Sunday, February 28, 2010

Travel Day!

 

All the way from The Valley back to Port Aransas.  150 miles.  North on Highway 281.  Through the border check point (50 miles north of the border) for illegal drugs and aliens.  They didn’t find any.  To our benefit, they determined we didn’t have any *without* having to search through every cabinet inside and out this time.

 

Right after the border check point is the Highway 281 Rest Stop.  It’s in the median between the northbound and southbound lanes of the highway.  There are large oaks, picnic shelters, tables, paths, old buildings, and scrub forest on either end.  We always have to stop there and take a quick walk around for birds.  Later in the year we would get a good Tanager or Oriole.  This time we got some usuals: cardinal, green jay, titmouse, yellow-rumped warbler, ruby-crowned kinglet.  We got a blue-headed vireo too; our first for the month (on the last day of the month).  Now, starting tomorrow, we’ll need one again.

 

We drove on.  We turned right on Highway 44 and watched for Mountain Plover in the plowed fields, but we didn’t see any.  We turned right on Highway 358, South Padre Island Drive (SPID) and drove through Corpus Christi.  Nice and familiar.  We watched Oso Bay and Corpus Christi Bay appear on the navigator map and in front of us.  We crossed the big bridge; the one over the Intracoastal Waterway; Snoopy’s Fish and Chips below to the right.  We didn’t stop.  We turned left on Highway 361 onto the island.  There is still standing water and White Ibis in the roadside ditches.

 

We went south for the winter.  Now we’re back.

 

Life on the beach.

 

 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ruby crowned kinglet

It’s hard to take a good picture of a ruby crowned kinglet. They’re tiny little birds; about the size of a hummingbird, and they flit about. Constantly. If you have a camera with a significant shutter lag, like I do, you get a lot of pictures of where the kinglet just was…

Here’s the best we’ve been able to do so far…






If you can get one while he’s *really* agitated, you can see his red crown.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Immature hawks

Immature hawks all tend to look alike. Here is one on a wire. From the face and chest patterns we thought it might be an immature gray hawk. Because of the tail length though, we settled on immature Red-shouldered Hawk.






Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday

A cold night; in the thirties, but back to warm sunny weather today. I got to go back outside to exercise.

Curve-billed Thrasher.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nothing going on today

Cold. Rainy. Stayed inside and worked all day. I even ran inside. (I wait for Judy to go do errands before I do that so I don’t make her too crazy.)
Here’s an Altamira Oriole from last weekend.



Monday, February 22, 2010

Annie

Annie enjoying the South Texas sun.



And look; no tan lines!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mystery bird

 

It’s fun to recognize birds by their calls.  Sometimes we never see a particular bird; we just have to figure it out by the sound it makes.  Today, at Falcon State Park, we heard a call we didn’t recognize.  It sounded kind of like a dove.  There are six different kinds of doves here, so there are lots of different dove sounds to know.  It wasn’t quite any of them though.  This sounded like a dove, it had the right tone, but it didn’t match up with any of the dove calls.  It wasn’t a dove.

 

We had to find the bird, with just the occasional call to guide us.  When we did find it, it was not a bird we expected to see in the place we saw it…

 

You can see him call in the first part of this short clip.  You can’t hear it very well, but this is the best I could get before he left.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kndz0al3C74

 

You can get a better look at him in the tree on this clip.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaNZGF7zu78

 

 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Anzalduas

Anzalduas County Park.






It’s the place to go to see Zone-tailed Hawks, Hook-billed Kites, and Northern Beardless-tyrannulets. We went there. We didn’t see any.




Friday, February 19, 2010

Common Pauraque

Fullscreen.

Common Pauraque

Now he takes up the right two thirds of the center of the picture, head to our left.



Common Pauraque

He’s in the leaf rubble.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Can you find the.

It’s time for the annual “Can you find the sleeping Pauraque in this picture?” email.
So…



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Whale

 

At Port Aransas, at least we knew to bury the whale right off and not try to blow it up to get rid of it (which has been tried before).

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Vmnq5dBF7Y

 

 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Citizen Science

 

What a great way to gather data.  Put out the word and the population goes and gets it for you.  So far, 72,000 bird lists posted.  571 species.  7.9 million birds counted.  Checklists for the four-day event are still coming in.

