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Thursday, September 20, 2018

New tank gonna happen!

The tank company's agent had to postpone coming to CMO until tomorrow, so I stayed in town another day. My husband loaded his bobcat to take to CMO Saturday. He's going to clear the land for the new parking area since the tank is going in the current parking area. The board on the trailer floor is patching a hole. He was going to put new boards in the trailer, but that would take him weeks to do, so this is a temporary patch.

Later I'll have my son, Eric, come to level and help me clean up. He doesn't have a bobcat, just a tractor with a bucket, so I need to get the bobcat work done first. Also hope to have Hugh take the gravel that we'll need out of the arroyo, but doubt that I can keep him there more than 3 hours. He has a very bad back and knee. I'll just have to see how it goes. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Still in town. Things are lovely, but noisy here. Antsy to get to CMO tomorrow. A representative from the tank company is going to hopefully visit tomorrow to help me assess the pad requirements and logistics. Ever since I bought the land in 1977 every bit of improvements have been cobbled together in a homemade rustic way. This tank will be the first state-of -the-art structure on the place and will surely stand out as an eyesore. But has to be done.

My son gave me an old wobbly bench from his rental trailer yard. My husband repaired it so that it's now very solid. We put it out in the habitat here.

With the cooler weather and recent rains, our vines are abloom.

Trans-Pecos Morning Glory

Silver Lace Vine

Donations to my gofundme campaign are slowing way down, but I have enough to buy the smaller 65,000 tank. Just need to raise the installation charge (about $5000) now. Today my husband bought lumber to repair the floor of his trailer so he can haul the bobcat down to the oasis and clear the area that needs to be cleared. I really hate tearing up precious vegetation, but it has to be done. So the wheels are in motion. No going back. Failure is not an option!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ordinary Alpine day

Couldn't find anything interesting to photograph here in town, so settled for a couple common species.

Great Horned Owl

Familiar Bluet
I've been busy trying to navigate the logistics of getting the new tank. Like where to put it, how to get the pad done to the stringent specs, how to get sand delivered, how to coordinate everything, how to have enough money, etc. But we do what we have to do, and this is one of those things that I have to do and should have done many years ago. And I'll sure been glad to put it behind me. I owe such a debt of gratitude to all the people that are supporting me in this. Without them it wouldn't happen.  Too many to mention but David Sarcozi is certainly at the top of the list.

Monday, September 17, 2018

So much for yesterday's big rain

Remember my sister called me that we got a big rain and the arroyo was raging? She's a mile downstream from the oasis so I couldn't wait to get down there today to see if my tanks caught enough water to top off the stucco tank, or maybe everything was full.

Well, no runoff at CMO into anything. But I'm not worried. Once I get the new tank I'll never have to worry again. We're forecast for rain all week, the stucco tank doesn't seem to be leaking, and nothing is going to stop me from getting the new tank.

Back in Alpine I captured a shot of a pair of lovey-dovey Inca Doves.

Another Lajitas story. On September 7th some oders, Bob and David, arrived on their first visit to the Big Bend, staying in a motel at Study Butte. I took them to Lajitas the afternoon they arrived. We had fun. Didn't see anything really great but Bob got a photo of a Plateau Dragonlet, which was a lifer for him. We planned to go oding again the next day.


But very early the next morning (8th) CMO finally got its monsoonal rain, so I pretty much abandoned the guys and stayed at CMO to pump the water into the stucco tank. Left on their own, and knowing nowhere else in the Big Bend except Lajitas, where I had taken them, they returned there so David could get the Plateau Dragonlet, as well. They're both excellent photographers. So they photographed everything of interest to them. In the process, David shot a dragonfly that he thought was probably a female Four-spotted Pennant. We visited there again the next day (9th) and took a golf cart farther into the golf course than previously when we had just walked to the closest ponds. We didn't revisit the close ponds that day figuring we'd pretty much seen what was there.

David and me
After they got back to Arkansas they started processing their photos. David discovered that pennant was actually a Tawny Pennant, a first Brewster County record. Sure hate to have missed out on that one. Here's David's photo of it.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


My gofundme campaign is going good. Nearly halfway to the goal. A different tank company contacted me saying they would sell me a 65,000 gallon tank at cost ((about $22,000 installed), so that's much less expensive than the one that I was trying to get funds for ($30,000). On either of them I'd have to provide the pad, which probably means buying truckloads of sand, but we're still discussing that expense. And I can make it with the 12,000 less gallons, I think. I'll still have the in-ground tanks that should catch some water too. And I'm going to focus on getting the 11,000 gallon rock tank sealed and covered next.

