Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Black-tailed Jackrabbit




He doesn’t look much like a cottontail bunny rabbit.


When he gets those long legs all stretched out…


…he looks more like what?  …an antelope?


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thinking minimalist


Simpler is better.  Less is more.


We have a house and a minivan.  That’s pretty much all we need.  Anything more is just bonus.


This line of thinking led us to consider that a Casita might be just the traveling solution for us.  A house, a minivan, and a Casita.


The Casita is small and light enough it could be towed by the minivan.  It’s big enough to include a bed, kitchen, and bathroom.  It was perfect… until we actually walked in to one.  A couple in Flour Bluff was kind enough to give us a tour of theirs.  Judy and the wife went inside.  The guy and I were still outside talking “tongue weight” and “stabilizer jacks” when Judy came back out the door gesturing something.  “Safe at home!” perhaps?  No that’s not it.  She was indicating something more like “No f-ing way!”  She got claustrophobic without even closing the door.  She couldn’t breathe.  So much for minimalist.


We’re going to sell the bus, but we’re still going to travel.  When we take a trip from here to Colorado and back, we’re looking at at least a month of living in the rig.  What we get to travel in doesn’t have to be a perfect year-round house, but it can’t be something that makes either one of us crazy.  We’re still trying to find a towable that works, but we’ve expanded the search to include other types of RVs.  We have some basic requirements.  Besides the standard kitchen, bathroom, refrigerator, air conditioner, and furnace, we want a walk-around bed so we don’t have to climb over each other in the middle of the night (or get in and out of bed in a predetermined order).  We want a dinette so we have a place to sit and eat, or sit with the computer.  We need enough room that if one of us is already standing up, that person doesn’t have to sit down before the other can stand.


We would prefer to take the “runabout” option and not pull a tow-car; either get a trailer we can drop at camp, or get a motorhome small enough to cast about in when we want to explore or go to the store.


We’re looking at 3 different options:

  1. A towable that is light enough to pull with the minivan, but has enough room and windows that it doesn’t feel claustrophobic.
  2. A 25 foot Class B or C with a slide or two so we can get the walk-around bed and room for two to simultaneously stand.
  3. A 30 foot Class A gasser easily meets all our criteria (but feels so spacious it doesn’t seem like much of a downsize).


So far we’ve narrowed our decision down, not at all…


Monday, April 28, 2014

Great Blue Heron


An elegant bird.


Have you ever seen one take a bath?









It was an elegant bath!



Sunday, April 27, 2014



One of us came back at exactly the same weight they left at.  The other gained 4 pounds.  Oh well.  I guess life just isn’t always fair…


We’re celebrating our return to the Valley with our first 100 degree day (this year).  Mostly, since lunchtime, we’re celebrating from inside our nice cool house.  105 by our thermometer.  We’re down in the south end of some unusual weather structure that is causing severe storms all through the Midwest, mostly north of Texas.  The cold front is supposed to hit on Tuesday, knocking us back down into the mid-80s.



Saturday, April 26, 2014



That was a lot of goodbyes.


Before we left, we got a picture with the new owners, Tony and Mary, in their new site,



…took a picture of Annnie’s footprints in the cement from when we did the yard remodel.


…and hit the road.  A few hours of uneventful driving, and here we are, back to our bungalow in the Valley…


…where we were greeted by a happy Mandevilla vine…


…ready for the summer.



We pay attention to our weight when we’re at home, but we don’t take the bathroom scales along when we travel.  We weigh when we get back.  We weren’t particularly careful about what we ate on this trip.  We ate out a lot; Juan’s, Snoopy’s, Mac’s Barbecue, Fins...  So many favorite places…  Miguel even took us to a place in Port A whose signature dish is a Bacon Brownie for dessert.  Amazing.  Tomorrow morning we’ll weigh-in and see how we did.  I doubt either of us lost any weight…


Friday, April 25, 2014




In amongst the flowers.


I can almost make it out.


Indigo Bunting.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

The deed is done


The property sale closed today at 2pm.  We all (Tony, Mary, Judy and I) went out for a late-lunch/early-dinner on the patio at Fins and talked about all that had been and will be.  We love that even though Site 414 is no longer ours, Tony and Mary have offered that we can come stay on it anytime we want for the rest of our lives.  Wow.  Could this transition go any better?  We’re proud to pass the property on to them.


