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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Unbearable bears

Something is raising havoc at the oasis and I think it must be bears. Lots of ripe persimmons and when the acorns start ripening, I'm planning to tie up the branches so the bears won't break them.

When I arrived this morning a hummingbird feeder was on the ground and it wasn't the easiest one to reach. The ant guard came unscrewed, so maybe it fell on its own. But the seed feeder that was ravaged by bears once before is no longer repairable. I had hung it way higher after the last time, and thought it was safe.

The worst damage, though, was to the fiberglass barrier in the viewing blind. I'll have to put a new panel on there when I'm up to it. And bizarrely, a low hanging hummingbird feeder above the table next to the panel was untouched.

Now the mosquitoes are nearly gone, and after squandering a lot of daylight napping today, my knee is much better. I just don't sleep good in town, so have to catch up here. My madrone project is on hold for now, but doesn't have priority. As the weather cools off, and maybe more rains, with what I've already done, it should survive until I get to it.

Bear-proof now???                              
I came up to the house for an hour or two this afternoon and when I got back down to the oasis a bench had been tipped over and a nearby water hose had been chewed on. I had used the hose a couple hours earlier and sat on that bench. No wind today, so it's pretty obvious something beastly is hanging around. That about sums up my day.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Moving forward

If you're not moving forward, then you're moving backwards, since the rest of the world is moving forward, in theory. So after lying around a couple of days to see if my knee would get better, it felt a little better today. But as soon as I put it to work, it reverted back to how it was. At least it's no worse.

I didn't feel like I should do a long excursion since I have to go to the oasis and water tomorrow, so I went to Marathon to the Post and Gage Gardens. There were oodles of Pearl Crescents at the Post, which was a new butterfly species for me. There were so many, and they looked so much like Vestas, that I didn't spend enough effort, like I should have, to get a better photo.

And here is a spider getting ready to eat a damselfly, maybe a forktail.

It appears to be a bad day for forktails. Here's a Rambur's Forktail that seems to be eating another Rambur's Forktail. All bad photos. The damselflies are tiny and hidden back in the vegetation. It's very difficult to get a decent shot.

Here's my second ever C Streaky-Skipper. I got a better look and photo than I did on the first one (see post of Aug 23).

After leaving the Post, I limped along this trail at Gage Gardens to the pond.

This dragonlet near the pond was one I had trouble IDing, so have sent it off to the experts. I guess it's a Plateau Dragonlet, or possibly a Red-faced Dragonlet.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I tried

Leg no better, but I took some ibuprofen and decided on a short foray to the outskirts of Alpine. Found a place with some bushes blooming, and immediately was overwhelmed with about every weed I'm known to be allergic to. Couldn't find allergy medicine in my vehicle, so had to leave. Only got a few quick photos before breathing took priority. I guess these are some kind of baccharis or something.

And here's a lovely fresh Common Buckeye.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Not a great day

I drove down to the oasis at daylight and started watering my trees. Usually, that's the best way to recharge my batteries and de-stress. Today was awful. My knee hurt really bad. Still no idea what caused it to be swollen when I woke up yesterday morning. I'm sure doing Modesto Canyon yesterday didn't help either.

Then the mosquitoes were unbearable. I persevered and got the trees all watered in about 5 hours. Thereafter, I figured if I was going to be miserable anyway, I might as well go back to town, so that's what I did.

Photo taken after I turned off the pump while the line was finishing draining.
While I was at the oasis watering and doing the feeders, I pumped the remainder of the water from the dirt tank to the stucco tank, bringing the level up to a few inches below the full point. I hate that it loses two inches a day, but I should still be fine until next summer's rainy season.

I guess water mites are an epidemic this year. Here's a Red Saddlebags dragonfly loaded with them.

That's about all the photos for today. Tomorrow I'll go somewhere without mosquitoes and see what I can find.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Parasitized damselflies

Modesta Canyon Trail (1.75 miles)

The hike into Modesta Canyon features permanent springs and pools, fascinating geology, and a rich display of flora and fauna. Here you’ll find huge madrone trees, majestic southwestern chokecherries, and some of the largest Tracey hawthorns in the state. Over 17 species of ferns are found tucked into crevices along the canyon walls. This 1.75 mile, moderate to difficult hike, is a favorite for those who love plants and birds.

I visited Modesto Canyon again today, but this time went mid-morning. The mosquitoes drove me away quicker than I had intended. Instead of eating my lunch by the big madrone tree as planned, I ate it while hiking out. So I didn't get the dreamed for photos, but did snap some of damselflies infected with [red] water mites.

Researching the situation I found this information, so it's a little reassuring. 

 "water mite parasitism does not reduce damselfly survivorship, but it could reduce male mating success in some circumstances."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Paid vacation, sort of...

Kelly had visiting banders from the east, Bruce Peterjohn (chief of the Bird Banding Laboratory at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD), and Fred Bassett of Hummingbird Research, Inc. So I went along with them doing Kelly's normal banding circuit, but instead of trapping and helping set up, record, etc., I just played. Works for me, sort of... 

When we got to Lajitas I went off looking for odonates and missed the chance to photograph a hybrid Black-chinned they trapped. 

It wasn't easy to get the three master banders to sort of pose for me.

Left to right: Fred , Bruce, and Kelly

A priceless moment to observe was when a little girl watched Bruce banding a hummingbird as if she was skeptical that he wasn't hurting the bird.

Afterwards, Kelly put the bird in her hand. A picture is worth a thousand words.

The last two photos courtesy of  Laura Gold.