Welcome to my photo journal.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Here comes 2011

Cheers to the New Year and another chance to get it right. Oprah Winfrey

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas week

We hope everyone had a great Christmas, we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas dinner with turkey, ham and lots of side dishes that everyone brought. Tonight we are getting together again to eat the leftovers, and I believe they plan on doing a little karaoke. We won't stay for the karaoke, we need to get up early to do another Christmas bird count in Reseca de la Palma State Park near Brownsville. The past week we had been watching several cane fields as they were being harvested to see what birds the harvest attracted. We knew Crested Caracara's, Turkey Vultures and Hawks would show but hadn't expected the Curlews and Cattle Egrets and great-tailed grackles. Ken was trying to get some good photos of the white-tailed hawk. I guess he did, I haven't seen them yet.
This weeks Mexican saying:
"Nada es bastante para quien bastante no es suficiente"
translation: Nothing is enough to the man for who enough is too little.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Bird Count

This weekend we joined in on a couple of the Christmas bird counts, which met getting up early to be out before the birds were up.
We enjoy doing the counts as it is an opportunity to learn more about birds.
Our first count was in the Bahia Grande unit of the NWR, a closed area to the public so it was a treat to be able to visit it. It is an area that has been reclaimed between the Brownsville ship canal and Port Isabel. They have dug canals though in the area to create lakes and marshes, as it had become a dust bowl.

We saw two Aplomado Falcons, 12 Nilgai, hundreds of Meadowlarks, hundreds of Sanderlings and several

Northern Harriers plus many more species.
Sunday we joined the Laguna Atascosa bird count.
We were assigned an area again where the public can not drive in but they can ride a bike through, it was about 22 mile area.

We spotted 71 species of birds on this count and 2 alligators, a few deer and 4 feral hogs. I got to be the list keeper on this count marking down the birds as they were seen. The greater number of birds of course is the Mockingbird but on the laguna the big number was the Coots est. number of 5000. We did see our first Canvasback ducks, they were in the distance but we could make them out with the help of the better birders.
Earlier in the week we finally got to see the Rufus backed Robin at Laguna Atascosa along with a Clay colored Robin, Wood Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Ovenbird, Olive Sparrows, Cardinals, Green Jays, Altamira Oriole, Indigo Snake, Armadillo, and 2 Javelinas all at their water feature in front of the visitor center. It only took us 4 visits and about 20 hours of sitting at the water feature to finally see the robin. Are we dedicated birders or not now?
Maybe this week we'll catch the Greater Peewee we didn't see over in a McAllen cemetery.
It is so nice this morning, sun shining the windows are open and I can hear the Sandhill Cranes in the field across from us, earlier this morning I listened to the Great horned owl. It makes it hard to believe that Christmas is only a few days away.
Have a good week!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Field trip with Bill Clark

Sat. we're up and out early to join the Arroyo Colorado Audubon field trip with Bill Clark who has written the Peterson's field guide on Hawks. Bill has caught a female Harris hawk for us and he will measure and band the bird then let it go where he trapped it.Here is a photo of his trap, he will use mice or sparrows and the hawks legs will get caught in the loops on the top of the trap. The hawk is then slipped into his can, seen in the photos above, Bill can then band and measure the birds talons.
We then got in our cars and caravan out to sugar cane fields that have been burned and harvested to look for more hawks. The hawks especially white tailed hawks will be found at these sights enjoying crisped rodents and snakes. We saw several but it was not a good day to put out traps to band as the evening before was not really cold enough to make the hawks hungry enough to go to his traps. It was interesting to follow along and learn about the life of the hawks, turkey vulture and Crested Caracara's.

Thursday was a perfect day to go to the SPI and walk the boardwalk, and it turned out to be our lucky day we finally spotted the Purple Gallinule and got close up views of the Redhead duck and American Widgeon ducks.
We tried looking for the Rufous backed Robin again, but we didn't see it, it was spotted but we were seated in the wrong spot for us to see it. We'll try again.
Dicho Mexicano de la Semana:
Lo mas que aprendo--Lo mas me doy cuenta de lo que no se.
translation: The more I learn, the more I realize what I don't know.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Some butterflies

