Got Crabs?

I have figured out how Linda and I can make some side money. The beauty of it is we literally do not have to do ANYTHING to earn it, simply stay home for a set period of time during the month of January. Before you get any wrong ideas…it is legal.. at least I think. I’ll let you in on the secret as this business is based on something that isn’t transferable or subject to hostile takeovers….at least I think. The working name for or LLC is “Cold Prevention Limited”. Premise, those enjoying the south will pay us to STAY home minimally the month of January. Last year we brought Texas an ice and snow storm that took them out for weeks. This year, we just fled San Antonio as they were bracing for 20mph winds, freezing temps and sleet. Trying to get below the frost line, we made it back to balmy South Padre Island. That would be a Midwest balmy 46 degrees with 25mph winds. Locals are bundled up like they have tickets to watch Woolly Mammoths juggle Penguins.

Ghost Crab found on a Dauphin Island beach in April 2021

All preventable, of course. Pay your Cold Prevention Limited Club fee (annual of course) and Linda and I agree to say in the broke state of IL during the winter months. Our bad karma stays out of your state and you get to enjoy the seasonably warm weather you have come to expect. Our toes will be cold, but we can snuggle in our blankets made out of hundred dollar bills. For today, need to get this post finished up before a horde of campers march on us with torches and pitchforks!

Hit the jump to find out more about this crusty creature above.

Continue reading Got Crabs?

Thrushed into the New Year

Happy New Year everyone! My apologies as it has been a while since my last post. Linda and I are in the midst of our annual trip down the Texas Gulf Coast and our days and nights have been extremely full due to traveling and birding at numerous places along the way. Thanks to less-than-ideal weather at the moment, thought I’d try to put it to good use and dig out the laptop. Speaking of weather, Ron and I got an introduction to “extreme birding” at Galveston Island last week. I am beginning to think Linda and I might have angered the weather gods at some point as it seems whenever we head south to escape the finger numbing temps at home, we end up dragging the cold weather down with us. A year ago we brought lower Texas record ice storms and snow (our apologies to the traumatized Sea Turtles). This year we once again brought a cold snap – not as frigid, but with the addition of 35-40mph winds it was downright ….uncomfortable (decided not to go with Linda’s description hehehe). We would step out of the RV and get sandblasted. Felt like a Texas face peel! Great care was taken to keep the blowing sand off of The Beast – using my body to shield and making sure to be upwind of target birds. I was thinking of the best way to describe the conditions and then it hit me … why not pull out the phone and capture it!

UPDATE: if that link is not rendering on your browser, you should be able to go directly to my Smugmug gallery with this link:

https://eddiesoft.smugmug.com/Wildlife/Wildlife-Vacations/Texas-January-2022/i-vV3tdtv/A

So, what would entice me enough to risk being blown into the gulf? The answer is the cut throat world of competitive sibling birding. Ron and I have decided to do an “Average Year” – our term for a big year for those of us without the time and/or finances to be considered in the “Big Year” (650+species) echelons – hell my lifetime species count just topped 300. To kick off our counts, we invited Ron to join us down here. This may be a competition, but no reason not to be civilized especially with Texas being such a mecca for birding – not to mention 6 eyes are better than 4 when out in the field. More to come on this topic for sure, however, it is time to get to the first featured feathered friend of the young year.

Hit the jump to learn more about our spotty specimen.

Continue reading Thrushed into the New Year

Robin Hood of Dauphin Island

Decided to play it safe today and take my miles on the hilly roads of Jubilee State Park. Getting lost TWICE in the same week would be too much for my ego to endure. Being very familiar with every pothole, tar blemish, dip, undulation, steep hill and deep valley in the park meant I could figuratively sit back and enjoy the run. Incredibly happy that my ’21 running goals were already checked off for the year – the 50K redemption check (link here), the 50M magnet proudly displayed on the back of the truck (that horror story is finally up on the mothership – link here) and blew past my 1200 miles threshold for the year at the end of November. Last year I had to pound out 50 mile weeks in late December to reach that goal ugh. If it gives you any indication of how much extra training it took for those ultras this year, I basically lost 7 weeks due to vacation and another 3-4 weeks due to injury and recovery and still hit the yearly goal a month ahead of plan – the pile of used of shoes is testament to the feat (see what I did there hehehe). Relied on either running friends or tunes to get through the normal every other day… every day a month out and two-a-days in the weeks leading up to the big runs. It is actually those running playlists that brings you today’s featured feathered friend.

Hooded Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Don’t think there is a running playlist on my phone that doesn’t have at least one Bryan Adams song on it (the rest can get quite aggressive). Talk about songs that have stood the test of time. If you can listen to songs like Summer of 69 or Cuts Like a Knife without singing along then you might be dead inside ha! I always have to glance around to make sure NOBODY is around so as not to embarrass myself ‘cuz I am not a singer and didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express. To my credit, I did marry an SAI member (opposites do attract). If you are still with the thread, this enjoyment from Adams led me to watch his Interview by Dan Rather last night. Absolutely despise Rather, but wanted to get an update on the Bryan with a ‘Y’. In that interview he talked about the I Do It For You song he wrote for the Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie. Not a fan of that song, but to his credit, try to go to a wedding without hearing that. He joked that the people who asked him to write a song for that movie hated it and doesn’t play until the credits start rolling at the end.

