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Friday, August 18, 2017

Tension building

Compare my photo yesterday of the Blue-eyed Darner to Michael Gray's and you'll see why I'm so dissatisfied with my shots. Here's Michael's.

And his flight shot to die for.

I think one of these days there'll be good affordable mirror-less cameras on the market and all anyone will have to do is aim the camera toward the subject. The camera will automatically do all the thinking. My kind of camera. And they'll be lighter than my heavy Canon (aptly named).

I submitted my potential Carmine Skimmer shot to Odonata Central and hoping it'll be accepted and a new record for Brewster Co.

Found out that interview I've been scheduled to do (next Friday) about creating a habitat in the desert is going to be shown on PBS on the Texas Parks & Wildlife program. That's enough to make me nervous. About as nervous as if a monsoon comes in the next week and washes out the road. On pins and needles here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Yay, no rain today!

It rained hard all around the oasis and I feared another monsoon would come and wash out the road again. But it missed me. This time.

Kind of a bummer today because I talked a good photographer, Michael Gray, into coming all the way from Ft Davis to help me document the possible new ode species at CMO. But most of the day was overcast and little was flying. We never saw the potential Carmine Skipper and there were quite a few either Blue-eyed Darners or Arroyo, and we couldn't get good shots of the appendages to confirm that there was an Arroyo there. They could all be the Blue-eyed.

I enlarged the appendage on the above photo, hoping to see what it is, but I can't tell. Wrong angle. Needed a side shot. Tried but he flew away when I maneuvered to his side. He's the only one we saw perched alone today. The other (s) was/were joined in mating, or in flight. Maybe Michael got a more diagnostic shot.

Here's is a Roseate Skimmer I shot today to compare to the potential Carmine Skimmer from yesterday. You can see it's a hard call.

Today I remembered to photograph the new Snake Road sign as I exited the black top. There's hope for me yet!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Possible new oasis species

Made a day trip to CMO with a couple of helpers to work on the road some. I feel more comfortable about the upcoming festival groups visiting now. And the ranch fixed Snake Road nicely. Someone even put up a street sign designating Snake Rd. Hope it lasts longer than the previous ones did. Forgot to take a photo of it (some blogger I am!). Next time.

The help could only work a couple of hours so I made sure to wear them out in that time. Got some bad rocks removed from the road. Every little bit helps. After they left I wandered around looking for butterflies and odonates. Thinking I got a species not documented at the oasis before and maybe in the whole Trans-Pecos. Checking with experts now. Here's what I feel certain is a Carmine Skimmer. A front face shot would confirm the ID, but it was way out across water whenever it perched. But in flight I saw the bright red face, so I'm sure that's what it is. Just may have to go back tomorrow and try for better shots of it and this next ode, same situation. Only perched way out in the little reed (all dead I fear) island. The water is deep going out there. Wasn't up to it today because if I slip in with my camera it's a bad deal. And it's a pretty steep slope going to the island.

Here's what I consider a possible Arroyo Darner. It was also way out on the island. The appendages are the determining factor on this one.

And here's a lovely little moth. I think it's a Lichen Moth (Eudesmia arida)

Coming out from the oasis this afternoon from my big hill I saw this in the distance. I guess it was the edge of a rain storm. (My two sisters' places in the foreground.)

My road in lower right corner
Nine Point Mesa barely visible in the background
This country has new delights to see every day.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Getting things back under control

Early this AM my sister and I went out to check the damage on Snake Rd., particularly the place where 2 vehicles from the Fort Davis Hummingbird Festival had to be towed out of last August  It was really bad. We worked on it for an hour or two, along with another sister and her daughter. Got it where we could get out. When I came back to the oasis the cliff side at the top of the big hill had sloughed off  during my absence. Had to hook a chain to some of them and drag them closer to the road edge to where we could roll them down the slope.

Tomorrow the Property Owners' Association, to which I pay annual maintenance fees, is going to fix the bad spot on Snake Rd. My own mile of road I have to maintain. It's rough but usable. I would not recommend coming in a low clearance vehicle at this time. Eventually my husband will bring his bobcat down and clean up the landslide area. I removed everything to the right of that big squarish white rock.

