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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Family in Alpine

 Last night I went to the Holland Hotel to see my son, Lee, play his drums in a band there. I didn't stay very long because I treasure my perfect hearing and don't like to subject myself to loud noise.

On the way to the inner courtyard where they played, I walked past a large photo hanging on a wall that features my sister, Andrea, taken before she retired as an archeologist at Sul Ross's Center for Big Bend Studies.

Her daughter, Julie, manages Front Street Books just a block or two away from the Holland Hotel, and also teaches at Sul Ross. 

Then there's my oldest son, Eric, who owns the Triangle Market in town. He's been real sick with Covid the past two weeks. One of those who refused to get vaccinated. He mainly had an unbearable headache, extreme fatigue, and loss of taste. Today finally, his headache is somewhat better, so over the worst. Julie was real sick with Covid a year ago, before the vaccine was available, even while taking all possible precautions, and still doesn't have her taste back.

I'm so grateful for the miracle of vaccines.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Good migration day

Finally, migrants are showing up, although mostly warblers, flycatchers and vireos, not hummers. But a cold front is arriving next week that might help, although it's a very mild cold front. 

The last two days I've been watering and working on my blind project. I'm putting pipes on top of the plastic to eliminate any chance of wind blowing off the plastic and also it'll give the plastic some protection from the elements. My idea is to make it look a bit like a sotol shade, which has dappled sunlight. I'm about halfway through. Have to cut and paint more pipes. It's fun.

Here are a few pics I took yesterday and today while watering.

Gray Flycatcher

Juvenile Painted Bunting

Gray Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Monday, September 13, 2021

Better watering day today

I took plenty of allergy medicine before I started watering yesterday and it made so much difference, plus it was a few degrees cooler than last week. I really enjoyed spending two days at the oasis, even though I was working most of that time. Always pruning etc. to do, plus I'm working on the roof span between the two viewing structures.* 

But I found time to sit and take photos of what few migrants are coming through. Just got lucky on this Black-capped Vireo. He foraged for less than a minute in a bush right next to where I was sitting. Almost too close to get him all in the frame. I think it's a juvenile male. Considering he was always in motion, and there were branches blocking my view, I'm pleased that I got this much.

So much fun at the oasis the two days a week I'm there that it makes me wonder what I'm all missing when I'm not there. I was surprised to discover a pair of Blue Grosbeaks feeding three hungry nestlings. I figured nesting activity was through for the year.

Deer are starting to come to the oasis to drink, so I assume watering holes are drying up.

During one of my frequent rest breaks I captured this Townsend's Warbler coming to bathe.


* I'll post photos of the viewing blind when I get it finished.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Living vicariously in town

I've been staying indoors today so I won't have to take allergy meds, but I get interesting photos from friends and family that I enjoy. 

Here's one taken on August 27th by Mike Gfeller, a visitor at the oasis. He says this juvenile male Lucifer was really feeling his hormones. He displayed to male and female alike. On this photo an annoyed female got her beak grabbed by the naughty youngster! I've never seen anything like that before, much less captured it on camera. Kudos to Mike!

Awhile ago, here in Alpine, my son saw this cute little Horned Lizard.

I have plenty to keep me busy. For starters, my sisters and I see so many wildflowers we're trying to ID. Here's a few white ones from our properties that we ID'd recently.

McVaugh's Bladderpod (not a new species for us) Physaria mcvaughiana

Gregg's Keelpod (Synthlipsis greggii)

Linearleaf Four O'clock (Mirabilis linearis)

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Misery with benefits

Got to the oasis yesterday after lunch only to have my allergies erupt. Something's blooming that my body objects to. Strenuously. I tried to start watering but was too miserable, so I retreated to my cabin and took Claritin.

Having gone to bed too early, I woke up at 3 AM and couldn't get back to sleep. Then at daylight I took another Claritin in order to face the watering ordeal. After taking it, I read on the bottle to not take more than one in a 24 hour period. Oops!. It had only been 12 hours. So I started watering amid insufferable gnats. Tried to cover my eyes with goggles and ears with insect repellant and carried on. Maybe because of too much Claritin and Fluticasone, my nose bled off and on all the while I watered. 

By the time it got really hot (102°) a vestige of migrants visited the water drip, so that felt very rewarding. Made me forget all my misery. Looks like the birds had it so good where they were that they were in no rush to migrate. I caught this Townsend's Warbler preening after a bath.

And this Nashville Warbler caught in the act of bathing. It's a long hot trip for them, but they probably dared not procrastinate longer for fear of getting trapped in a freak blizzard.

A couple of Wilson's Warblers made their way down to the hose where I had it watering a tree, but they wouldn't bathe there with me watching.

This weekend I had my son cover the space between the two blind sections. I'm sure the wind will wreck the plastic soon enough. Eventually. I hope to cover it in metal.

While watering it occurs to me how much water I expend on a single tree to get it to 15-20 foot tall, only to have a killer freeze take it down to the ground. And I'm just thankful they all survived. But still.....  And this is one of my most native trees, a Netleaf Hackberry.

I don't know what kind of grasshopper this is, but I've never seen one like it before.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Hybrid hummingbird at CMO

Just to show you the value of taking photos, On August 27th a new birder at the oasis took lots of hummingbird photos. This person (Caley Thomas) posted them on ebird, where I came upon them. Several that were among Lucifer photos didn't look right to me so I sent the images to expert Kelly Bryan. He said it is indeed a hybrid Lucifer/Black-chinned, and the first photo documentation he's seen of a juvenile male hybrid of that particular hybrid, so that's exciting.

No photo, didn't happen, is my motto.