Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Jury duty

Well, it happened. Our chance to make amends. Our chance to put it all right. Judy got her jury summons. No call from the judge, just a notice to appear. The date for jury duty hasn’t passed yet. All right. All we have to do is not screw this one up.

Oops. This is a jury duty summons for Boulder Colorado. We’re in Texas.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Louisville property

Oh what a tangled web we weave; the twists and turns in the simple sale of a small piece of land in Louisville. We’ve been abused for years by a crazy neighbor directly to the west of the property. We are his “most hated neighbors”, but he doesn’t reserve his abuse only for us. He has been flooding the city government with phone calls and emails for years, trying to get them to make us remove the trailer from the property (and incidentally kick out poor old Duane who had no money)(collateral damage I guess).

Duane died and that renewed our neighbors wrath, making sure everyone in the city knew our lot was a nonconforming lot and we couldn’t do anything with it. So off we went into survey fees, architect fees, attorney’s fees, a 1911 plat, discovery of an illegal subdivision, current subdivision plans involving giving up five feet of the Roosevelt lot to the trailer lot with the attendant fees, the furnace in the unoccupied trailer mysteriously going out, pipes freezing, later bursting, a late night phone call that water had been running in the trailer for a week, gas and water shutoff, a contact to us from the city about “a public safety issue” reported by the crazy neighbor, a city inspector visit, the trailer no longer habitable, ….. and right in the middle of it all, someone suddenly discovers the vacation of the old alley that used to run between the trailer lot and the predecessor to the crazy neighbor. I remember the old alley, but I’d forgotten about it. It looked more like a dirt driveway that the predecessor to the crazy neighbor used. There is reference in the city records about the westerly five feet of the ten foot wide alley being assigned to the neighbor’s plat, but no record of the easterly plat being recognized as our property. After all these years, it turns out that the complaining neighbor misunderstood his own property line and built his own house dead on it, and put his fence five feet into our property. What a delicious irony, that by making us jump through so many hoops, it leads to the discovery of his fuck-up.

Well, anyway, no harm no foul I say. He can remove his fence from our property, we’ll subdivide from the legitimate property line and he can deal with the city about having a house that sits right on his own property line with zero setback. Who knows if that’s a big deal or not. Maybe all he has to do is get a variance approved by all his neighbors……

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Grasshopper sparrow. Nelson’s Sharp Tailed, Seaside, LeConte’s. A good sparrow day. A long day, started and ended with owls. We saw the short-eared owl out on the salt flats at dawn. Ended with the barred owl in the forest at dark, seventy-five miles from home. It was a good day.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Another challenge

Know how you park your car in the lot at the shopping center and when you come back out there is an advertising flyer stuck under the windshield wiper? Our daughter got one on her car. She parked her MINIVAN filled with KID’S CARSEATS and came back to find an advertisement for a singles club. It’s a card to fill out and mail in. It’s postage free; the club will pay the postage on each card they receive back.

You may be ahead of me in this story, deciding what you might do with the postage-paid card, but wait! Before you drop that card in the mailbox in you head, let me tell you that each card included the warning: “mailers of blank cards will be prosecuted”.

Ooh. Now there is a challenge. Wouldn’t want to tempt prosecution by mailing in a blank card. They might come straight to your blank address and arrest right you on the blank spot.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Another challenge...

Can you spot the owl in this picture?

Monday, February 19, 2007

We need...

We need professional help!

There are four sparrows here we’re not going to get without professional help. They’re reclusive and hard to recognize from a fleeting glimpse of their backside as they drop back down into the grass or bushes. We’ve hired a local bird guide for a sparrow day. He thinks we can get all four…

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Pollywog ponds

Kingbirds and Kiskadees. You might think that is a western kingbird, but not so. Look closely at the yellow. It goes all the way up to his throat. Couch’s kingbird.

And the great kiskadee. He looks and acts like all bird should when you’re trying to identify them. Conspicuous. Loud. Black, white, and yellow. None of this flitting little brown bird in the bushes stuff.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Then this one from the California desert.

