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Monday, February 18, 2019

Another and more to come

I found and identified a new plant species for the oasis. Texas Toadflax (Nuttallanthus texanus). It's also exciting to me that I identified it myself. Wasn't easy, but the word "beardtongue" came to my mind. So I googled that and although I quickly discovered it wasn't that species, I figured it was from the same family. So I saw that beardtongue was in the Plantain family. Then I went to the digital Brewster Co. guide that I made this winter and found it in the Plantain family. When I get to town I'll look it up in Powell's book and see what common name he has for it. I use his nomenclature. So I may end up adjusting the name from what I found online. It's not rare or anything, but I love it. And more is coming up near it. I think it's a host plant for the Common Buckeye butterfly.

Couldn't find any hummers to photograph today. It's quite chilly outside and my vertigo set in this morning, so I'm wimpy today.

The wilted Tree Tobacco isn't getting better or worse, so I think it'll survive. Gonna plant a healthy one near it as soon as I get more wind protectors.

Here's how the healthy ones all look.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Oasis goings-on

There's another hummingbird hanging around that I think is a juvenile male Allen's. Its gorget feathers aren't as far along as the other one, but in a few weeks it should have a full adult gorget.

Just think, in a week or two the Lucifers will start arriving. Elf Owls have started showing up along the river, which is way early for them, so I'm thinking Lucifers might arrive early too.

While I was in town for a few days one of the wind shields blew off one of the newly planted Tree Tobaccos. It looks really wilted, but I'm hopeful that it can revive. Otherwise, I have spares that I can replant it with. I would plant some of the spares now but I ran out of wind shields.

Lots of weeds are blooming. Things are getting dry. A rain would be awesome, but unlikely. A few of the verbena (Glandularia wrightii) that I've been mothering are starting to bloom. Also found a different verbena species that should bloom very soon, maybe tomorrow.

Hillside Vervain (Verbena hirtella)
Another curious occurrence today was a big jet that, to my eyes looked like a commercial one, flew over the oasis headed south. In a minute it would have been in Mexico, but it did an abrupt turn and headed back north. Is this a commercial jet with perhaps a problem with a passenger? I don't recall a commercial jet ever heading south over the oasis unless the weather is bad. It seemed really big to be a military jet.

Zooming southward

Headed north

Friday, February 15, 2019

So far, so good

Last week when freezes were forecast we sprinkled the apricot tree all night both times it was supposed to freeze. Then a couple of nights later, with no freeze forecast we didn't leave the sprinkler on. When we heard the next day it had gotten down to 25° I was pretty bummed. But it looks like the fruit will be OK this time. Tuesday another freeze is forecast so I'll stay on top of it. The whole family loves dried apricots, and you can't buy good ones at the store. The sulfured ones are yucky.

I photographed this plant at the oasis yesterday. I'm pretty sure it's Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule). We have lots of Henbit in town, but this is the first I've seen at the oasis. However, I've taken so much mulch from town to the oasis through the years, that I can't know if it's truly native there. I'm counting it anyway.

Oasis 2019

Alpine 2015

Thursday, February 14, 2019

My valentine to you

A local birder visited today and discovered two selasphorus hummingbirds visiting the feeders. I hadn't seen any for a couple of weeks so I think these are early migrants headed toward Alaska. According to hummingbird expert, Sheri Williamson:

The pale feathers are just juvenile gorget feathers that haven't been replaced yet. Gorget replacement starts at the bottom and works its way to the chin (more or less), so this is a normal stage young males go through as they finish acquiring their first adult plumage. The reason it takes many birders by surprise is that the process is usually complete by the time they arrive in the U.S.

The experts, including Kelly Bryan, say this is a male adult Allen's Hummingbird.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Remember the horses I saw near the oasis on Feb 9? Well, turns out there were 10 in all that escaped from the Lajitas Stables on Feb 8th. Two caballeros have been tracking them ever since. They found the tracks across the fence from the oasis and hollered over at me. I made my way toward them through my arroyo and brush and they told me about it. Seems they recovered 6 of the horses but not the 4 that I saw. No telling where they are now. I did think it strange since everyone knows the fence won't keep anything in or out. Sorry, now that I didn't alert someone. It would have saved many days of tracking. Even as the crow flies Lajitas is a good 20 miles from the oasis.

After they left following the horses' track, I planted the Tree Tobacco around the tank. I have a few plants left over that I might add in later. I'll see how these do first. I tried removing the wind shields from them but put them back on. It's forecast to be real windy the next several days.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Countdown to spring

In approximately two weeks the Lucifer Hummingbirds will be back. And for me, that's officially spring. Meanwhile flowers are blooming in spite of quite cold weather. Here's a photo taken in the Terlingua Ranch area by a resident, Tim McKenna, that illustrates the way it looks in some places.

And about 20 miles farther south at Study Butte, Big Bend Bluebonnets are putting on a show.

Photo by Eddie Sanchez
In the morning I'm going to CMO and take my own flower photos, though mine will probably be closeups of some I want to ID. 

I guess as winters go this one hasn't been so bad. I didn't get sick and had plenty to keep me busy, but it feels like every winter I'm punier than the winter before and that bothers me. Like will I ever be able to go up my mountain again?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Wintery weather

Arrived at the oasis yesterday evening after dark, worried that my potted Tree Tobacco plants would freeze where I had left them outdoors. Luckily, they were OK but last night got way colder, so good thing I put them inside last night. The one I had planted by the new tank was the best looking one, so I planted five more today.

Got up this morning to a bad bout of vertigo. Had to take medication to function, but got done what I needed to. Tree Tobacco not making much of a showing by the tank but I hope it'll look awesome in a couple of months.

I saw some horses grazing on the ranch across the fence from the oasis. Since the rickety fence is pretty useless, I can easily imagine my next battle to preserve my habitat will be with that rich rancher. And it won't be the first time.

Friday, February 8, 2019

That time of year

It seems every February and/or March we fight to save our apricots. Yesterday, knowing the forecast was for a freeze last night, we set up a sprinkler under the apricot tree.

Here's what  it looks like this morning. Hope we saved the fruit.

Gonna have to do it again tonight. And probably more times.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tree Tobacco

Ever since I got the tank project done I've yearned to have the tank ringed with Tree Tobacco. Today I planted my first of nearly two dozen sprouts I've been nurturing. I'm afraid to plant too many in case we get some really frigid weather yet this winter.

I'm hoping that by planting it up against the tank the warmth from the tank water will keep it from freezing. I put a little windbreaker around it that I'll remove once it gets well established. Yes, that's a caterpillar on the above photo. They're everywhere. Going to be a good butterfly spring I think.

Enjoying more flowers every time I go to the oasis. Not so many birds with this furtive Sharp-shinned Hawk lurking around.

Lyreleaf Jewelflower (Streptanthus carinatus)

Bristly Nama (Nama hispada)