Observation

You looking at Me !?!

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.

Great-Tailed Grackle found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, December 2016\

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.

Great-Tailed Grackle found at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, December 2016

Hit the jump if this Grackle hasn’t already scared you too much.

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Scares and Calms

Apologies to my wildlife readers.  It has been a while since I’ve had the chance to feature one of our feathered friends.  It’s not that I haven’t been busy – in fact just the opposite. Decided it was time to bring you a little haunt for February – screw you mushy and smoochie Valentine’s Day, we scare aficionados are putting our zombie masks on and shuffling all over this shortened month.  Thanks to many hours (and days) later the full Haunted Trail of Tears 2019 series was released.  If you want to know how we do Halloween … wait.. how about Februween … then take a gander at the tour posts.  Warning check your fears at the door ha!

Hoping that didn’t scare your feathers up.  Maybe a therapy duck will help calm the nerves.

Mottled Duck found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center December 2016

There now, breathe in, breath out while staring at the purdy duck.  Immerse yourself in the warm comfort brought by the tranquil waters of the Texas Gulf Coast.  By the way, let me know if that worked to calm your nerves – I’ll pick  me up a bunch of Mottled Ducks and hit our local ICU and pay it forward for the great therapy dogs they let Linda enjoy while she was up at Mayo.  If there is any chance of convincing a hospital director to let me bring a duck into their establishment, it better be clean.  Of all the ducks I’ve come across I think the Mottled might have the best chance.   I’ve never seen one of these specimens that didn’t look like it came straight from the salon.

Mottled Duck found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center December 2016

Hit the jump to learn about my new business idea!

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Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears – The Prep

Well, it is time to get this set of posts out.  I have been avoiding it due to some emotional memories that come along with this year’s Halloween extravaganza.  Waiting any longer isn’t going to change the situation so I need to get the Haunted Trail of Tears 2019 taken care of while I can still remember all the work it takes to make this thing happen.  Original intent was to slam this into just two posts, but there are way too many images to force on you all at once.  As a result, went ahead and extracted the prep series out separately – this way you can ease into the barrage of photos that’s coming your way!

With Linda’s surgery, in August, we opted to push the date a week to give her extra time to recover and more importantly me time to make up for the lost weeks being up at Mayo.  I had spent a large part of the summer building the new all-weather prop sensors.  Think by the end I had produced over 60 of those devices building on our previous design with an added feature of being able to put the batteries in ahead of time so we could simply switch them on come event start – I cannot even begin to explain how great that was both in savings during the activation step and then more importantly being able to turn them off at the end and not have to worry about getting them out of the woods if bad weather hit us (like last year.. and year before that …).  Unfortunately, that meant rewiring all the props to use the new sensor.  Thankfully, Ron came to my aid and helped get everything converted over!

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears October 2019

I also had to finish up a number of new props that where being worked on since a month after last year’s effort (yep, there is no Halloween downtime here at Intrigued ha).  Here’s Ron with a major addition for this year’s trail.  Something tells me you can guess what that is.  Linda was excited about finally getting that life size horse out of the basement after 10 months.  Ron actually came down a week ahead of the planned date which was greatly appreciated.  It is hard enough to get all of last year’s props out and each year it grows bigger and bigger.  The zombie horse was just one of the new items making its debut this year.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears October 2019

Hit the jump to learn what happens behind the scenes of the Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears extravaganza.

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Stoner Bird

Greetings my friends!  Been a bit of time since my last post (well at least on the Wildlife side of Intrigued as I did take a cue from CJ and put a Hmmm post out link here).  I thought things would lighten up at the turn of the decade, but I find myself surprisingly busy.  Some of that was due to a recent loss in the family as my Aunt is now once again united with my father.  I did get an opportunity to catch up with the extended family and even had a chance to spend some quality birding time with Ron.  He stayed overnight at my place on the trip back from the funeral allowing us to head down to Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge the next day.  This netted Ron a +1 and a new birding experience – both of which I’ll let him feature on his blog (nudge, nudge).  Maybe I’ll get around to those captures in say .. oh, I don’t know… let’s go crazy fast and say 2-3 years ha!

In the meantime, let’s travel back in time and see what’s moving on the Texas beaches.

