The Wigs

Welcome to December everyone!  That moment in time when you look at the calendar and realize there are no more pages on it – that’s it, nada, kaput, this year be gone.  All those plans, all those goals and all those to-do’s still stuck with magnets to the refrigerator door.  It is a bit depressing if you dwell on the lost side of the equation and forget about the wins over the last eleven months.  It was nice to get my official bird count pushed up to 254 and I know there are at least 15 to 20 still in the queue that I still need to get to (recall that I don’t take the +1 until it has debuted here at Intrigued).  I also managed to get Ron a big check in his list earlier in the week – I know he is excited to tell everyone about that so I’ll give him the privilege of posting on that.  Until then going with a bird that was originally featured here back in May of 2015 (link here).

American Wigeon found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

Definitely able to improve on the shots this time – those previous ones from the outing at Chain O’ Lakes with Ron were well…. let’s go with craptastic.  It is always a bit painful when I link back to my old work.  The plus side is I can definitely see the progression behind the glass over the nearly 13 years I’ve been doing this whole blog thing.  Don’t get me wrong, nowhere near where I would like to be, especially compared to all the great shots I see my friends and fellow bloggers putting up.  At least I try to be conscious of the foreground reeds now ha!  So, this is the American Wigeon.  Definitely prettier than the Turkey Vulture I had to hit you with for the Thanksgiving post.

American Wigeon found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this criminal.. I mean cute bird.

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Moonlight Miles 2019

Ever since the Crying fiasco (link here), I had been clawing my way back to running health.  Slowly trying to once again win back confidence from my internal heat controller which was now totally spooked since my first little training “mishap” back in 2014 (link here).  It took me several years to get my body over that heat related incident and now I was trying to do it again in less than 4 months.  The Bix 7 test (link here) proved conditioning was back for short runs (7 miles).  Being ready for a 30 miler back in July meant there was not a lot of stress to get through with the shorter miles – my training runs since getting back on my feet were rarely under 6 miles so extending it a bit more wasn’t that much of a stretch goal.  Now the IVS run was a better test and that turned out well (link here).  The final validation run before the big one was the Moonlight Miles race at the historic Oak Ridge Cemetery in my hometown of Springfield IL.

Moonlight Miles Half 2019 at Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield IL

I have a history with this particular race and it isn’t a good one on the health front.  With the exception of last year, I think I have managed to leave my guts at the finish line (link here) .. and one year at every exit between Springfield and Peoria.(link here).  Don’t read that wrong, last year I might have kept everything down, but there were some brief moments of concern that I fought through (link here).   If there were serious residuals from  the overheat at the Cry or any gaps in the armor from under-training, it would rear its ugly head in this race for sure.  This is the starting picture of someone concerned as to how this was going to play out over the next couple of hours. The good news is they heeded my warnings last year and go rid of those damn ankle timing devices.  I bitched here how it had managed to cut my ankle up last year – this year they\ finally dispensed with that archaic device and went with the sensors on the bib – hmmm, maybe they read my blog ha!

Moonlight Miles Half 2019 at Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield IL

Hit the jump to find out how the race went!

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A Broken Tradition

Each year around this time, I check the image queue for the traditional Thanksgiving Day post.  Admittedly, I was a bit shocked when the queue was devoid of Wild Turkeys – a jestful reference in tribute to all the Turkeys that show up on many of our kitchen tables today.  Of course, those are mere hybrids of the wild version having been “engineered” to maximize the meat at the cost of  making them completely useless from a bird perspective.  Their wild versions are not the most adept in the flight category, but at least they can get off the ground and make it to a nearby tree if so desired – domestic Turkeys are chained to the couch with remotes in hand .  Alas, the tradition has been broken.  I will  have to put the Wild Turkey on the top of the 2020 hunt list (right below the elusive Snow Bunting), so this doesn’t happen again.  While I am at it, might even help Ron get a decent shot in the tin as his luck with these game birds ranges somewhere between “it’s in there somewhere” and “damn, them Turks have Cheetah speed to cause a blur like that”.

All hope is not lost, I did find a substitute.

