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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

CMO day

I hung around the place today. My son-in-law (John Jankowski) generously donated some of his precious vacation time to help with chores around the place.  Here he is installing rain gutters on a rock storage building. My 15 yr old grandson (6ft 4in) hopefully learning here. He adores his step-father.

Today only saw one butterfly species, Cloudless Sulphur. Strange how it changes from day to day. (Oh, I did see a Sleepy Orange too.)

And five Cedar Waxwings visited early this morning. Couldn't get them all on one photo.

And I saw an American Pipit briefly. 

Not much interesting but glad to get some work done. Supposed to rain the next few days. Sure hope so.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fun Lajitas afternoon

This morning I inventoried odes and butterflies at CMO. I've posted lots of photos of Great Spreadwings but I thought this one was really nice. 

The only butterflies I saw at CMO this AM were a Common Mestra, Sleepy Orange, Fatal Metalmark, and Checkered Skipper. Pretty boring.

In the afternoon I went to Lajitas to visit my daughter and her husband who are staying there for a few days in their motorhome.

I made sure to get there early so I had time to play while I was waiting for them to get there from Austin. (White pickup is mine.) And even though I didn't allow enough prime afternoon time, I still had fun. Flushed an American Bittern, the first I've seen in Lajitas.

And finally the male Anna's Hummingbirds are beginning to arrive. I was starting to wonder if they would. I expect within a month they'll be swarming like bees at the feeders. I didn't get any good photos of a gorgeous male, just a documentary silhouette, unfortunately.

And not very good one of this juvenile male either.

I guess this is a flock of Coots foraging on the golf greens. I don't remember seeing that before.

No way was I going to be able to get to CMO before dark. (Chisos Mountains in below photo.)

By the time I got back it was dark and Common Poorwills were warming themselves in the road. I tried hard to get a decent photo of one. With my Lumix this was the best I could do.

So I tried with my Canon and this was the best I could do with it. Night shots are really hard for me.

I took a bunch of ode pics today but don't know what they are and too tired to sort them out. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tomatoes finally froze

I got tired of picking all the small green tomatoes expecting a freeze and then it not freezing, but last night it finally froze. (Tiny green tomato in upper right corner.)

It's been my hope to take a photo of a meadowlark that's good enough to definitively say it's an Eastern, Western, or Lillian's. But don't seem to be able to do that. Today I saw the first one of those that overwinter here in Alpine. It was flicking its tail so I thought just maybe. No luck, though.

Since it's really boring here in town, I'll keep trying. One problem is that I can't get close enough. They stay way far away. The only way I know them apart is by song, but they don't sing here in the winter time.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Time to winterize

For nearly two weeks we've been promised a freeze but it hasn't happened yet. I'm sure it'll be tonight or tomorrow night though, so I went and did what winterizing needed to be done at CMO. Nothing going on there and until the tanks fill up, maybe not before next summer, I'm on strict water rationing.

The biggest madrone tree has the most berries on that it's ever had. Can't see them much on this photo, but they're there. Birds are noticing.

And the most amazing thing! When I went up to winterize my sister's guesthouse her Indian Paintbrush patch was blooming like crazy. Never saw anything like it.

Brian, I did look for caterpillars on it. None. Speaking of Brian and caterpillars, his Ornythion Swallowtail cat is adorable. It's pupating and will be a pupa in a few hours.

I'm going to be devastated if it doesn't survive.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Windy weather here

I hate windy weather so am hanging out indoors the last couple of days. Brian, my butterfly guru, sent me a recent baby pic of his baby Ornythion Swallowtail along with a comparable Western Giant Swallowtail that he collected in Fronton, TX on his recent trip to the valley. I'm determined to get there next summer at some point to photograph odes and butterflies.

Ornythion Swallowtail

Western Giant Swallowtail

In six days they grew a lot. The Western Giant has now been separated into a separate species from the Giant Swallowtail. I hope they turn into beautiful butterflies but there's still a lot of time left for things to go wrong.

Yesterday Kelly and I went on our hummingbird banding route. We didn't see one hummer at Lajitas. At our site three miles south of CMO we saw three Lucifers but none would go into the trap. I'm sure they had previously been banded and knew better. At CMO we only saw two Anna's and "old man Lucifer." Caught one of the Anna's, a recapture from last year. We will probably only attempt to band one or two more time this year. Hopefully, some calypte species (Anna's & Costa's) will show up next month. This will conclude the 8th year of the 10 year project. Be sure and check out Kelly's website if you haven't yet. On the drop down Activities menu are the annual reports. This year's report won't be added until January.

This weekend we plan to go to Black Gap and I plan to go to Austin a couple of days at Christmas time. But of course, life is what happens when you're making plans.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Black Gap trip postponed

We had to choose between Black Gap or getting a year's supply of hog meat and we chose the latter. The plan is to go to Black Gap this weekend.

Meanwhile, "old man" Lucifer Hummingbird is still at CMO. I was concerned that he may not be up to migrating this year. It seems too much a coincidence that the oldest one is the only one that stayed into November. It's supposed to be a really cold winter this year, although we haven't had our first freeze yet. But Kelly said "old man" is molting, which makes him more prone to stick around a little longer. I learn something everyday (mostly thanks to Kelly). His wing does look a little ragged to me.

The look of fall today.

Velvet Ash tree (Fraxinus Velutina)

Chinese Pistachio (pistacia chinensis)