Monday, November 30, 2009

Birding Etiquette

 

You can count a bird if you can see it.  My friend Jon tells me the bird doesn’t even have to be alive to count it.  Even if the bird is dead on the ground that means it was there.  There is one bird that the only Texas record for it is from a dead bird.  It was in Texas for a little while anyway.

 

I take that to mean that if I’m driving down the road and find a Ruddy Duck stuck in the radiator at the end of the day, I can count it.  Not only can I count it, but if it’s still there the next morning, I can count it again.  A Scarlet Tanager died in a tree at the Birding Center.  Jon got a Scarlet Tanager every day for two weeks!

 

So I wonder…..  how much of the bird do you actually have to see to make the call?  If there is an unseen bird in a bush and a Cardinal sticks his head out, you don’t have to see the whole bird to make the call.  It was a Cardinal.  So you don’t have to see the entire bird, and the bird doesn’t even need to be alive, you just have to see enough of it to be able to make the call.

 

Three days ago I was walking on the boardwalk at Charlie’s Pasture.  I saw a feather.  I know what bird that feather came from.  I don’t need any more information about that bird to make the call, so I’m making it.  Roseate Spoonbill.  Not only that, I’ve gotten the Roseate Spoonbill three days in a row now…

 

 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas lights

It’s not like the old days at the house, with Christmas lights
http://steveandjudystravelblog.blogspot.com/2002/12/christmas-house.html

and yard trains…
http://steveandjudystravelblog.blogspot.com/2000/12/trains_13.html

But our lights, and Ron and Linda’s lights are up. Palm trees and Christmas lights:




Saturday, November 28, 2009

Charlie's Pasture

Port Aransas was a great place to bird already, with the Birding Center, Paradise Pond, and Jetty Beach. This year the city added another habitat, the boardwalk out from Charlie’s pasture. It’ a three-mile round-trip walk through the Laguna Madre mudflats.


Friday, November 27, 2009

What would you get.

 

…if you combined James Taylor, a police megaphone, and the world’s coolest mechanical drum machine?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZx9K5Mm8Yg

 

 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blackberry

Sad telephone news. Judy’s Blackberry phone leaped off the hood of our car for no reason while we were going down Highway 361 at 60 mph. We went back and retrieved it, but it got run over by three cars, a pickup truck, and a fifth-wheel trailer before we could get if off the road. I don’t think it’s ever going to work again...


The battery is gone.









Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weather

The storm is in its final stages. We got 7 inches of rain so far. A little more and we’ll be done. Clear weather tomorrow.

Along the way
Scissor-tail flycatcher

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday

 

Annie is back!  Regardless of what her blood chemistry says, she’s back at full speed; eating, drinking, running, playing, sleeping, digging crabs on the beach; all with enthusiasm.

 

And the coots are back.  We’ve been cootless until this morning.  It was nice to see them paddling around the pond.  We don’t know if it’s the same pair as last year yet, because they haven’t actually knocked on the door demanding food, but they might be last year’s coots.  One turtle is back too.  We tossed some dog kibble out on the water and he came right over.  Nessie, the grass carp, lurks just below the surface in the shallows.

 

Smooth weather today, but there is a big storm coming.  Strong thunderstorms.  Not cold; 70 degrees.  Heavy rain.  Predictions of up to 6” of rain.  Accumulation in the ponds tends to run about 4 to 1, so if it rains 6”, the pond water should rise 2 feet.  Judy put a 1 foot stake in the ground at the water’s edge.  If we get the predicted rain, the top of that stake should be a foot underwater.

 

Got the rain gauge out, the chairs all put up, the leaky slide closed, the awnings all retracted.  We’re ready.  In the meantime, Tropical Pie Night at the Welcome Center, compliments of Susan and Carol.  Key Lime, Mandarin Orange, Lemon Merangue, and Grapefruit Pie.  It took two trips down the pie table, but we got to sample them all.  Dessert before dinner.  Don’t need much dinner after that.

