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It’s Good to be the King

I’d like to say things are starting to settle down around here, but that wouldn’t exactly be accurate.  This Saturday I once again toe the line in hopes of getting the 50K trail run check on the life list.  If you recall, my first attempt back in July didn’t exactly go that well … and that is likely an understatement of the epic level of failure that was (link here).  Fortunately, we are past the super hot days of summer and the current forecast looks like a very cool 40-50’s day (with a dip into the 30’s the night before).  So, I do have that going for me and likely a new angel on my shoulder to help me through the rough points.  They have promised me there will be NO box fans at the aid station so bloodletting should be at a minimum ha.  Immediately after that is our annual Halloween party having been postponed due to our recent loss.  Get past that and we are downhill to the end of what has turned out to be a year I’d rather forget.  While I am waiting for Linda to finish up her cardio rehab for the day, decided to be productive – watching other people workout has to rate up there with one of the most boring ways to spend an hour second to maybe playing Tic-Tac-Toe against yourself.

Belted Kingfisher found at South Padre Bird Viewing and Nature Center in December 2016

Say hello to the King of South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center.  We met this specimen on our trip down the Texas Gulf Coast back in December 2016 (which puts this almost 3 years old if my high levels of education serves me right).  This dude (it is the male of the species) was hanging out on a sign near the end of the boardwalk passing the day taking mental pictures of all the flightless humans walking by.

Belted Kingfisher found at South Padre Bird Viewing and Nature Center in December 2016

Hit the jump to catch a couple more shots of the Belted Kingfisher.

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The Ones Without Galoshes

Some days turn out to be one of those where you wonder when it is all done if there is an ounce of energy left in your body.  Today was one of those days for me.  Normally, we would be putting on our annual Halloween Haunted Trail event tonight, however, with all that Linda has been through and for better alignment with my partner in haunt’s schedule we pushed it to next week – all I can say is thank god for that as yesterday we had a major storm rolled through that completely flooded out part of our trail system through the woods (60 mph winds, hail and buckets of rain).  Can’t imagine how sucky it would have been trying to get everything set up not to mention having to make our guests trudge through the mud.  Instead, today was dedicated to getting all the props built over the course of the year out of the basement (Linda put her foot down) and depending on how the weather went, start work on a new 24’x8′ bridge over an ever growing stream.  Thanks to friends helping out we were able to meet Linda’s demand in the morning and then we decided to wade through pooled water on the trail and get some work done on the bridge.  6 hours later we had the entire outer rails built (doubled up 2x10s to 24 feet as well as the inner cross supports on 2′ centers.  I bet my friends do not offer to help me out next year ha!  This is one of the rare times where I can count the number of muscles in the human body as every single one is screaming at me.  While I am letting the Aleve kick in decided to blast a post out – not to mention the chair looked really comfy.

Great Egret found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center January 2017

Last post I featured the Great Blue Heron – the big kahuna in the Egret family was feeling jealous – thus the green hue on the lores.  Nothing is worse than dealing with a bunch of slighted, whiny Egrets, “did you post yet, did you post yet, are you going to make a post on us, why are you such an Egret hater, did you post yet, I thought you were going to post, Egret discriminator, when is that post coming…”. It just keeps repeating until you give in and …well, feature them in a post.

Great Egret found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center January 2017

hit the jump to see a few more shots of this beautiful bird.

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The Non-White Pelican

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.

Brown Pelican found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

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 mention 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.

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Nothing to See Here

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.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center, Texas December 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of Mr. Redeye.

