Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gag me with a spoon!

Remember that phrase from back in the day?  Well, I didn't need a spoon this morning.  :(  I bought some new toothpaste last week and started using it this morning.  OMG!  It caused me to literally wretch during what is usually a refreshing moment.  It's by Crest and is their PRO-HEALTH, whitening paste for sensitive teeth.  It upset my stomach until the afternoon.  Yuck!  I read the tube and one part says "if more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away."  I usually don't swallow my toothpaste, and I don't think I swallowed any this morning, but Holy Cow, what a reaction I had.  Why would a product like this be on the market???  So, I made a special trip to Lago Vista this afternoon to get a new tube of toothpaste.  I dumped the whole tube I used this morning.

I switched out refuge vehicles this morning in preparation for the first bird tour tomorrow morning.  Looks like I'm going to have to set my alarm for six, so I can get everything done and eat a nourishing breakfast before heading out.  :-0  I sure hope we find what we'll be looking for!  Some of the folks signed up are from as far away as Virginia.  Wish me luck.......

Can't end tonight without a couple of shots of the female black chinned hummer.

These mighty mites really fascinate me.  They move so fast that it's a real challenge to photograph them.  Notice how this little gal is getting her tongue ready to sip the nectar in my feeder.  She hardly gets a chance to eat with all the males pursuing her.  Their U-shaped pendulum displays this evening were at least forty feet from end to end.  I could almost feel  the wind from their wings as they swooped up and down within inches of my nose!  So cool......

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This and that

I headed out this morning to try to find the illusive black capped vireo.  I went to the Russel tract and met Chuck, the biologist, on his way out.  I believe I heard one vireo, but couldn't get a chance to see it.  Chuck couldn't either.  :(  These vireos inhabit very dense shin oak areas, and are hard to see.

More and more wild flowers are beginning to bloom in the hill country.  Maybe on Friday or Sunday I'll be able to take a drive to enjoy the blue bonnets and Indian paint brushes.  You know there are things to enjoy around here besides birds.  :)

If you're in to insects, here's a beetle that scurried across my site yesterday.  Don't know what kind it is.

This butterfly was making a bee line for my hummingbird feeder.

And yes, PetDoc, it is a spicebush swallowtail!

My son, Daniel, called tonight to let me know that he received the electrical plug for my old laptop that I sent to him last week.  I'm glad that he can use it for school, since I didn't know what I was going to do with it.  He did comment that he couldn't believe how slow it was.  I didn't know I was back in the dark ages of laptops until I purchased my new one.  What a difference I've found!  Now it doesn't take me hours to make a blog post.  :)

I think I told you late last week that I emailed a note of complaint to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife service about not receiving any kind of response from the places I had applied to for this summer.  Well, yesterday  morning I received a call from one of the wildlife areas while I was on top of one of the hills looking for the golden cheeked warbler.  I spoke with the volunteer coordinator and he certainly didn't  paint a very pretty picture of his facility.  So, I passed on that assignment....two hours from groceries and shopping, horrible bugs all summer, and they're not sure what to do with volunteers other than put them in the office.  Not my cup of tea by a long shot!  I guess my email had some effect, but I haven't heard from the other place yet.  I sent in my application to Malheur NWR last Friday, so maybe I'll hear from them within the next two weeks.

I had to turn on the AC today, as temps were into the eighties and my rig sits in full sun all day.  I'm not complaining though, I love the warmer temperatures.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, March 29, 2010

A bird lovers post

If you don't give a fig about birds, I'd suggest you move on to another blog.  This post is just about birds!  After yesterday's fiasco with the flash card with the camera, I made up for it today.  I was up and out fairly early this morning to scout out locations to take my bird tours on.  I found a back up location for the golden cheeked warbler, and tomorrow I'll work on the black capped vireo.

I spent the afternoon in my "back yard" photographing my neighbors.  There have been large numbers of chipping sparrows at the feeders since I got here.  In Texas, you have to look closely at these chippers, because there can be another species mixed among them.

