Welcome to my photo journal.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The hawk watchers

Still hawk counting at Santa Ana, had a good day today lots of Broadwing hawks migrating north.
Ken is now known as the Beige Creeper, the last two days he has creeped down the bank to get photos of the birds in the ditch, there's been a Wilson Snipe, Solitary Sandpiper and today a N. Water Thrush. The hawks can flying high and can be just specks in the sky and are hard to spot.
We have to remember to look over our heads too as they can sneak down out of a cloud.

Sometimes it's good to sit and look up.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More hawks

Thursday evening we were invited to attend the Santa Ana volunteer recognition banquet.
There were about 80 volunteers, the parks all have this program and it is the volunteers that make our park system run, they work in the visitor center, give the walks, the talks, water the plants, trim the paths and keep the parks clean etc.
The banquet was potluck but the park furnished the meat with was BBQ Nilgai and wild pig taken from the refuge system.
The volunteers were honored with certificates and gifts according to their hours served.
This is Gene Wilhelm our hawk watch leader who has put in more than 6000 volunteer hours, he is honoring us his hawk watch volunteers. Ken and I received certificates for our 50 hours of time and a pin. They had door prizes too, lots of them and I won a set of butterfly note cards.On the road called Military Highway near the refuge we spotted 10 Swainson hawks sitting in this sod farm. We have learned many birds like sod farms especially after a fresh cut and watering.
Yesterday on the way home from the hawk watch also off of Military Hwy we got to witness our first cane burn being started, we've always seen the smoke in the fields but have never reached the field in time for the burn as it goes fast.
You can see the tractor starting the fire in this pic.
We also have learned many hawks can be found at the burns, we did see one at this burn amazingly flying in while it was still burning, guess they like their meats BBQ'd too.

More later, we have a wiener roast tonight with our friends from the RV park the last of the season as many are leaving next week, we may too.
Have a nice weekend!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More from hawk watch

We have been spending the last couple of days at the hawk watch and chasing birds at Estero Llano SP. I should have started taking a pic of the official tally days ago, today's should be a good one, we missed the big broadwing hawk kettle but we got to watch this beautiful bird give us an aerial demonstration. It's our first Swallowtail Kite.
I also spotted the King Rail at Estero this afternoon while Ken was waiting to get a photo of the Clay-colored Thrush.
We also had some excitement on the levy today, the several border patrol officers stopped and hunted around and found some drugs stashed in the trees, it is very common I hear to find drugs in the parks.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Update on watch

Another day at Santa Ana's hawk watch, believe we've missed only one day in the week that it's been going on.
The last two mornings started out cool, in fact Sunday morning it was down to 38 so we waited for the morning to warm up some before we went, the birds don't fly until the air is warm enough for some thermals. (We stopped to pick up the cherry pies at McD's.)Marg is showing a passing visitor the chart of raptors we are watching for.

About 20 mins before our 1 o'clock stopping time, we spotted 2 huge kettles of turkey vultures and Swainson hawks, everyone is trying to count them.
They looked like a tornado of birds coming at us out in the distant sky.
I believe we ended up with nearly a 1000 birds in that 20 plus mins.
We decided to stop at Estero Llano SP on the way home to see if we could see the King Rail that is there. We didn't see it but we ran into several of the birders from the hawk watch there looking for the same bird.

They knew about the hummingbird nest and took us over to see it thru their spotting scope.

We have a new neighbor, a Mexican 10 stripe squirrel.
Many of our human neighbors have left for home.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring has sprung??

Happy Spring Equinox
The citrus blossoms are spreading their fragrant scents around the valley just a great sign of spring to enjoy, wish I could share it with you.
Our first day of spring was rainy, but we went to the hawk watch as it wasn't raining here and watched for birds between the rains. We saw our first Hook-billed Kite from a distance but it counts as a siting and we are to bring cherry pies to the group as it is a lifer for us.
We have a BBQ this afternoon at the clubhouse furnished by the owners of the park as their appreciation of us choosing to stay at their park, should be fun.
Came the Spring with all its splendor,
All its birds and all its blossoms,
All its flowers, and leaves, and grasses.
Longfellow from Hiawatha

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What's happening????

The park had a little St. Pats party last night complete with entertainment after the pot luck dinner with a Irish flavor.
All dressed up for the occasion.

Our plans for today were canceled, probably for the best, we were going to take tour to Mexico to go shelling on an island but with all the problems going on there it was canceled.
We were invited to join our pegs and jokers group for lunch today at a pizza place in Harlingen, we first stopped at Ramsey to feed the birds and go for a walk. We spotted the Verdin, Olive Sparrow and White-eyed Vireo and took pics of the flowers.
Tuesday we did the Hawk count, it was a good day we were busy spotting and counting the migrating Turkey Vultures, we counted 1135 of them. We did see a few hawks to count too.

Here's the Mexican saying of the week taken from the La Fera paper.
A Caballo Regaldo No Se Le Miran los Dientes.
Translation: You don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Pat's Day

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are callin'
From glen to glen, and round the mountainside.

