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Monday, November 23, 2020

Where the birds might be

 I've been thinking and thinking about the paucity of birds at the oasis. Like my year-round birds that don't migrate, such as House Finches? I think the most likely explanation is something outside of the oasis went to seed that they love. Since that late June rain caused a bumper fall crop of persimmons and other berries, it makes sense that it helped the fall grasses as well. Just like when ocotillos bloom in the spring the hummers abandon the feeders. I don't see anything else it can be.

The revised feeder is working perfectly now. Next time I come down here I'm going to bring some paint and repaint it.

So bird-wise at the oasis, I tallied 22 species today, including a pair of Robins that were eating hackberries. But only one White-crowned Sparrow, when normally there would be too many too count. Some years I have hundreds of Lark Buntings. None this year. But I figure that's good for the birds.

Male Anna's Hummingbird

Sunday, November 22, 2020

One bucket at a time

The weather in Alpine was so lovely this morning, and I hadn't been to the oasis in five days, so I headed south. Not long after I got here it started getting cool and windy. But I persevered.

By now you must surely be thinking the bucket feeder can't be worth all the trouble it causes. But it is. And I think it's finally done and won't need any more tweaking. 

The other day I wasn't here and my son went to crafting some cups to put below the feeder ports. Too much seed was ending up on the ground.

In order to install the cups, he took the handle off the bucket. He didn't know that it has to be bent just right or it doesn't work right. The wire handle is extremely thick stiff wire. So he didn't see a reason to close the loops completely. Logic would tell you that would work just fine. Knowing what I know, I would have just moved a table underneath the bucket and worked on it there.

Anyway, when I got to the oasis midday today, the bucket was hanging by one handle. It seems funny to me now, but at the time I was stressed over all I had to do. Turned out it wasn't as hard to get it back functional as it had been the first time I had to do it years ago. I can't imagine how the handle got off the bucket. Must have been a pretty big animal yanking around on it.

My son is invaluable to the oasis. I feel like I could no longer maintain it without his help. It was getting too much for me. So good to know he'll be here when it rains and water needs to be pumped. Meanwhile, he's going to help me carry water to the courtyard. The house's rain barrels are empty and no well. I hate to lose the trees there when 100 gallons a week should be enough to keep them alive. Today I brought about 40 gallons from town but was frustrated that I couldn't get it out of the tank with a hose. My pickup is too low for it to gravity feed, so I ran it into a bucket and carried it to the trees the way our ancestors had to do it, a bucket at a time.

This is the first year at the oasis that I haven't fed hordes of White-crowned Sparrows at the feeder all winter. It's really weird. I didn't even see a House Finch today. And not because of the bucket. There was ample seed on the ground. 

Yet, I saw a Swamp Sparrow at the feeder... first time ever at the feeder. Usually they hang out around the edge of the tank, although I've probably only had a couple through the years.

What do the birds know that I don't know?

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Always tweaking

This time of year bees shovel seed from the feeder, and without the pad I had below the ports the seed is piling up on the ground. So Lee fashioned little cups to slow that down. Some on the ground is good for quail, etc., but I'm afraid too much will attract unwanted varmints. Got enough of those already.

I've been hanging around town, but going back to the oasis Monday. I overdo myself when I'm there, so trying not to get run down just in case I get the virus. But it's hard for me to slow myself down no matter where I'm at. Been birding some around the Alpine area. Nothing exciting since my lifer Wood Thrush. That's a hard act to follow. The more lifers I get, the fewer there are left to get, unless I travel extensively, which isn't going to happen.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Wild animals living among humans

 A lovely day where I hated to be stuck in Alpine, so when my husband said he was going to check his feral hog trap, I eagerly rode along. Turns out he had caught a bunch of Javelina in it, which, of course, we released.

Deer lounging around near our ponds.

There's a tree cage on the left side of the photo that they probably got antlers stuck in, pulling it off. Next they rubbed their antlers on the tree the cage had been protecting. The tree is a mulberry, so it'll survive, but not good.

Here's the bear with the missing paw, surely due to some not-so-bright person setting a trap for it. Photo taken last year by neighbors, Bruce & Stephanie, a couple of miles away from the oasis.

Please let me know if the videos in this post don't work for you. I'm having trouble seeing them. Don't know if it's my slow computer or not.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Fun Marathon day

 Dale (my sister-in-law) and I went birding to Marathon today. Our hope was to get a a couple more species for her Brewster County list. We ended up not only doing that, but I got a lifer Wood Thrush too.

At Post Park today I saw a young javelina. Last time I was there I photographed a very pregnant adult. She doesn't look so pregnant anymore.

I love this artistic skyscape Lee took of the house at the oasis. No photo can capture the magic of a calm cloudless night there. It permeates the soul and spirit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The mysteries of nature

 I totally wore myself out watering this morning. Since we haven't really had a hard freeze at the oasis I still feel the need to water weekly. Something I once thought of as relaxation and time to watch birds is now exhausting. Still good for birding though.

I found it strange that an Anna's Hummingbird just hovered in place way high above the oasis for what seemed like a very long time. Maybe getting its GPS bearings?

I think it's a female that just showed up today. Here's a closer look at her.

I was shocked to see how poorly the deer are looking lately. Water, but no food, I suspect. In 2011 they looked like that and many didn't make it through the winter.

The Least Grebe seems like it'll stay the winter.

I've had the best variety of Dark-eyed Juncos this year than ever before. This one is a Slate-colored.