This is a clay colored sparrow.  It looks very similar to a chipping sparrow.  Another one of those LBJs (little brown jobs).

This is not the best of pictures, but it does demonstrate the difference between the black vulture (at the top) and the turkey vulture.  Notice the difference in wing patterns.

As I sat outside, it wasn't long before this black chinned hummingbird arrived to visit the feeder.

In the proper light, you can see that purple border to it's black chin.  This little dude took a drink, and then went on to do a courtship display for a lurking female.  The display involves the male flying a series of open U shaped acrobatics that occur in an air space of about twelve feet.  He certainly did soar his heart out.  It was so cool to watch.

Afterwards, the seemingly unimpressed female came over for a sip.  There are several males around, so she can afford to be picky.  :)

A short time later, a red tailed hawk came out of the woods.

He/she caught a thermal and was soon soaring high above with the vultures.

I had a new visitor to the avian cafe today....a lark sparrow.

What a distinctive facial pattern this bird has!  Notice the central breast spot on an unstreaked breast.

I also had a visit by several cowbirds. This ubiquitous species is the bane of our endangered species. Originally, when buffalo roamed the country, this species followed the herds as they roamed.  Since they didn't spend much time in one place, they developed the habit of laying eggs in other bird's nests since they wouldn't be around to raise their own young.  The female chose nests of smaller birds so that when their eggs hatched, their young could kick out the smaller birds that hatched.  They were successful with this adaptation.  That's the problem.  When they lay their eggs in the nests of golden cheeked warblers or black capped vireos, it really puts an additional stress on these endangered species.

The northern cardinal is the most common "state" bird in the country.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What a mistake!

Today started out as every other Sunday, recently.  I did the laundry and then headed to Lago Vista because I was out of some essentials....milk and bird seed!  I picked up the needed supplies, and eventually went outside to enjoy the sunny, but windy, day.  I put Emma on the leash, had my camera around my neck, and we headed out to see what there was to see.  It seemed that hundreds of Missouri primrose had popped up overnight, and I chased down several butterflies for fantastic shots.

Back at the rig, I thought I heard the high pitched chattering of hummingbirds, so I dug out my hummingbird feeder, filled it, and set it outside within seven feet of my rocker.  Then I sat down and waited.  Sure enough, within an hour the hummers began to appear.  The lighting was just right, and I took numerous shots of both male and female black-chinned hummingbirds.  I also spent a couple of hours shooting more pics of avian friends.

As the sun was beginning to set, I headed indoors with great anticipation of editing all of the photos from today.  That's when I discovered my mistake.  Last night, I had neglected to put the 1GB flashcard back into the camera!  :(  That means all of my photos from today were nonexistent.  What a bummer.  I found that the flashcard had slid under my laptop, so I didn't notice it last night.  Dang!

Oh well, I guess I'll just have to try again tomorrow....

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earning a Girl Scout Badge

About forty Girl Scouts and Brownies descended on Doeskin Ranch this morning to earn badges for participating in our Bridges to Birding Program.  The banding birds station wasn't included in today's agenda, so I was the greeter and time keeper today rather than teaching.  I must say that that's a heck of a lot easier job than doing the teaching! 

You can probably guess that this is the station on how to use binoculars.  With all of these girls were actually two fathers.  I was happy to see that.  They were a little uncomfortable upon arrival, and admitted that their wives usually took care of these kind of outings.  :)  They may have been forced to come, but by the end of the day it appeared that they and their daughters had a good time.

There are eight stations in all that the girls visit and learn different things about birds.  This one happens to be about bird songs.  Isn't this a fantastic location with gorgeous scenery to be teaching in? 