We have been seeing some butterflies but just not very many. We visited NABA International Butterfly Park last week looking for the allusive Rufus back Robin. We didn't see the robin but I did get to see the Malachite butterfly, a Band-celled Sister and a Red Rim butterflies. The other butterflies in the collage below were found in Ramsey. I finally learned to spot the difference between the Queen and the Soldier butterfly, it's only a smudge and a few dots.This is only a few of the little butterflies, there are so many skippers, crescents, and small butterflies that look so similiar to each other that I haven't learned to ID them. I like the larger butterflies, so much easier to photograph.
Also, at NABA we got to witness a Ruby crown Kinglet display his ruby crown in an agressive behavior to another kinglet, you don't normally see his ruby crown.
We have a cool front going through, teasing us with chances of rain which is badly needed.
I finished our Christmas cards, we'll get them in the mail this week. I'll be done with all things Christmas now, we don't decorate or bake and Ken is doing is shopping on line this year.
This week's Mexican saying:
Recuerda cuando yayas a la cama:
Dejale las cosas a Dios. El va a estar despierto toda la noche.
Translation: When you go to bed, remember to leave everything to God.
He is awake all night.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Some birds around SPI

We had a nice Thanksgiving meal with the park, the owners were down to visit with everyone.
It has been really windy the last few days, with cool fronts coming and going.
Sunday was a pretty nice day so we decided to see if we could find bittern and purple gallinule over at South Padre Island. We didn't find them but we saw alot of birds....here's a few.The Wood Stork we had found last week and a good thing we went then as we didn't see them on this visit, so we guess they went further south when we had that north wind Friday.
We haven't been doing much, pegs and jokers last night, feeding the birds and watering some plants at Ramsey.
I didn't pick up my paper with the Mexican saying, so maybe two next week.
With the Thanksgiving holiday over we have noticed more people moving in to our park, I hear it's full this winter.
Hope everyone had a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Busy Birding Week

We had an exciting week, as we spotted this bobcat twice in Ramsey Nature park.Then we spotted this armadillo in Ramsey park.

Yes, we do spend alot of time at Ramsey, we visit there almost everyday.

Weds. we joined the bird walk at Estero in Weslaco.

Sat. we went on the Audubon field trip to Brownsville and learned about the Camp LuLu Sams Camp and it's owner Dr. Patrick Burchfield.
The Dr. is the director of the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, his wife works with the Ronald McDonald house. They live in the dining lodge of the camp now, they host special groups and kid camps teaching them to learn to look at nature through color and texture. That sounds like a really fun way to learn. The Dr. has rescued native plants from construction areas and replanted them on his property transforming it from the manicured camp to a natural preserve. If you google Camp LuLu Sams you will find it has some ghost stories which they say aren't true.
Today we drove down near Port Isabel to find the wood storks, and we did find them around 50 of them but the lighting was not good for pictures although I tried.
We finished up the week joining friends at a fish fry, we stopped at Walmart and picked up a cheesecake for the dessert.
It was another great week in the Rio Grande Valley.
The Mexican saying for this week:
"A lo que no importa, lengua corta"
Translation: To what is not your business, keep a short tongue.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

We started the Festival week with a Warbler Talk given by author and expert Jon Dunn Tuesday evening, it was a benefit for the Frontera Audubon. Ken bought Jon's Warbler book for me and had Jon autograph it. It was a good start for the Festival.

Wed. morning we had our first field trip, Leps, Odes, and Herps or Butterflies, Dragonflies and Reptiles we were taken to Edinburg Wetland and Birding Center. We saw lots of dragonflies, butterflies and one very special Violet Banded Skipper which is a rarity to this region but only a couple of turtles for the Herps.

Thurs. morning was our earliest field trip starting out at 6 am to Brownsville to visit the Nature Conservancy Southmost Preserve and the Gulf on Boca Chica Road. On this trip we saw two new birds for us, a Gull-billed Tern in the fields next to Boca Chica Rd and a Magnificent Frigatebird which one of the leaders spotted way out in the gulf, we used a spotting scope to view it.
Friday morning our Secret Jewels field trip started out at 7 am where the leaders took us in vans to Los Ebanos Preserve and Casa and the Los Ebanos Lake two separate preserves with the same name. At the Casa, we all got to see a couple of Hook billed Kites which we learned from our very excited leaders is a rare bird in Cameron county.

Saturday's Easy Birding field trip was also a small group trip to Benito Trevino's Ranch north of Rio Grande City. Benito has feeders set up and he is a eco botanist so we learned much from him. The morning turned cold and wet on us and his sweet wife gave us jackets and blankets to keep warm and she had baked us cookies made with mesquite flour... mmmm. The birds must have been cold too as we didn't get to see as many as the leaders had on their scouting trip.

