Welcome to my photo journal.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Big day of birding

Did you see the beautiful full moon last night, wow, later when we looked at it again there was a ring around it. So cool!! But couldn't get a pic of that, darn. This morning we got up early to join the Bird Walk at Estero Llano Grande State Park in Wesleco. There was a group of about 20 of us who decided to get out in the cold 45 degrees with a north wind.
Estero is a wonderful park to go birding, from their deck you can usually see a couple of dozen different birds today we saw a Wilson Snipe from the deck.

We walked most of the park and in 4 hours saw 70 different species of birds, one of which was this Paraque.

I enjoy the Anihiga's they are so sleek.

This blooming Huiache, is another sign of spring in the RGV. They use the blooms in perfume.
We learned where to look for other birds in the valley and the Rose-throated Becard had been spotted at the a feeder at Bentsen State Park down the road a piece so we headed there after a quick lunch at Wendy's.
We saw the Becard there, but not real well, Ken did get a pic of it's tail, so we may go back and try again.

So we ended our day with this spectacular sunset and 2 new birds to add to our life list, the Rose-throated Becard and the Fulvous Whistling Duck and we saw a total of 79 different species.
Hope your day was as fun as ours, more from the RGV tomorrow.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chasing a little bird

I'm always on the look out for interesting photo ops and I thought this one was good, I even made Ken turn the car around so I could take the pic.
They are cleaning out the canal, which is a common sight, but this time the Cattle Egrets were taking this opportunity for some easy meals. Today we stayed at the park as it was windy, a cool north wind. When the sun did come out this afternoon I went for a short walk and heard this little peep and looked up and there was this little Yellow Throat Warbler so I followed it around and tried to get pics. It then flew away and I went back to the RV and told Ken about it and he wanted to know where I saw it so we walked down to the spot. I walked over to where I thought it had flown, and there it was and Ken didn't have his camera. So off he went to get the camera but by the time he came back with it, it had flown off again. Then I spotted it by our RV and off we went chasing it until Ken finally was able to get a few photos of it too.
(This photo I turned upside down so the bird looked upright if it looks a little funny to you.)
Tonight, we're off to play Pegs and Jokers.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Getting caught up

We joined the little birding group at Ramsey this morning they meet every Wed. am, the wind was blowing some and the birds seemed to be hiding we heard them but didn't see many.
On our way home we spotted these Roseate Spoonbills and Black-neck Stilts on the canal bank so we did get to see some birds. We also saw some hawks but the birds were keeping low out of the wind.
I did take a couple pics of flowers starting to bloom again at Ramsey park.
This is a Heart leaf Hibiscus

and this is Purple Sage. The guide today said it blooms when it is supposed to rain, I'll start watching to see if that is true, he tends to tell some tall tales.
I finally got the RV vacuumed and some laundry done still have another load to do when I change the sheets maybe two with the towels.
I put up the books I bought at the thrift store, I bought 6, I'm still working on Trinity by Leon Uris but did keep out what I thought will be the next book I will read Two Texas Birders: Cameos and Capers by Fred and Marie Webster.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A little birding

We've been out birding the last couple of days, enjoying the sunshine before the next front comes in. We finally saw our American Pipets we were looking for, I didn't get much of a pic they are small birds the size of a sparrow. On our drive thru the Wildlife Refuge today I noticed something stuck on the ends of the Spanish Dagger plants. They were little crabs, the Loggerhead Shrike does this.
This is a pic of a Loggerhead Shrike, pretty little birds.
We saw our first Robins in Texas today, we didn't see any last year so I thought maybe they didn't come here.
I kept track of the number of species we saw today that we could ID, we saw 44 different birds.
I think we saw at least 300 Mockingbirds today, it seemed every other bush had a Mockingbird in it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A weekend of flea markets

It has been a nice weekend and we enjoyed visiting and shopping with the Carlows.
Ken did go help out Saturday morning at Ramsey Park clean up, I went along with the Carlows to the Brownsville flea market. Shirley found several things, I spent a whole $1.50 on 4 grapefruit and 6 oranges. Sunday, we went to Donna's flea market, Ken and Bob are watching ice cream being made in this pic.
Carlows are leaving early tomorrow, we will miss them.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ride on the beach

