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 Thanks to an amazing day today at Brazos Bend State Park, the 2023 stats are already out of date – my latest count is 170!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.
This being a short month, I’ve been watching the calendar closely so I do not blow my self-imposed monthly post quota. Even with that extra scrutiny, I still feel I’m lagging behind. It hasn’t helped that I’ve had a myriad of doctor appointments to take care of and a dentist appointment this week that ended up with multiple needles being shoved halfway up my nose (“Hey, is that grey matter I see on that railroad spike you call a needle!?!). One more doctor visit left this month and then I should be free for two months until I can get in to finally see my referral consultation – very much appreciate all the well wishes in the comments, especially Brad who offered me a pint of his blood (Cat family bonds run strong!). On a happier note, we had the chance to run up to Iowa today to play Santa Claus – unfortunately had to miss Linda’s family Christmas and then we spent the next month in Texas. We joked we wanted to wait until there was snow on the ground unlike the real date ha! While there, Linda drove me around to some birding hot spots. True to winter form, the Eagles were thick on the Mighty Mississippi. Quick count was at least 30 of those majestic birds were hunting the frigid waters down by I280. In tribute to that success, thought I would go with another sure bet when it comes to winter birding.
Today’s featured feathered friend is a winter bird only in the sense we have encountered them only in our winter excursions. You will not see this particular bird ANYWHERE near cold temperatures unless you count the bizarre cold snaps that have hit Texas the last couple of years. Their region maps consists of year round residency along the coasts of Central America and just barely into the southernmost tip of Texas.
Hit the jump to read more about this LOJ (warning space aliens may be watching)
Had to take Linda in for her eye appointment today and since they only allow the patient into the building these days, I’m stuck sitting in the truck. Becoming a common theme lately as we’re trying to get all of our health appointments out of the way so we do not have to worry about them if we decide to hit the road early next year. Since there is not a whole lot to do sitting in a truck on a cold rainy day, opted to bring along the ol’ laptop and recall some warmer times. Fortunately – or maybe that is unfortunately for you – there is still a staggering amount of images from Texas sitting in the blog queue. I came upon this one first so Pecker it is.
Our featured feathered friend comes to us primarily from the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. This state park is located in Mission Texas directly on the US-Mexico border. For my international followers, that puts you directly on the traditionally understood northern banks of the Rio Grande River. Note the word “traditionally” there. As the border between the two countries is defined by a meandering river, at any given spot you may find yourself looking at Mexico to the south, east west and not until my last trip down there did I realize that in some points you can actually look north to Mexico. At the time the latter happened to us, we were a little concerned that we had made a seriously wrong turn or the GPS thought it would be fun to play a trick on us. A quick check of the map set us at ease we were still on US soil. Put that little tidbit in our memory banks.
Hit the jump to catch a few more shots of our small Woodpecker.
It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the reduction in days in this month has a tendency to cause stress in my blogging activities. Those precious days between the 28th and say 30/31st is often my “get down to business” days. That’s when I take out my trusty TI60 calculator, punch in 6 for my self-imposed quota of posts per month (note, that includes post on the mothership Intrigued site, not just the wildlife blog), count up each of the posts made in the current month, hit the minus button and then insert the recently summed number of posts and hit equals button. After a burst of electrons through an array of ands/ors/nands/nors logic gates the liquid crystal is signaled to delivers the painful blow. Then the scramble begins to address the missing posts. Granted, this year, gives me an extra day this month.. but that has already been earmarked for birding (need to keep the hopper full for the 2025 posts hehehe). Linda enjoys teasing me while I am trying to stay focused on the posts – I shall let the Great-Tailed Grackle demonstrate the look I give her.
That pretty much sums it up! I will admit, this has absolutely zero impact on my wife’s behavior beyond extra volume to her laugh. Then she’ll start touching my stuff and moving it just enough to cause my OCD to fire – evil woman! The good news is I wasn’t far off this month and was able to close the gap pretty quickly – for the record this is the 6th so all is good. I might feel better, but this rather torqued looking creature is likely still holding a grudge against me. In fact, every time I come in contact with the Great-Tailed Grackle I get the feeling I wronged its ancestors in some way and it’s taken a lifelong blood oath to extract a compensating revenge. Is it just me or do others have this same experience with this disgruntled bird? – Ron you don’t count as all birds basically hate you.
Hit the jump if this Grackle hasn’t already scared you too much.
Just sitting here waiting around for Linda to get done with her cardio-rehab session. Hard to believe she only has one more session in her three month recovery plan. All is going well and I’m excited to say she has elected to give up all the stress and strain of the corporate world and finally enjoy life to the fullest in her retirement. Good heart, good feeling and a great husband what more can you hope for (okay, I snuck in that last one hehehe). The other good news I am thrilled to mention is we will once again be heading back to the Texas Gulf Coast for some fun in the sun – translated – BIRDING! Time to fill up the hoppers for the coming blogging year – who am I kidding, you probably won’t see those finds until at least 2 or 3 years from now. The best part is Ron will be joining us this time. Good for him, very bad for our bird list challenge as I made up some serious ground thanks to the treasure trove of birds down there. Competition aside, it is always fun to bird with him so definitely looking forward to it. Until then, I’ll continue to chip away at the last of the 2016/2017 haul. For instance, this adorable creature.
Hit the jump to read a bit more about this skinny Panda.
Here I sit wondering. was it having to load and then unload 20 bags of cement, or shoveling 30 5 gallon buckets of coal shale, or hand carrying said buckets some distance away, or moving a bunch of 4x8x3/4 treated plywood, or loading and unloading cement pavers, or having to haul 16 large tubs full of Halloween decorations back onto the tall shelving in my outbuilding, or complying with Linda’s demand to take out the trash that has resulted in destroying my lower back? Finally gave in to the nagging pain and had my chiro snap it back in place. Now just need to get the swelling down before another weekend’s worth of work stares me in the face. The good news is, right now, sitting doesn’t hurt as bad as standing which makes getting a post out one of the few things I can get done during the healing process. Oh, for the record – I am certain it was the trash duties that did this to me!