Before the lunch/dinner, we got Judy in for an appointment at the Orthopedist.  She took a steroid shot in the left knee in an attempt to restore comfort to her walks.  She can expect to be markedly less comfortable for a day or two, then, if the shot works, more comfortable after a week or so.  A shot that works could keep the osteoarthritis at bay for up to a year.  We’ll see.


Packing up tomorrow.  Headed back to The Valley on Saturday.  Next task, sell the bus.  There are lots of options for how to go about that.  At one time or another we’ve settled on each of the possible options as “The Plan”.  Any planning about selling the bus however, gets all complicated up in summer travel plans and what vehicle replaces it.  We’ll go empty it and see what happens next.  We’re thinking minimalist.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A melancholy afternoon


We got here (Gulf Waters) a couple weeks ago.  We did everything we wanted to do here.  We’ve been to Snoopy’s.  We’ve been to the beach.  We did the Big Day.  We’ve made our decisions.  Now we’re just waiting.  We’re not second-guessing our decision to sell the lot; it’s just a little hard to let go after 10 years.



Got out my goofy scooter and rode it around the park for exercise.  That helped.  Went out to dinner with Miguel and Casey.  That helped.  The property closing is tomorrow afternoon.  That will probably help too.


It’s just time to move on.



Tuesday, April 22, 2014



Is 14 ½ years old.  We took her to the vet today for a geriatric wellness check-up.  The veterinarian checked her out and says she’s aging normally.  She can’t hear much, is having a little trouble seeing, and stumbles sometimes.  Overall though, except for the aging part, her health is good.


We don’t want to be too quick to judge; it’s just a matter of time before Judy and I have the same issues as well.  (Actually, of course, we already have some of them.)  For an old person, she’s doing great.  She’s the equivalent of 87 in people years.  She can be a bit of a fuddy-duddy sometimes if she wants.


She’s entitled.



Monday, April 21, 2014

Paradise Pond


Usually we just see birds there.  Today we got a snake bonus.


Sizeable snakes, maybe 5 or 6 feet long.


Snake love.


Eastern Coachwhip perhaps?


Sunday, April 20, 2014

We Suck!


…but before that we were awesome.


That Big Day plan Jon put together was a masterpiece.  He timed every distance and stop perfectly.  We tried a different approach this year and started way up northeast to get birds we don’t usually see on this annual effort.  We also decided not to count as we went along.  We’ll just do the best we can and see how it comes out in the end.


It was the right day to do it.  The conditions were perfect.  Virgina Rail at the Birding Center in Port Aransas at midnight.  Common Gallinule, Sora, then  a drive up the coast for the King Rail and Black Rail at Magic Ridge outside Indianola.  We did great on rails.  We got everything but the Clapper Rail.  From there we went inland to Victoria for Pileated, Red-bellied, and Downy Woodpecker.  We got Blue Jay, Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, and American Crow.  We had 35 species by dawn, and the policeman who busted us in Riverside Park at 5 o’clock in the morning didn’t ticket us.  He didn’t even make us leave and wait until the park opened to visitors at 6am.  He volunteered that he had never heard our excuse for being in the park in the middle of the night before, and that it didn’t seem like we were out to cause any trouble.  After dawn, we headed back to the coast and a newly flooded rice field outside Indianola.  Shorebirds galore.  We got everything except Western Sandpiper.  We got all three grackles at Tivoli: Common, Boat-tailed, and Great-tailed.  Across the ferry and back to Port Aransas before noon.  Didn’t get much at Jetty Beach because there were so many people on it for the holiday weekend.  Most of the birds had gone somewhere else.  Got a few terns.  Scored big mid-day on migrants at Paradise Pond and the Birding Center.  We added 25 more birds to our list in less than an hour.  We had to be way ahead of last year.  And that pretty much covers the part where we were awesome.


Next, we went to Packery Channel for Eared Grebe.  Oops.  Too many people.  There were fishermen standing in the shallow water next to their kayaks out in the bay, casting, where the grebes should have been.  The wind had come up by the time we got to Hans Suter so we didn’t see much there.  We looped around to the peninsula past Texas A&M for small plovers and got totally shut-out.  The road to the military base past the school was blocked, presumably for the three-day weekend.  We couldn’t get to where the plovers were.  Things were slowing down.