The girls were there about five hours, had a picnic lunch, and earned their badges.  Biggest challenge of the day was getting them all through the one bathroom several times.  Since there were only four men total, we told them they could use the men's side as well, but that didn't work.  I guess they were afraid of all those boy cooties or something.  :)

When I finally got back to the rig about 3:30 to take Emma out, I noticed that the fire crew was doing a prescribed burn just below our RV sites.  They need a good wind to do these burns, and today surely provided them with that ! (just a reminder, that you can double click on any picture to enlarge it)

The blue bonnets and Indian paint brushes are starting to bloom along the roadsides, so I'm planning on taking a driving trip early next week to enjoy them.  What a difference from the drought conditions of last spring.  I'm hoping to get some nice pictures as well.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, March 26, 2010

Got the list done!

I find that for me, if I make a list of things to do for a particular day off, I'm more likely to do those things.  It helps me with my tendency to procrastinate.  Today's list contained seven items.
  1. finish the application for volunteering at Malheur NWR in Oregon.  This was a bit more of a challenge than I had anticipated because I wanted to include my volunteer resume.  I don't have a printer, so I emailed it to the Balcones refuge manager so she could print it for me.  That didn't work initially, but eventually we got it done.
  2. dump the tanks....got that done.
  3. mail the electric cord for my old laptop to my son.  Last week, I mailed him the laptop, but forgot to include the 120 v cord....done.
  4. purchase 1 gallon of anti freeze/coolant for the motorhome.  I'm having a little problem there, but hope this will fix it.....done.
  5. gas up my refuge vehicle so I won't run out of gas like I almost did yesterday. (embarrassing mistake)...done.
  6. get the key from the office so I could get the mail for the refuge.  This sounds simple, but turned out to be somewhat of a challenge.  If I didn't get the mail today, no one from the refuge would do it until Monday.  I was expecting two disks from Netflix, so I did it.  The problem arose when the key stuck in the mailbox at the end of the road, and no one could get it out!  I guess the USPS will deal with it tomorrow.
  7. and finally....calling my friend, Wynetta, in New York to see if she wanted to go on the cruise with me...done, but she doesn't think she can go.  :(
It gives me a feeling of satisfaction when I can cross out every chore that I had listed for the day.  :)

Speaking of the cruise, here is the map I received today from Royal Caribbean showing our route.  I'm going to enjoy this jaunt, for sure!

I've had a new visitor at the avian cafe the last few days...a dark eyed junco.  He should be heading north pretty soon.

Is that the Sea of Tranquility in this moon rise?  I know I was feeling very tranquil.

And you know who (my friend, the Carolina wren) came by again to serenade me before I came inside for the evening.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Creating a little stir

Okay, perhaps you all remember last week when I signed up for the Trans-Atlantic Repositioning Cruise HOP with Escapees.  Well, a few days later I received an email welcoming me to the cruise and giving me some information including a section on a dress code.  Since I've never been on a cruise, I don't know very much about them....a dress code???  Women are expected to wear a dress or pant suit (I thought those went out in the 80's) to dinner each night.  There are also "formal dinners" several times on the cruise where dress expectations are even higher.  As it turns out, I don't happen to own a dress or pant suit.  The last time I wore what could be considered a dress was over ten years ago at the memorial service for one of my students that had unexpectedly died.

So, since I never intend to own another dress, I put a topic on the Escapees forum asking if I would not be able to eat dinner on the cruise because I don't have one.  This created a slight furor.  I got a few suggestions on the forum to go to Goodwill and buy a dress.  They don't get it.  I also received a private email from the directors of the Escapee HOPs, and today, a call from Dorothy, the person who handles the reservations for the HOP cruises.  She assured me that a nice pair of slacks with a jacket or nice blouse would be acceptable.  However, she also said that tennis shoes would not be allowed.  Well, you all know my saga of the shoes.  I have problems with my feet and ankles, and expensive "tennis" shoes is the way I get through life.  I told her I would wear one of my brand new pairs :), and she said that would be okay since I had issues with my feet.  I'm happy to hear that since I don't want to be hobbling around when we visit those exotic ports of call.  :)

This morning, I picked up Peggy around 8:30, and we headed out to the Russel tract to try to hunt down a black capped vireo.  The wind was just howling, and we got skunked.  We also covered just about every inch of that refuge parcel.  I wouldn't say we got lost, we just didn't know where we were! :)  Later, I found out that no one else has found the vireo either, so they just haven't arrived yet.  I, however, have decided to send my good luck charm, Peggy, packing back to Vermont since we didn't find one.  :)

Actually, Peggy and Paul have finished their volunteer assignment here for this year and will be heading out on Saturday.  We all attended a farewell lunch in their honor today at the Dahlia Cafe in Liberty Hill.  Since I was in Liberty Hill, I stopped at the little butcher shop and picked up a couple of gorgeous pork chops.  I'll enjoy one of them tomorrow.

