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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

First December catbird at oasis

Really surprising to see a Gray Catbird this time of year. Did not get a photo.

I think the Mexican Elder tree in the courtyard is already looking better since I put up the windbreak.

When I saw a pile of wood where the city was cutting down trees, I asked for, and received, this really neat hollow log. No idea at the time what I would do with it. This is the bottom.

Here is the top. As you can tell, it's laying on its side in my pickup. I'm thinking maybe I should set it on the ground, fill it with dirt, and plant something wonderful in it. They even loaded it for me. I could have managed it, but it would have been difficult. Any suggestions appreciated.

20 lb bags of birdseed in background for size comparison.
Don't you just love how these butterflies camouflage themselves? Can you find the Sleepy Orange in this photo taken today?

Monday, December 15, 2014


I felt happilated to get back to the oasis after being gone more consecutive days than normal. The most noticeable thing is the quiet. I just revel in the stillness.

Three of the oranges on the indoor tree were splitting open so I had to pick and eat them. They weren't as tart as those from last year. Really very juicy and tasty.

I think the reason they split is because I lavished so much water on the roots while the fruit was subjected to very dry air most of the time.

Things are still dead here and I still don't have my big lens, but good things are ahead. For one thing, within a week the days will start getting longer. That always cheers me up.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Bird Count

My sister-in-law and I went to Balmorhea to help with the annual CBC. Saw tons of sparrows but nothing exciting in our count area. Mark Lockwood found a California Gull out on the lake there in his count area. I started to not photograph it since my lens is at the shop, but I took what I could since it's a lifer for me. Not a very exciting lifer at that.

California Gull is the large gull in the middle

Tomorrow we're banding at Lajitas, then the next day I'll water trees at CMO. So maybe I'll see some good birds in the next couple of days.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Missing my big lens

I saw this Rufous Hummingbird this morning with ice on its tail but without my big lens I couldn't get a good photo of it, especially through the window. This is it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Early CMO Christmas present

An awesome facebook friend, who I've never yet met, sent me some trifoliate orange seeds last year that I didn't have great luck with. They arrived dry, but need to be planted while fresh. I do have a couple 3-4 inch seedlings from them, but it looks iffy that they'll grow or survive. So this same woman sent me five fresh fruits from her tree this year. I'm very excited about growing them.

Theoretically, they should be cold hardy in my region, at least once they're established. I plan on eventually adding them to my citruseria, where now dwells the lone Kumquat tree. (I lost my precious "Prickly Ash," zanthoxylum hirsutum, to accidental drowning.) The citruseria has only been there a year so it'll take time to get it established the way I envision it. In other words, packed with citrus plants, leaves, and trees. Updates to follow, of course.

Remember, this is all about attracting swallowtails to CMO, although I find it fun and satisfying to grow citrus. Have already eaten one of the  6 oranges on my indoor tree. I was going to let them hang there for longer but a few have burst open, so have to eat them. I'm in Alpine so can't take photos there, but will when I get back down there.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Wintering oasis birds

We're far enough into winter that I can pretty much tell which species I have overwintering at the oasis this winter. There seems to be a Winter Wren staying around, but I can't get enough of a look for a photo. Sometimes I hear it calling. The next best overwintering bird is a Brown Thrasher that's been around for quite some time too. Some years I have more Lark Buntings. This year there seems to be only one small flock. Kelly says Lark Buntings are irruptive species, meaning they come some years in large numbers, and some years are nearly absent for no discernible reason.

Since my lens is off for repair I don't have any bird photos to post, but here is a shot of my Cholla patch that I hope will entice Lucifer Hummingbirds to nest, maybe by the spring of 2016. I'm pleased with the growth this year.

Kelly and I made a quick banding run to Lajitas and Far Flung Outdoor Center early this morning. This salvia bush at Far Flung didn't have a single leaf on it, but had some blooms. I wonder what stripped it of leaves. Sure looked strange.