This morning, Ken had a 6 am Photo Safari with Ruth Hoyt, I believe he said there was 8 going to a private ranch north of Mission where photo blinds and waterholes are set up. So maybe Ken will come back with some great shots of animals and birds even though its cloudy. Ken had an intro class on Friday afternoon, I took that time and checked out all the booths at the Birders Bazaar. There were artists to visit with, jewelry makers, optic vender's, chamber of commerce reps for other bird festivals, birding tour operators, local bird centers and groups. One of the artists I learned grew up in a town next to where I grew up. What a small world!

Ken has a couple of his photos entered in the local Audubon photo contest. I'm not sure when the winners are to be announced. I met one of my favorite bloggers and learned that she used to live and teach in Excelsior.

We have enjoyed the festival and we like the smaller van trips better then the big bus trips as we got to know the leaders and other birders better. The leaders are brought in from across the US and they usually are contributor's to birding publications. The participants come from all over usually looking to add the Texas speciality birds to their life lists. The fun part is meeting all the people and learning a little of this and that from them. We find that Birders are the friendliest people.
This week's Mexican saying is:
Sarna con gusto no pica
translation: If you do something you like, the sacrifices don't matter.
It's a good one for festival week.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A quiet week

It's been a quiet week here in Hummingbird Cove. A few more friends have arrived.

We've had a few more birds at our feeder, even one hummingbird.

The road we take into town has been busy with big semi's taking sugar cane out of the fields to the factory.Ken is back feeding the birds at Ramsey park and making his peanut butter mixture.

He has been a little under the weather with sinus or ??, I came down with it yesterday. We seem to get it every time we come down, must be the dust in the wind.

We are looking forward to next week as we will be busy attending the Birding Festival . We are taking some tours, Ken is taking a photography class and we will be helping out Sat. at Ramsey park.

There has been a big shoot out between drug cartels and Mexican police in Matamoros, Mexico which is across the river from Brownsville. I hope it stays on the Mexican side.
Our Internet connection hasn't been working very well, sometimes you connect or are connected then you're not. I hope it gets better not worse when more people are here trying to use it.
I didn't pick a paper for the Mexican saying for this week.
Til next time.... take care and enjoy your week.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween or

since we are so close to Mexico!!
I thought there would be more of the old traditions here, I thought wrong.
I found only the museums try to carry on the old traditions of the altars,etc. we went over to Port Isabela to check out theirs. They tried hard with a play, poetry, decorating sugar skulls and a class to make your own altars using a cigar box but there really weren't many people to enjoy or partake in it.
Here's a collage of some of the wildlife we found this week.
We played pegs and jokers Wed. with one couple, the rest of our group isn't here yet.
It's been a nice week, there was a front Tues. which the wind came out of the north and the most of the scissortail flycatchers left with it. I now hear the sandhill cranes in the fields across the road from us.
We have our bird feeders up now, only a couple of sparrows have found them so far.
Ken went to the bird banding this morning, they caught 21 birds. I didn't feel like going, I have enough chigger bites. Guess I'll just have to learn to put up with them since they like me so well, they don't seem to bite Ken.
Here's this weeks Mexican saying, I don't understand this one.
"En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo"
translation: In a good blacksmith's house, you wouldn't expect knives made out of wood.
(In other words You sometimes see things that aren't right)

Hope you all had a fun Halloween.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Settling in

We are getting settled in, we put out our chairs, decorator flag, sewer hose, washed down the RV and rearranged stuff around to be comfortable. I took a break this morning from cleaning etc and the great tailed grackles were all lined up outside our RV. Hmmm maybe they were going to welcome us in their way after Ken just finished washing the RV.
We were up early Sat. morning to watch bird banding just down the road from us. Angela is an intern from Laguna Atascosa NLR, Scott is the wildlife agent at the refuge we were at and Mark is the licensed bird bander. He is holding a Wood Thrush here.

This is a Hooded Warbler he banded, they captured 10 birds in their nets Sat. morning, others banded were an orange crown warbler, 2 commom yellow throats, long-billed thrasher and 4 lincoln sparrows.

Ken is waiting for the wind to die down before he puts up our bird feeders, that wait could be a long wait.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

First Day Back

We had a day of sand castles, sun and wind.
The day started out early with the welcome call of the resident owls, then breakfast at Ken's favorite place McDonald's in Harlingen. Then off to the visitor center to pick up the local Winter Texan and SPI papers to see what was happening. It turns out this weekend is the SPI's 23 Annual Sand Castle Days. So after getting the car a hand wash at one of the car washes, off to South Padre Island. Click on the above photo to enlarge and see the great work of a few of the 23 master castle makers. They come from around the world, one from Holland, two from Canada and rest from US including St. Louis.
There were amateur builders too, individuals and family categories.

