Click any photo to enlarge

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wearisome day

My whole entire day was spent picking and drying. Getting really exhausted. So glad the apples aren't ready yet.

It doesn't show on the photos, but that tree is packed with huge apples.

I researched Black Bears online and feel much better. This site seems knowledgeable:

Here it describes my situation:

We have seen a lot of advice to avoid eye contact and avoid running away, but we have been unable to find any instance where doing these things has precipitated an attack.  Fearful people usually tell us "I ran one way and the bear ran the other."

I'm going to buy a can of pepper spray and keep it down at the oasis just in case a bear becomes a nuisance. After reading that article, I realize the bear may not have been threatening me, but rather exhibiting nervousness. (My rapid departure probably decreased his nervousness dramatically.)

However, Wikipedia says that snorts are aggressive behavior, and further states, "Black bears rarely attack when confronted by humans, and usually limit themselves to making mock charges..."
At the time I felt like he mock charged me, which was probably a nervous reflex on his part.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The bear won!

Got to the oasis around 8 AM to discover the seed feeder barrel destroyed beyond repair. The bear had snapped off the T-post. If you look closely you can see the cracks in the concrete around the stub of the post.

While I was photographing that I heard a snort, like a startled deer makes, back in the woods. When I walked back there I got a glimpse of a huge bear disappearing into the arroyo. I started to follow in hopes of getting a photo but chickened out.

About thirty minutes later I spotted the bear in the woods area of the oasis. Still had the bridge camera in hand so snapped a couple of shots as best I could.


I decided to walk around the thicket between us and try for a better photo. When I got to where he was more in the open, he reared up and snorted while moving his paws like he was threatening me if I didn't back off. At that second, I panicked. I knew not to run, but did it anyway. He didn't follow. I went to the house and got a gun which I carried around while watering and picking peaches. A couple of times I thought I heard him, but didn't see him again.

Looking at the photos, keep in mind that he was 10-15 feet away from those chairs even though it looks like he's right beside the one. That's because of the telephoto lens effect. And he's on all fours when I took these, so imagine how huge he was, towering over the chair even though he's way back from it. I tell you, I'd rather get bitten by a rattler than attacked by that bear.

I picked all the peaches in hopes he won't break any more limbs on the tree (two so far), then headed to town to start drying them. While I watered a few things that needed it worst, I saw a lovely fresh Neon Skimmer, but couldn't get close enough for a good photo.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

One in over seven billion

I figure I'm the only person on earth who is 75 years old, dries fruit, maintains a world renowned birding habitat, and blogs about it. Don't even have to include feeding, and helping band, Lucifer Hummingbirds to qualify for that unique status. Of course, every human is unique in many ways. That's part of the wonder of life.

Now the peach tree in town had its main trunk snap off from the weight of the peaches. They are big heavy peaches.

I watched a Vesta Crescent harrass a Bordered Patch for a good while. Brian said that's territorial behavior. Interesting that butterflies have territories.

Black-fronted Forktail

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Alpine stuff

The friend's tree where we're picking apricots had a big limb break with the weight just like my peach tree at CMO. Bumper crops this year for sure. I think we have one-third to one-half picked by now. They're not ripening very fast. I guess that's a good thing, but it keeps me tied to Alpine longer.

Saw dozens of bumblebees around town.

Red Hot Poker (tritoma)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Running back or forth, forth and back.

The dreaded job wasn't all that bad. I got soaking wet from head to toe, but otherwise it was a quick fix, as projects go. 

Pouring rain heading for Alpine after I passed the Elephant Mountain Rest Area. 

Then it was back to the fruit mines.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pluggin' along

Got to CMO to discover two major limbs on the peach tree broken from the weight of the peaches.

I can't save the limbs, but maybe can save the peaches. They're still not ripe. I don't mind losing the limbs since they're hanging into the sitting area where birders watch activity in the mulberry trees in the spring. With the limbs removed I can put chairs under the tree where it's always been too crowded before. I should have propped the limbs up. Just too much to keep up with. 

Still not much ode and butterfly activity. As for birds, just the nesting species. But there's plenty of work that needs doing before I go back to town tomorrow and start the apricot cycle again. The project I'm most dreading is getting into the stucco tank tomorrow to replace the broken line to the submersible pump. It's a rope that attaches to the pump so if you need to pull it out of the water you can. The pump is in the lowest part of the tank so even though the tank is real low, it might have as much as 3 foot of water where the pump is. The pump is heavy and I'll have to skid around in the underwater mud to get it dragged to shallower water, unless I'm able to attach the line in place. Don't expect photos. I can't take a camera into the water with me and no one else is here. It's good that I discovered it before the tank filled up with water. If the tank was full the pump would be under 12' of water. The shallow end of the tank is dry now, so it's basically that one puddle. Gonna rain one of these days.

This bee intrigued me today. It resembles the ones we had in Iowa, where I grew up, that we called "bumblebees." Not sure that's what this is, or not.

UPDATE: Brian says this is a bumblebee. Maybe with the non-native pollinators in decline these wonderful natives will make a comeback. First bumblebee I've seen at the oasis. I found this info online:

"While most everyone has heard at least something in the news about declining bees, most press coverage has been directed toward the plight of the non-native European honeybee. Very little attention is directed towards native bees, like bumblebees. Over the past few decades a substantial body of research has identified declines in bumblebee populations in Europe and North America.
Bumblebees have gone virtually unstudied in most states in this country despite their critical roles in agriculture and natural ecosystems. There is a real need to evaluate bumblebees in the United States to assess how their populations are faring and if conservation actions are needed."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Harvesting time

Spent the whole entire day working on fruit. Got up early and helped cover our peach tree with netting since the birds are starting to peck the peaches even though they're not ripe enough to pick.

