Thursday, March 31, 2011


Sometimes, it’s just better to turn around and go the other way.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brazos Bend State Park

Can’t get enough of this place. Jeff and Carol’s yard.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


The bluebonnets are in bloom.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Yellow Rail

It’s the reason we’re here. The Yellow Rail is pretty much an impossible bird to get here unless you go on a Rail Walk. Not even they guy who leads the walk can get it without going on a rail walk. The Yellow rail lives in deep wet grass. He doesn’t want to fly; he just ducks away through the grass before you ever see him. One person alone can’t flush him. Five times a year, Anahuac Nation Wildlife Refuge sponsors a Yellow Rail walk. It’s more like a tiger hunt than a birding trip. The Rail Walk participants are the beaters. Two in the lead walk through the marsh with a rope strung between them, empty milk jugs with rocks in them tied on the rope. The rest of the people walk spread out in a line behind the rope. Even though the terrain is difficult, the walk has to happen at a brisk pace, or the birds will just scurry away without flying; without being seen. This configuration is supposed to give the rails nowhere else to go, so they fly and we get to see them. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Today was the first day of the season for rail walks. We marched through the field, dragging milk jugs with rocks in them, until we couldn’t go any more. No Rails. It was a valiant effort. We got Seaside Sparrows and Sedge Wrens, but no Yellow Rail. Here is a Snowy Egret with his breeding face on. And a Red-tailed Hawk fairly close up.

The Yellow Rail remains a challenge for another day.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Road trip!

North from Port Aransas. Up the coast, east past Houston. We’re at Turtle Bayou RV Park for two nights. Right on the water. Cypress swamp.

With Jeff and Carol. That’s their rig right next to us.

It doesn’t suck at all.

Thursday, March 24, 2011



We got Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at our feeder today.  The first of the season.


The weather just bumps along, high seventies, low eighties, with a breeze (sometimes a wind) from the southeast.  No migrants to speak of.  The occasional Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Savannah Sparrows.  But they’ve both been here all winter.  We think with that tailwind the little birds all just cruising right on past.  No need to stop at the first land if you’re not even tired yet.  Bad news for the birders clustered here, binoculars at the ready.  Probably great news for the migrant birds.


If a front moves through and we get a blow from the north, that will knock a few birds down so we can see them.  Great news for us.  Not so good for the birds.


I’m fine with favorable weather just blowing them right on past.  They could use the occasional break.  Speaking of breaks, Spring Break has come and gone.  Warm gentle weather throughout.  Port Aransas had an extra hundred thousand visitors.  That’s noticeable in a town of less than four thousand.  A well behaved crowd though.  Less than three hundred arrests.



Monday, March 21, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Really, the puddle didn't look that deep

I’d already been through several of them out on the mudflats at Wilson’s Cut. I picked the wrong line through this hazard though. Over on the left; that’s the line not-to-follow.

The left side didn’t look that ugly before I drove into it. I buried the entire left side of the Jeep. I invoked the first rule of 4 wheel drive survival: Drive around in 2 wheel drive. When you find yourself stuck, put it in 4 wheel drive, back out, turn around, and go home. 4 wheel drive didn’t get me out. I stopped making it worse, and turned everything off. The driver’s door wouldn’t open. I was surrounded by mud.

I climbed out the gun-turret and sat on the roof. No help in sight. I called our friend Jeff to come get me in his dually. While I was waiting, a car appeared on the horizon, worked its way to me, and stopped. To my great relief, it wasn’t a Hummer, it was another Jeep. A Wrangler with big fat tires.

I tossed the Good Samaritan a tow-strap, and after a couple tries, we got me out. Success! Saved! I got to call Jeff off before he even got his truck dirty.

I left a little of the front end trim in the mud, but hell, who needs a front air-dam on a Jeep anyway. Dirty, bruised, and only a little broken.

It made perfect sense to be there though. I had to be there. We have a bird-walk through a marsh coming up and I had to make sure my mud-boots worked okay. All I was doing was getting to a really good place to test-drive the mud-boots.

That part of the adventure was a roaring success. Once we got the car rescued, I went on with the mud-boot test and they worked just fine.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's funny


Someone who rented our site while we were gone left a note at the office for us.  It read like this:


Dear Owners of 414

You have decorated your space just lovely.  It was very welcoming.  I am a Master Gardner in Lubbock TX and I would rate your place “Top of the Show”.


Thank you for sharing.


But that’s not the funny part.  That’s the nice part.


The funny part is that after they left, the office found that our appreciative visitors had left the site littered with dog poop and bags of trash.


Guess our place is the nicest place they’ve ever trashed!



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Henry has a crate

Annie has a bed.

