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Monday, June 26, 2017

Marathon day

Hadn't been to Marathon in quite awhile. Feeling really restless. Seems I'm always waiting. Waiting for warm weather, waiting for rain, or something. Waiting for my sinus infection to get better.....

Sometimes when I go to Marathon I don't go to the Post Park outside of town because, in general, I don't care for it. Seems every time I go there, more vegetation has been removed, and more trash has accumulated. In spite of that disappointment, I'm glad I went today. I was able to photograph a Fragile Forktail, which is a species I'm not sure I've ever seen, even though it's common in our area. My first photos of one anyway.

From there I visited Gage Gardens, which is usually a delight. The billionaire owner, J P Bryan, has done an amazing job, and one which he has no obligation to do, or to open to the public. Besides a formal garden worthy of a palace, there are many wonderful native species.

I was pleased to see this new sign out front by an improved parking area.

Can you imagine eating a meal the size of yourself? If you're a robberfly, you might.

I swung by the Prairie Dog town some 10 miles or so north of Marathon. I had heard it's going to be a park or something on the TX birding trail, but there was no new sign there, as I had expected there might be. Didn't see any Burrowing Owls either. Lots of Prairie Dogs though.

UPDATE: My damselfly books lists the Fragile Forktail as common in this area but when I went to Odonata Central database, I could only find one other record for Brewster Co, also at the Post Park, and it didn't have a photo with it, so I'm thinking they're probably not that common here and it probably is a lifer for me.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Red Sunrise

I got up early this AM to go water at the oasis and was amazed to see the sunrise in Alpine. In all my years of life I never saw it blood-red like this in the morning. No adjustments have been made to this photo's color. It's like it came from the camera. If anything, with the naked eye, it was redder.

At CMO, as I was watering, I heard and saw baby quail, but they're so fast that by the time I got to the camera they disappeared. Here is the one and only shot I got. I did a little research and it appears that humidity and pollution play a part in the sun being red like this.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Still in a heat wave

Due to the terrible heat wave I'm going back down to CMO later today so I can water things in the morning before it gets too hot.

I just have to stop buying these yummy dark chocolate snacks from Shopko here in Alpine because once I start eating them I can't stop until they're gone. Not good!

Next is an interesting insect I saw in Pine Canyon a couple of days ago. Don't have it ID'd yet.

I think this flower that I shot Monday in Pine Canyon, with a Golden Banded-Skipper on it is some kind of milkweed. I love the flower species there, as well as the trees, etc. It's a whole package deal. Hope to get back there again in my lifetime.

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Pine Canyon adventure

Got to the trailhead at 8:30 AM. Didn't want to get there before butterflies were active.

As it was, I saw many along the dirt road leading to Pine Canyon. A little earlier would have worked. The sign there says the trail is 4 miles round trip. When I had walked about a mile, I stopped to photograph a butterfly and couldn't get my Lumix zoom to work. 

Reluctantly, almost tearfully, I decided there was no point in continuing, so headed back toward my pickup. After about 5 minutes I found a spot of shade and sat down to study the camera some more. Turned it on and, presto, the zoom worked. So I turned and headed back up the trail. During a break about 2/3 of the way to where the trail ends at a box canyon, I put my camera on a rock and set the timer to document my adventure.

If I had it to do over again, I would have left half the water (the two quarts that I ended up lugging back to my vehicle) and carried my Canon. Oh well, I did get one lifer, a Golden Banded-Skipper. It would have been almost impossible not to get it. There were lots of them everywhere.

Pine Canyon is the most magical place in the Big Bend, in my opinion. A relict from the last ice age, still filled with Texas Madrones, Big Tooth Maples, and Ponderosa Pines. Plus a waterfall at the end (when there's water, which isn't often).

I'm none the worse for the wear, except my feet really hurt.

UPDATE: My sister called me awhile ago saying she had heard on the radio that a hiker had died in Big Bend National Park today. She knew I was going to Pine Canyon and said her heart just dropped. And then the announcer said it happened in Dog Canyon, so she breathed again. I hate that she had to suffer that moment of agony. I can only imagine how terrible it must have been. Actually, a 46 year old woman died yesterday, but it didn't make the news until today. The headlines my sister heard didn't say when, apparently. Pine Canyon today would not have been quite as hot as Dog Canyon was yesterday, I don't think.  I never saw another person all the while I was in the park today other than a couple of cars on the highway when I was leaving.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Feels like record heat at CMO

Don't ever remember my thermometer reading 109° before. This heat is totally unacceptable! I stayed mostly in my air-conditioned cave today. Didn't get much done. A good chance to work on some computer issues that I think I have resolved. Long boring story so won't go into it.

This may be the first photo I've ever posted of a Carpenter Bee. They're native pollinators that don't fare well with the European honeybee competition. The native bees are better pollinators, given a chance. But people want honey, so it goes.

I feel like if the oasis hadn't gotten that little over half an inch of rain over two weeks ago that caught some water in my dirt tank, the oasis would be dead by now. Shows how precarious its survival is, but I'm going to enjoy it for as long as I can.

Here are a couple of butterflies from today. I don't see any improvement in my photos yet, but since my camera is better, it should happen eventually.

Arizona Powdered-Skipper

Chinati Checkerspot
Pine Canyon tomorrow, hot or not!  Reluctantly, I decided to not carry my Canon.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Life comes at me fast

The days are brutally hot. In town today I practiced a little with my cameras, never staying outdoors long at a time. My poor apple tree is weighted down with apples. The deer eat all they can reach and prune the tree in the process. Way too many deer, dogs, cats, etc. running rampant in Alpine.

Came to CMO after supper to find the temperature had only dropped down to 105.° Watered some wilted stuff and filled empty feeders. By then one baby Elf Owl couldn't stand the heat in the nest hole anymore, so plopped itself outside for a cooler nap, to the consternation of the parents.

But junior dozed, oblivious.

And I was so frustrated. Trying to adjust the exposure compensation on my new camera, I accidentally turned on the timer. Didn't have glasses, was getting darker by the second, and no idea what I had done wrong. Later at the house with the manual I got it turned off. Meanwhile, I switched to my Lumix camera. But for some reason I had the focus set wrong or something. Still have to consult the manual. I need to get it right because that's the only camera I'm going to be able to carry with me to Pine Canyon Monday.

Rescued this lizard from a rain barrel by the house. He was none the worse for his experience. I think it's a Texas Banded Gecko. I've seen that species here before, but not one that looked exactly like this one.