Surprisingly, I can tell you that this is a Missouri Primrose.  They are popping up everywhere around my site.

I have some errands to run tomorrow before being the time keeper for another education program on Saturday.  I think about 60 Girl Scouts will be descending on Doeskin Ranch for a Bridges to Birding program.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What did I get myself into?

I mentioned yesterday that I'll be leading bird tours on Thursdays and Saturdays in April to see our two endangered species.  I also said that I didn't expect the response that I got.  This is the first time the refuge has offered these tours, so it's kind of an experiment.  I continued to receive inquiries today through email.  I finally had to start making a list of who was coming on what day!  The biggest surprise to me is that the majority of folks are not local.  People have signed up from Virginia, California, and New Mexico.  My goodness!  It's not necessary to make reservations, you just have to show up at headquarters at 8:00 a.m.  I have assured everyone that emails me that they will have a seat in the van. 

I'm excited about the prospect of having full tours, but wondering a little if I'll end up herding along a huge crowd of people.  That's not conducive to having a good birding experience when you're quietly trying to catch a glimpse of a little bird.  :(  On the other hand, maybe the only people to show up will be those who have contacted me.  A small intimate group is more fun in my estimation.  Time will tell.

Since the pressure is now on to find reliable places to view these critters, I'll be heading out early tomorrow morning to try to find a black capped vireo.  So far, there have been no reports that they have arrived yet.  I'm picking up my lucky charm, Peggy, tomorrow to go along, so I'm feeling confident that we'll be successful.  :)

It has been overcast with intermittent light rain all day, and severe thunderstorms with hail are possible for the next couple of hours.  It was March 25 of last year that we had that horrible hail storm here.  I'm hoping those storms bypass the refuge this year.  I don't want to live through that experience again! 

Thanks to all of you that send me comments.  They are the life blood to a blogger.  :) 

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Whew....what a day!

After heading in to the office this morning to take care of a few things, I drove out to Warbler Vista to do the Cactus Rock Trail to check on the golden cheeked warblers.  On the way up the steep drive, Peggy was coming down after refilling trail folders and sprucing up the bathrooms.  I invited her to accompany me on the trail, and she agreed.  As we hiked along, I thought we were going to be skunked, but about half way through the trail I began to hear their songs and we were suddenly inundated with about a half dozen warblers singing and chasing each other through the canopy of oaks and Ashe junipers.  We were just swiveling our heads around trying to keep track of them!  It was like deja vu from last year!  Very cool!

I'll be leading bird tours every Thursday and Saturday in April to see the two endangered species.  I worked with Sheila Hargis, from the Travis County Audubon Society, over the weekend setting up these tours, and this morning I had five emails from interested participants.  There were folks from Virginia and San Diego that wanted to reserve spots on one of the tours.  That was certainly a surprise to me.  I never expected such a response for a new tour.  Now, I'm under the gun to produce!  The funny thing about birds is they have wings and you can't always count on them to be where you want them to be.  :( 

This afternoon, I did some office work, but not for long.  It was too beautiful a day to be inside, so I grabbed my camera and headed outside.

The butterflies have arrived.

This one is pretty beat up, and I have found out what kind it is, but I just can't find my notes on it.  :(

I headed over to the blind that has been constructed as a karst cave replica and took this shot of a rock squirrel that is painted on the inside.  The walls of the blind have multiple paintings, by a local artist volunteer, of common inhabitants of the caves in the Texas hill country.