My sister called me this evening to tell me that we got a big rain at the oasis and the arroyo is raging. I'm in Alpine because I have a dental appointment in the morning, but I'll be headed down there afterwards. Everything should be full with no place to pump the water in the dirt tanks, but soon I plan to remedy that. It won't happen if I don't push for it, starting with pressuring my son to make the pad.

Other encouraging news. After I patched the stucco tank I pumped the water back in, then measured how far it was down from the inlet at 3 AM (Sep 13th). It was dark and hard to tell exactly the distance, but the best I could tell it was 32" down. Then 4 hrs later, in daylight, I measured again and it was 32-1/2" down. And another 4 hours later at 11 AM it was 33" down. So I determined that if it went down one inch in 8 hrs, it was leaking 3" per day. I was really bummed. It's hard to be real accurate when dangling over the edge of the tank, poking a tape measure down to the water. After that I came to town. This morning (the 16th), before the rain, I went back down and remeasured. It had by then been 3 days. Being ½" off one way or other isn't so critical at that point. Still gives a good general measurement. The water measured at 36" down. So that's 3" in 3 days. That's really good. Evaporation could account for most of that, meaning it's not leaking very much, probably as sealed as I can ever get it. (Before patching it, it was losing 4" per day.)

If I had the new tank there today, I could fill it from the dirt tanks and leave the water in the in-ground tanks. That would really be great. But I'll get the tank as soon as possible. The company says it may take a month. By then the dirt tanks will be empty, but I'll have enough in the stucco tank that I should be able to fill it. Because during that month I'll keep topping off the stucco tanks from the dirt tanks.

To be clear, if I didn't get a new tank, I would make it through until next rainy season this time, but the first year the rains didn't come, like happened in 2011, the oasis would die. It has to be prepared for that. It's not something that can wait until it happens. Buying and hauling water, like I did in 2011, is no longer an option.

Bottom line, the oasis is going to make it. I worried that by the time I got a new tank I wouldn't have water to fill it, but I now feel I can make it happen. Then, if we don't get rain next rainy season I'll have that to fall back on. By being frugal with the water and letting some things go, there'll still be an oasis for us all to continue enjoying. That's my plan anyway.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

My gofundme campaign

At 3 AM last night, while waiting on the water to finish pumping, I decided to write a gofundme story sort of to see how it works. It was pretty easy so I just proceeded. Then turned off the pump and went to bed. Early this morning my life became crazy. Donations have been pouring in all day and I've been busy writing thank you messages.

It looks like I might be able to get the tank I desperately need. When I measured the stucco tank before coming to town it was still leaking about the same or maybe slightly less. But since it has two feet less water in it, the pressure decreases on the leaks and they slow down on their own. I'm sure I patched it good. It must have sprung another leak. So my only hope is the gofundme campaign. Otherwise, I'd be really depressed about the tank leaking.

Here's the link:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Tank patching day

I set up my patching operation with a lightweight chair and floated my supplies in. (Broom is to help me walk in and out without falling down.)

Biggest hole that I chiseled out around the crack

Patching in progress
Smaller hole chiseled for repair
Patching completed

Pumping water back in

After I had the two big holes patched plus two tiny ones I discovered 4 more pinholes. I was out of hydraulic patch and the other stuff I tried didn't work on an active leak. So I went to town for more hydraulic patch and when I got back it had stopped leaking into the tank, so the other stuff would have worked. After patching, I put some Dryloc coating on. It's supposed to dry for 3 hours but I only gave it an hour. As it is, I'll be up pumping most of the night. Need to get it back into the tank so not so much is lost. Maybe we'll get more rain this year too, but I think I'll be able to eke by if we don't.

Here's a new addition to Brian's collection, a male and female Two-tailed Swallowtail.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Lovely oasis day

Even though today was the day we pumped out the stucco tank so I can repair the leaks, I was happy being surrounded by dear friends and plenty of help. We ran three pumps to make it go faster.

It's now pumped out and waiting for the leaks to stop running water into the tank so I can patch and refill. Hopefully, tomorrow. This next photo is where I patched it a couple of years ago. My patch was tough, but it cracked across the middle. I chiseled this hole to make it easier to patch. Can't patch a crack very well. Gonna use expandable quick drying cement with fiber in it. Bet that'll hold.

