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!
Continue reading Somewhat Red for Xmas
Well, I had my annual wellness exam with my doctor today. Another year with “impeccable” (doctor’s word, not mine) health stats. A constant diet of running and lifting may take its toll on your time over the year, but it definitely pays off in the numbers. My employer also provides me annual comprehensive lab screenings so I knew the numbers going into today. Ironically, I came out of the office with a hole in my arm and an hour or two later I wasn’t able to lift my arm above my waist. Extremely healthy going in…damaged coming out thanks to my doctor convincing me I should get a tetanus shot with all the trail running. Probably a good plan – I do shed my fair share of blood during the course of the year with the Halloween props, work on the lot and ideas that do not go as planned – but damn this hurts. Making the most out of my gimpy fin, figure it never hurts to stay on top of the blog quota.
Keeping with the theme from the last post, tonight’s offering focuses on a bird that has previously debuted on the blog while trying to get as many Texas birds added prior to the Audubon speech (link here). Like the Woodpecker, it was also found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (along the Rio Grande River) while on a birding trip to South Texas at the beginning of the year. Similar to the situation with the last post, the previous series was taken in rather harsh light.
Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this Central America bird.
Continue reading Another Trya for the Altamira
Greetings everyone. We recently made our way back from a week in Las Vegas which means the sleep counter for the month of November took a serious decrement. Not complaining, of course, seeing as how that was pretty much self-inflicted. From a birder’s perspective, Vegas is up there in the top 10 birding places we’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. Actually, should clarify that a bit, the birding is primarily a combination of the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve and the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area inside the Mojave Desert. We opted to rent some glass out there this time rather than hauling out the Beast. I wanted the prime Nikon 600 f/4 but the VR ended up being broken on that option, so settled for the 150-600 f5-6.3 Tamron. I am here to say, Tamaron glass is NOT Nikon glass. Still need to go through the images, but it was a fight the entire time. That glass is way to light to hand hold in the wind and extremely slow to focus compared to my rig making it impossible to nail any in-flight shots. Did manage to get at least one +1 and possibly a couple more. More to come on that front. For now, was totally shocked when I came upon this set of pictures in the queue.
This is not the first time the Greater Roadrunner has appeared here at Intrigued, first appearing way back in May of 2013 (link here). That first encounter was at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve and took some effort to find. It also didn’t allow us to get too close it. Now this specimen was the Walmart greeter for Laguna Atascosa.National Wildlife Refuge. We were navigating the absolutely awful road (if you can call it that) that leads into that refuge when our little feathered friend popped out of the brushline.
Hit the jump to read more about my favorite runner.
Continue reading Totem Spirit
Greeting from the Winter Wonderland everyone. Was able to get a good 7 mile run in this morning as the sleet was turning to snow. As soon as I made it back to the house, it was pretty much a light snow that has managed to hang on for the last 9 hours… and by hanging on I mean stay light because now is it’s coming down hard for what they are expecting to be another 9 hours. I can’t remember the last time we had two good snows with a little less than a week before Thanksgiving. Also do not remember having to bundle up as much on my runs this early in November (couple of runs ago it was windchill of 13 – F for my international friends). In an attempt to bring a bit of warmth to my office, let’s head back to Texas and check out my latest addition to the ol’ bird list.
Hit the jump to find out what bird this is … apologies for the remaining shots.
Continue reading White-Eyed Vireo
Hello Everyone! There are times that you think you are never going to get through and then somehow everything comes together and then start believing you have everything under control… then life throws you a curveball and you are back to trying to get wood on a difficult pitch. That is how it has been here at LifeIntrigued over the last several months. The hectic agenda was finally smoothed only to have a loss in the family. With a heavy heart we laid my wife’s mother to rest today in a nice ceremony in her hometown. We will miss her, but she is in a better place now, free from the burdens that weighed her down in her later years.
In Memory, Dorothy Barton
(12/3/1927 – 11/5/2018)
It has been said the best way to move on from a bump in the road is to simply continue driving forward. Seems like sound advice to me, so in an attempt to move forward, thought I’d go ahead and put a post out on one of my favorite topics. On this rather dark day, I bring you one of the brightest birds the aviary world has to offer.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this stunning Jay!
Continue reading A Jay for a Long Day
Sorry, been awhile since getting some material out on the wild side of LifeIntrigued. To my defense, I did put up a number of running recollection posts on my main blog this month. Decided it was time to dust the cobwebs here. Tonight, we feature another catch while on our Texas Gulf Coast Birding Trip back in December 2017 – on the 30th to be exact so just a few days from the current year. This makes this an extremely fresh post based on my normal wildlife recollections. Recently I was offered the opportunity to speak at our local camera club. Their president saw my speech to the local Audubon Society and thought the camera club would enjoy it as well – although likely without the crickets. This has added to the overall whirlwind of activities that has been consuming me over the last two months (if you have been reading my posts, you are well aware of how I’ve been struggling to get posts out). With Saturday’s completion of the season’s last scheduled half marathon trail run (yeah) this speech is the final task on my to-do list ahead of my favorite day … Halloween. This post allows me to pad my bird count by an extra tick before then – yep, this is another new bird!
Hit the jump to find out what this mystery species is!
