us down, our governor sent his family to Florida and then Wisconsin, Gretchen went to Florida with her daughters).  Both are habitual liars except Gretchen can’t stop doubling down after being caught in lie after lie about her trip.  Ours is a tax evader and Gretchen is so vindictive she repeatedly goes after a barber even though their state judicial system clipped her.  Honestly, I can’t decide – looks like the only option is to head to the polls.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

Blackpoll Warblers that is! ILL-noise is way too far gone to fix the political corruption – there actually might be more Illinois governors now that have served time than those that managed to weasel their way out without being caught. Michigan, you are on your own up there. The good news is Warblers could care less about our politics. Assume they worry more about how to complete their migrations every year. The Blackpoll pictured here is one of those that put my distance running to shame. Imagine having to fly nonstop from the eastern coasts all the way to South American every fall. Interesting enough, Cornell noted that they take a less intense spring trek opting to pass through the Caribbean Islands before heading to Canada and Alaska.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

Hit the jump to read a bit more about our long distance flier.

Continue reading Chairman of the Board

Dauphin Island Greeter

The oven is on here in the middle of Iowa.  Over here celebrating the high school graduation of one of my many great nephews (-in-law this time).  Good food, good drinks, good greets, good times and good god a lot of sweat.  Have a hot trail run coming up in about four weeks, so the extra heat conditioning will definitely come in handy.  For the record, Linda still thinks I’m thoroughly Cuckoo for trying to redeem myself at the Cry Me a River 50K (link here).  Question is – would that be a Yellow-Billed or a Black-Billed!?!

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Getting real used to Linda’s eye-rolls at my bad jokes now that we are both retired and spending extra time together. I will get more than an eye roll if I go down in the heat again so I better keep on her good side. To answer the question in regards to today’s featured feathered friend, it is a Yellow-Billed variety. Not a new bird to the blog as it was already featured first back in 2015 (link here) and again in 2018 (link here). For a bird I saw for the first time only 6 years ago, I am surprised how often I’ve encountered it this year. Wondering if I’m just getting lucky on our expeditions or if there is an explosion of sorts in their population. This particular series comes to you from Dauphin Island – went ahead and processed these when I saw them while working up the Fish Crows in the last post.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots from our brief encounter.

Continue reading Dauphin Island Greeter

The Bob Dylan of the Crow World

Good news for my readers, I’m on the road again. Just a weekend jaunt this time, but good for a couple long drives to and from which means time to get a post or two out. A relief as things have been tight as of late with training and haunted trail builds. Coming at you with something fresh today – extremely fresh for those that know how things usually go at Intrigued! Mentioned it a few posts back, but we had the opportunity to head down to Dauphin Island, Alabama for our second expedition in April. Have to give Linda full credit for that destination decision. She had done some research and learned that Dauphin was a popular migration birding destination and mentioned it a few times as a possible destination. This option was met with a healthy dose of skepticism. I had never heard of the place and well, seemed strange as I consider myself a bit of a birder. Boy was I WRONG (that admission will forevermore be referenced I am sure ha). Dauphin Island is absolutely fantastic for those enamored by feathers and beaks. Beyond that – not exactly sure what else you would do there as access to the beaches/shores on that island is surprisingly limited. To put it into perspective, I went at least +23 for the trip and almost all of that was on the island itself. Due to well established birding rules between Ron and I, the counter cannot increment until they are featured on the blog. For the astute you can read that as at least 23 posts coming your way. I’ll elaborate more on this incredible island as we make our way through those new birds. Until then, definitely a place to Crow about!

Fish Crow found at Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Speaking of Crows — as the first post from the island, we are going to focus on this rather mundane looking black bird. As bland as it may look from the onset, it made me as happy as the most colorful Warbler down there the day Ron and I spotted it. If you’ve been just about anywhere in the US you’ve probably encountered an American Crow. Smaller than their Raven counterparts, the American Crow can still tower over many of our more common NA birds. Problem is they know it and are quite pushy if they mingle with other species.

Fish Crow found at Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hmmm, maybe this isn’t your standard Crow, hit the jump to find out.

Continue reading The Bob Dylan of the Crow World

Icky Trunks with White Stripes

I get to throw in a new bird from time to time here at Intrigued and on those rare occasions like with the last I go crazy and give you two birds back to back. I know, I know, a lot to take in when that happens ha. You may need to sit down for this in case it becomes too overwhelming – today we are featuring .. wait for it … wait for it.. grab on to something sturdy… the THIRD new bird in a row. Think my heart may have skipped a beat just typing that as I do not think that has ever happened in the 14 years of this here blog. What’s up with all the counter clicking as of late, one word “pressure”. My brother Ron is coming on strong with his counts. 40 new birds when he met us Texas the year before, 20+ new birds from our birding trip to southern Alabama last month and now I find out he just tinned a new one over the weekend. I claw and claw at the dirt, but I just keep losing ground. The only thing going for me is he has a blog (link here) and as a result, he doesn’t get official credit for the +1 until it is featured there – that’s the agreed upon rules (link here – see rule 6!). Taking advantage of his posting sabbatical, let’s officially turn my counter.

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker found at Blackwater River State Forest near Milton, Florida in April 2021

You may have noticed, that you are not actually looking at a bird (although you may have been fooled by my previous blurry finger painting shots of birds and thinking it is in there somewhere ha). You are correct in this case, that is a tree trunk – a longleaf pine tree trunk to be specific. This particular specimen happened to be located in the Blackwater River State Forest in the Florida panhandle near Pensacola. This one happens to have a large white stripe on it with an ID. Over the years we have learned this is a sign you are likely to find something like this higher on the trunk.

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker found at Blackwater River State Forest near Milton, Florida in April 2021

Not always this amount of discoloration, but typically a patch of icky goo with a suspicious hole in the middle. I purposely took this shot due to how surprisingly extensive it was. Linda and I have hunted down these holes for over 6 years now. Traveled to the swamps of Georgia, the luscious forest of North Carolina, braved the heat of Arkansas, twice to Conroe, Texas, risked the suspension of the RV on something they called a road in Louisiana and a number of places in between those while on a birding mission – Linda would refer to it more as an obsession.

Tomato tomauto – hit the jump to reveal the catalyst for our many adventures.

Continue reading Icky Trunks with White Stripes