 

http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/

 

Texas leads the species list with 322.

 

U.S. cities reporting the most species: Tivoli, Rockport, Corpus Christi, and Kingsville, in that order, all in Texas,

 

 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Great Kiskadee

Here is what he looks like when he’s not talking.








Valentine's Day

 

Judy and I have been on a couple cruises.  Cruises are interesting.  They offer more ports of call and more forms of entertainment than you can possibly take advantage of in one week or one trip.  Turns out what we enjoyed the most though, were “Days at Sea”.  Days where nothing happened.  No ports of call.  No entertainment.  Days on the deck watching the sea go by.  Strolls around the ship.

 

Today, at the RV park in South Texas, we had a Day at Sea.  Nothing happened.  No-one entertained us.  We watched a boat race on the computer.  Took a bike ride around the resort.  We sat outside.  We had a visit.  We grilled some wings.  Took a walk.  Chatted with neighbors.  A little NASCAR.  A little Olympics.

 

A happy Valentine’s Day.

 

 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

America's Cup

 

Got up at 5:30 this morning.  Checked the race.  It was postponed.  Went back to sleep.  They didn’t start the contest until almost the end of the day in Valencia, so we got to watch the entire thing.

 

They built flying machines for this race.  I can’t get over how much different this is than my sailing experience.  The boats are massive.  On the U.S. entry, the mast is almost as long as a football field.  The whole thing is 90 feet long and 90 feet wide.  Two of the three hulls fly out of the water the entire time.  Only one part of the boat touches.  The rest of this sailing machine is in the sky.

 

The crew gathers on the upwind hull as ballast, maybe 50 feet in the air.  There are also motors on board to pump water into the windward hull so they can power even harder with the sails.  They raced at 30 knots!  In a sailboat!  This is not wallowing around in the water in a monohull.

 

Still pictures don’t really show it.  You have see the video.  They’re replaying the second (final) race at the America’s Cup website:

 

http://www.americascup.com/en/regate/regarder-la-course/show.php

 

 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Great Kiskadee

 

A very talkative Great Kiskadee at the Allen Williams yard in Pharr, Tx.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrLse2IQluo

 

 

Friday, February 12, 2010

America's Cup

 

They got the race off this morning in Valencia; late enough for us to catch some of the web broadcast.  The live video was amazing.  With so much of the boats out of the water, it looks more like low flying than sailing.  Haven’t found a recorded video of the race yet.

 

Next match, Sunday.

 

 

The Great Backyard Birdcount

Look out your window. Take a walk. Record the birds you see. Send it in.
They make it really easy.

http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/

The count goes for 4 days, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.

Our list for Friday:

Locality: Edinburg, Hidalgo County, TX
Observation Date: FEB 12, 2010
Start Time: 5:00 PM
Total Birding Time: 1 hour
Habitat(s):
scrub
freshwater
Number of Species: 38
All Reported: yes
Checklist:
Gadwall - 12
Blue-winged Teal - 8
Cinnamon Teal - 3
Northern Shoveler - 50
Green-winged Teal - 5
Lesser Scaup - 5
Ruddy Duck - 45
Least Grebe - 6
Neotropic Cormorant - 15
Double-crested Cormorant - 5
Anhinga - 1
Great Blue Heron - 3
Great Egret - 5
Snowy Egret - 10
Little Blue Heron - 2
Cattle Egret - 3
Black-crowned Night-Heron - 3
Turkey Vulture - 4
Red-tailed Hawk - 1
American Kestrel - 3
Merlin - 1
American Coot - 9
Black-necked Stilt - 30
Least Sandpiper - 60
Stilt Sandpiper - 1
Long-billed Dowitcher - 35
Mourning Dove - 1
Greater Roadrunner - 1
Great Kiskadee - 3
Purple Martin - 3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 1
Northern Mockingbird - 4
Long-billed Thrasher - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 9
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 15
Red-winged Blackbird - 90
Great-tailed Grackle - 40
House Sparrow - 15

Thursday, February 11, 2010

If we had been in Port Aransas.

Then we would have seen this giant dead whale on the beach.