Ruddy Turnstone found on Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Well, lookie there Mr. Orange Legs strutting its stuff.  This particular series comes to you from our January 2017 trip down to Galveston Island.  The Ruddy Turnstone featured here was busy running up and down the shoreline trying to convert all that migration fat into a beach bod that drives the chicks wild.  For those new to these creatures, they fatten up prior to heading out on their impressively long migration.  They spend their breeding months in the arctic tundra and then gorge themselves before making the massive trek to the North and Central American coastlines.

Ruddy Turnstone found on Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Hit the jump to learn more about this yo-yo diet bird.

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Standing Tall in the Aftermath of Tragedy

Greetings from the white tundra.  For those curious (and hopefully in warmer climates) it is currently 3F out with 18 mph winds with warnings of windchill temps below 20F.  A far cry from the relative desert like conditions the Texas Gulf Coast is getting at the moment – although I did think it would be warmer than high 50’s/lows 60’s.  Time for Linda and I to get back in our RV and get our butts to some warmer settings ha!  I have been holding off on talking about our holiday activities, but most of you know we once again headed back to the Texas border for a little R and R after a rather rough ’19.  Kicked the year off right birding the Gulf Coast and checking our favorite spots along the Rio Grande.  It will be a while before the fruits of that endeavor get fit for consumption 3..4..5..6 years…hehehe..

Whooping Cranes in Rockport, Texas December 2017

In the meantime, thought I would go with the bird that has a lock at the top of my list for favorite North American birds.  Now, a bit of this decision was based on the fact if you read my previous bird post you should already be standing about 10 feet away from your monitor.   Hoping that is sufficient distance to make these pictures somewhat viewable – keep thinking to yourself that there’s at least one bird somewhere in the shot  – to help you out, it is white and really tall.  These birds top out in the 5 foot range and command attention whenever in their presence.  Reminds of the traveling basketball team for the Great Egrets.

Whooping Cranes in Rockport, Texas December 2017

Take a few brief steps toward the keyboard and hit the jump to read more about these Cranes (then quickly take a step back).

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A Softer Side of Blue

We are closing out a long two weeks of travel with an agility show at the Purina grounds near St. Louis MO. Usually these shows drive me crazy with the amount of downtime involved.  Get the agility course set, receive instructions from the event judge, walk the course to become familiar with it, wait for your dog’s turn in the ring, enjoy the maximum of 2 minutes of excitement as Raven leads Linda through the obstacles, watch Raven bask in the post run accolades and then sit for what seems hours as the rest of the dogs compete and they start setting for the next round.  Absolutely brutal especially since this is really Linda’s thing as I am the designated Sherpa.  It is a great feeling to see Linda back on her feet and enjoying herself in the ring again – it was getting rough leading up to the surgery as I could tell she was really struggling to get through the stop and start sprinting between the obstacles – looks harder than my ultra marathon.  This time I could use the rest to get the batteries recharged again and the downtime means I get a chance to pound out some posts – yeah!

LL

Was checking the post queue and decided I would break down and go with one that has been in there for a while.  Each time I considered going with it I decided the execution was too poor and opted to wait.  Unfortunately, the soft images are of a bird I have yet to checked off my official list and I need to push my counter up (hmmm, wonder why).  So, without further delay, take a few steps back from your monitor so these images of a nonbreeding Blue Grosbeak do not look so bad.

LL

Hit the jump if you really want to see some more soft shots of Mr. Blue.

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More Days in White Feathers

Greetings all once again!  Starting to get in the groove of the new year now that the “Ron Owes Me Bigly” mission is coming to closure – not the “owes me” part, rather the initial mission part.  He’s in the midst of doing some packing, but I am sure as soon as that settles down, he will be getting those fingers oiled up and letting everyone know about said mission in due time… nudge, nudge.  Meanwhile my immediate mission is to get the photo queue whittled down a bit.

American White Pelican shot in Alton IL in March 2014

Thought I’d go ahead and get the big boys out of the way – well, at least some of the pictures in the hopper of the American White Pelican.  Whitey is one of those species we have easy access to in the heartland.  Cornell documents their regional map as breeders across our northern border and spotty locations in the west with a wintering destination along our southern border.  Then they got out their yellow crayon and colored everything in between for migration.  Truth is, we can find this full-bodied birds patrolling our waterways pretty regularly outside of the dead of winter.