There was also a trash from the beach sculpture contest, here is one of the 8.
There was a nice crowd there, and we could vote on our favorite and of course cash prizes will be awarded.
We ran into a couple we knew from last years hawk watch, they are now volunteers at Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge but most of it is closed because it is still flooded, Bentsen Palms State Park is the same only the visitor center open. In July, this area was hit by flooding from the hurricane Alex and then tropical storm Hermine so the Rio Grande River is still over it's banks.
We visited the birding boardwalk at SPI, it is now all open free to the public after a big local uprise when the new birding center closed it and were making everyone go through their doors with a modest fee.
The egrets are there, a curlew, yellow legs, sandpipers, one moorhen, one blue wing teal, dowagers, brown pelicans, ospreys, gulls, skimmers and terns. We have to do a little reviewing on shorebirds. On the way over we saw lots of scissortail flycatchers, great tail grackles, doves, kestrel, kingfisher and mockingbirds. The scissortails won't be staying around here as they are on their way further south.
A Mexican saying is always in the LaFeria News and if I remember to pick one up I will share it will you, here is this weeks.
"Entre menos burros, mas elotes."
Translation: The fewer the donkeys, the more the corn.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Back in Texas

We made it back down to Hummingbird Cove this afternoon we are in the same space.
We were greeted with 35mph winds and 90 degree temps.We saw several scissortail flycatchers, 2 ospreys, a cara cara, cattle egrets on the way down and were greeted here by the resident goose, a fly over of whistling ducks, and a sandpiper on the dock.
There aren't many winter Texans here yet, but it's early, we came down early hoping to see some butterflies and maybe the wood stork.
The park has a get together planned for Sunday be fun to see who's here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On the road

We are back on the road heading south now. We have had a busy week, a friend was in the hospital so we visited him several times he went home today. We visited with Ken's family, had lunch with his brother and his wife Tuesday a nice little visit. It always feels new to me when we take a long break from the road but it doesn't last long, even the cats are back to their traveling habits, they were all very good today. We are staying the night at one of our favorites stops in Guthrie, OK the Cedar Valley RV Park, it has a par 3 golf course but we got in a little late to take advantage of it. It probably would have felt pretty nice to take a walk tho, it was 80 degrees here today, very nice.
The park is for sale, the owner is 90 plus and ready to give it up for 750,000 there are 36 acres.
Ken is enjoying his new IPhone, I no longer have a phone so just call Ken's old number. I never used my phone much anyway, may get a cheap one later.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Art and family

Another beautiful weekend, we're getting spoiled now.
We went downtown Friday evening for the Art Crawl, the last one of the season. The crowd was actually there was no crowd, it was homecoming so the sidewalk art was seen by the parade crowd earlier in the day.
Craig Thomas, did this beautiful chalk painting in a downtown parking lot. He is a MO artist and travels around the world making his sidewalk art.

I bought this puffin motif fabric and really didn't know what to do with it as it's pattern is quite large. So I decided to make a sweatshirt jacket, it took more time thinking it out than it did to make up. I thought I should keep it simple and I used buttons from my stash they don't need to match. The hood is buttoned on too.
We got an e-mail yesterday, that Ken's son Tyson and his wife had their baby Sat. another boy. We are waiting for photos and a name.
Sat. we were visiting Ken's family, step mom, brothers, wives and sister, they got together to see the photos of a nephew's wedding. It was a nice visit.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A fall weekend

What a beautiful weekend, cool evenings and perfect daytime temps in the low 70's.
We got out and enjoyed a couple of activities this weekend.
Sat. we went to Westin's Applefest, there was a huge crowd for such a little town , there was only two blocks of crafts, one row of food and two stages. Then stopped at Vaughns' Apple Orchard on the way home, they don't have much of an orchard anymore but they still get a crowd for their cider and apple doughnuts.
Today, we went to Blue Springs, the Wall of Healing was on display in a park there this weekend. It is the half size version of the Washington DC's Vietnam memorial .
Ken wanted to look for his cousins name.

Then we took a little walk in a park in Liberty looking for birds etc.

Soon this guy will be hibernating.