Hooded Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to finally get to my 8 degrees on this smartly colored bird!

Continue reading Robin Hood of Dauphin Island

Destressing in Nature – with a Sturdy Stick

Hello everyone! The busy commercial holiday season is upon us. End of the year tasks to finish up, decorations to finish, cards to stuff and stamp, gifts to acquire, hours of baking to prepare for family/friends gatherings all adding to a stressful end of the year. Thank god I do not have to worry about performance reviews anymore – well, beyond my wife’s daily assessment of my worthiness hehehe. My go to stress relief has always been physical exertion – younger years getting bruised up in the dojo, later years having the pavement hammer my knees and now, well, I seek the calming therapy of nature…and, of course, getting every ounce of energy consumed running the hills and valleys on the now very muddy trails.

Yellow-Throated Vireo found at Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

My friend Ryan and I added a new element to our trail run today – orienteering. That would be a fancy of way of saying we got our asses lost ha! I happen to pride myself on having a fairly decent internal GPS. As long as I can keep track of which direction I am heading at any given time and roughly the much easier measurement of distance Bri will make it back to the car. If all else fails, point the feet in the right compass point and walk straight – at some point something will look familiar or worse case a few cuts and scrapes later you’ll be back to the start. I can’t say I’ve ever gotten lost on the SECOND time at running a course before today. I also try to lay out my course to always turn one direction until I have to turn the other (a concept left over from my coding recursion days). The course we were replicating today was set up by another group we joined a couple of weeks back. Left, right, right, straight, right, left, left, straight then right and the mess continued until somehow they led us back to the parking lot.

Yellow-Throated Vireo found at Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to read more about the latest addition to the bird list!

Continue reading Destressing in Nature – with a Sturdy Stick

Why I Try to Spot the Y

Greetings everyone! I must say, this has been a great month for my bird count. At the end of October I was sitting at 290 which isn’t stellar by ANY means when it comes to the birding community, but something that has taken a decent amount of work to get to – note each of those had to be photographed at an identifiable level of quality. That number put me a mere 10 from a goal I set at the beginning of the year. For simplicity I spread that over the two remaining months making intermediate goals of 5 new additions to my count for each remaining month. I learned early in life to set a goal and then immediately focus on smaller accomplishments that get you to the end point. That strategy has served me well at work, home and my numerous hobbies. Want to get through an ultra-marathon race – NEVER think about the total amount of miles to the end – focus on getting through maybe 5 miles marks or hell, the next tree when the mental darkness starts to set in. The uplifting feeling of accomplishment on the little goals is what keeps you motivated to keep pushing. Well folks, I am happy to say with today’s featured feathered friend I’ve made it to November’s target.

Blue-Winged Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Today I am excited to bring you #295, the Blue-Winged Warbler. It should be no surprise by now, this cute little Warbler comes to you thanks to our trip to the Alabama Gulf Shores. We made our way down there back in April of this year. Like several of the recent posts, this addition to the life list was found at Dauphin Island. I would have been in a world of hurt if we had not caught the fallout down there as that visit really gave a steroid shot to my count. I have to give big kudos to Linda who planned our spring trip around this previously unknown birding location.

Blue-Winged Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to read a bit more about the “Y” bird.

Continue reading Why I Try to Spot the Y

A Chesty Trivecty

Before I get into today’s post, just wanted to mention I finally got my ’21 pumpkin carving project post out. I know some of you enjoy the Halloween related posts which I keep up on the mothership (link here). Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

I was able to get a cold weather run in a few days ago. The first one of the fall/winter season is always a jolt to my system and it didn’t help that this time there was sleet involved. A majority of my race season is in hot weather which the body, barring any extremes, is perfectly happy with. It’s the transition to the colder season that takes a bit getting used to. The temple requires a lot of replenishing oxygen especially on the trails and gulping air is the norm – taking cold air (especially with the sub-20sF, hell, sub zero) directly into the lungs can be a shock to the chest – I call it freeze-lungs.

Speaking of chests, you may have been wondering what was up with the post-a-palooza that recently occurred. We went up to Mayo for Linda’s annual checkup post heart surgery. This gave me some extra cycles in the waiting areas as she went through her battery of pokes, prods and the terrifying let’s see how close to death we can get her by turning off the pacemaker procedure – that one makes me cringe and I’m not even the one going through it. In the end, we received really good news, after two years, everything is working perfectly (when they are not purposely shutting things down) and her heart specialist is good with her getting into a new study involving a more natural blood thinner. Linda actually selected her valve type because of this feature, but she had some complications during the surgery that warranted the extra validation time. All great news!

How about we go ahead and make it a chesty trivecty with today’s featured feathered friend.

Chestnut-Sided Warbler found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

How is that for a beautiful bird (keeping my promise to CJ). There are a lot of Warblers to choose from, but this color burst of a bird is definitely in my top 3 and top 10 across all the birds currently checked off my list. Maybe it’s the dainty size, possibly the brilliant white feathering that makes their strategic coloring pop or the whole package, but this species brings a smile to my face every time I encounter it in the field.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this distinctly colored Warbler.

Continue reading A Chesty Trivecty

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

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