Another post from the great north with some good news to share. Linda has now made it through her four surgeries and has been officially discharged from the hospital. “Hip Hip Hooray!” I’ve been through a number of “situations” over the years (unfortunately, many of them self-induced). Some of those bumps in the road took just about every ounce of fortitude I had to get through. Even with all that, I have to bow to the resolve Linda has shown over the last 4 weeks – three of which has been spent up here in Viking territory. Weeks of being poked, prodded, sliced, sawed, cracked, studied, sampled, wired, tested, extracted, stitched, scanned, radiated, incubated, anesthetized, sponged, pressurized, cauterized, medicated, IV’d and worst of all bombarded by some of the worst TV shows imaginable (think marathons of Yes to the Dress, Millionaire Listings and in the I’d rather beat my head with a hammer than watch category, Below Deck private yacht cruises). I can’t even find the words to convey how proud I am of her up with all that and staying positive even though she has many more months of recovery ahead of her.
On a personal front, just glad I do not have to write up the latest +1 to my birding list from a truly uncomfortable folding hospital chair!
Many of the plus ones as of late (well, to be honest, most of the posts this year) have come from birding trips to fiscally more responsible states than Illinois. In a change of pace, today’s featured feathered friend comes courtesy of a trip up to Starved Rock State Park which is a relatively short drive away. Ron and I had the opportunity to do some birding together back in May 2015. Not exactly the best weather as we were drenched by morning showers and it didn’t really lighten up much the rest of the day. Any shots deep under the tree canopy required dizzying levels of ISO and significant time in the digital darkroom. We still managed to have a lot of fun as is always the case when out with Ron in the field – even managed to get a few new feathered specimens in the tin. The Northern Rough-Winged Swallow you see before you is one of those new additions.
Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about our uniquely textured Swallow.
Coming to you once again from the land to the North. Things seem to be progressing overall up here at Mayo, however, there are those points where frustration starts to step in. Linda has now made her way through three different surgeries in under a week and now preparing for the fourth and hopefully final one. Her valve replacement appears successful, but the heart rhythm hasn’t returned to a proper level requiring a permanent pacemaker to be put in. At this point, we are just waiting around to find out when that is going to happen. Comforting to know she is being cared for by some of the best there is.
Thought I would get started with a new post until news came through on the schedule.
If you recall from the previous post, I had dragged out the soapbox and was venting some displeasure on some of the bird names out there. Specifically bird names based on features that are difficult to tell with one in your hands much less trying to discern the characteristic out in the field. My blogger friend CJ noted the Latin naming takes some of that out of the equation, but Aythya collaris just doesn’t roll off the tongue like Ring-Necked Duck and it gives my Latin education brother Ron a definite advantage (not to mentioned it is impossible to see the “collaris”… sorry). While looking through the post queue, noticed this series.
Hit the jump to see some of my favorite pics of this coastal bird.
A sad day here at Intrigued. We had to say goodbye to one of our beloved toy Poodles. Osiris (Rizzi) lived a good long life, became a well decorated Agility Champion on Linda’s guidance and brought us tremendous joy over the years. Linda, his brothers and I truly miss him.
The stressometer is peaking again which means it is a good time to relax and get the mind focused on something else for a bit – translated, it is an absolutely great time to get another post out. Today’s featured feathered friend has what I’ve always considered an improper name.
Hit the jump to read about more about this badly named Duck.
Greetings from the northern state of Minnesota. Should not be a surprise by now, but we are up at Mayo getting Linda’s heart a slight rebuild to take care of a birth defect. I am going to spare you the details, but the good news is the new valve is officially in and functioning. There have been some unexpected events and side effects that the doctors are currently working to resolve. Hoping Linda will be back on her feet soon and checking the Iron Man off her bucket list… okay, that last part might not be true, she leaves the running to me. Her attitude is good and I know the thought of being able to run her dogs in agility again is keeping her drive up. To help pass the time and give a bit of relief on the stressometer, thought I’d go ahead and see if I could get a post out. Let me introduce you to my little friend.