Monday, September 27, 2010

AK Memories

I have finally put together my photo album, it ended up with 400 photos. We took most of the photos to Walmart to be printed and a 100 photos to Walgreen, Walgreen's photos were much brighter.

I have also made my fabric memory book.It has five pages and the finished size is about 7 by 12 inches, the pages increase in size front to back so the trims of each page show.

I printed a few of my photos of Alaska on fabric to add to the pages.

Each page has a trim that reminds me of the trims the natives use on their costumes.

This one has a sample of musk ox yarn, that I knitted up. It is very expensive yarn, it is supposed to be the warmest and softest of the wools. My little sample cost $3.

I have beads, antler buttons as well as my pin collection on the pages. The fabric I bought from quilt stores in Alaska and each has an Alaskan theme.

I backed each page with interfacing rather than a batting so it would lie flatter or hang nicely.

The pages are hinged to a piece of antler using ponytailers.

I enjoyed making my memory book, it went together quickly.
I met up with my girlfriends Thursday to have a nice visit.
This morning we picked up the RV from Freightliner where we have the oil changed then we took it for two new front tires, one had developed bubbles. So most of the RV maintenance is done, I still have to clean it good.
Our weather has been perfect the last few days and looks to continue for several more. Ken has been cleaning up the flower garden and the yard. We'll have several bags to take to the town compost place.
So we have been busy, but we are enjoying the fall weather too.
Happy Birthday Jim!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Smithville birding

We heard about a stray bird usually found in Alaska had been seen at Smithville Lake.
So Sunday we decide to go over and see if we can spot it, it's supposed to be a long-tailed Jeager.
We see hundreds, maybe thousands of Monarchs in the air and on the flowers but few birds.
Butterflies were everywhere, like these little hairstreaks puddling. Still no Jaeger we did spot the Ospreys it is supposed to hassle and a Forester Tern.
We had a storm go through Sat. night, at our house we had some rain but other parts of the north land had hail and micobursts. Smithville Lake was hit with one of the micobursts part of a marina was hit.
Today, we heard on the news about a fire in Harriman, UT where Ken's son lives. It turns out two of the houses burned were right behind him, his house is fine. Luckly they were not home at the time of the fire.
I'm still working on sizing pics to get printed, I'll have more then a 100 to get printed. The best of my photos I have on my flickr site, remember you can just click on one of the pictures or the flickr bar to get to my site.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back in MO

We are back home, it's nice to see how our flower garden fared without any tending, not bad actually, it's a bit weedy as expected. It is also nice to see the butterflies, we haven't seen many on our travels especially the beautiful monarchs. It's time for them to migrate south.
I have started to catch up on the laundry, I hadn't done any since we left Skagway. I'm also unpacking all the things we collected on our trip and then I'll get busy and give the RV a good cleaning.Here's the bits and pieces I collected on our trip, I have around 40 pins, fabric and bone buttons for a memory book I going to make. I'll put many of the pins in the book and some on a wall hanging I made a few years ago.
I'm not sure if the cats are happy being home as they have been hiding and off their food. I'm sure that it won't be long and they will be back to normal, just in time for us to head south.
It's nice to live in a small town where the postman will automatically start bringing your mail to your box . We weren't going to start up our delivery but we got mail today.
(Ah, thunder, it seems cool wet weather follows us. )
I'm working on resizing some of the thousands of photos I took on our trip to make prints, I like to have prints in a book I'm old fashion in that way. It's hard to pick out only 100 or so from so many photos.
I did make a couple of Walgreen photo books for the grand kids, one was about Grandpa's trip to Alaska and the other about Eddie the duck and the friends he made on the trip.
I just watched a cute short on the CBS news on birding, the great Texas competition of who can spot the most species in a 5 day period. A Mr. Baker is usually the winner this year he had over 300 species. That's almost our lifetime total. The birds are migrating, time to get out there. I haven't taken time yet to total up the new birds we saw on our trip, but it will be over 40 new species.
Well, back to selecting photos.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pausing in CO

We had a nice visit with the grand kids in Vegas and we are back on the road.
We traveling on I-70 and started at it's beginning in UT, the scenery was awesome I just wish I my photos I take thru the window would show just how beautiful it is.
Tonight we have stopped in Fruita, CO the gateway to Colorado National Monument. We had time before dinner to take a short drive thru part of it.This is a photo of Independence Monument.
Colorado Nat'l Monument will be celebrating it's Centennial all next year.
We are going to stay another day if we can keep our space for another day and explore the rest of the park.