Thursday, April 30, 2009

Still windy


Good birds today.  Got a yellow billed cuckoo.  Nothing new though.  Still at 499….  Jetty beach for terns.  Got seven.  Seven terns all at the same place: Caspian, Royal, Sandwich, Common, Forster’s, Least, and Black.  And black skimmers.  This place is amazing.



Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gotta love migration


Morning coffee on our pond.  This is not a special wildlife-attracting pond.  It’s just a little decorative pond with mown grass around it.  In flies a purple gallinule, lands at the edge of the pond, take a drink, and proceeds to walk all around it, nibbling.  That was probably the first time he touched ground in 600 miles; flying across the gulf.  A southern swamp bird that walks around on floating vegetation.  Not wary or skittish at all today; too tired.  Just needs a drink, something to eat, and some rest.  A purple gallinule.  Right out in the open.  How cool is that?


Of course the coot had to paddle straight over to check him out.



Tuesday, April 28, 2009



One of these turtles is not like the others.



Cape May warbler.  #499.



Monday, April 27, 2009

The Big Day


The 2009 Big Day has come and gone.  The Big Day is an annual effort by our friend Jon, to see how many bird species he can see in one day.  In one sense, it’s like when Judy and I go somewhere.  I drive; she tells me where to go.  In this instance, I drive; he birds (while telling me where to go).


After all the years Judy and I have talked about, thought about, and sometimes even studied birds, we get blown away by a really good birder.  There is a difference in aptitude.  Jon sees shapes and movements (undetected by us) in an instant.  He has enough bird pictures and songs in his head that identification rarely takes more than another instant.  Really, he’s not a normal human being.  He’s a Martian.


Not only is this a self-inflicted fast-paced birding challenge, but this year we expanded the concept to include sleep deprivation as well.  Judy and I got up normally one morning and had a normal day.  Then Jon and I left at midnight that night to start the challenge.  We used the entire twenty-four hours.  We listened for rails at the Birding Center in Port Aransas.  We drove all the way down to Bentsen Rio Grande State Park south of Mission for some owling in the dark.  We birded through the morning chorus at daybreak and got some South Texas Specialties we needed.  It really helps to have all the birds start yelling, all at the same time, so you can pick out who is there and where they are.


After the night-birds and the daybreak forest-birds in Way South Texas, we headed back north for Green Parakeets, to fields where we could find inland wading birds, and other sites for migrants, mudflat birds, ocean shore birds, more migrants, ducks and gulls, to a backyard for siskins, to a highway bridge over a hint of a creek for seaside sparrows and boat tailed grackles.  We finished off daylight a hundred miles north with more forest birds and the barred owl.  Time was no longer of the essence, so we stopped for some fine dining at the Dairy Queen in Refugio.  I had a blizzard for dinner.  Jon had nachos.  Then we finished off the night on the trail of the black rail on some private property (by permission) that Jon had found out about.


As a result of our driving, birding, and talking about birding for twenty-four continuous hours, we stayed awake and mostly functional, drove six hundred fifty miles, birded seventeen distinct birding sites, and tallied one hundred ninety-one bird species.  We didn’t do as well on migrants as we wanted, but we did great on everything else, except for the biggest, noisiest, most conspicuous bird in all of South Texas, the Plain Chachalaca.  We birded the Rio Grande Valley and couldn’t get a Plain Chachalaca.  Even without the Plain Chachalaca though, we had a great time.


If you’re asking yourself what the appeal is, what the attraction is, to twenty-four continuous hours of birding, I can describe it:


“It’s like having fun…. only different!”



Sunday, April 26, 2009



Ron and Linda left.


Bear and Shortie left.


Now there is almost no-one left.



Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wheel covers


Here.  I don’t think I ever sent out pictures of our cool new wheel covers.



Friday, April 24, 2009

Birth of a cactus flower


I think it’s drier than it should be here.  Our cacti like it too much.  This is the gulf coast.  The cactus should be soggy and hating it.



Thursday, April 23, 2009



The 10 day forecast for Port Aransas:  Every single day in the eighties.  Every single night in the seventies.  It might be windier some days than others.  It might be more or less humid or rainy, but it will be eighty.  And we won’t be cold at night… unless we set the air conditioner too low.



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sand Fest


Sand Fest


Sand Fest is over.


I don’t think I got enough of it.



Monday, April 20, 2009

Cloudy days


Warm days are nice.  Sunny days are nice.  But I find it doesn’t have to be warm and sunny on the same day.  If it’s going to be eighty-five degrees and humid, I’m fine with clouds.  I don’t need the solar gain of direct sun as well.


Sand Fest rules:  Sand and water only.  No glue.  No supporting structure.  You might see some wires sticking out the top, but the wires aren’t allowed to provide any support.  The wires are only to prevent gulls from landing and wrecking the artwork.



Sunday, April 19, 2009

The most amazing thing!


After all this time; me going on and on about my leg; not a single person has asked to see a picture.  Not one person!  Go figure.


Our patio.  What a busy place to spend a morning.  Coots, carp, turtles, grackles, gulls, whistling ducks, hummingbirds, dowitchers, dragonflys, spoonbills, sparrows, warblers.  It’s a busy place.


