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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 in review

2015 has been a strange year that started out promising. Not too cold, and plenty wet. It had been a long time since we've had such a wet spring. By April and May everything was blooming although it was still a little too cold for butterflies and odonates.

Weeds and vegetation overtook my pathways and I didn't manage to get them cleaned up until after my spring birding tours were over, unfortunately. (Keep in mind that a cool wet spring doesn't mean water running into my tanks. That happens from summer monsoonal flash-flooding.)

Spring birding was not worth mentioning, although all Lucifer Hummingbird seekers had no trouble adding that species to their list, including birders doing a Big Year.

The reason for slow birding, I believe, was because with all the moisture my oasis was an oasis amid endless oases. The birds were able to disperse. That dispersal did provide one species previously undocumented at the oasis; Gambel's Quail. Also had a brief visit from a Broad-billed Hummingbird.

Following spring, the oasis was plunged into a horrible hot, dry summer. Three months of over 100° temperatures almost daily, and no rain other than a puny one early in July that didn't run enough to fill up my tanks. And a lot of that water was lost due to the stucco tank springing a leak. Got the leak patched but the tanks never did fill up. In October the upper dirt tank caught water that I immediately pumped out, even though it meant pumping all night long. I didn't want to lose the many hundreds of gallons that would have soaked into the ground during the night. In my haste, I forgot that I had rigged up a fitting I could install and run the water directly into the stucco tank. Instead, I pumped the water into the lower dirt tank. So I ended up having to double-pump it all, which probably lost as much water as the all-night pumping had gained.

Butterflies were not abundant and I didn't add one new species to my CMO list this year. The best butterfly of the year is the Zebra Longwing at Austin a few days ago.

Odonates were much better. Six new species were added to the CMO list. Plus I drove to several other locations in the Big Bend and added more lifers. Of course the more lifers one gets, the less remaining ones there are to get.  Just trying to salvage what I could of summertime. Next year I'm determined to go farther afield, like the Lower Rio Grande Valley. I couldn't this year because my tanks weren't full. I had to be here in case it rained and I needed to pump water to fill them.

Clockwise: Striped Saddlebags, Turquooise-tipped Darner, Smoky Rubyspot, Pale-faced Clubskimmer, Red-faced Dragonlet, and Three-striped Dasher.
So the year ended with my tanks not having been filled, not to mention all the water I had to spend watering the trees during the extremely hot months. By comparison, I've had years where it never got above 100° once all summer. Rain cools things off. Without it you can be sure the summer will be hot. I'll have to ration water severely unless we get a wetter than average spring again in 2016. It's nerve-wracking.

Ultimately, I feel like I lost one precious oasis summer of my life. And with probably less than twenty remaining, that loss is significant. Finding great dragonflies helped redeem the summer for me personally though.

My life hit the three-quarters of a century mark this year. Healthwise, my eyes are the best they're going to get. I'm getting by. My dental implants are doing good. I need to get my cholesterol and blood sugar lowered. They're borderline high. Gonna work harder at that.

The new-to-me pickup I got this year should last me another 10 years (I hope), and my almost new camera and new laptop, likewise. With my family all healthy I have a lot to be thankful for. Not every upcoming year is going to be this good. I won't complain if I can just eke by on water until my tanks fill up. My life revolves around the oasis. And the life of the oasis revolves around water. Therefore, my life revolves around water.

Early July 2015

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