Pretty stoic looking if you ask me. This somewhat overall dullish looking bird with the yellow butt happens to be a Warbler. Now Warblers are known for being pretty flamboyant especially in the Spring or breeding plumage. It just happens this particular Warbler is one of the more ornate ones out there. Imagine that yellow coloring on the under feather washing through the belly and shooting highlights to the back of the head where the white highlights are shown on this specimen. Now add to that a bright rusty colored cap and you have yourself one “purdy” bird. The truth is I have shots of this bird in its breeding plumage thanks to a trip to Montrose with my brother Ron. We are still trying to get those pictures properly ID’d so I can start posting those … and racking up the +1’s. Hey Ron, let’s get that done, my peeps are waiting!
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this colorful Warbler disguised for the off-season.
We have now entered phase 2 of Linda’s transformation to the bionic woman. Thanks to her coming down with a cold the first day of being up in Mayo on phase 1 two weeks ago, the heart surgery had to be pushed a week. Something about having your chest opened up and having coughing fits seems to be a bad thing. Once again, we are up in Rochester, but this time the poking and prodding is past and now it’s time to finally get this taken care of. I know Linda is looking forward to getting this over with so she can get back to running our dogs in agility. To help cope with the significant amount of downtime involved with this week, most of the spare time since returning home the first time was spent prepping and uploaded images from the image queue – might as well be productive as my body defenses are put to the task fending off whatever still unnamed contagions that will be bombarding me in the community waiting rooms.
Kicking off the Minnesota blogging series is a new bird for the birding list!
Full disclosure, the true significance of this find was not truly appreciated while out in the field. In fact, it may have been overlooked if it wasn’t for the blitz of activity int the digital darkroom this week. A few hours before getting to this little specimen I worked on a set of Marsh Wren shots found during one of our trips to the Texas Gulf Coast. That Marsh was the second encounter I have had with that species – the first was featured back in October 2017 from a previous visit to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. Ironically a really nice refuge ~2 hrs from where we are right now!
Hit the jump to read more about this cute Wren!
If there was one thing that went well this month it was my ability to make my blogging quota for the month. To my own amazement with all the events and issues we have had to deal with this month I was able to not only get the self-imposed minimum of 6 posts out, but opted to go ahead and get this bonus entry out of the way. Out of the way in this context means never to be spoken of again! Like most people, I’ve had my fill of misfortunes and failures. Some of those were due to my own making, others due to the actions of others and there are those things we can chalk up to things out of our control – like say, I don’t know, maybe the weather. A pretty deep seeded fault of mine is not doing well with failure regardless of the circumstances, but especially if it is my fault which brings us to today’s “never to be mentioned again” race recap bonus.
Last year I signed up for my first 50K race ever. I had fallen in love with trail running for its welcome departure from the body pounding pavement along with the challenge of taking on difficult terrain. Having totally exhausted myself running the half marathon at the Cry Me a River event (link here), figured it was only natural to more than double the distance and do it all again. Linda wasn’t too happy about that decision knowing of my difficulties after my full marathon a few years earlier. No worries, a year to train I should be fine. Unfortunately, I was not expecting the tremendous amount of rain we had this spring that limited my time on the trails and more importantly cost me valuable heat conditioning. Who would have thought we would have been enjoying mostly perfect running weather up through May. Come the day of the race, the weather gods decided we had enough of being spoiled and put the burners on high.
Hit the jump if you really want to know how this all played out – the title should limit your expectations.