There is actually a pair of these rock squirrels that lives around the blind, and today I was lucky enough to see one.

He/she was watching me as intently as I was watching him/her.  I've been here two springs, and this is the first time I've had a chance to actually try to get a picture. :)

The red bud trees are also coming in bloom.

I'm once again experiencing  editing problems with blogger, so I'll close for today.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why blog?

Sometimes, people are shocked to hear that I blog six or seven times a week.  I got to thinking about that today.  Why do I blog?  Well, for me, there are several reasons.  Historically speaking, I've always kept a journal of some sort in my adult life....trips, bird sightings, etc.  Then when I sold my house and went fulltime RVing, I kept a journal of my travels.  It wasn't daily, but almost.  I would email friends and family occasionally about my experiences, but that became somewhat of a chore.  Eventually, I started reading other people's blogs and really enjoyed it.  So, about a year and a half ago, I decided to take the plunge into blogging. 

So, I guess my blog is my journal in progress.  I can add pictures as well as thoughts, and I do go back and read previous entries to verify places I've stayed, activities, and other things.  I fully expected that a few of my friends and relatives might read what I wrote occasionally.  As it turns out, most of the people that read my blog are folks that I've met, or hope to meet, on the road.  There's a community out there of wandering souls that keep in touch through blogs.  It's like a cyber city! 

But the main reason I write this blog is to center myself and review each day in my mind as to the wonders I've seen or experienced.  It has helped me appreciate those little things in life that in a busy world you just pass by without noticing.  What a hoot this life is!  I think I'd write this blog even if nobody read it.  However, I do really appreciate all of you that do honor me with following along on my journey.  You all do travel along with me.  :)

So, enough of that....you know, it's been a few days since I've posted any bird pictures, so hang on to your hats!

I've been noticing a white-crowned sparrow skulking around in the shrubs outside lately, so tonight I threw a handful of seeds onto the ground outside.  It didn't take long for the birds to find it.

This Lincoln's sparrow also stopped by to pose.  Notice the fine streaking on the breast and the greyness of the face and back.  Many people (birders) refer to these guys as LBJ's...little brown jobs, but with some patience, you can figure them out.  ;)

Of course, Northern cardinals are very common in Texas and this female stopped by for a look.

Emma thinks her job in life is to protect us from all manner of intruders, whether they be four footed or winged.  She takes her job seriously, which is a real challenge to me to get pictures.  :(

Sometimes, getting a picture of her is like trying to catch the wind!  She's a true whirling dervish!

She, Emma, most often takes "flight" when a vulture soars over our site.  I guess she wants them to know we're not dead meat!

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Heading for the hills!

Once the sun took the chill out of the air, Emma and I headed for the hills.  The wind was blasting away about 35 mph, but it was good to get out and about after spending all day yesterday inside.  ;)

Another of the wildflowers that are peppering the hillsides.

As we walked further up the hill, we came to this trench.  The refuge has tried trenching down the path to try to stop the advance of the oak wilt.  Apparently oak wilt travels along the roots of the trees.  I'm not sure how successful this method has been.

"Okay, I've been good while you took the picture.  Can we get going now?"

We were gone about an hour and probably covered a couple of miles.  Except for the strong wind, it was a gorgeous day for a hike.

I took this shot as we turned around and headed back.  As you can see, we were at the top, so it's hard to tell there are other hills around.

I hope all of you had a gorgeous Sunday as well.  :)

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Welcome to spring....oh, boy

Ah, the vernal equinox!  It must have happened somewhere other than the hill country of Texas.  I awoke to rain coming down in buckets, accompanied by thunder and lightning.  I suppose thunderstorms are a sign of spring, but once the front passed the temperatures took a nose dive.  I just turned on the furnace to supplement my two electric heaters!  Dang, I shouldn't have to do that this late in the month.  A freeze is forecast for tonight, so I'll have to try to remember to leave the water faucet dripping so the hose doesn't freeze overnight.