American White Pelican shot in Alton IL in March 2014

Hit the jump to read and see a bit more about this tank of a bird.

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The Elusive Knautta Bird

So, how does the old Samuel Clemens quip go – “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”.  Although, I will admit, I had always remembered it as “rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated”.  I prefer my version, apparently it was just a derivation.  Hell, even the original quote seems mistaken as Mr. Twain scribed it as “the report of my death was an exaggeration”.   Apparently watching the Jeopardy GOAT competition is starting to impact my post research ha!  Way off base here, yet the theme still applies – I’m still breathing, yet admittedly woefully behind on my posting.  I distinctly get the feeling from the look on today’s featured feathered friend that I have been judged and found lacking.

Likely a Tropical Kingbird found at Estero Llano Grande State Park January 2018

Truth is I decided to start the New Year on a mission we’ll simply call “Ron owes me bigly”.  An endeavor that benefited him almost as equally as it negatively impacted me.  Say it with me everyone, B I G L Y!  Unfortunately, the details of said undertaking will remain a secret for sometime longer in order to give Ron time to reveal the fruits of our labor.  It was the theme of a secret that led to the decision to go with Mr. Yellowbelly for my post.

Likely a Tropical Kingbird found at Estero Llano Grande State Park January 2018

Hit the jump to read more about this mysterious bird!

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As the Royal Terns

Greetings everyone!  Been wrapped up in the chaos we call Christmas and have not had time to really sit down and relax in the warm glow of the computer monitors.  Clearly the financial engine is booming in America as trips to the stores to pick up items to celebrate the now over-commercialized event meant spending three times as long in a checkout line than it took to actually find that perfect gift.  Every store – same story.  I do try to support the local independents – the problem is my time is becoming increasingly valuable to me.  Quite revealing as the mainstream media and self-serving politicians tried their hardest to paint a false recession narrative just a few months back.  In honor of this soaring economy, I bring you royalty (well, at least I’m pretty sure about that).

Royal Tern found on Galveston Island, TX in December 2017

I have not featured a lot of Terns here and not for lack of images.  On the contrary, my photo queue is full to the brim with these sharp looking birds.  They happen to be a family of birds that hang out at my favorite local wildlife refuge in Havana (Emiquon) as well as easy fodder on our multiple trips down the Texas Gulf Coast.  If you have access to a fairly decent sized body of water, then you have a good chance of being able to witness these aerial acrobats in action.  The difficulty is not getting them classified in the right family as their slim/aerodynamic profile and dagger sharp bills tend to quickly differentiate them from the abundance of Gulls sure to be in the same area.  No, the difficulty comes into getting them categorized in the right species as there are at least eleven I can name off the top of my head that are available somewhere in North America.  Granted not as hard as ID’ing one of the twenty or so Gull varieties, but they do have a similar issue in that their coloring doesn’t differ that much – especially out of the breeding season.

Royal Tern found on Galveston Island, TX in December 2017

Hit the jump to learn more about this sleek looking bird.

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Low Rider

My little vacation has come to an end and back to work I go.  Don’t feel too sorry for me, I basically have 4 days of work left before I close the books on this year.  Thankfully, I’ll be able to look forward to a much better year as this one I’d just as soon forget altogether.  We’ll be heading back down to Texas sometime in the first couple of months in hopes of getting the first part of the new year off on the right foot.  Knowing how much content those trips add to the photography queue, figured I’d try my best to pop some of the previous Texas finds off the queue – some of those still need proper IDs and need some final validation from Ron (those damn Terns all look alike from afar).  Fortunately, today’s featured feathered friend was easy to classify.

Double-Crested Cormorant found on Galveston Island, Texas December 2016

This rather smug looking  waterbird was found while visiting Galveston Island State Park back in December 2016 (Yes B in the UK I am still waaaay behind ha).  While exploring the trails and shorelines for Clapper Rails, I came upon this Cormorant hanging out in the packed sand.  Not being up on my Cormorant game, I initially ID’d it as a female knowing the rest of the Cormorants that I’ve photographed were splendored in much darker to all black feathering (link here).  At the time it wasn’t obvious whether this specimen was the standard Double-Crested variety or the Neotropic which I had previously photographed in the same place (link here).

Double-Crested Cormorant found on Galveston Island, Texas December 2016

Hit the jump to read more about my education on this particular species.

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