Today we went with the Carlows to Brownsville to shop the Goodwill store, then over to South Padre Island. We drove on the beach, watched people fish, relax, collect shells and just enjoying the beautiful day. We enjoyed a delicious lunch of seafood, except for Ken who had a hamburger at Daddy's Seafood and Cajun Restaurant.On the way back we stopped in San Benito at Freddy Fender's memorial.
Bob is looking at the Curlew's we spotted in the field next to the cemetery.
More fun with the Carlow's tomorrow.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


On our way in to meet the Carlows for breakfast this morning, we saw this group of Whistling Ducks landing on this standing water, usually there is nothing on this water.It has been warm the last few days, the mornings have been foggy and the mosquitoes are so thick here in the RV park they will carry you away.
Carlows arrived yesterday afternoon and are here til Monday when they then head to CA to go on their cruise so we will be spending some time with them. Today we shopped at the Thrift store and the 99 cent store.
Ken and I braved the mosquitoes this evening and walked down to the dock, and checked to see if the Screech Owl was in his home and yes, there he was, cute little thing. Lighting was bad so no pics, maybe next time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brid Banding

We were excited to see the wildlife area and the banding this morning, the nice thing was it was at a decent hour too, 9 am.
We were going to park at the gate but the agent saw us and opened the gate and we drove in til we saw the birding nets. They had about 12 nets up to catch the birds, you can see one of the net to the right of this photo.The group watching the banding today were students from a college in Dubuque, IA, 9 students and 2 professors came to the valley for a 2 week nature workshop. The students were really enjoying the valley, had the birds they wanted to see were excited that we had seen the Grooved-billed Ani and Ken still had it pic in his camera to show them.
This area is a regular spot that Mark Conway bands birds and he said they get to know where the nets are and avoid them so we only had 7 birds banded, a Curved billed Thrasher, White-eyed Vireo, 2 Cardinals, 2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a Common Yellow throat.

This is the Common Yellow-throat.

Here why they named the kinglet the ruby-crowned, you normally wouldn't see it as the red feathers are hidden by the grey feathers unless it is irritated.

We learned that the Cardinal has a nasty temper and has a nasty bite.
We felt privileged today by being invited to join the group, Sam Patton the Wildlife agent is very nice and has invited us to join on other banding projects in this spot. The area has 900 acres which he manages, keeping poachers, wild pigs, dogs and invading plants out. It was a cotton plantation in the 70's and the state bought it with plans for a refuge with trails etc but the money ran out so it is a quiet spot for nature to be free of human intrusion, most of the time. They do have controlled deer and javelina hunts.
Tonight we will probably join the games and play Mexican train, we've missed a whole week or more of games with our colds which we learned today could be Juniper Fever an allergy the people get here, the agent is fighting it too.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Birthday and owl

It was a beautiful day, temp was perfect 73. We did go to town for a paper then a short walk thru Ramsey Park, the flowers are gone as expected but there were still a few butterflies.
Then back for the party. This is Peggy Murrey the birthday lady.
This is part of the band, Richard, he and Murreys have been friends for many years and it is his birthday also and they have been celebrating it together in this way for several years.
The band played for a couple of hours, they are very good especially the Conjunta music.

We walked to our dock after the party, Ken feed the goose and gulls and I heard the owl.
We found it, I got a few pics not the best with my little point and shoot but Ken went and got his big 500 lens and took several shots. We learned about another owl in the area, there is a screech owl in a neighbors box, he invited us to check it out when ever we wanted as the owl wasn't in the box today.
The neighbor is a wildlife agent and invited us to a bird banding tomorrow am at the wildlife management area just down the road from us. How cool was that coincidence.
More birding tomorrow!!!!

Back to Birding

(This is an Audubon Oriole, at the feeding station mentioned below.)
We are feeling better, the weather is better so we are getting out again and doing some birding.

Before the weather got sunny we did get out Thursday to see the movie Cloudy with Meatballs, also attended the Audubon meeting it was about hummingbirds of Texas, there are 17 variety that visit the valley, we've seen only 3 the Buff Bellied, Ruby-throat and Black-chinned.

Saturday, we got up early to join the Audubon group on their monthly outing, we car pooled to Zapata, Falcon Lake State Park and a spot on the Rio Grande River which also had a couple living in a bird sanctuary that had a big feeding station set up where we could just sit and watch the birds. There were 3 variety of Orioles, Altramira, Hooded and the Audubon and 4 species of doves, White-tipped, White winged, Inca and ground and the usual feeders Green Jays, Kiskadees, Black-capped titmouse, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Orange crowned Warbler, Common Yellow throat and Red-wing blackbirds.There were 18 in our group, veteran birders, new birders and a couple along for the ride.