They had to drag it up to the dunes to bury it.



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

America's Cup

 

No racing Monday.  No racing today, Wednesday.  Next opportunity; Friday.

Check out this report.  The Oracle boat claims 2 knots windspeed, 22 knots boatspeed!

 

http://www.sail-world.com/USA/Americas-Cup:-Images-from-Valencia---BMW-Oracle-Racing--2/66215

 

Still no U.S. television coverage of the event.  It’s broadcast live over the internet, but live, Valencia time, is about 3:00am U.S. Central Time.  Any day a race goes, it should be just finishing up by the time we get up at 7:00am our time.  This would be great material for a special someday though.

 

 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Zac Brown Band/Leon Russell

 

For all you Leon Russell fans, Leon resurfaced for a television live performance recently.  It’s fun to hear that distinctive voice.

 

The Zac Brown Band was good too.  Check out the big finish.  Hard to believe they made all that noise without a five string banjo.  The video is about half-way down on the left.

 

http://www.shallownation.com/2010/01/31/zac-brown-band-leon-russell-grammy-awards-2010-video-performance/

 

 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunday pictures

Greater Roadrunner. Plain Chachalaca. Orange-Crowned Warbler.







Sunday, February 7, 2010

Roadside Hawk

 

There has been a Roadside Hawk in the Valley, at Frontera Audubon, for about a week.  It would be a good bird to get.  There aren’t many North American records for it.  This hawk normally doesn’t go north of Mexico.  It’s not even listed in our Sibley’s North American bird book.

 

So, this morning, we headed off to see the Roadside Hawk.  We stopped at Edinburg Scenic Wetlands first; walked the trails and saw a few birds.  From there we went to Quinta Mazatlan, an old adobe estate in McAllen, converted to a wildlife refuge.  It was closed because it’s Sunday, so we moved on to Frontier Audubon in Weslaco.  It was open.  At the reception desk our first questions were about where to find the hawk and when it was last seen.  This hasn’t been an easy bird to get, so we expected a rather generalized answer.  The answer we got was surprising specific.  She said “I can tell you exactly where it is.  Right about now it’s in a box headed north to the University of Texas where they’ll study and document the remains.”

 

It turns out a Great Horned Owl moved into the Frontera Audubon Thicket night before last.  Yesterday they found what was left of the Roadside Hawk on the ground under a tree.  The Great Horned Owl ate it.  Oh well.  Wild Kingdom.

 

We had a walk through the thicket anyway and got some more birds for the day.  We didn’t get anything terribly uncommon, but we picked up a couple new year-birds: the Wilson’s Warbler and the Plain Chachalaca.

 

Here is our list for the day.  Four hours; forty birds:

 

