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Saturday, June 6, 2015

The pleasure's all mine

Truthfully, I enjoyed today at the oasis far more than I enjoyed the park (BBNP) yesterday. For so many reasons. I'm near to my kitchen and comforts. No driving for what seems like the whole day. More butterflies here. No tourists. I'm always uncomfortable in the park, especially when I'm alone. For one thing, I can't just stop in the road when I see some flower bushes I want to explore, and there's never a pull-off anywhere near them. On that winding ascending/descending Green Gulch road it's worrisome to park and walk back to where you want to be. You have to be vigilant about traffic. And along the river you always have to be sure to lock your vehicle when you get out. That's something I'm not used to doing and I always worry that I'll lock the key inside since it normally stays in the ignition all the time.

But probably the worst aspect is that I'm out alone after I leave the road. Like yesterday, for just the most recent example, at Santa Elena Canyon, I was the only vehicle in the big parking area when I arrived. I walked the boardwalk that lays on the sand to where it ends, then walked down to the river. From there I walked a long ways downstream, and then a ways back up Terlingua Creek. After a while I noticed two men standing on the end of the boardwalk just staring at me. Every time I looked their way, same thing. They looked kind of scruffy. So I was uncomfortable and decided to leave. Nothing interesting anyway. Of course, to leave I had to walk to the boardwalk where they were. When I was almost there I saw several hikers approach down the boardwalk behind the two men. I was relieved to see them. As they passed the two men, and I approached to pass going in the opposite direction, the two men asked the hikers to please wait back a bit (in poor European English). Only then did I figure out that they had been waiting for me to leave so they could take a photo of the canyon with no one in it.

So at home, I'm a happy, relaxed camper. And I get lots of work done as I play. I watered, pulled weeds, pruned, and picked apricots (green, to beat the squirrels) all the while observing the wildlife around me.

Like this Great Blue Heron has been here a week or so. I enjoy seeing it forage in what's left of the big tank water.

And I saw my first Juniper Hairstreak for this year. Last year I saw my first one on May 23, so things seem a little late this year due to the long cool winter. After I finished my work I had hoped to get a better photo of it, but never saw one again, so this is it.

You notice it's up in the Western Soapberry blooms. I'm really enjoying my soapberry thicket after waiting patiently for it for 19 yrs.*

When we built the oasis and tanks, I planted a soapberry at the upper dirt tank because none had ever grown in that arroyo before.(That thicket is bigger and more lush than this thicket. Better soil there.) But in the main arroyo every summer tiny soapberries would sprout, grow a couple of feet, but never survive to the next rainy season. (One did survive but it stayed a tiny sapling.) So I didn't plant any there, just waited for them to grow on their own with the dams holding back water longer. 

Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak
I made a big production out of enjoying the thicket by lugging a shaded chair, water, and 2 cameras to a good viewing spot. Wouldn't you know, I didn't see anything good when I was actually prepared for it. With the humidity it felt like 105° but was only 95.° 

The madrone tree that I built a little terrace beside last winter, or whenever, is finally getting some afternoon shade from the Chinese Pistachio tree. It's about time.

Hard to tell what's what in the above photo. The water feature is on the lower right corner, the madrone is center front, and the pistachio is upper left. The photo is taken from the terrace, so you can't see the base of the madrone tree, which is about 2 foot lower than the terrace. Confusing, but at least you can see the tree looks healthier than it had. And this photo was taken in the morning so you don't see the pistachio actually shading the madrone.

And couldn't leave this one out. It's an Ash-throated Flycatcher tending to its nestlings.


* Last year's Juniper Hairstreak was seen in that former lone "sapling," not at this thicket. This is the first year this thicket has bloomed or been this big. It still has a ways to go yet. There's another thicket growing not far from that original sapling (that is large now) taking off from a soapberry I planted inside the oasis beside the upper settling pond. The one I planted is the biggest one, but it gets watered occasionally and doesn't seem to bloom as profusely as the ones that never get watered. Basically, the native plants that come up on their own seem better off than those I plant. This is especially true of persimmon trees. Whether I plant them of not, they won't survive without somehow getting extra water.

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