 

 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Texting

 

Early on at the conference they told us that the more technologically advanced accountants text.  I don’t text.  I have email and I’m always at my computer, so why do I need to text?

 

So there I was in class, cellphone in my pocket, sound set to stun (silent), time on my hands, thought I’d try some out-of-sight under-the-desk texting.  I sent a couple notes to Judy.  It’s tedious, texting with a telephone keypad, but it works.  I put the phone away.

 

Later, my attention was drawn to a beeping noise.  I checked; it wasn’t my phone.  I looked around.  Took me a few minutes to spot the person with their hands down low, typing furiously away on a full smartphone keypad.  That person’s hearing must be even worse than mine.  That telephone was not set to run silent.  Every out-of-sight under-the-desk keystroke was accompanied by a distinct audible beep.

 

Maybe accountants shouldn’t text after all.

 

 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blog

 

We get to track which blog pages get looked at the most.  Not the most altogether, but out of the last 500 pageloads.  The current leader?... one of the first video clips we did; all the way back in July.  No references to it since then, but it’s still at the top of the pack.  Feeding the turtles.

 

http://steveandjudystravelblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/turtles.html

 

We expected to see turtles when we got back to Gulf Waters, but not so.  None.  No turtles in the pond.  No turtles knocking on our door in the morning for food.  No coots either.  Guess all the turtles and coots flew north for the summer.  We’ll just have to wait for their return.

 

 

Life on the beach

The sights and sounds

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Life bird

Heard he was there while we were still in Florida. He waited for us to get back to Texas. Today we drove to 75 acre lake at Choke Canyon State Park. At the southwest corner of the lake, other side from us, walking on the plants on the surface of the water, black and chestnut bird, yellow underwings, yellow shield on his forehead. Northern Jacana.

Tropical bird. Rare for the U.S. He doesn’t come here every year. 200 mile round trip for us.
We didn’t get a good picture. Here are a couple pictures someone else took though:





Friday, November 13, 2009

Our pond

Four Long-billed Dowitchers and a Dunlin doing their best sewing machine impression.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Sunny. 78 degrees. Light breeze.

Mrs. Grackle enjoying the spilling-pot fountain.


Mr. Grackle.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Home again

Back to the beach. Our spot on the pond. Glad to be here.



Port Aransas to Port Aransas, by way of Colorado, West Yellowstone, Glacier, Jasper Alberta, Dakota Badlands, St Louis, Key West, and Orlando.


9,830 miles.


http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00046ff7cac9ae98ff560&ll=36.527295,-107.841797&spn=31.646879,78.662109&z=4



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday

Back to Texas. We didn’t drive all the way home today, but almost. We stopped for the night in Victoria. It will be a short day tomorrow and we’ll be back on the beach.

A blue-sky day. Basically sea level. We got above 100 feet in elevation today, but that was on top of a bridge.

9,745 miles.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00046ff7cac9ae98ff560&ll=30.145127,-94.394531&spn=33.924854,78.662109&z=4

Along the way:
That bridge we like so much, the one across the Atchafalaya; there is a rest area in the middle, and a dedication:






The Atchafalaya Elevated Expressway.





Monday, November 9, 2009

Louisiana

 

You get a little way away from the coast and the craziest thing happens; the temperature drops right down into the sixties at night.  Brrr.

 

We blasted west ahead of the hurricane.  Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana.  The 30 mile bridge across the Atchafalaya.  We thought we were choosing between a hurricane to our south and a heavy rainstorm to our west.  We were ready for the rain.  The rain hardly happened.  It was a cloudy tailwind day (we got 9mpg).  Easy driving.  We ended up well north of the freeway, north of Lake Charles for the night.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00046ff7cac9ae98ff560&ll=30.145127,-94.394531&spn=33.924854,78.662109&z=4

 

Watching the weather channel, Pensacola (where we were last night) is getting hammered.  It’s not a big hurricane, but even a tropical storm is still a lot of weather. 

 

Go Broncos.

 

 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday

Awake early. On the road early. North on the Florida Turnpike. North on Interstate 75. West on 10. Great roads in Florida. No frost heaves.