We heard it was good at Blucher and the Nature Conservancy house across the street in the morning, but by the time we got there it was slow.  A few birds at Rose Hill and Tule Lake.  It’s just a quiet afternoon.  We kept moving.  Got a few birds at Pollywog, Hazel Bazemore and Sandia, but new birds to add to the list are coming in ones and twos now.  No big bunches.  We’re running out of time.  We got the Monk Parakeet at Orange Grove and went out to Jim Wells County to finish off the daylight.  Normally we start the day out there and get maybe 35 birds during the morning chorus.  This afternoon, not so much.  Got the Audubon’s Oriole, but couldn’t fill in many more blanks.


We made our count to see how we were doing.  We have previous Big Day records of 205 and 207.  All that planning.  All that execution.  We only came up with 189 birds.  There are only 3 birds remaining that we could get in the dark on our way back.  We called it off.  It’s official.  We suck.  21+ hours.  500 miles.  8 counties.  189 birds.


No matter.  It was good to try a different approach.  We saw different birds this time and what the heck, we can’t set a record every time.  And when we finished, we were still 80 miles from home, so we had the opportunity on the drive back to analyze, evaluate, and strategize about how we will approach the Big Day next year.


Only 364 days to go.


Friday, April 18, 2014

The Big Day


Jon set up the Big Day schedule as a Google Map:,-96.888428&spn=0.895546,1.674042


We’ve done this every year for a bunch of years now.  I’ve tried just staying up the day before until midnight, then doing the 24 hours from there.  No sense going to sleep if you have to be up by midnight, right?  Wrong!  That leaves me up for two days straight.  The sleep-deprivation gets me before the second day is done.  It works better if I get a few hours of sleep the day before, between dinner and midnight, so I’ll turn in early tonight.  I’ll be up again before tomorrow.  Jon and I will meet at the birding center at midnight to listen for teal and rails, then off we go.  We’ll be well into it by dawn and gaining momentum for the day.


More suspects:


Wood Thrush


Indigo Buntings



A Ruddy Turnstone with his dancing clothes on


And a very excited Ruddy Duck



Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Big Day is coming!


No, I’m not having a religious moment.  This is the Birding Big Day.  Jon and I.  We’re set for Saturday, starting Friday night at midnight.  24 hours straight through.  How many species of birds can we identify in that time?  We can identify them by sight or sound; it doesn’t matter.  It just matters that we’re sure.


Left to my own devices, I can go find 100 birds in a day this time of year.  We expect to see 200 or more on Saturday.  The first hundred birds are easy.  Seeing twice as many birds in one day is a lot more than twice as hard.  I don’t think 10 times as hard would adequately describe it.  “Totally impossible” would be more accurate for me on my own.  For the second hundred birds, you really have to know what you’re doing.  Lucky for me, Jon is a professional birder.  He guides people to all the hard-to-find birds, so he is perfectly prepared for this.  All I have to do is try to keep up.


In the meantime, here are some photos of usual suspects.


Green Heron



(This doesn’t count as a bird.)




Scarlet Tanager


(Male and female.)



Wednesday, April 16, 2014



There are two warblers that are really easy for me to miss each year, the Worm-eating and the Swainson’s.  They are both primarily ground-dwelling.  When we were at High Island a couple weeks ago, the Worm-eating was probably the most abundant warbler there.  They were too far away for any good pictures though.


Here in the Corpus Christi area, I walked right up on a Swainson’s Warbler.



Got them both already.  It’s a good migration.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Remember that picture I sent out a couple years ago?


My favorite billboard.


It has a message more powerful than any advertisement for aftershave.  It is still delivering it.


I think the message says “You’re temporary.  Whatever you do, whatever you put here, in the end Nature Rules.”



Monday, April 14, 2014







He fell asleep with his chew bone.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Spring 2014 tour continues


We’re at our spot (for now) at Gulf Waters.


We’re here for the spring migration.  Not much going on right now; the wind is from the south so the birds have a tailwind and most of them are flying right on by.  Did see a gray catbird, summer tanager, lincoln sparrow, rose-breasted grosbeak, and a yellow-breasted chat.






We had the couple who are buying our lot over for dinner tonight.  What a fun evening and what nice people to pass this place along to.  We could be friends for a long time.