Because of the rain, I tried to put Emma's first outs off as long as possible.  It worked for a while, but when she began pacing, I knew the time had come.  Boy, did we get soaked!  She finished her business pretty quickly and fairly pulled me back to the rig.  She's a dainty girl, and doesn't like to get her hairdo wet.  :)  I must say, that she is very good at waiting at the top of the stairs while I wipe her dry.

When the temperature began it's plummet, the winds picked up as well.  We're having forty-five mph gusts.  I mentally thank Dub, once again, for placing this site where it is.  The rig is pretty well protected from the winds from the north by the stand of Ashe junipers next to us.  I saw Peggy today, and she said the winds at the Flying X are even worse.  I'm glad I haven't moved up there yet.  :)

So, today was a relaxing inside day.  I spent most of it on the computer.  I did fix a nice dinner of rib eye steak, though.  It was half of the steak that I bought at that little butcher shop in Liberty Hill a couple of weeks ago.  They do have good meat.

That's about it for today's excitement.  Hopefully, the clouds will dissipate and the sun will return tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, March 19, 2010

To save a tree

Deborah Holle is the refuge manager at Balcones Canyonlands NWR, and she and the refuge have received three national awards for recycling.  I have a story about how dedicated this woman is to recycling.  Back over ten years ago, the US Fish and Wildlife service maintained GSA stores where refuges ordered their supplies from.  As times changed, these "stores" were eliminated.  As a result, Deborah was able to go to one of the supply houses and receive, for free, a huge amount of reams of paper that could be used for printers and xerox machines.  It turns out that this supply of paper lasted the refuge about ten years!  However, as she picked up the paper, the warehouse insisted that she also take some excess toothpicks along with the paper.  She tried not to do this, but they insisted.  So, the refuge ended up with 18 cases of Penley toothpicks!  That equates to 2,040,000 toothpicks!  Over the years, the refuge was able to use up one case!

It turns out that Penley toothpicks were the last toothpicks produced in the US.  I bet you didn't know that the picks that you buy now are made in China!

Anyway, having 17 remaining cases of toothpicks weighed heavily on Deborah's mind as she didn't want to just throw them away.  So she got on the Internet and googled toothpicks.  The result is that she found an artist named Stan Munro, in Syracuse, NY, that made artistic structures out of toothpicks.  She got in contact with him and he was interested in this mother lode of picks.  She was relieved, but a new problem cropped up.  All those picks were government property, so she couldn't just give them away!  Eventually it was worked out that if Stan paid the shipping, he could have the toothpicks.  He gladly paid the $600 in shipping, and they were his.  He wanted to show his gratitude to the refuge for this bonanza, so he created this...

masterpiece and sent it to Deborah a couple of months ago!  The entire plaque is made out of Penley toothpicks and is about a foot tall.  How cool is that?  Deborah has retained one box of toothpicks and plans to donate that box and this plaque to the National Wildlife Refuge museum upon her retirement.  She certainly has saved a tree!  You can view more of Stan's creations at toothpickcity.com if you like.  :)

Since I didn't work today, I spent the day trying to firm up plans for next fall and winter.  I was pretty successful, too.  I'll be returning to Anahuac NWR towards the end of October.  That means I'll be able to store the RV there while I go on the cruise.  Then I'll be going to Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR for February through April.  I'm excited about that.  Now, if I could only hear from someone in Oregon about this summer!

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, March 18, 2010

These shoes are made for walkin'

Flash back to all the dilemmas I was having with my shoes....today, the two pair of new shoes arrived.  Late this afternoon, I put on one of the new pairs and my feet fairly smiled!  Thank goodness.  Now I can ship the three pairs of too small shoes back and exchange them for the correct size.  Talk about "Happy Feet!"