Keeping an eye on the sky. There’s a hurricane a’comin. It’s projected to make landfall at Pensacola Tuesday. That’s where we are now. We’ll be long gone by tomorrow night and the hurricane won’t even make landfall until a day after that.

We’re keeping an eye out and timing our run, anyway.

Along the way:






Been looking at the weather maps. There are storms ahead of us too. 9,025 miles into this trip. We’re this close. 720 miles to go to Port A. C’mon weather. Give us just a little bit longer…

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kissimmee

Finished the conference today. It was a good. It inspires me to work more on our processes; optimizing and documenting them, and improving the equipment we use. Time for some dedicated scanners.

Annie’s blood chemistry is still off, but she seems much better. She runs and plays again.

Along the way: the bagworm moth. The female covers herself with bits of whatever is handy before she hangs herself upside down from a branch.

Tomorrow, we start the trek back to the beach; the Texas beach. We’re 1,200 miles away.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

October birds

 

What a great birding month we had in October.  143 birds.  Several of them were unusual for us.  5 were lifers.

 

1

 

Canada Goose

 

Missouri

2

 

Wood Duck

 

Illinois

3

 

Mallard

 

Illinois

4

 

Mottled Duck

 

Florida

5

 

Wild Turkey

 

Tennessee

6

 

Pied-billed Grebe

 

Illinois

7

 

MASKED BOOBY

 

Florida

8

 

BROWN BOOBY

 

Florida

9

 

Brown Pelican

 

South Carolina

10

 

Double-crested Cormorant

 

Illinois

11

 

Anhinga

 

Georgia

12

 

Magnificent Frigatebird

 

Florida

13

 

Great Blue Heron

 

Nebraska

14

 

Great Egret

 

Illinois

15

 

Snowy Egret

 

South Carolina

16

 

Little Blue Heron

 

South Carolina

17

 

Tricolored Heron

 

Florida

18

 

Reddish Egret

 

Florida

19

 

Cattle Egret

 

Florida

20

 

Green Heron

 

Illinois

21

 

Black-crowned Night-Heron

 

South Carolina

22

 

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

 

Florida

23

 

White Ibis

 

South Carolina

24

 

Glossy Ibis

 

Florida

25

 

Roseate Spoonbill

 

Florida

26

 

Wood Stork

 

Georgia

27

 

Black Vulture

 

Tennessee

28

 

Turkey Vulture

 

Nebraska

29

 

Osprey

 

South Carolina

30

 

SNAIL KITE

 

Florida

31

 

Bald Eagle

 

Missouri

32

 

Northern Harrier

 

Florida

33

 

Sharp-shinned Hawk

 

Missouri

34

 

Cooper's Hawk

 

Florida

35

 

Red-shouldered Hawk

 

Florida

36

 

Red-tailed Hawk

 

Missouri

37

 

American Kestrel

 

Georgia

38

 

Merlin

 

Florida

39

 

Peregrine Falcon

 

Florida

40

 

Clapper Rail

 

Florida

41

 

Common Moorhen

 

Florida

42

 

American Coot

 

Illinois

43

 

LIMPKIN

 

Florida

44

 

Sandhill Crane

 

Florida

45

 

Black-bellied Plover

 

South Carolina

46

 

Wilson's Plover

 

Florida

47

 

Semipalmated Plover

 

Florida

48

 

Killdeer

 

Illinois

49

 

Spotted Sandpiper

 

Florida

50

 

Solitary Sandpiper

 

Florida

51

 

Greater Yellowlegs

 

Florida

52

 

Willet

 

Florida

53

 

Lesser Yellowlegs

 

Florida

54

 

Whimbrel

 

Florida

55

 

Ruddy Turnstone

 

Florida

56

 

Sanderling

 

Florida

57

 

Western Sandpiper

 

Florida

58

 

Least Sandpiper

 

Florida

59

 

Dunlin

 

Florida

60

 

Short-billed Dowitcher

 

Florida

61

 

Laughing Gull

 

South Carolina

62

 

