Saturday, April 30, 2011

Estero Llano Grande State Park

Here is what it looks like from the deck.

Here is what it sounds like a little deeper in the park:

The really noisy birds are Chachalacas.

Friday, April 29, 2011

An unfortunate coincidence

The girl. The phone number. Rent me.

It is a coincidence, right?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Everything has to go just right

For a good Big Day, there has to be a solid plan; a schedule of where to be when. The plan has to take the birders to where the birds are at the right time of day (or night) for each. The good plan has to be well executed. No getting distracted by the sights, sounds, surroundings. Get each bird at each location and move on. The birders have to have the skills to identify the birds they’re after by whatever means necessary. Sometimes it’s sight, birding by sight, but that’s not the only sense allowed. Sometimes sound, habit, and habitat come into play to help with the I.D. Lucky for me, Jon did the plan and has the skills to execute it. I got to go along.

The weather has to be right as well. The best laid plans fall flat if there is a 30mph tailwind and all the migrants fly right on by. That’s how most of the migration has gone so far. Little birds going right on by overhead. They just flew 600 miles across the gulf and they’re still not tired enough to have to land.

But a couple weeks ago, conditions were forecast to be perfect, so that’s the day we went for it. We started at 2am. The wind was calm and we could hear the calls and clucks we needed. We got Clapper Rail, Virginia Rail, and Sora calling in the dark at the Birding Center in Port Aransas. We moved west to stops at Tule Lake, Hazel Bazemore, and outside Orange Grove. Eastern Screech Owls, Great Horned Owls, and Barn Owls. After the moon went down we were standing in the pitch black making Barn Owl growls when one almost took my head off. He didn’t actually hit me, but it was exciting when he went past!

The sun came up. Now we could get birds by sight. By 9am we had a hundred. We got the Monk Parakeets on our trip back through Orange Grove. A front passed through. The wind switched around to the north. A breeze picked up. Perfect to knock down some migrants. We got Upland Sandpipers in Sandia. We got Swainson’s Hawk at the Sod Farm. Great Kiskadees at Hazel Bazemore, Least Grebes and a Green Kingfisher at Pollywog Ponds, and more shorebirds at Tule Lake. Great Crested Flycatcher at Rose Hill. Chuck-will’s Widows and Chimney Swifts at Blucher. More shorebirds at Hans Suter. Got a Whimbrel at Texas A&M, and Eared Grebes in breeding plumage at Packery Channel. There were Nighthawks and Blue-winged Warblers at Paradise Pond. We got the Buff-bellied Hummingbird in Jon’s parents’ backyard in Rockport, continued north and ended up the day with a King Rail in the Guadalupe River Delta north of Tivoli.

It all came together. Our previous record from 2009: 191 birds. Jon went out on Big Days twice in 2010 and got 192, then 193 birds, but I didn’t go. This year, in 2011, 207 birds! A most excellent big day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Back at Port Aransas, the new ferryboat came in. The old boats carry 20 cars each.

The new one will carry 28!

Nobody will get to ride on it for another couple months while everyone trains on it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

On the move


It’s time for our summer travels.  To begin our trip north, we drove 150 miles south to the Valley.  We’ll stay in Edinburg for a week and close up the house, then head north for real.  We traded 85 degrees and a sea breeze for 95 degrees.  But, hey, who wants to do the same thing all the time anyway?


In case you were wondering about the critter on the roof in the shed picture I sent out yesterday, that is not a real iguana.  Those are in Florida.  This lizard is ceramic; a talavera decoration.



Sunday, April 24, 2011


We spruced up the shed. A new door. Some brighter paint.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dog video


A link to a short dog video.  It’s pretty cute.  It made us think of Henry.


Thanks to Bigfoot for forwarding it to me.



Friday, April 22, 2011

Pure Poetry


This has been in my head ever since McKee wrote it a year ago.  Nicely said.


I love the way your friendships and contacts are as flexible as your nesting area.  Seems like you have perfect privacy, and then perfect proximity, too.  All sorts of people, closer than if you lived in a city and had to drive to South Denver to see people you like.  They come and go and you come and go, in a sort of impermanent permanence.  And all the while, beauty and birds.  As the Navajos would say, you "walk in beauty." 

Yesterday we installed sod.



Thursday, April 21, 2011

Zoom N Groom

Before Zoom N Groom.