Took a gander at the photo queue and found a series featuring these beauties.
When it comes to Herons, the Great Blue holds command from a sheer size perspective, but when it comes to elegance, I think the Tricolored variety takes the cake…or maybe in this context, the fish. Something about the slate blue/grey interlaced with lavender and then contrasted with the white on the belly give this smaller Heron a regal look. An image that stands in contrast to the wet and muddy environments they tend to hang out in.
Well, I promised a fellow blogger over at the Cedar Journal (https://thecedarjournal.com/blog/), a steady stream of bird posts in recognition of finally getting out of the pressure cooker. Probably over promised, but contrary to the great philosopher Yoda, sometimes “Try, there is”. Linda and I are starting to plan out the winter vacation. It is no secret we have spent a number of previous years birding the Texas Gulf Coast and then along the Rio Grande River. There are a number of other birding places we are considering, but hard to pass up the opportunity to get the abundance of birds down there in the tin – and Ron hasn’t ventured down there yet so any new checks allows me to claw back ground on his bird count. All that planning got me thinking there are plenty of bird shots still to post from our previous Texas trips.
Took a quick look to see what was available in the queue and found this set back from the December 2016 trek. The Loggerhead Shrike is not a new bird to the list having been featured previously back in November 2016 (link here). The Loggerhead has decided the entire southern region is a sufficient kill zone year round with some forays into the central north during breeding season to spread their reign of terror on even more victims.
First off let’s all give Ron a big Happy Birthday! I have no idea why he is aging so fast while I, the baby of the family, remain frozen it time in my late 20’s. Quite amazing really and owe it all to the miracle of running. Ron on the other hand sports the 0.0 magnet on the back of his vehicle and can tell you all about the pterodactyls he used to photograph on his birding outings hehehehe. Let it be known one of the best things about being the baby of the family … you ALWAYS get to make fun of your older brothers on their birthdays without repercussions. I imagine Ron reading this post and looking like this…
Wait, this isn’t what Ron is looking like, rather EVERY bird he comes into contact when we are out birding together. It is well documented that birds typically hate him for some unknown reason. My theory is he is a CAT person. Natural born killers I say. Maybe I should put together a post of birds attacking him – I think you would get a kick out of it
Hit the jump to see a few more pictures of this real life angry bird.
Greetings all! It has been a bit sparse out of Intrigued as of late and for that my apologies. Unfortunately, the production is probably going to stay a bit light for the remainder of this month and then into early August due to most of my time being devoted to helping my wife through her medical situation. Looking forward to when this is all behind her – until then, my activities will take a backstage. If there is lemonade in this basket of lemons is there might be a significant amount of wait time involved with all her appointments at Mayo. Will have my trusty Surface to crank out what I can in those wait cycles – probably good for me to keep my mind busy on other things when she is away.
This being the first day of appointments and sure enough sitting in a waiting room waiting for Linda’s name to be called. How about we turn our attention to a rather colorfully hued member of the Dove family.
The White-Tipped Dove is not a new bird to the blog. This red-legged Dove was first featured back in February of this year (link here). If you recall, that post featured an encounter at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge back in January of 2017. Well, guess what, I had the pleasure of meeting likely another specimen of this species at the exact same location on our December 2017 trip. Now, that may seem like an odd coincidence, but in truth, you are not going to find them in too many other locations.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the White-Tipped Dove.
I can tell Christmas is almost here by the signs of growing stress while out and about. It all really starts on Black Friday … let me take that back, thanks to greedy merchants and blunt force trauma of Christmas advertising campaigns it really starts in mid-October. This premature blitz causes some serious angst with me as it is a clear war on my favorite holiday Halloween. Pretty sure the Kringle capitalists want to dispense with the orange and black and force a solid 3 month barrage of sleigh bells and, god forbid, horrible version after horrible version of Santa Baby. It may just be me, but by the time this traditionally festive time comes to a head I am worn out. Sure, I like to entertain myself by spending time at popular merchants observing frantic people desperate to fill the void under the tree or get that hot item that sold out … in October, but you have to feel a bit saddened to see the impact a once joy-centric event now has on society. Linda gives me a hard time about my tradition of going to the stores on Christmas Eve to experience this devolution – this is what psychology enthusiasts do for fun. I cannot speak for other countries and cultures, but if you happen to live in the US, take a look around and start assessing the happiness of those around you, especially on the road, in the parking lots and especially in the cashier lines – what percentage give the impression they are glad to be there? If they do look happy, they are probably psychology majors ha! Feel bad about the downer opening, but really just hoping you can take a breath and remember the holiday should really be about family, relaxation and well, blogging!
Finally worked up a long series for my other blog (ironically focused on Halloween), but before investing in that effort, thought I’d get another bird post out for my wildlife readers. Going with one of the big boys today.
The Reddish Egret is not the largest of the shorebirds, but still tower over the standard peeps and plovers whose shorter legs force them to forage closer to the shore. In fact, just the three toed foot of the Egrets are larger than some of those birds. Those other shorebirds don’t seem to be stressed by the size different, since I have never seen a Reddish, or for that matter any Egret, waste their time harassing the smaller birds – probably worried some stressed out piper trying to get a last minute Xmas gift will go medieval on them. Nope these Egrets are calm, cool and collected as they keep an eye out for an unfortunate frog (now, frogs do have a legitimate reason to be stressed).
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the two-toned Egret!