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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Marathon migration day

My sister-in-law and I had fun birding in the Marathon area today. We identified 65 species, and a lot we didn't get good enough looks to ID. We're going back again tomorrow. Meanwhile, here are a few of my favorite pics from today.

Snowy Egret

First spring Indigo Bunting

Black and White Warbler

The above were all taken at Gage Gardens in Marathon. It's the best kept secret in Brewster Co, in my opinion. I guess it hasn't become well-known because it hasn't hosted real rarities, but it's just a matter of time. I saw my lifer Swainson's Warbler there a year or two ago.

It looks lush in spite of the fact that it got zapped by a freeze earlier in the week.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good bunting day

Had 4 species of bunting but unfortunately by the time the birding group arrived around 10 AM, I could no longer locate the Lark Bunting and it would have been a lifer for some of the group. Too bad. This male has most of its breeding plumage but still a little smattering of winter plumage.

The other 3 bunting species are Indigo, Lazuli, and Varied. I have so many photos of Varied that I couldn't get motivated to take any more, but here are a couple of the Indigo and Lazuli eating mulberries. Not good photos because I just couldn't focus on them deep in the tree, as they were.

One of two Lazulis present today

This Indigo seems not to have full adult plumage with considerable brown on top of the head.
Birders were much easier to photograph.

Here is a kind of optical illusion. It's of flowers (I keep forgetting what kind) beside some rocks on the edge of my white-coated tank. So the tank looks like sky and the rocks look like mountains. Works for me.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Banner day at CMO

Wow, what a difference a day makes! Suddenly ripe mulberries appear on the tree and birds descend. It was just two days ago I was sprinkling the trees trying to save them from freezing. And even the night before last it got down to 32°. So migration officially began today at CMO.

Male Summer Tanager
There were only 3 warbler species, that I saw, and no grosbeaks or empidinax flycatchers, but a lot of great birds, nonetheless. A beautiful male Lazuli Bunting and Varied Bunting pilfered mulberries when the mockingbird police didn't catch them. They were too sly for me to get photos of. Maybe tomorrow. I hate mockingbirds.

Tomorrow is my first spring birding group. I hope it's rocking with birds again tomorrow. Sometimes migration will be great one day, then dead the next.

Here's a very nondescript butterfly, a Lyside Sulphur. I thought it was a Cabbage White until Brian set me straight. He's a treasure to me.

Civilization is always nearby, even at the oasis.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

CMO survived the freeze

At 6 AM it was 34° here, so I started the sprinkler under the big mulberry tree. Went back at 7 AM and the temperature was 29° so I started sprinkling everything I could. One hose was frozen so I had to do the best I could with the other. By 8 AM it was 28°, even as the sun was coming over the horizon.

I've seen hardly any freeze damage so far. A small patch of leaves on the smaller mulberry tree is wilted. I had sprayed it, but I think I sprayed it too late. There are still lots of mulberries in one section of the big tree. This wasn't a great year anyway. Last year everything produced a bumper crop, so this year is kind of the off year. It got colder in Alpine, so I feel lucky. New growth on the oak trees that sometimes gets zapped by late freezes seems to be OK so far.

About the only new migrants I saw today at CMO was this pair of Blue-winged Teal.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A pretty icky day

I guess it can't be pretty and icky both, but everything is blooming splendidly, even as a cold wind howls, and it's supposed to freeze tonight. I took a nap today so it won't be as hard to get up at 4 AM and sprinkle the mulberries. Although the way the wind is blowing them off the tree, there probably won't be many left to save.

So I'll focus on the pretty, and hope for the best.

Wisteria in courtyard
Lantana in courtyard

Havard Penstemmon in oasis

It would be easier to list what isn't blooming than what is. Even the creosotes and mesquites are covered with yellow flowers.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

First warblers of this year at CMO

Just a Wilson's and a Yellow-rumped, so I didn't take photos of them. Since I got the curbs done, I thought today was an easy day, but it sure wore me out for some reason. Maybe things caught up with me. Nights are cold but days heat up fast. This is the best I've ever had a madrone look. I should have tried for better lighting so all the blooms would show up better. This tree is about 8' tall.

I've concluded the Chinese Pistache tree is losing most or all of it's blooms because it didn't get pollinated. The new little one has to bloom before it can pollinate it, and of course, it has to be a male. Oh, well.... All the green splotches on the ground under the tree are flower clusters, that won't become berries.

Here's the new little potential pollinator in front of the big pistache. The little one is still caged and staked. They come about 6' tall and pencil thin from the nursery, so one has no choice but to support it and shade the trunk from sunscald. It's been in the ground 2 years. The big one has been there about 12 years. 

My ptelea is finally showing signs of life.

And back in Alpine, our Black Locusts are putting on quite a display.