Not much to report. Still in Oasis. 87 degrees yesterday. Cooling trend. Supposed to only make it to 85. Then about 80 tomorrow. (Don't say it! I know, I know!!)


Contrasting weather reports. First, this one from upstate New York.

Another storm blew through. Added another 20 inches. Not to worry, my neighbor has a tractor with a front end loader - plows don't work well out here. And any place you can't plow will soon get wind packed to a condensed size. Got the driveway opened for a few hours yesterday, long enough to get the propane truck and the oil truck in - the propane delivery had already tried earlier, but couldn't get up the driveway and the 150 feet of hose was too short. Dan got in both days, though we both noted he had to rest the horse 3 times coming up our hill, and the snow by the barn was up to the buggy wheel hubs. How's it with you flatlanders? ;-)

Steve Taylor wrote:

The weather worsened. I had to put long pants on.


The osprey found a nice quiet place to eat his fish (except for our brief intrusion). We managed to get our shot without disturbing him too much. We stayed in our mobile bird blind (the jeep).

It's surprising how birds don't react to a vehicle nearly as much as they react to the form of a person. Approaching on foot will scatter them from twice as far away as approaching in a vehicle. Even the motorhome is a good bird blind, especially if it has been parked for awhile. Sometimes it's a little hard to get the motorhome in to exactly where the birds are, though. Parking in a state park helps.

Friday, February 16, 2007


The many moods of the northern shoveler.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The rescue

Judy got to save a pelican. From a distance, she saw a pelican dive down into the water but it didn’t look just right so she stopped to check it out.

Fisherman walk out into the surf, cast their line out as far as they can, then walk back to shore and plant their fishing pole in a rod-holder. That leaves a line above the water stretching way out into the ocean. Poor bird was flying along, skimming the waves, minding his own pelican business, when he plowed into a surf fisherman’s line. Got all wrapped up in it and ended up with a hook in his foot as well. By the time Judy got there to help, the fisherman had waded out to get the tangled up bird, but the only tool he had was an old pair of pliers. No wire cutters or good clippers. Judy showed the fisherman how to squeeze the barb down so the hook could be backed out of the pelican’s foot (our catch-and-release barbless-hooks fly-fishing experience helped). Together, they got the monofilament unwrapped from the bird. Judy has held pelicans before while she was with the pelican project she worked with in Mexico, so it felt familiar to secure the wings and hold the bill shut while they worked with him. She pointed the pelican into the wind and released him. He did a long slow takeoff and flew away. A satisfying moment for Judy.

Port aransas

The weather worsened. I had to put long pants on.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Can you spot the puppy in this picture?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


We see a lot of ruby crowned kinglets. Usually, you don’t see the ruby crown at all. You only see it if he wants to show it to you. He flashes it by raising his head feathers. It’s striking but brief, so we’ve never gotten a picture of it.

Now the golden crowned kinglet… that’s different.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cold front!

A couple days in the fifties.

No desert style fifty degree daily temperature swings here. High of 52. Low of 51.

Tomorrow… back to warmer weather.

Friday, February 9, 2007


One of the sadder sights in the bird world: a swan, trapped inside the body of a cormorant.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


The long billed curlew. He's worth a picture.

Meetin' and eatin'

Dairy Queen in Texas is different. They’re all sit-down restaurants. They’re advertised as “The Texas place for meetin’ and eatin’.” “The Texas Stop Sign.” We went to the largest Dairy Queen in the country, right in Portland, Texas.

Steak fingers and gravy. The whole Texas experience.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


Grackles are so common down south, we don't take pictures of them. They're just grackles, afterall. The great tailed grackle.

Monday, February 5, 2007

A challenge

Can you find the woodpecker in this picture?

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Along the way

Some final Brazos Bend pictures.

Friday, February 2, 2007


Thought I'd forward this morning's weather report from Denver.

From: Ken Roth
Sent: Friday, February 02, 2007 7:13 AM
To: Steve Taylor

Just a little weather update. 18 below zero. But it is a dry cold!

Thursday, February 1, 2007