But come ye back, when summer's in the meadow,
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow...

Then I'll be here, in sunshine or in shadow.
Oh, Danny boy, oh, Danny boy, I love you so.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hawk Watch

The Hawk Watch or count began today at Santa Ana WLR.
This morning there were more counters than birds to count, but it was fun to visit with everyone and see where and what the other birders had seen on their winter stay.
I was also entertained by watching several Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and a Solitary Sandpiper.The watch will continue every day 8 to 1 until April 15th, we won't be there everyday but will go watch several times.
Bees, flowers well if you have flowers you have to have bees and they are everywhere.
Rain is forecast for tomorrow so it will be a good day to run our errands.
Hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Looking for Parrots

Today we joined the Audubon field trip to Bownsville to look for the parrots and parakeets, there were 27 of us caravaning down and around town.
We found these two green parakeets on the grounds U of Brownsville.What a beautiful campus, right down town Brownsville.
We saw 6 more green parakeets and that was all for the parakeets and parrots. They kept a record of the birds we saw and we saw about 45 species today.
We stopped at Ramsey on the way home, feed the birds and walked around and saw several purple martins and a couple of them checked out a house we cleaned a couple of weeks ago. I thought that was rather cool to see them stop by. One little sparrow poked his head out and seemed to say I hope they don't move in.

We've been disappointed on the number of birds seen at various places we've gone to lately, we seem to always end up saying to ourselves we see more at Ramsey and why did we waste the gas on going there.
Like today we saw the purple martins and lesser goldfinch's in the few minutes we walked the park.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Warmer weather

The sun poked out between the clouds today so the temp was near 80, warm enough for the lizards to come out, a few more butterflies to fly about and more birds were singing.It's time to trade the jeans for Capri's and long sleeves for short also to apply the mosquito spray heavily.
The lupines have started to bloom, I think it's Spring in Texas!
If you are interested in learning more about where we are wintering I found a wonderful blog, she takes beautiful photos and really knows her birds please visit http://www.arroyocoloradoriverblog.blogspot.com/.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Walking in Ramsey Park

We took a walk this morning after filling the feeders at Ramsey Park.
We usually do as it is a pleasant place to walk and listen to the birds but now there is an added pleasure, the smells of all the blossoming trees and bushes.
How, sweet it is!!Each time we go we find more flowering plants.
I need to find a book to help me ID them.
Soon the prickly pear cactus will add their blooms to the rainbow of flowers.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


We got up early this morning to go on a guided Birding Tour which was the first program so to speak of the Laguna Vista's 4th Annual Birdfest. It turned out to be visiting the barkyards of 3 homes in the South Padre Island Golf Estates and the ponds around the golf course.
This is a birding corner the residents built over looking a pond, there was a Spotted Sandpiper spotted here.

The backyards were beautiful, the only birds at the feeders were blackbirds and each home had coffee and fresh baked goodies for us birders. Two of the owners were artists and had their work on display for sale.

These are Whistling ducks, they love golf courses, they are funny little birds.

We listened to 3 nature talks and looked at the various displays brought by the birding centers and photos in the photo contest. Time to call it a day, I couldn't stay awake on the drive home this afternoon but have gotten my second wind now to do a little blogging.
Have a nice weekend!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Here and there

Here's our four cats, I thought I'd take the opportunity to get a photo of them together, they usually aren't together as the girls really don't get along.This is our bag we take to Ramsey to feed the birds, Ken also has a big container of seed in the car. I make up the hummingbird water, Ken makes up suet that's what is in the peanut butter container, he mixes up lard, peanut butter, corn meal, oatmeal, and bird seed then he spreads it around on the tree branches etc.
Here's Ken and some bird watchers at the area in Ramsey Park where we feed the birds.

This is the main feeder in the area, there also is a little pond, two hummingbird feeders and Ken has put up one of his drilled out logs which he puts his suet in. I share my morning grapefruit with the birds, I eat half they get the other half.

We go in to feed them almost every day, Ramsey Park is in Harlingen.
Thursday we went to Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, Ken had some hawk booklets that the Missouri Conservationist puts out to give to the leader of the Hawk Watch. The Hawk Watch begins the 15th of this month, we will help with the watch again this year for a couple of days.
We walked around a bit too, didn't see too many birds.
Cloudy today, Ken is working on his taxes, I'm watching the red wing blackbirds at our feeder occasionally another bird will show up. He expects to get his new computer next week that will be nice he has alot photos to download and photoshop.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Back to Jetty

Ken wanted to get a photo of the Ruddy Turnstones so we went back to SPI because he didn't take his camera out yesterday and wouldn't you know it the surf was up and the turnstones weren't there.The surf was good for the surfers, I guess.
Our lady who shells was there, so Ken showed her a photo of one of the shells he picked up yesterday to see what it was.
We also went over to the birding boardwalk and it is now pay only, several other people were there and were disappointed too that the Convention Center gate was now locked.

But it was another beautiful day to be at the beach.