Birding in Corpus Christi today.  Rose Hill Cemetery.  Great Crested Flycatcher.  Blucher Park.  Yellow breasted chat.  Ovenbird.  American redstart.  Blue winged warbler.  Gray cheeked thrush.  Long billed thrasher.  And #498 Swainson’s Warbler!



Sand Fest


It’s five o’clock somewhere.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sand Fest


Taking shape



Friday, April 17, 2009



We’re not very good with sparrows.  Usually we can identify the most common sparrow wherever we are, but get confused by anything else.  Lost Maples was different though.  The most common sparrow there was Chipping Sparrow.  Other sparrows we identified were:  clay colored, field, vesper, lark, grasshopper, Lincoln, and song.  Eight sparrows.  That’s a very good sparrow count for us.


Paradise Pond tonight: #497, worm eating warbler.


Sand Fest is back.



Thursday, April 16, 2009



We’ve moved beyond the pain.  We’re still packing and ripping.  It just doesn’t hurt to rip the gauze out any more.  We’re taking that as a good sign.  The tissue has regrown to the level of the skin around it.  The hole has shrunk to a diameter smaller than a dime.  Good progress.



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back to paradise pond


Full migration mode.  A field of indigo buntings; forty at least.  Painted buntings.  Eastern and western kingbirds.  White eyed, warbling, and red eyed vireos.  Swainson’s thrush and brown thrasher.  Northern parula.  Tennessee, hooded, blue winged, and cerulean warblers.  American redstarts.  Summer tanager, scarlet tanager.  Rose breasted grosbeak.  Orchard and Baltimore orioles.  Common Yellowthroat.  And Dickcissels.


Three lifers.  #494, dickcissel.  #495, blue winged warbler.  #496, cerulean warbler.


In the picture, all those blue dots on the grass are indigo buntings.  There is a painted bunting red dot in the middle, but you can’t see much of him.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I can work from anywhere


But when it’s this busy, I really need to have a telephone and there is no cellphone service at Lost Maples.  Travel day.  We’re back at the beach.  Gulf Waters.  Port Aransas.



Monday, April 13, 2009

Dawn walk


The part of the trail we walked yesterday was the easy part.  The black capped vireos are on the plateau at the top of the steep part of the trail.  We walked past all the other birds singing until we heard the bird we were after.  The black capped vireos were singing like crazy.  That didn’t make them easy to find, they stay low and in cover, but we got them.  #493, Black Capped Vireo.  We also got a walk through oak and maple forest canyons.  27,000 steps on Judy’s pedometer.


The birds didn’t hold still for any pictures, but the landscape did.  Love this place.



Sunday, April 12, 2009

The perfect storm


It clouded up as it got dark.  It rained slow and steady all night.  The clouds broke up at dawn.  It couldn’t have been better.


Travel day.  Kerrville to Vanderpool.  Buckhorn Resort to Lost Maples State Park, the reason for our detour on the way home.  There are two birds here that refuse to come to us on Mustang Island, so we’ve come to them.  Our mission: the golden cheeked warbler and the black capped vireo.  They’re in this park, but they’re not just anywhere in the park.  The vireo, in particular, is only being seen in one place about a two mile walk in.  We took a reconnaissance walk this afternoon to check out the first part of the trail.  #492, Golden Cheeked Warbler!  Tomorrow, it’s back to work, but we might be able to fit in a dawn Vireo walk.



Saturday, April 11, 2009



Annie memorizes the wooly worm.



Friday, April 10, 2009

I can work from anywhere


Even in a swamp.  The dish guy got us fixed first thing Monday morning.  We stayed in Brazos Bend for the rest of the week because we like it there.  We couldn’t stay Friday, though.  The park is booked solid for the holiday weekend.  Travel day today.  We’re on our way back to the beach, but we have a stop to make on the way.  We’re at Buckhorn Resort outside Kerrville.  Back to civilization.  Full hookups.  The state parks have water and electric only.  I think that’s about as close to dry camping as I want to get.  Water usage limited by a 58 gallon gray water holding tank.


We got to bird every day during our lunchtime walk.  At the visitor center they had a list of eighty birds that had been seen in the last two weeks.  We didn’t see that many, but in five days we saw seventy.  Got more green herons than we’ve ever seen before.  Got our first purple gallinule of the year.



Thursday, April 9, 2009



And when walking the trails, you want to be careful where you step.



Wild Kingdom


You probably don’t want to be the smallest alligator in the gang, though.



Wild Kingdom


When you’re an alligator, it’s probably good to be part of an entire gang of gators.



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Brazos Bend


Challenges in the life of a bird feeder.  Gray squirrels by day.  Coons at night.



Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Brazos Bend


The night hike revealed deer, bunnies, raccoons, and know what?  If you shine you light out into the swamp, you get alligator eyes glowing back at you.  If you watch them for a while, some of them move.  They glide across the water.  They never blink.


This mornings visitors…  A free ride isn’t necessarily an easy ride though.



Monday, April 6, 2009

Brazos Bend


First thing when we got here, we left the motorhome door open while we were unhooking the tow car, and two Carolina wrens flew right inside.  We had to shoo them back out.



Sunday, April 5, 2009

Travel day


A gusty blustery drive north to Brazos Bend.  No problem.


A quiet day.  Gators, cardinals, wrens, a brown thrasher this afternoon.


Evening light.