Zoom N Groom.

After Zoom N Groom.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


We bought the couch 5 years ago.

We sat on it every day. It got worn.

We decided to upgrade.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


They start on Friday and are judged Sunday at noon. Singles. Teams. Amateur. Professional.

No stickum allowed. Sand and water only.

The only additions are little wires at the top, not to provide support, but to keep gulls from landing on the most sensitive parts of the sculptures.

As the sculptures dry out they deteriorate. I’d like to watch them go away slowly over the course of many days, but they are only left up for a day or two then they get bulldozed.

The pictures above are from Monday. This is the view on Tuesday:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hard to spot

But this should help. A Kodak moment.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Watch out!


Friday the 13th came on a Wednesday this month.


That day is so tricky.  Just when you think you’ve got it figured out…...



Tuesday, April 12, 2011



When we were on our trip to Brazos Bend State Park, we did a little fishing.  We were next to a pond one evening.  I got out the flyrod and landed a bluegill right off.  Jeff tried his hand and it wasn’t long before he hooked a red-eared slider.  He landed a turtle!  We were fishing catch-and-release, barbless.  The turtle was let-go unharmed.


Today, Judy topped us both.  On a ferry crossing in the Jeep, she caught a fish.  With her windshield!  Plop.  It landed on her windshield, followed shortly thereafter by the hungry gull that dropped it in the first place.  So it was sort of like catch-and-release.  We didn’t keep the fish, although it probably didn’t survive the ordeal.  A startled Judy was left with a fish-print on the windshield.



Monday, April 11, 2011

Blowing in the wind

Days later, the boat is still on the beach. There is *some* activity. There appears to be a salvage effort underway. Two guys with a rope trying to free it from the sand. The salvagers don’t really look like the boat owners or a contract crew.

They may need to tighten up the rigging a little.

Sunday, April 10, 2011



It has been windy here.  It has been windier offshore.  We woke Thursday morning to a sailboat parked on the beach.  Sailboats don’t normally park on our beach.  A couple from South Padre Island lost control of their sloop the day before in the big wind and ended up 150 miles from home.  Their mast still up, but the mainsail down in wreckage.  The jib still up, flapping in tatters.  The boat was upright in about 3 feet of water and rocking back and forth in the waves.  That’s another bad sign for a sailboat.  You would expect a sailboat with a keel to be lying on its side in shallow water.  I’m guessing the keel was lost somewhere along the way as well.


Their towed dingy was still attached to the boat by a rope, but the dinghy was upside down.  The couple that parked the boat there appeared safe and sound, but I’ll bet they had a long night.  The boat came ashore a ways to the south, and worked its way up the beach during the night.


So what do you do with a sailboat stranded far from home?  We’re watching to see.  The towboat company arrived on the beach with a large pickup truck.  They tied the sailboat off to the truck so it won’t continue wandering up the beach with the wind.


Now.  A couple days later, everyone and everything is gone; except the sailboat.  It’s just rocking back and forth gently in the waves.  Maybe you don’t have to do anything with a sailboat stranded far from home.  Maybe they’re not coming back for it.



Saturday, April 9, 2011

County Music Lyric


“Riding down the wrong road………………….just as fast as I can.”


Got to respect that!



Friday, April 8, 2011


in the barbecue stand. Carolina wrens. They were building a nest.

Can you see the nest in the back? That was two days work.

In live action, it looked like this:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sign in a store


Unattended children will receive a complimentary espresso and a free puppy.



Monday, April 4, 2011

Springtime in South Texas.


The weather is warm.  The fields are planted.  The corn will be knee-high by the fourth of ………………………..April!


It’s already knee high.  The ground warms up here a little earlier than it does in Colorado.



Sunday, April 3, 2011

Annie and Henry


Get a cookie every evening.  Here is how the ritual goes:


Saturday, April 2, 2011


The gators are definitely for real. Walking here is like visiting an Alligator Farm where they open up the gate to the gators and say “Come on in. Go anywhere you want, but be careful you don’t get killed.”

Really, people don’t get killed very often by alligators. We’re told there has never been a gator-related fatality in Texas. People have been injured by alligators, but not here at Brazos Bend State Park. We’re hoping to help them maintain their perfect record.

Friday, April 1, 2011


It’s better to just turn aro……..

Wait a minute! I think we can get past this one!