Ring-billed Gull

 

Illinois

63

 

Caspian Tern

 

Florida

64

 

Royal Tern

 

South Carolina

65

 

Sandwich Tern

 

South Carolina

66

 

Black Skimmer

 

South Carolina

67

 

Rock Pigeon

 

Missouri

68

 

White-crowned Pigeon

 

Florida

69

 

Eurasian Collared-Dove

 

Nebraska

70

 

White-winged Dove

 

Florida

71

 

Mourning Dove

 

Missouri

72

 

Common Ground-Dove

 

Florida

73

 

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

 

Georgia

74

 

Eastern Screech-Owl

 

Florida

75

 

Great Horned Owl

 

Florida

76

 

Barred Owl

 

Georgia

77

 

Common Nighthawk

 

Florida

78

 

Chimney Swift

 

Illinois

79

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

 

Florida

80

 

Belted Kingfisher

 

Nebraska

81

 

Red-bellied Woodpecker

 

Tennessee

82

 

Downy Woodpecker

 

Illinois

83

 

Hairy Woodpecker

 

Florida

84

 

Northern Flicker

 

Nebraska

85

 

Eastern Wood-Pewee

 

Florida

86

 

Eastern Phoebe

 

Illinois

87

 

Western Kingbird

 

Florida

88

 

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

 

Florida

89

 

Loggerhead Shrike

 

Florida

90

 

White-eyed Vireo

 

Georgia

91

 

Yellow-throated Vireo

 

Florida

92

 

Philadelphia Vireo

 

Georgia

93

 

Blue Jay

 

Missouri

94

 

American Crow

 

Missouri

95

 

Fish Crow

 

Georgia

96

 

Tree Swallow

 

Florida

97

 

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

 

Illinois

98

 

Bank Swallow

 

Florida

99

 

Cliff Swallow

 

Florida

100

 

Barn Swallow

 

Florida

101

 

Carolina Chickadee

 

Illinois

102

 

Tufted Titmouse

 

Tennessee

103

 

Red-breasted Nuthatch

 

Georgia

104

 

White-breasted Nuthatch

 

Georgia

105

 

Carolina Wren

 

Missouri

106

 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

 

Illinois

107

 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

 

Florida

108

 

Eastern Bluebird

 

Tennessee

109

 

Swainson's Thrush

 

South Carolina

110

 

Hermit Thrush

 

South Carolina

111

 

Wood Thrush

 

South Carolina

112

 

American Robin

 

Illinois

113

 

Gray Catbird

 

Georgia

114

 

Northern Mockingbird

 

Illinois

115

 

Brown Thrasher

 

Georgia

116

 

European Starling

 

Missouri

117

 

COMMON MYNA

 

Florida

118

 

Cedar Waxwing

 

South Carolina

119

 

Northern Parula

 

Florida

120

 

Black-throated Blue Warbler

 

South Carolina

121

 

Yellow-throated Warbler

 

Florida

122

 

Pine Warbler

 

Georgia

123

 

Prairie Warbler

 

Georgia

124

 

Palm Warbler

 

Georgia

125

 

Black-and-white Warbler

 

Georgia

126

 

American Redstart

 

Georgia

127

 

Ovenbird

 

Florida

128

 

Northern Waterthrush

 

Florida

129

 

Common Yellowthroat

 

South Carolina

130

 

Summer Tanager

 

Georgia

131

 

Eastern Towhee

 

South Carolina

132

 

Chipping Sparrow

 

Illinois

133

 

Northern Cardinal

 

Illinois

134

 

Indigo Bunting

 

Florida

135

 

Red-winged Blackbird

 

Missouri

136

 

Western Meadowlark

 

Nebraska

137

 

Brewer's Blackbird

 

Nebraska

138

 

Common Grackle

 

Nebraska

139

 

Boat-tailed Grackle

 

South Carolina

140

 

House Finch

 

South Carolina

141

 

American Goldfinch

 

Illinois

142

 

House Sparrow

 

Illinois

143

 

EURASIAN TREE SPARROW

 

Missouri