Then we went to a friend's house and picked about a third of the apricots on one of their trees. That's all that was ripe, thankfully. Then back at the house I was just starting to put apricots in the dryer when a neighbor brought us a bucket of the most wonderful huge plums.

Hubby panicked and went and bought another dryer, so I had more trays to load. Didn't finish until around 4 PM. I now have 4 dryers that work great plus one that doesn't work so great.

No time for play but we'll enjoy snacking on the dried organic fruit for many months to come. In the old days I remember spending all summer preserving food. When the oasis was my garden and not a wildlife habitat I canned over 100 quarts of tomatoes from it one year. Never going to do that again.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


No interesting pictures yesterday or today, but just want to update things.

The two ducklings are no more. Not surprised, though I had been hopeful.

My eye doctor and dentist appointments in Odessa today went well. My vision is as good as it's going to get, but I can live with it (with reading glasses). Dental implants are fine and healthy.

We got half an inch of rain at the oasis today.* It may cause the internal baffles on the hummingbird feeders to overflow and attract bees, but I can't justify going down there just for that. Bees usually swarm one or two feeders and leave the others alone. Since I put up extra feeders, it should be fine until I get back down there in a day or two. I'm busy in town drying apricots. Peaches are almost ready. We're going to cover the tree tomorrow with bird netting.

The apples are green but I like eating green apples. Don't want to dry them green though, so I'll wait a couple of weeks on them. The birds will get a bunch, but it's not practical to cover the tree. It's way too tall.

* The rain at the oasis today was a long slow drizzle so nothing ran into the tanks, but at least the ground got a good watering. Hopefully, now that it's summer, the monsoons will begin.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

CMO needs rain

A lot of places have gotten a lot of rain this month, but I'm not one of them. Without rain to cool things off, the heat is oppressive. And my meager water reserves are dwindling fast.

To cheer myself up I was determined to find a lifer ode or butterfly today, but even though I searched throughout the near 100° heat, I didn't find anything new. There were lots of Juniper Hairstreaks that I couldn't make into Sandia Hairstreaks. Not for a lack of trying.

I might have photographed some new insects. Not sure since I'm not into bugs. But here are a few of them.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Life's little challenges

Got to CMO this AM and had a flat tire. I think the tires on my new pickup aren't enough ply. Meanwhile, it holds air for a couple of hours so I'm going to go with that rather than attempting to change it without my 4-way lug wrench, which is in Alpine. So I have to be real mindful of the tire until I get back to town.

June 12, 2014 I blogged about trying to figure out if my Mormon Metalmark Complex butterfly is a duryi or mejicanus, or what. Today I saw this metalmark, which re-ignited my challenge. This one looks more like the Sonoran Metalmark (A. mexicanus) of Kaufman's guide. Here's today's individual.

And the page from Kaufman's guide...

A very challenging complex, even as complexes go. To Brian, they're duryi, end of story. The two options are mejicanus (which used to be the name of the Fatal Metalmark) and duryi. Duryi it is.*

Today's ugly fledgling award goes to this Blue Grosbeak.

And the beautiful flower award goes to the anisacanthus.

Gotta give the beargrass honorable mention, even though I searched through all I could find for butterflies and couldn't find any. I would have loved a lifer Sandia Hairstreak, but hasn't happened yet.

* Brian explained to me why it's duryi. The whole mormon metalmark complex is real variable, so I can't go by appearance. All mine are duryi because of their host plant here (krameria). Good to know. Thanks, Brian.

Friday, June 19, 2015

More ducklings... for a while

That domestic duck, that had been setting, hatched at least two ducklings yesterday. I'm not sure how many she hatched, but today I saw two being viciously attacked by the other ducks. I doubt they'll survive the day. Nature is splendid, but sad at the same time.  She's keeping them either real close, or in the nest, but I know that won't be enough to save them.

Here are the other ducks that were hatched here. The adult on the back right is the one who hatched three this spring, only to lose them all to the other ducks. Now she hangs out with the five nearly grown from her sibling's brood (originally 8) like a surrogate mother. 

That makes a total of 13 ducklings hatched this year... that I know about.

On a brighter note, here is the best view I've ever had of the question mark on a Question Mark butterfly.

In case you're wondering, it's perched on the faded lettering of our mailbox.

A lot of damselfly mating going on.

Desert Firetails

Spreadwing, either Plateau or Southern
Still haven't seen a female Eastern Amberwings. Just two males again today.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Triple A day

Sounds more exciting than it is. Alpine (not exciting at all), Apricots (lots of work), and Amberwings ( exciting enough to make up for the other two). Various people around town let their apricots go to waste so we ask if we can have them and usually end up with what is still salvageable. I have the ripest half of these in our four dryers and tomorrow will dry the rest.

By the time I finished with the picking and drying I didn't have energy to check the ponds for odes and butterflies, but did it anyway. Glad I did. Found two Eastern Amberwings, the first I've seen in Alpine. I've been watching for them at CMO but hadn't seen any yet this year. Maybe when I get back down there there'll be some.

Unbeknownst to me, I accidentally got a damselfly in one of the shots of the above amberwings. I presume it's a Familiar Bluet.

That, of itself, isn't that unusual, but it is unusual for both to be in focus. (Keep in mind that my definition of "in focus" might vary from yours.)