More waiting time, might as well find a comfy place to sit it out and give the fingers a bit of exercise. Things are progressing well at Mayo. Linda has finished 4 of her 5 appointments today and now just waiting for a meet with the cardiologist. I cannot say enough about how efficient Mayo Clinic is. I realize they have had a lot of practice moving people through, but I could say the same for many other organizations that are nowhere close to the honed processes I am witnessing here. Check out the plan for the day on the Mayo app, arrive, check-in, execute medical task and you are on your way. Now the downside is from a social perspective, this area can be a definite downer. Being at the tops of the medical field brings with it a higher concentration of the serious ailments humans must endure. You look around and your heart feels for the hardships many of these patients must deal with on a daily basis. If there is any calming, it is knowing they are at least in the best place possible to get some relief.
Last post, I featured the golden-eyed one (the White-Tipped Dove). Definitely a stunning feature should you be lucky enough to catch a specimen in enough light to show it off. While looking at my processed queue found another eye stunner.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of Mr. Redeye.
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.
Well, today is officially my one week anniversary of pulling myself away from the big bright light. Beyond the staples in the head becoming quite annoying – not to mention an apparent great conversation starter since going back into the office last Wednesday. Kind of hard to hide and eventually someone starts getting quizzical when you are deliberately trying to keep them to the front of you. Also didn’t help that my supposedly lovely wife is a Facebook junkie – had to threaten her with retaliatory hospital photos from her upcoming surgery if she followed through on her threat to post images from the emergency room! Will post more detail on the mothership blog soon, but for now things are progressing slowly. Did a quick 2 miler on Tuesday, a 4 miler on Thursday and put 6 miles in this morning’s heat. Definitely a long road back to where I was, but as they say in a runner’s world, it’s simply putting one foot in front of the other.
With the hoopla and stress leading up to the race, I didn’t get a chance to really enjoy the 4th of July celebration. Looking through my blog fodder queue, decided today we would feature an All-American bird in honor of our independence.
…and by All-American, I simply mean a bird that happens to have “American” right in its name. In the off chance you happen to be unfamiliar with our long billed friend, that is an American Avocet. Fortunately for my brother Ron, this is not a new bird for my checklist. Linda and I saw our first one back in 2013 on a trip to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve while visiting Nevada. To simply embarrass myself, it didn’t make it on the blog and thus not an official check until December 2017 (link here). Think this may be the first time I’ve been able to get a shot of one of them flying – okay bird counters, take a quick glance and guess how many you estimate in this shot – note, this is a practice test for later in the post.
Hit the jump to see A LOT more of these birds!
Well, yesterday was the planned 50K date. I thought things were starting to fall into place – the ankle was healed up enough to bear the dangerous footings on the hilly trails, the rains had subsided enough to let the trails dry up a bit leading to high confidence at the start. I will post the details on my other blog in due time, but I foretold victory or tail between my legs on a previous post. Unfortunately, the day ended prematurely with my tail between my legs along with 4 staples in my head. Mother Nature opted to replace the expected overcast and temps in the 80’s with an overbearing sun and heat index at 100. Fought through 14 miles and decided to rest a bit at a water station. Apparently should have kept going as my body revolted – stood up thinking I might get sick only to gain consciousness with people standing over me with blood covered hands – not a vision I’ll forget anytime soon. Long story short, had a stressful ambulance ride to the ER. Took in 5 IV bags and a set of staples from a large gash in the back of my head having hit a wooden railing following by the sharp edge of a box fan on the way down (so they tell me). Pleaded with the doctors to allow me to go back and finish, but they had my wife on their side. Total failure and my first DNF in 17 years of running. Looks like another solid year of training, but I’ll be back for some unfinished business.
Enough of that embarrassment, let’s get to something much more entertaining.
Today, I’m bringing you the same Raptor species from two different locations along the Texas Gulf Coast back in January 2017. The Northern Harrier is one of my favorite Raptors for a couple of reasons. The first is they are just plain cool to watch while they are scanning the fields and marshes for prey. Deadly aerial skills that allow them turn on a dime or virtually hang in the air leveraging wind dynamics to determine the best angle to pounce.
Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this deadly predator.