Turkey Vulture, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas Gulf Coast, December 2016

Definitely not one that poses any threat of ending up on our dinner tables, but it at least has “Turkey” in the name.  The Turkey Vulture is not new to Intrigued, having debuted all the way back in 2014 (link here) and popped up several time since then (link here).  Unlike true Turkeys, these rather ugly looking creatures can fly … well at least soar with the best of them.  No hopping from tree to tree, these strong winged Vultures will ride the thermals to dizzying heights, making it look effortless as they slowly circle the grounds below looking for victims of predators, age, illness and the most wasteful of all… humans in their deadly deuces and curly-wurlies.

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this substitute bird.

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Fresh Hairy

Well, we just made our way back up to Minnesota for Linda’s three month Mayo follow up on her heart surgery.  Just need to make sure her upgrades are working as intended.  Unfortunately, looks like we will need to blow out of here as soon as possible as this place is planning to get 5-10 inches of the fluffy stuff  mixed with strong winds – starting just an hour or so after her last appointment.  Being Midwest natives, snow generally doesn’t get us too anxious – it’s the people that are not used to bad condition driving that breeds the concern.  On our way up we came upon an ominous scene as they were loading a body into the coroner’s vehicle on the side of the road.  According to the local Davenport news, the driver lost control exiting the highway – and that was on dry pavement.  No need to get too worried about things in the future – live in the now I say – and by now I mean showing off my latest +1 on the ol’ bird list.

Hairy Woodpecker found on lot in Brimfield 11/15/201

If you spend any time at all at Intrigued you are fully aware that although I may live in the now in the real world, I actually live years in the past in the cyber world.  Not sure exactly when I lost control of my photography queue, but it is a constant reminder that pressing the little shutter button on the camera is the easy part.  Getting captures moved to long term storage, flipping through the haul to figure out which ones are actually worthy of touching up, toiling away in the digital darkroom, getting the images uploaded and then ….well, then the most fulfilling part, adding words and showing them off to the world.  (Note, Ron used to make fun of me for being so far behind .. until he starting wildlife blogging and is now in the exact same boat hehehe).  Then there are times like today’s featured bird that are fresh out of the tin from an encounter a mere 10 days ago.  Yes, that was days and not years.

Hairy Woodpecker found on lot in Brimfield 11/15/201

Hit the jump to learn more about this surprise encounter.

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IVS for the Test

Sitting here in the waiting area for Linda’s cardio rehab class watching recovering heart patients being put through the paces makes you feel thankful for your health.  I also have the opportunity to witness Linda getting better every week, a long way from a few months ago when I was terrified she would not be able to use the right side of her body.  Thank god we live in a country with access to the best healthcare in the world.  Pretty soon she will be crossing the finish line ahead of me so I better make the most of it when I have the chance.  One thing I did learn about myself through all this is I’d rather be on the road straining the tendons and sweating a tsunami than sitting here watching others work out.  At least I can recollect while I wait.

IVS Half Marathon Springdale Cemetery Peoria IL

If you read my previous post, you know I was able to brush off the dirt from the Cry Me fiasco (link here) and get the legs moving again.  That was a crucial test to determine just how far I had fallen (metaphorically this time).  Although a slight mid-race recovery was needed, the body held strong and the damage might be less than feared.  Naturally, I came home that weekend and immediately signed up for another attempt at the 50K – this time in the cooler temps of October.  That left a little over 2 months to address some lingering issues (hip was apparently damaged more than initially thought due to the fall and there were some nagging pains in other places) and rebuild the stamina lost due to the reduced training miles (damn meddling doctors ha).  The first good test would be the half marathon at the Springdale Cemetery in early September.   That hilly course would be a good litmus for the chance I had at the 50k.

Hit the jump to see if this race ended up being a confidence builder or not.

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For the Medal of Course

Howdy folks.  It has been a while since I’ve posted a race recap.  In fact, somehow I’ve managed to get FOUR races behind thanks to a late Fall surge that included a major check in my life list.  I will keep with tradition and do the recaps in chronological order… but trust me, I really really really want to get to that big one (hint, redemption).  So, first up is the race that is closest to my heart.