This morning, instead of doing the Doeskin hike, I decided to just "be a presence" at several of the public pullouts on the refuge.  It is spring break for schools in Texas this week, and we are having a peak in visitation.  While I slowly drove through the Doeskin Ranch parking area, a truck that had been following me began honking it's horn.  I got out to talk to the driver, and he wanted to tell me that he lived on Cow Creek Road and had noticed someone driving on refuge property last night about 11:00 and using a spot light.  I thanked him for his concern and said I would report it to headquarters.  There is no law enforcement crew on this refuge, so I suggested he just call the police if it were to happen again.  After talking to the refuge manager later in the day, it turned out it could have been people hunting for the feral hogs that are a bane to the refuge, however no one had gained her permission to do so.  So, at this point it's a mystery.  It's nice to have our neighbors watching out for us!

Then I went to the Shin Oak Observation Deck where people come to observe the black-capped vireo.  As I pulled into the parking lot, one of the cars made a hasty exit.  Hmmm, interesting to see what effect an official vehicle has on people.  I did speak to a retired couple from Maine on the deck, and was able to give them some pamphlets and directions to see the golden-cheeked warbler.  We had an enjoyable chat, and I think they'll return when the vireos get here.

Then it was on to the Flying X Ranch where I met the new folks that will be doing the vireo studies this year.  These young ladies are working on their masters and doctorate degrees, and will be living at the X until the middle of July.  I had also been invited to partake in a corned beef dinner by John and Lynne, other volunteers, and you know I couldn't pass that up.  The meal was delicious!

It was back to headquarters after that where I helped Peggy sort through hundreds of bird pictures.  We grouped them in families for better organization.  So, that's a typical day in the life of a volunteer.  I'm investigating a rather interesting story that I'll share with you tomorrow about toothpicks.  I'm sure you can't wait.   :)

I'm scheduled to move my rig up to the Flying X in about nine days, and I've been debating whether to move or stay where I'm at.  So today, before lunch, I took some time to sit at the picnic table at the site that I would occupy.

It's certainly more windy up here, but the view is wonderful.

After sitting there a while and seeing this field sparrow, I think I'll be moving.  It's a lot of work to move, but I'm ready for a different view out my window.  There will also be afternoon shade outside my door.  At my present site, I have full sun almost all day and the temperatures are going to get hotter, so I think today helped me make my decision.

As you can see, I'm having some problems with the editing on blogger this evening, so I guess I'll call it a day!

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

They're back!

The golden-cheeked warblers have returned!  I had a fantastic hike on the Cactus Rock Trail this morning, and was able to verify eight male warblers singing in the Ashe juniper woods along the trail.  With all the cold wet weather we've been having, I was beginning to wonder if they'd ever get here.  A week and a half ago, I couldn't even find a titmouse along the trail, but today, bird life was plentiful.  That made it easier to work in the office this afternoon.  ;)  I was the laminating queen once again.

When I got back to the rig, I put Emma outside and then went about getting some pictures of advancing spring in the hill country.  I hope you enjoy the eye candy.  :)

As you know, birds are my thing, but I enjoy seeing the spring flowers even though I don't know what they are.

These yellow blooms are less than a half inch across.

The blues are my favorite colors.

The hillsides are covered with these blooms.  It must be from all the rain and the warmer temperatures.  I'm sure hoping the blue bonnets will be abundant soon.

These yellow blossoms will produce small berries on this shrub.  I've been told they make excellent jam, but it is a lot of work to collect enough berries to be useful.  Of course, the birds like them too.  Notice the leaves on this shrub.  Those points are as nasty as can be.  They're so sharp, that they stick into  the bottom of your shoe and draw blood like a cactus if you're not careful!  Lot's of plants that will get you in Texas.  :(

You know I can't refrain from getting a few bird pictures on a nice sunny day!  This is a pine siskin....
and here's an American goldfinch,

and a lesser goldfinch.

This is not a great picture, but I just love the way this male Carolina wren sings his heart out everyday from the top of this dead tree.

And my favorite for today, a small flock of cedar waxwings.  There have been quite a few flocks moving through the neighborhood lately. They are so sleek looking, and normally travel in a group.  In this case they're sitting next to a cedar tree, not in one.  ;)

Tomorrow I plan to do the full hike at Doeskin, and hope to discover more golden-cheeks.  It's a rough job, but somebody has to do it.  ;)

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy