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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Alpine ducks

As I mentioned a while back, our seven ducks returned after spending the summer somewhere else. A few days ago they were joined by four more Mexican Ducks. Now today we had a Canvasback show up.

Other than that, not much going on. I was going through flower photos hoping to get some unknowns ID'd with the help of online research, my sister, and a local plant Facebook group. It's tough going though. So many different species. Way worse than birds, butterflies, or dragonflies. And, of course, my photos aren't very adequate for the fine distinctions.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Christmas Mountains miracle

When I left the oasis 3 days ago, I measured how far down the water in the stucco tank was from the water inlet pipe. I measured carefully twice so I wouldn't get down here today and be disappointed thinking it had lost more water than it actually had, due to not measuring carefully. Immediately wrote it down. 25½" exactly. No wind moving the water. So today, after being gone exactly 3 days, I measured carefully again. Twice. Then a third time. No wind. 25½" down. It's truly unbelievable!

I had to take lots of pictures of the oasis to remind me how good it can look this time of year. Spring is just around the corner.

I got another happy surprise today. Among the weeds that grow all over the oasis are some weeds that look like poinsettias, except they're always green, called Toothed Spurge, sometimes with tiny splotches of red in them. I never pull them up because they're related to poinsettias, which I love. Well, today my sister and I were walking around and discovered bunches of them and they were red. We'd never seen them red before. Sure feels like Christmas in the Christmas Mountains today.

So I researched it, Euphorbia dentata. I've since been told that the poinsettia relatives do turn red when the weather gets cold. 

Today I hung one of the feeder covers. Tomorrow I'll hang the other. This one is fastened to the top of the pipe so it can't interfere with the banding trap.

A couple of weeks ago I did my annual housecleaning, thinking I'd have company for Thanksgiving, but the kids from Austin had to cancel their visit. The house needed cleaning anyway, but the kids coming always motivates me. Previously, I posted photos of the bedroom area of the living room. Here's the sitting area. Now I can be on my computer and visit at the same time.

I plan to either raise the bed, or get a taller bed frame so I can fit a twin mattress under this double bed. That way when the kids visit, with their growing families, and it's too cold or too hot to sleep upstairs, we can pull out the twin mattress for extra sleeping space. I know, they could sleep at the bunkhouse where there's bunks and all, but they like to stay in the house. More together time. Plus there's no wifi at the bunkhouse.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Feeder protection

Got my covers in the mail today. I think they'll work fine. Can't wait to get them installed.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Freeze not too bad

It only got down to 30° last night. Shouldn't kill all the greenery. Here's an early morning look at my beloved Soapberry patch in the arroyo. Mostly in shadow.

I have been working on a place to post pictures of every species of butterfly I've photographed in Texas, which is basically every species I've seen. I did it in blog format, but I'll only add to it when I  photograph a new species.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Robins galore at CMO

I never saw so many American Robins at CMO as there were today. Must have been well over a dozen.

Mockingbirds do not like thrushes. Several of them ran themselves ragged chasing robins.

Tonight there's supposed to be a hard freeze, so I felt compelled to document my last day of enjoying the lovely greenery and flowers.

The Cape Honeysuckle looks the best it's looked all year.

 A lone fox shared the cold, fading daylight with me as it perched atop the courtyard wall.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pretty ordinary day

Well, the moon didn't look any bigger to me, even reflected in the tank early this morning.

I got covers on these two feeders. The third one, barely visible, is the one the trap uses. I think if I fasten a flat cover on top of the pipe instead of underneath, it shouldn't interfere with the trap. I'll try it and see. I do realize that when it rains sideways, like is so often the case, these covers won't be very helpful. But I think they help protect the ant guards and feeders from the sun also. That sugar solution gets really hot in the summertime, so it's good to have a little protection. I tried several years ago to hang hoods above the feeders but the wind blew that idea away. Now I have the covers fastened to the pipes so they can't move. I wish I had figured that out sooner. Duh!

Monday, November 14, 2016

My trail

I was surprised to realize that I did all the building on my trail from mid-May through June. (Hottest June on record, no less.) No wonder I got early morning starts before it got too hot. Today I finished repairing the trail after the summer monsoons. It should be good to go until the next monsoons. That's a relief. And to have the house work done too! Maybe the weeds at the oasis will freeze and I won't have to pull them. I'm exhausted. Today was worse than the day before yesterday. For one thing, I didn't take enough water. Drank the last of it on top and had to descend all the way down without water. Didn't eat breakfast, not recovered from day before yesterday, went all the way to the saddle, which was one-third farther. Then I decided to bring the pickax down that I had left there in June. That was about the straw that broke the camel's back.

Here is the oasis from the upper landing. Not bad for mid-November.

This next photo is of the trail where it crosses the ridge. The left pic is from June and the right pic is from today. You can see, with the ground wet, I was able to get that big rock out and use it for a step. It's level but for some reason the camera angle, or lens, makes it look tilted.

Here's an interesting flower that I saw near the "corner" atop the ridge. Don't remember ever seeing one like it before. No idea what it is.

This afternoon I worked on making hoods for a couple feeders. Got one done just at dark and couldn't figure out how to make the flash go on my Lumix (Consulted the manual now and know how), so not a good photo but I like the way the cover turned out. Tomorrow before banding I'm going to do another one. Gonna solve the rainwater getting into feeders problem (except I won't be able to cover one of the feeders that goes into the trap for banding). The cover I made today is a round cookie sheet or pizza pan. The top side is painted red now. I only have one more, but ordered a couple of red feeder covers online. That should be enough what with the two new stands Mac Womack is making me that he'll bring in March. Then I'll be all set.

Will take better pics tomorrow. For now I'm going to check out the moon. It's the biggest it's been since I was 6 years old.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

November butterflies

I can't believe how many butterflies there are around today considering it got down to 44° last night. I hope I remember that next year so I won't dread November, thinking it's the onset of winter.

Here's a combination I bet you never saw before on the same photo.

Common Mestra (left) and American Snout

And more Mexican Yellows than I remember seeing before.

Lots of little Leopard Frogs around too. Tons of them.

Tons- minus one....

Sandhill Cranes are rushing south. Hope that doesn't bode for cold weather. Here are two flocks I saw in the short time I was outside this afternoon. I can barely make them out with the naked eye. If not for their constant calling I'd never know they were passing overhead. The second flock kept to a tighter formation than the first.

It's always thrilling when I see them fly over.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Trail work

Today was a perfect day to work on the trail. Cool air with wet ground. So easy to work. Weeds in the trail pulled right out, no pickaxing required. Rocks that wouldn't budge before came right out. So naturally, I pushed myself to the max.... five hours.

I would love to do an even better job, but I did what I considered was the minimum. Made it to the "corner." Hope to go back Monday and do the rest of it while it's still wet. Wet and cool is a rare combination here. So I'm exhausted but satisfied. It had been so overgrown that on several places I couldn't even find the trail. I constantly got turned around. It should be much better now. Sorry, didn't carry a camera but I will Monday, if I go back up.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A good day

I had a list of stuff I wanted to get done today and just before dark I had it done. My reward was making myself a yummy spaghetti supper, plus tomorrow I get to work on my trail. But I'm really dragging tonight. Not on my list was servicing the feeders, but we got nearly .4" rain early this AM and when I checked the oasis mid-afternoon the feeders without hoods were covered with bees. Changing out half of them is better than changing out all of them. You can bet I'll be figuring out a way to have them all hooded before long.

Finally got the house clean... as clean as it's going to get. I even gave the windows a lick and NO promise. Things look and feel clean but I know that if I snooped, I'd find lots of dirt and such. Like behind paintings on the walls, for example. I just can't be that obsessive about cleaning.

The indoor orange tree has five ripening oranges on it. And I didn't take pictures of much today. A couple of butterflies was about it. Here's a Question Mark enjoying a feeder.

And here are a couple of better shots of the same individual. It's in its winter form. I love the pale blue edging the wings.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Cold and rainy

It never got above 55° today and with mostly mist or showers we got a quarter inch of precipitation. So I stayed indoors and worked on my annual house-cleaning. Just have the kitchen left to do.

When I went down to the oasis later this afternoon I found that javelina from yesterday dead about 20 feet from where he had been yesterday. I figured something had to be wrong for him to let me so close.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

CMO day

With things looking this good and so many butterflies, maybe I'll relegate winter to fewer months, like December-March.

When I arrived at the oasis I immediately noticed a young javelina resting by the path. It didn't move when I approached within inches, although it was breathing. I figured it was sick and dying, but when I went back a while later it was gone. Guess it was just napping.

Most of the Black Swallowtails are gone from the rue, but I found this tiny one still there. It has eaten everything off the stem it's on, except the tip.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Hold-over from childhood

When I was a kid I used to make scrapbooks out of pictures from Sears catalogs of things I wish I had, but realistically knew I wouldn't. I have no memory of what those things were now, so they must not have been important. I do remember the one time I actually got something I wanted. It was a lace curtain and rug for my room. No idea why that happened. (It had nothing to do with Christmas or my birthday because we didn't celebrate those things.)

But today, if I were to make a scrapbook of things I wished for, it would look something like this:

Of  course, it would be a really long list to include more tanks, rare birds, etc.

Friday, November 4, 2016

CMO is good to go!

Got nearly an inch of rain last night and the upper dirt tank caught enough water that I was able to add a foot and a half to the stucco tank. Makes up for what I lost two months ago when I came to town and left a hose running. Plus I don't have to water for at least a week, maybe two.

The downside of the rain is that the road is not good to go, at all. Sigh!

I had a couple of butterfly pics I wanted to post but I got back to town without my camera cord and my card reader is built into my desk computer, which is at my son's house, hopefully, getting fixed. So this is all for today.

It was really a hard strenuous day trying to get the pump started, and the line to stay together so I could pump straight into the stucco tank and not have to double-pump the water, first to the lower dirt tank, then to the stucco tank. I got filthy from head to toe and got so many cockle-burs in my hair I had to cut them out. The water was worth the trouble though.

Got the car back from the shop today. It was an electrical problem. Nothing major, other than the damper it put on my trip.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Many things unusual

I usually don't get to watch the sunrise from the oasis but when I do, all feels right with the world.

Got my trees watered and even pulled a few weeds.... not that one would notice them missing.

Kelly banded today and got a recently fledged female Lucifer Hummingbird. He said she hadn't been out of the nest more than two weeks. Here's a photo I snapped of her right at dawn, before Kelly arrived.

And my Black Swallowtail factory is running at full speed.

Saw several nice Tropical Leafwings today. With the wings closed you'd never suspect the beauty with them opened.

And I couldn't get a shot of a Southern Dogface with its wings open if I tried. This one was an accident. They don't perch with their wings open. This one was either taking off or landing.

And here's a link to an article about the Amethyst-throated Hummingbird that was a first US record. And that I was so fortunate and privileged to see and photograph. (See post of Oct 15)