Michael Gray was of invaluable assistance today. He's my hero! And also had help from his lovely wife's brother-in-law. I appreciate the time the others spent hanging around and listing what migrants are dropping by.

Today the amberwings appeared, three days after monsoons filled everything with water. My camera OIS (image stabilization) switch was AGAIN accidentally turned off. I was so disgusted that  I super-glued it to the "on" position. I missed a good photo of what is probably a Mexican Amberwing. Either that or a teneral Eastern. I've no idea what the tenerals look like. So here's the only documentation I got.

Lots of other odes showing up at the dragonfly pond and other places holding water, including an adult male and female Eastern Amberwing.

Female Eastern Amberwing
Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Female Red Saddlebags
Day before yesterday my sister saw this Trans-Pecos Copperhead up our mountain. I've never seen one.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Oding along

Today was the last day to ode with David Oakley and Bob Harden. We reluctantly left south Brewster County and began our day at Sandia Wetlands near Balmorhea. Photographed Stilt Sandpipers there, which are the first of that species I've photographed.

David had 3 target lifers for this trip, the Red Rock Skimmer, Mayan Setwing, and Cardinal Meadowhawk. We dipped on the skimmer in the two places I've reliably seen them in previous years. Couldn't chase the setwing because Big Bend Ranch State Park, which is the most likely place to find them, was closed to all but 4X4 high clearance vehicles due to the recent monsoons.

We did get the Cardinal Meadowhawk today after a moderate hike up to Chico Tank on the Davis Mountain's nature preserve trail. For some reason my photos of it weren't sharp, but I had that species at the oasis once.

There was lots of ragweed at that old man-made pond and I was uncomfortable due to not bringing any meds with me. No inhaler or allergy pills. Nothing. I left pretty quickly when my breathing became concerning, but luckily got fine once I got well away from there. Things were really dry in that area. No water in Madera Canyon at all. Disappointing.

Bob enjoying his new lifer Cardinal Meadowhawk
Here's Bob and David chasing their lifer Mead's Wood-Nymph. Or maybe it was their lifer Canyonland Satyr.

Yesterday Tim McKenna posted this photo taken by his wife, Julie, of a big elk between Alpine and Marathon.

And here's another interesting image I found online of protected habitat.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Big bummer!

I measured the stucco tank after 12 hours, and it had gone down 3." That means in two weeks the tank would be empty. So I have no choice but to pump it out, patch it, and refill it. I'm trying to get help with handling the heavy pumps to empty it. The rest I can do. All a killer, but I can do it. Should I just give up?

Went oding today with some nice oders who hadn't been to the Big Bend area before. Here's a photo of them on their first trip down the scenic river road. (FM 170).

Oding has been really slow. Things I normally don't have trouble locating are not around. Hopefully we'll do better tomorrow. Our last day.

Serpent Ringtail - Shafter
Variable Dancer - Shafter

Sooty Dancer - Shafter

Gray Sanddragon - Shafter

Amethyst Dancer - Shafter

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Back in the water

CMO got over 2" of rain this morning and my tanks are full. Fingers crossed that the stucco tank doesn't spring a leak.

I pretty much abandoned my oders to pump water. Hopefully, tomorrow we'll find good odes.

The internet at CMO was down for the last two days and it drove me crazy. Hopefully, it'll stay on now.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Chasing a lifer

Late yesterday afternoon Bill Sain and I impulsively went to Post Park in Marathon to try to locate a Yellow-green Vireo that had been seen and photographed there.

I got about a 15 second look at it and no photo, so we're going back today along with others.

Brian is now back home in California. Here's a picture of a Drury's Metalmark caterpillar that he collected on his trip here. I forgot to post it sooner.

About 5 days after I got my second, and last, Shingrix vaccination I got some red welts on my legs that didn't bother me unless I touched them, then they were very painful. Don't know if it is related to the vaccine or stress, or both.

Got my son's property leased. Not real optimistic about the new tenants but that's how it goes. My husband's house is done being detailed and should lease soon. So I'm taking time to do fun things. Yesterday I went to the oasis and serviced feeders. Had gotten a little rain, so didn't water. Still no runoff into my tanks and rainy season is almost over. Other places not far from me got lots of runoff. I may just have to let go. Nothing is forever.

Here's the bird that I didn't get a photo of. This photo is by the finder, T Jay Adams.

UPDATE: We did not relocate the vireo. We did some intense birding for 3 hrs. Only interesting thing I photographed was this Autumn Meadowhawk. Not a lifer for me.

Here's a sleeping Great Horned Owl from Post Park today too.