We saw 60 plus species of birds on the trip, 32 of which were at the feeding station.

This is Pyrrhuloxia easily confused with a female Northern Cardinal.

This is a Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, we were to look for the Black tail Gnatcatcher it was spotted but I didn't see it.

We spotted 3 new birds to add to our list, an Audubon Oriole, Audubon Yellow-rump warbler and a Short-tail Hawk.

These two Curved-billed Thrashers are regular visitors to our feeder.

These Altramire Orioles will visit our feeder occasionally.

A Buff-bellied Hummingbird at our feeder. We were hoping to see several more at the feeder since most of their nectar flowers have been killed from last weeks freeze.
Have a birthday party to go to this afternoon , a big bash with a band, BBQ meats and whatever the rest of us bring. I have to finish my card and wrap my gift better get on it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Elvis

Elvis would have been 75 Jan. 8, in celebrating his birthday a little town, Los Fresnos, holds a Music Festival.
Simon Vega, the originator of this festival served in the Army with Elvis and has created a small museum 'Little Graceland' with his personal photos and collected memorabilia.
The sun was out, temp was a little warmer so we checked out the Festival.
We noticed as we were walking in most of the car licenses were Canadian or out of state.
Here's one of the Elvis Impersonators, he was pretty good.
There were two stages and the entertainers alternated the stages, there were 10 entertainers we listened to 5 of them not all were Elvis impersonators we heard a Neil Diamond and a Marty Robbins impersonators both very good. Along with the music there was a car and motorcycle show and a kids play area, it cost $5 ea for the festival and we thought it very entertaining. We didn't stay but a couple of hours as it was getting cold again and Ken still isn't feeling very well.
This is Bill Brooks he impersonates both Elvis and Marty Robbins, I thought he was the best.
I'm adding Little Graceland to my should visit list .

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cold and Colds

The cold front has arrived!! This morning we were sitting out enjoying 60 degree weather and this afternoon we have our furnaces running.
It is going to be below freezing for a couple of nights and the high Friday and Saturday only in the 40's.
People are covering plants, farmers rushing to pick more of their citrus crops.
We could even have some sleet, schools could close and people are warned to just stay home if that happens.
This weather is hard for people here, many do not have heat in their homes so shelters are opened for them. There have been many home fires with the improper use of space heaters.
We both have colds, Ken seems to have it the worst and has taken to bed.
So we will test our little furnace and hopefully when the weather gets better next week we will be feeling better too.
Stay warm and safe!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Birthday ride

Sunday we were invited to a birthday dinner at Texas Roadhouse for our friend Norma, they are from MO too. As you see she had a good time as we all did.
We were e-mailed the results of our bird count, we saw 6070 birds Sat.
Today on our drive to town we saw a stream of hawks heading for Mexico, this is same area is where we saw the last huge stream birds heading south.
We had a cool 52 degree day with brisk breezes, tomorrow looks warmer at least that is what the forecaster is saying.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Another Christmas count

We were up early this morning to join the Christmas bird count in Harlingen, we were paired up with Norma again and another winter visitor birder.
We are given a certain area to cover to count all the birds we see so we could have say 4000 red wing black birds which may be close to our actual number for them today.We saw 53 different species, we'll get the total tally later when Norma transfers the numbers to the official paper. We saw two new birds for us today, the Lesser Scaup and the Sprague Pipit.
I didn't get many photos of the birds today but did get this White tail Kite flying.
Ken got a few photos, believe he got some good ones of the Sprague Pipit.
We saw a hummingbird visit our feeder yesterday, it was a Buff-bellied, nice start to a New Year of birding. (Didn't have the camera ready.)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Blue Moon New Year's eve

Blue Moon, guide us through the shades of darkness as we welcome 2010 under your brilliant light.
(We won't see another New Year's Blue moon til 2028)
Our infamous Arroyo City line dancers gave a demonstration then the Circle L band played the New Year in.

Cutting the rug.

The New Year's toast.
Not everyone made it til midnight to share in the toast and black eyed peas.
Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. Ben Franklin