Well, she had a bed until Henry ate it, so we got her a new one today. What shall we do with Annie’s new bed so Henry can’t get it before he gets locked in his crate tonight?

I know. We’ll put it on top of his crate.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Break


Gulf Waters has lots of younger families with kids.  More trailers (bumper-pulls).  Less motorhomes.  Kids throwing rocks in the ponds.  It’s too crowded to go on the beach anywhere near town.  There is real traffic in Port Aransas, and don’t even think about taking the ferry in the afternoon.


It’s not so bad.  We’re five miles from town, so our beach is still relatively clear.  Lots of people having a lot of fun.  It only lasts a week.



Monday, March 14, 2011



8 seconds on a 2,000 pound bull that doesn’t want you there.


I wonder who thought that was a good idea.



Sunday, March 13, 2011

I was just wondering.


Do you think the people in countries we in America describe as third-world describe themselves as third-world?


Do they chant “We’re number three!”?



Friday, March 11, 2011


We get more than one kind of bird in the field of view.

Green Jays, Golden Fronted Woodpecker, Red-winged Blackbird, Mourning Dove.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Travel Day

Wednesday.  We left our home in the Valley to rejoin our home at the beach.  Now we’re bihomal.


A few migrant birds in the neighborhood.  Five different warblers and a waterthrush today.


Tonight’s entertainment:



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I don't think I said what I meant to say


We didn’t see the Mitred Parakeets here at Sandpipers; they’re not here.  We saw them in October 2009 in South Miami, Florida.  We didn’t get to put them on the life-list then, because there wasn’t a spot to put them in the Thayer Birding Software.  Now, over a year later, using eBird, there is a place to put the Mitred Parakeet.  So we got a new bird without leaving Sandpipers not by seeing it here, but by recording something we saw a year ago.



Monday, March 7, 2011

Mitred Parakeet

Got another lifer today, without leaving Sandpipers. I got to thinking about exotic birds we’ve seen but couldn’t count because they weren’t listed in our birding program.

We’ve seen Great White Herons in the Keys. They’re white morphs of the Great Blue Heron. Mitred parakeets in Miami, they’re escapees that may have established breeding populations. It’s hard to tell with parrots because they live so long a few escapees can look like a breeding colony for fifty years, then die out. Wild Peafowl outside the Everglades. Maybe escapees, maybe an established population. Junglefowl in Key West. They’ve been there for years, but haven’t been studied and recognized as an independent population. Peach–faced Lovebirds in Mesa, Arizona. They look well established, but there is that problem with parrots again. They live so long.

Well, guess what…. Now we’re working with eBird, a different birding program. eBird lets us count the Mitred Parakeet. Another Life Bird!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Here is the reason

I didn’t send out any pictures of the White-collared Seedeater:

This is the best picture I got! He’s there on the right.

Judy pointed out this morning that this is our one-week anniversary in our new place. One week? That’s all? It already feels like we’ve always been here.

We hosted a housewarming get-together this afternoon. Judy spent the morning putting together a ton of food; pinwheel wraps, sausage in sauce, 7 layer dip, hot artichoke dip and toasted focaccia bread, fruit dip, plus, of course, the usual salsa and guacamole. We got to show off the house. 75 degree calm sunny weather, so it was comfortable to be inside or out. All the food got eaten. Nice neighbors. Nice neighborhood. That was fun.

And spring has sprung. Birds have been here the whole time, but suddenly the mockingbirds are singing every morning. We saw a scissor-tailed flycatcher yesterday.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A good investment

We have tried for the White-collared Seedeater before with little luck. It has been on our mind for years; to get it when the opportunity presented itself. Today the opportunity and the bird presented themselves.

For the last week or so there have been a couple seedeaters seen reliably at San Ygnacio, upriver from here. We got up at 4:30 to be there by 8am. We ran into Joel, the guy who has been reporting it every day and he led us right to it. Three white-collared Seedeaters in all! A nice long look at them.

An early start. 250 miles. A little tired tonight. Life bird. It was a good time and energy investment.

We didn’t get a good picture of him. Here’s a Black-throated Sparrow instead:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A few years ago

it would have been a big deal to buy a 32” Hi Def television. Now, this one was so inexpensive it’s just the one we bought to have something until we decide what we really want.

And what a difference five years makes! This picture is *so* much better than on the state-of-the art “HD ready” TV that came in our motorhome.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 3


Our television got delivered at eleven.  At noon the dish network guy put the satellite dish up on the roof.  Now we’re wired.


Judy demonstrated that the broiler and smoke alarm both work.



Day 4


Judy mowed the yard.  Brother Tom and Kathy came for a nice afternoon visit.