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Concerns Warranted

As you can tell, I’ve finally found some spare cycles to get a post out.  It has been amazingly busy around Intrigued as of late thanks to two 30 year celebrations at work (wife and I), trying to finalize the schedule for Linda’s heart valve replacement at Mayo’s and then the quickly approaching 50K running event next Saturday (crap, I can’t believe that deadline has come up so fast).  As a result, my blogging and, well, just about all my secondary activities have been clipped (especially my Halloween production which is most troubling).  Every spare cycle has been spent pounding out miles on the road and on the trails – latter when the rain gods finally give me a chance.  I remember Ron mentioning his concern for me reaching my monthly blog quota which at the time still has a few weeks to go.  I had some concerns as well, but thanks to a good dose of posts on the mothership blog today’s last minute post will cover that (B. in the UK might appreciate the theme of the pumpkin post – link here).  Unfortunately, the last two weeks have had additional concerns that had/have me a bit troubled.  A week ago, I was working on more of the bathroom remodeling, simply stepped down from putting up window trim and felt a stabbing pain right in the middle of the tendon than comes down on top of the ankle from the shin into the foot. Actually though it had ripped off.  Puffed up and hurt like hell.  Had Linda look at it after an ice treatment and we eventually found a puncture point that might have caused it – possibly another bee sting in a critical point like the back episode earlier in the year.  Ended up being able to run on it without serious pain so continued on until the swelling subsided 2 or three days later.  Then yesterday I was getting the last long trail run in and managed to turn my ankle 90 degrees thanks to not seeing a rock underneath the mud.  Unfortunately, that was between mile 8 and 9 which is the farthest point from the car.  Knowing what happens if you let your ankle realize it is hurt, journeyed on for another 5 miles.  A day later the ankle is still swollen and twinges under weight.  Definitely do not need this so close to the starting line.  Will nurse it for a few days and give it a short test Wed just so I know what to expect during the race – wish me luck.

In recognition of being immobilized at the moment, figured it would be fitting to feature a creature that has a natural ability to leverage the concept of immobility.

Great Blue Heron shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

Yes, bringing out one of the big boys of the birding world on this final day of June.  Truth be told, I do not feature this bird much on the blog thanks to the thousands of images already in the portfolio.  The Great Blue Heron is one of the birds you can see just about everywhere in the continental US.  They do prefer to breed in southern Canada and down into the Dakota areas, but for the most part spend their time year-round wading through any body of water they can find across the states (except for a very odd finger down the eastern part of Idaho, Utah area according to Cornell – may be the Rockies, will have to investigate that a bit more later).

Great Blue Heron shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

Hit the jump to view a few more shots of these dagger-billed Herons.

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A Snowy Redemption

Definitely sticking with the game plan for this month, staying ahead of the game and getting the posts out early.  It definitely  helps when you already have the images worked up in the digital darkroom.  To be honest, short of getting the birds in the tin, the major effort in this whole blogging thingy is working up the images to make it worth my reader’s visit time.  Of course, this doesn’t always happen, case in point the horrific Cave Swallow pictures I forced upon you a few posts back.  I try my best so you can at least tell it is a bird – not to mention Ron is starting to push me with the quality stuff he is putting up over on his blog (link here).  You probably didn’t know this, but I credit him for getting me into photography while I was in high school and the reason I can navigate around a camera (although I did introduce him to back-button focus).   Today’s featured bird is a bit of an atonement for a slight I made in a recent post.

Snowy Egret found at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center December 2016

Within the Cinnamon Teal post (link here), I unintentionally dismissed one of the most regal birds there is (at least in North America).  It wasn’t the species that dimmed my excitement, just that I was revved up to add a new +1 to the list.  I am lucky enough to have a large number of Snowy Egret shots from just about everywhere we’ve traveled along with tins full from Emiquon and other local water hotspots.  When I saw this set of Snowies in the post queue, I immediately decided this was the perfect time to bring them out.

Snowy Egret found at Galveston Island, Texas, January 2017

Hit the jump to see some more picture of this immaculate bird.

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Dangerous Waters

Hello everyone!  We are quickly approaching the end of another year of blogging – my 11th year to be specific – and hoping to get a few more posts out before Father Time turns over the hourglass.  The good news is other than a few cleanups here and there I am officially on vacation until the New Year giving me plenty of time to get that done. Of course, there are Halloween props to build (yes, that is a year long activity), books to read, house projects to finally wrap up and fingers crossed, some birding to get to.  Fortunately, I was able to get a lot of the images for upcoming musings done while traveling Sunday removing the most difficult part of the blog process.  The birds have been dominating the slots as of late and therefore switching it up a bait .. err … bit.
Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

Nothing says Christmas like Alligators.  Okay, maybe not, but I needed an excuse to feature this series of shots taken at the beginning of the year (note, that might seem a long time ago, but my back queue of shots has officially crested over 4 years – an embarrassing amount, but relieved to know my brother Ron having once chastised me for my inefficiencies is now experiencing a similar queue buildup ha!).  Our menacing looking specimen comes to us courtesy of South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center.

Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this menacing creature.

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Let’s Celebrate with Pie[d]

We are officially in December now and thus time to walk over to the big counter on the wall and reset the monthly post quota back to zero – by the way, where the hell did this year go!?!  I have single digit days left at work to get this year’s work efforts wrapped up and set the preliminary plan for 2019 before the holiday starts … sigh feel like a race I’m never going to get ahead of.  However, on the bright side, I can tell you where a large portion of the year went thanks to crossing off one of my annual goals tonight.

Goal Completed 1000 miles for 2018\

Anyone who follows either of my blogs know I spend my spare time bathed in sweat chasing down Father Time and running from the Reaper.  During my Birding and Blogging talks this year I mentioned the reason I run (and lift) is so I can spend all day in the field hauling around big glass in hopes of taking pictures to display in my home gym to remind me why I work out – my circle of life.  Always elated when I can check off a goal, let’s celebrate with some pie!

Pied-Billed Grebe found at Padre Bird Viewing and Nature Center, December 2017

Well,  maybe not the pie you were thinking of.  This here is the birder’s version.  Actually, I took some liberties here – this is really a Pie[d]-Billed Grebe.  If you live anywhere in the US or a large swath of Canada, you have ample chance to get one of this cute creatures in the tin.  It is a rare outing when we do not come upon the Pied on one of our water excursions.  You might have to keep your eyes open for reasons explained later, but they are probably there hanging out in small groups or more likely solitaire.

Hit the jump to see some cute picture of the Pied-Billed Grebe!

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Sora Doubletake

Greetings everyone!.  Been a fun day around here thanks to a spontaneous decision to celebrate our 27th anniversary by hunting down some birds and sunflower fields.  We were not sure if the weather was going to hold out our not as some storm clouds were rolling through the area most of the day – thankfully we didn’t get hit with the tornado swarms that were doing significant damage to our Iowa neighbors.  Looks like Linda’s relatives made it through without too much trouble.  We ended up making a run down to Havana IL so I could get a nice bird in the tin (looking forward to getting that posted here) and Linda was definitely able to add to her flower portfolio form the two sunflower fields we successfully located.  Those were both still in their bloom stages where the fields down the road from us have officially wilted.  Tired from the long day, so opted to rest a bit and push out a post.

Sora at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge December 2017

For ease, going back to our recent trip to the Texas Gulf Coast for this post.  A lot of those pictures were processed already and easy to simply pull them into a new post.  I find the largest chunk of time in any of my posts is getting the pictures in a shape I’m willing to share, so having that part out the way is a huge benefit when you have a short time to get one of these out.  Today’s featured post is our friend the Sora.  Like the last post, the Sora is not a new bird to the blog.  That previous posting (link here) featured a specimen found down at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge.  We ended up swinging through there today on our way to Havana.  Unfortunately, the dry summer has really impacted that place.  For those familiar with it, the water has receded way beyond the observation decks at the back of the refuge.

Sora at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge December 2017

Hit the jump to read more about my encounters with the Sora.

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A Green Double Take

My Cardinals just blew another late inning lead for the loss.  Rather than sit her and seethe through the post game excuses, decided to simply turn off the source of my frustration and immerse myself in another blog post.  Bring a bit of calm to my night and productivity at the same moment – can’t beat that… well you could if those damn Cardinals could keep it together… calming breadth, serenity now, puppies… okay, back under control.  Thought I’d simply keep the theme from the last post going and feature another Heron family member.

Green Heron encountered at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

Today’s effort is a combination post consisting of the same species, at the same spot, but a year apart.  These first few shots were taken a little less than 6 months ago at the South Padre Bird Viewing and Nature Center.   The Green Heron is not a new bird on my list – in fact it was featured all the way back in September 2012 (link here).  Ironically the specimen back in 2012 was just down the road from our house in a state park.  Seems like a bit of an overkill to drive all the way down to the tip of Texas to see the same species hehehe.

Green Heron encountered at South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

Hit the return to see a few more shots of the Green Heron

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