Here's the only wildlife photo I took today. Just a common skipper, probably a Northern Cloudywing

Lots of common odes and butterflies around. I was just too busy getting the oasis  back under control. When the ground is wet is the best time to pull weeds out of the paths, etc. 

The mulch at the oasis had been washed into random drifts here and there and I spent hours salvaging what I could of it. Then I came to town and did a final rinse to half of the rent house floors prior to waxing. Tomorrow I'll do the other half and then my husband is going to wax them. That's the final step and he's eager to get done with it. Normally I wouldn't do a final wipe up but the cleaning with oven cleaner had created so much muck that I wasn't sure I'd gotten it clean enough. But the first half was cleaner than I had expected it to be so it's no big deal. A total of two hours labor to be sure wax isn't applied over any residue of grime.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What a day!!!

I knew several groups of birders were going to be at the oasis today and I really wanted to be there. I hurried and finished the rent house floors and rushed down. By the time I arrived only one birder was still there. Glad I got to meet him anyway. Then after he left I rushed around filling feeders, and other chores. I noticed it was really raining to the southeast of the oasis in the park. And thought it'd be nice to get another little shower. We had gotten a nice one yesterday when I wasn't here, so I wasn't planning on watering anything anyway.

It started sprinkling at 4 PM and I thought, oh I hope we get a few tenths. It'd be nice. I didn't get to see the tanks fill a week ago today and missed the shower yesterday. The loud AC was going in the house and I was playing on the computer. Lots of close lightning, lights flickered on and off.

I went to look out the window and the courtyard was flooded. Water was seeping in the kitchen door so I ran out in the rain and took the overflow drain off the pond. It's designed to drain the courtyard should it be necessary. But it's never been necessary before. My camera was in my pickup and I didn't dare go get it, so I snapped a couple of poor shots with my cell phone. This first one, taken looking out the window, shows water pouring off the roof into the courtyard.

When I was finally able to go out water was everywhere. The oasis was under water, the road going to the oasis was underwater. I took some video clips to share the event. Hope they're viewable. The first one is the water running across the road after both dirt tanks are full.

2017 8-13 (1) road

This next one is me going to the Lower Dam. From there the water goes to the ocean as CMO can hold no more. A shame too.

2017 8-13 CMO to L.dam

Next is a short clip taken below the dam.

2017 8-13 CMO L.dam clip (2)

Here's the wildlife pond.

2017 8-13 CMO (4) wildlife pond

And the pine forest taken by the flooded cottonwood tree.

2017 8-13 (3) cottonwood

Those should give you an idea of what it was like. Water roaring in stereo from all directions.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

One tile at a time

My shirt is hanging down. I'm not fat! (I weigh 135 lbs.)

Got over half the house done. It's 600 square feet. Only 200 or so to go. 😓 My husband doesn't know how to take photos so this photo isn't what I would have taken. Upper left corner is his finger of course. Behind me is the dirty floor. Can is oven cleaner. Yup, it's saving my life. First I spray a section of six or so tiles with oven cleaner, then scour them with a steel pad. Then I take a wet rag and scrub up the mud, which is what I'm doing on the above photo. This photo doesn't give even a clue as to how filthy the floors are before I scrub them. A lot of what I'm removing is old wax buildup. My husband waxes the floors before he rents them out. I can't dissuade him from doing it. Did the shower with oven cleaner too. Try it. You'll like it.

I wish I had known about using oven cleaner while cleaning that last rent house less than a month ago. Before that it had been at least 2 yrs. since we had a vacancy. Hopefully, it'll be a real long time again. And sometimes people actually leave the house clean. We love it when we can give them their deposits back. Meanwhile, two trashed houses within a month is pretty traumatic. (Total of 4 rentals.)

No later than Monday morning I'm going to CMO and for the most part I plan to stay there for the next 4 weeks with short visits to town. Summers there with plenty of water are my favorite times and I don't want to miss out.  I'll have the floors done tomorrow, then the house will be done except for things I can't do. A new refrigerator is being delivered Monday, and a plumber is coming Wednesday, etc.

Dreaming of odes and butterflies that I'm going to be photographing soon!