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

edinburg scenic wetlands

Gadwall

edinburg scenic wetlands

Blue-winged Teal

edinburg scenic wetlands

Northern Shoveler

edinburg scenic wetlands

Ruddy Duck

edinburg scenic wetlands

Plain Chachalaca

frontera audubon

Least Grebe

edinburg scenic wetlands

Neotropic Cormorant

edinburg scenic wetlands

Double-crested Cormorant

edinburg scenic wetlands

Great Blue Heron

edinburg scenic wetlands

Great Egret

edinburg scenic wetlands

Snowy Egret

edinburg scenic wetlands

Cattle Egret

edinburg

Cattle Egret

edinburg scenic wetlands

Black-crowned Night-Heron

edinburg scenic wetlands

Turkey Vulture

edinburg scenic wetlands

Turkey Vulture

frontera audubon

Red-shouldered Hawk

frontera audubon

Crested Caracara

edinburg

Common Moorhen

edinburg scenic wetlands

American Coot

edinburg scenic wetlands

Laughing Gull

edinburg scenic wetlands

Rock Pigeon

edinburg

Eurasian Collared-Dove

edinburg

Mourning Dove

edinburg

Inca Dove

edinburg scenic wetlands

Inca Dove

frontera audubon

Greater Roadrunner

edinburg scenic wetlands

Belted Kingfisher

edinburg scenic wetlands

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

edinburg

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

edinburg scenic wetlands

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

frontera audubon

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

frontera audubon

Great Kiskadee

edinburg scenic wetlands

Couch's Kingbird

frontera audubon

Loggerhead Shrike

edinburg

Black-crested Titmouse

frontera audubon

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

edinburg scenic wetlands

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

edinburg scenic wetlands

Northern Mockingbird

edinburg scenic wetlands

Northern Mockingbird

frontera audubon

Orange-crowned Warbler

edinburg scenic wetlands

Orange-crowned Warbler

frontera audubon

Yellow-rumped Warbler

edinburg scenic wetlands

Wilson's Warbler

frontera audubon

Northern Cardinal

frontera audubon

Great-tailed Grackle

edinburg

 

 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Revenge of the knee

 

The knee is better now.  So is the blood pressure and racing pulse.

 

The steroid shot that made the knee so much better so fast…  It hardly ever has any side effects…  Except when it makes your blood pressure 166/93 and pulse rate 119.  Light-headedness and a headach to go with it.  That was enough to prompt a call to the doctor for a follow-up.  The doctor advised us to give it some time and check back if it wasn’t better.

 

My pulse rate this morning was 56, less than half the rate Judy’s was at its high.  Happily, Judy’s pulse rate is now back down to 72.  That’s about normal for her.

 

 

Friday, February 5, 2010

The 33rd America's Cup

 

Every four years or so, they race.  They’ve been doing this since 1851.  Typically, the teams sail almost traditional looking single hull racing yachts.  Each time, however, the winning team gets to make up the rules for the next competition.  This time, the competitors look radically different from previous generations of boats.  There will be a giant catamaran versus a giant trimaran capable of sporting a fixed vertical wing instead of a fabric sail; a wing that stands over 200 feet high (twice as big as the wing of a Boeing 747)!

 

http://www.americascup.com/en/lieu/valence-espagne/valencia-15-909

 

If you follow the links for “The Actors” and click on Alinghi or BMW Oracle, you get access to the teams and the boats and some spectacular photos:

 

http://www.americascup.com/en/acteurs/alinghi/presentation-55-43

 

http://www.americascup.com/en/acteurs/bmw-oracle/presentation-56-44

 

This America’s Cup is going to be totally different!

 

(It starts Monday and it’s only two or three races; the best two out of three.)  It’s going to be broadcast to the world, hundreds of millions of people, but I don’t know if they’ve settled on a U.S. television carrier yet.  It will at least be available live on the internet.

 

 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Satellite dish follow-up

We’ve been in Harlingen, not because we wanted to be there, but because that’s where we needed to be to get the television satellite dish fixed. The part came yesterday. The rain stopped this morning. Ken, the repair guy, fixed the stuff on the roof, loaded updated software on the controller in the cabinet, and everything is fixed!
It’s odd the way some RV Parks are set up. They have cement pads, but you don’t park your rig on the pad, you park on the grass next to it and the pad is your patio. No problem, unless of course it rains for days.


An RV could get stuck trying to leave. That didn’t happen to us though. We just drove right out.



We have the month of February reserved at a different place down here in the valley, so off we went this afternoon to claim our spot at Sandpipers. We’ll stay here the rest of the month.



I made a new map link to show our winter travels:



http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047ebbf84effdf77693&ll=27.488781,-97.514648&spn=4.160685,9.832764&z=7



More knee

 

A visit to the orthopedist today.  The injury is probably a meniscus tear, but as a result of two previous knee surgeries in 1999 and 2002, Judy probably doesn’t have enough meniscus left to trim any more off.  A steroid shot to the knee calmed things down; at least for a while.  As long as the knee doesn’t lock up, there probably won’t be any surgery to fix it.  We’ll follow-up with the orthopedist in Corpus Christi next month if we need to.

 

 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Knee follow-up

 

We take this knee issue to be a torn meniscus.  It happened before, a few years ago, so it is familiar.  It feels like an emergency.  The doctors here don’t see it that way though.  Judy’s knee is only painful, not life-threatening.  This area is filled with Winter Texans.  Maybe the doctors are too busy replacing hips and knees to do a little arthroscopic surgery.

 

Judy kept after it.  Finally, this afternoon, one of the doctors relented and we have an appointment for tomorrow morning.