Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Birthday Annie


January 31, 2000.  She’s 14 years old today.


She’s been lots of places.


Done a lot of things.


And been Miss December in the Cockapoo calendar.


Tonight she got extra cookies.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Monk Parakeets


Making a mess out of a lightpost.






Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I walk in cemeteries


They make really good birding habitat; with their trees, grass, and quiet.  I try to be respectful.  I don’t walk through burial ceremonies, and I give a wide berth to anyone who is visiting a lost loved one.


Walking through Roselawn Cemetery in McAllen the other day, I noticed side-by-side graves with a single headstone.  That’s not uncommon; to get buried side-by-side.  Each name had a birth date.  One had a date of death, but the other didn’t.  That’s not uncommon either.  It just hasn’t all played out yet.  Except that in this circumstance, both the birth dates were in the 1800s.  I don’t think that other date is ever going to get filled in.  That’s sad, but sometimes plans change.


That got me thinking about Dad’s grave.  I watch people visiting grave sites, but that doesn’t really resonate with me; visiting the place where a body is buried.  I think about Dad, but I don’t go back to Long Beach to visit his gravesite.  I don’t imagine there is a soul lying there in the ground waiting for someone to come visit.  I don’t suppose anyone visits Dad’ gravesite anymore.  I don’t recall that there was a tombstone with both names on it, waiting for Mom to show up, but back in 1968, I’ll bet the expectation was that they would eventually be buried together.


But that didn’t happen.  Mom went on for almost another 25 years and lived a whole new life.  When she died in 1992, we set her ashes free in the Colorado High Country in accordance with her wishes.  She didn’t want to be buried in the ground next to anyone.  A pebble here makes a ripple there, so I guess she’s everywhere by now, but she’s not in the ground next to Dad.  Sometimes plans just change.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lesser Goldfinch


Can you see me now?


What?  Really?  I can’t see you…



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hook-billed Kite


A strange bird.  A hawk that climbs around in trees to eat tree snails.  They’re not in the U.S. much, so it’s a big deal when someone locates one.


Several have just been found living about 20 miles from our house.  That’s worth a couple visits.  Yesterday we saw one perched, but from so far away it was hard to make out.  Today we saw 3, all flying low to the ground through the underbrush.  Not great looks, but much better than yesterday.  No photos though.


Here is what we’d have seen if we’d gotten a really good look:


(I poached these off the internet.)



Go Broncos!



Saturday, January 25, 2014

The house of McKee


Remember the bookcase-lined hallway with secret doors?


Here is a video of the hidden doors in action.


It’s not just doors on hinges.  Watch the action of the vertical trim piece in the middle, between the two sections.



Friday, January 24, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Eastern Bluebird


Oh yeah?


Well then, can you do this?



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014



Is still a fun game; at least for two more weeks…



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Along the way


A colorful crew at the water feature…



Great Kiskadee, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Clay-colored Thrush.


Friday, January 17, 2014



…was practicing thinking in Swedish.  That struck me as quite the feat.


After we hang out with Henry and Barbara (our Germadian friends) for a few days I find myself thinking with a German accent.


Almost the same thing?



Thursday, January 16, 2014



Arachnophobes, don’t scroll down.







Hang up now!







Walking along the shore of a shallow salt lake, what do I spy?


A Texas Brown Tarantula.


He casts a shadow!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The inexorable slide


…into obscurity.  I’ve gone back to work.  I still walk each day and we see a few birds, but at this reduced rate, our ranking has fallen from our high of number 57.  That burst of intense birding for the first 10 days of the year got us a place on the leaderboard, but not for long.


Yours truly,


Number 83



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

In my continuing efforts


…to capture the moment,


I sometimes capture a moment I didn’t intend.



Monday, January 13, 2014

A cool looking snake


…in the brush at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge last week.



It’s either a harmless Mexican Milk Snake


…or a deadly Texas Coral Snake…


Sunday, January 12, 2014

The good news is


…the Broncos won their playoff game against San Diego tonight.  That was so exciting.


The bad news is… the Broncos won their playoff game against San Diego tonight.  Now we have to go through this all again next Sunday.  We’re a mess!



Saturday, January 11, 2014

Nothing like a change of scenery


…to boost a bird count.  A few hours of birding different habitat over the course of two days resulted in 24 new year-birds.  Our new year-count is now 155.


A bonaparte’s gull in the middle of a bunch of black skimmers in the morning mist, marbled godwit, semipalmated plover, whimbrel, long billed curlew, black bellied plover, and common yellowthroat.









We’re back at Sandpipers in Edinburg in time for football on the big screen.  This is great.  Four playoff games, and the Broncos and Chargers are the last to play.  That means I can enjoy football all weekend before there is any danger of football being a stupid game this week.


Yours truly,


Number 57


Friday, January 10, 2014

Mustang Island


Life is good.


Yours truly,


Number 99



Thursday, January 9, 2014

Judy is such a good wife


…she suggested we move up the coast so we could bird different habitat for a couple days and take one more run at the leader board.  How nice is that?


We’re at Mustang Island State Park.  By not birding at all yesterday, at 131 birds for the year, we had fallen to 133rd place this morning.  9 new birds today.  Marsh Wren, Greater Yellowlegs, Sanderling, Herring Gull, Royal Tern, Ross’s Goose, Eastern Bluebird, Painted Redstart, Gray Catbird.  We’ll see where 140 birds ranks us tomorrow morning.



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The big week


…is done.  One week of continuous birding.  Well, not quite continuous, but birding was the priority.  We flirted with a place in the top 100, but didn’t quite make it there.  At the end of the week, our results are:


131 birds, spread over 4 counties; 34 more species than at this time last year.


This morning’s eBird placement:


United States       102

Texas                    17

Cameron County     9

Hidalgo County       4

Starr County         15

Zapata County       2


A fun week.  We did it at a pace that was enjoyable for the whole time, but we’re ready to move on and do other things again too.  Like today.  We stayed home and slow-cooked ribs and cowboy beans all afternoon.  (I think another one of those things to do will be to plan how to get more birds the first week of next year.)