Bix 7 2019

Yep, it was another running of the Bix 7 in Davenport, IA.  Your chance to run with the best which for those not familiar with running lingo means you get to stand at the starting line with elite runners from around the globe – many of which have excelled during the Olympics, won signature races like the Boston or New York Marathon or likely go on to dominate the upcoming racing circuit.  These specially invited participants come from across the States, Ethiopia, Africa and other runner hotspots (who now pretty much live and train in the US) in hopes of winning a car – although they always take the money equivalent).  Here is a picture of three of them!

Bix 7 2019

Hit the jump to read a few details about this incredible racing event.

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If You Willet They Will Come

Sky dandruff is once again falling on us.  At least this time we are in November which makes it a bit more bearable, however, my body is not pleased that Fall was essentially skipped this year.  Sure, the pretty colors are a nice benefit for those lucky enough to experience seasons, but there is one primary purpose for Fall – to gradually get the lungs and more isolated appendages accustomed to cold weather running.  That’s it, just one reason – well, maybe to also force birds to come through my region on their way back home – but that’s it!  Admittedly, my sample set is pretty small as the list of friends that enjoy running is thin enough and those willing to continue training through Midwest winters whittles that down to a mere handful.  To a person, there is nothing worse than running one weekend in the high 60’s and then heading out two days later in low 20’s.  You can bundle up all you want, but as soon as that cold air hits your unaccustomed lungs you will be thinking about your next trip to Texas!

Willet found at Bolivar Peninsula, Texas Gulf Coast January 2017

Which was exactly what I was doing last week.  Dead of night, headlight on, pounding pavement alone in a nearby park, sucking in daggers of cold air all while wondering what my 0.0 friends might think of this obsession.  That answer didn’t take long to come up with leaving me many miles to think about my next post.  At some point my fingers and toes started going numb – again, thanks to NO FALL they hadn’t toughened up.  Told myself I was going to have to use willpower to get me through the hilly back half.  Quickly began thinking of warm thoughts of Texas.  Willpower, Texas, willpower, Texas, willpower, Texas, damn did my pinkie just fall off!?!, willpower Texas, willpower Texas – hey, I GOT IT!

Willet found at Bolivar Peninsula, Texas Gulf Coast January 2017

Hill the jump to see a few more pictures of this rather drab looking shorebird.

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Fell on Black Days

Welcome to November everyone!  Every day I wake up, do a mental check of all the things on the to-do list and then look over at the calendar for a cold shot of reality – where in the hell has this year gone!?!  Already checked that I didn’t get shorted calendar pages – yep, 12 pages, each full of squares representing a timespan of life you will never get back. . Minute after minute of lost opportunity (mostly to that ultimate waste of productivity – sleep).  It doesn’t help that we already had snow on the ground and my list is full of outside work earmarked to get done BEFORE the white stuff invades. Add to that a back that is still mending and you have a recipe for the blahs.  Seems like a perfect time to feature the color black.

Black Vulture found outside Rockport, Texas in December 2016

How’s that for some bleak?  The black robed ministry of the dead.  In my parts, we are subject to their more flashy kin, the Turkey Vulture (link here).  Essentially the same profile – long black bodied, purpose designed bill and featherless head, however, the Turkey was given a decorative red head (not to be too harsh, but seems like lipstick on a pig if you ask me).  The Black Vulture is .. wait for it … wait for it… all black.  Kudos to the individual responsible for naming this creature for choosing a moniker you can associate in the field with very little effort.

Black

Caution – some scenes after the jump will not be appetizing.

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Happy Hauntings!

It’s that time of the year…

Halloween 2019

Yep, my favorite time of the year.  What evils shall lurk in the darkest hours? Witches and warlocks, black cats and things that are left unnamed.  Perhaps, even the Galloping Hessian of the Hollow in search of Ichabob Crane!

sHalloween 2019

Whatever scares come your way, may your heart be strong and your feet be fast for nightmares await the one unfortunate to be last.

Hit the jump to see a few more pictures in celebration of the Day of the Dead – if you dare {evil laugh}

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Well, Hi There Tri

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.

Ticolored Heron found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center January 2017

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.

Ticolored Heron found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center December 2016

Hit the jump to learn a bit more about Mr. Tri.

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