Continue reading A Thrashing Surprise
Not to labor this point too much, but if you read my last post on the Hooded Merganser, you should be keenly aware of how cold it is here in St. Louis. My hopes of it getting warmer today were quickly dashed when I opened the door of the RV only to be blown nearly all the way to the arena where Raven is running agility. A quick check of the phone reveals it is 31 with a windchill of .. wait for it … feels like 20. WTH, last year at this even I was wearing shorts and wandering around comfortably looking for whatever feathered creatures Purina Farms had to offer. This year I am bundled up like the little kid from A Christmas Story. To top it off, after fighting the winds to get to the arena, Raven decided that the agility course was improperly arranged and chose to remedy the situation mid run – when the course is setup the way he wants it, Linda and Raven rock. When it isn’t then to quote a famous movie “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. Some [poodles] you just can’t reach. So you get what we had here [this morning] which is the way he wants it” No worries, Raven has more runs to work things out – more importantly, I am spending the huge gaps between runs on a quest for a birding check tri-fecta. If the wireless stays up, Mr. White below will give me just that.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots.
Continue reading Uhhh What?
Just got back from a photography seminar by Ian Plant (link here). For the last three years, Linda and I have been going to the Peoria Camera Club featured photography speakers. The first two had speakers we were very familiar with, however, Ian was new to us and we did not know what to expect. There was some hesitation this year due to the fact that the $75/person fee is a pretty steep if you are unsure if you are going to get any takeaways for the investment. We checked out his site and his work was very interesting – he also ranged from landscape to wildlife which covered both our interests. Being that it was our little thing we do together, we took a chance. We definitely didn’t expect the 9+ inches of snow accumulation that started late last night and has continued throughout the day. This kept a lot of planned attendees home – living in the country we are accustomed to the slippery driving conditions and made it there without incident (can’t say the same for all the trucks and cars we passed in the ditches on our way there). Turned out we had a great time and have new ideas to try out next time we are in the field. Also had a chance to mingle with some of the Peoria Camera Club members which was fun as well.
Having been inspired by Ian today, thought I’d go ahead and put out another post.
Nope, that isn’t a bird for a change! Based on the multitude of hate mail sacks that hit our front door, it was apparent that you wanted a break from the birds. After a quick look through my queue, I found this prehistoric throwback and thought it would fit the bill. Granted, I did come upon this slow moving creature in the midst of birding Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge on our Texas birding trip back in January 2017. This would have been our first visit to the Sticky Mud Lagoon (in case you were wondering what Atascosa means), quickly making its way into my top 10 birding locations. Just be sure and keep a close eye on the road into that place or plan a visit to your favorite tire alignment technician. Actually, let’s call it a giant pothole that leads into the park that happens to have some high gravel parts in it.
Hit the jump to read more about this featured creature!
Continue reading A Slower Life
Tonight has been quite the event. Headed out to Menards to get a number of 2x4s and other materials for a new project for the garage. Sparing you the details, but thanks to an ill advised decision by the managers there, but I’ll be getting my lumber from other merchants going forward. I only mention that to set the mood as I was already perturbed before a White-Tailed Buck opted for a game of Chicken on the way back home. Barely avoided that before hearing a loud crash at the rear of the truck. Those of us in big Deer populated areas know all too well, that you need to always be aware of the companions that cross behind. Looked through my rear view mirror and groaned – couldn’t see the lumber anymore. Pulled to the side and braced myself for disappointment and went back to check the damage. Turns out hard braking to avoid the Buck caused the tailgate to give way – that was the crash, not another Deer. Wood was still there, just below my view line in the bed. Now doubly perturbed, had to slam on the breaks for a second time thanks to a stupid black Cat playing Frogger across my driveway. Some days it is just better to stay in bed! Decided the best way to beat the stress was to post on a more uplifting experience. With that I bring you another new check in my birding list.
How cool is that! Wait, you can’t see that? Well, don’t feel too bad, I definitely didn’t see it at first either. Backing up a bit, I was taking pictures of the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker that was featured several posts back (link here). A refuge volunteer came up and asked me what I was taking pictures of. If you recall that post you’ll understand my response was to point to the sign being used to brace the camera. He then responded with “Do you want to see a Parrot playing croquet?” Now I ask you, who doesn’t want to see a Parrot playing croquet? Correct, no one. Responding with “sure”, I let him pass to lead the way. Linda (who had arrived at the same time as the volunteer) allowed our tour guide to get a small lead on us before asking me if I even knew what that was. She corrected suspected my response would be “Nope”. Figured it would be a Parrot with a large mallet.
Can you see it now?
No worries, I was having an equally hard time.
Hit the jump to find out what’s lurking in the brush.
Continue reading Paying It Forward
I have trained myself to look for the loner when it comes to water and shorebirds. Experience tells me those are the ones that end up being the most intriguing. In the birding world, it is the intriguing ones that get you excited because those are the ones that end up making the latest checkmark in your life list. Contrast that with staring at a cover of Coots – if you do not have a Coot you are in luck, already been to any body of water near me, then you typically utter “more damn Coots” and move on. Although not as diligent on tera-firma, I do try to keep an eye out for those brief encounters.
A few posts ago, I featured the White-Winged Dove (link here). That encounter at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is the location for today’s post. Most of those shots were captured from within their bird blind just out from the visitor center. While getting that +1 in the tin, another creature came darting out from the ground cover, made an aggressive move toward my subject and then raced back into the shadows.
Hit the jump to read more about this elusive bird.
Continue reading A Stealthy Imposter