Click any photo to enlarge

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Limping around

I had hoped to get some watering done today, but it didn't happen. Tomorrow. I didn't take any photos today because I got water into my camera when I fell yesterday and want to give it a chance to dry out if any water is inside it.

A lovely neighbor couple (Bruce and Stephanie) came and helped me do a few things on my to-do list for a couple of hours. Here is Bruce replacing my horrible kitchen light. So glad to have a good one finally. My ceilings are high so Bruce and I are both on top of the kitchen table. (Iphone snap by Stephanie.)

You probably can't tell from the photo, but I'm holding the new fixture up while Bruce attaches the wires. Thanks guys!

It's an LED light so no more bulbs to change in my lifetime. No sound. (The old fluorescent was noisy) Smaller, so less of a footprint. And plenty bright light. Wish I had thought to take a before photo. Couldn't take this next photo with the light turned on because it was too bright and was nothing but glare. The old one was big, noisy, 8' long, with ugly tubes visible. This one is 3' long and a third as wide as the old one.

Gotta water tomorrow. Did manage to fill feeders today. No choice, really.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Hurt my knee

I decided to go to Balmorhea today looking for dragonflies. It was a disaster. I went to the State Park first and the ponds there are still closed for construction. Then went out Boy Scout Road to a pond there. They were resurfacing the road and I had to follow a pilot car crawling along for nearly the whole 11 miles. I was the only vehicle on the road other than the highway department vehicles.

Then when I stopped at the pond the pilot pickup came back checking on me and wanting to know how long I was going to be there. I promised them I would drive carefully and not touch the new surface. They were all driving on it though, so I don't really get it. They warned me to be careful of snakes. And continued checking on me periodically.

Then, while scrambling around on slippery rocks downstream, I thought by weighing every step carefully I'd be fine. My mind weighed it fine. My body just didn't have the physical strength to stabilize me like I expected and demanded it to. So I fell and hurt my knee and doused my camera. I hope that by not turning it on for a couple of days it'll dry out and work. But I don't have a backup so if I see something good at the oasis tomorrow, it's going to be tempting to turn it on. I have to service the feeders and water tomorrow, assuming I'll be able to. Can't really even walk at the moment. Didn't see any interesting odes either. I'm just going to have to slow down my pace from now on. I really should have hung the camera from my neck and not my shoulder. I could have kept it from falling into the water if I had. I got it out quickly. Just don't know what damage yet. I know the battery and SD card were wet. But as bad as it was, it could have been much worse.

Young female Painted Damsel

Monday, July 29, 2019

Alpine odeing

When I'm stuck in town I sometimes do my best to find dragonflies. Besides our two ponds, there's another pond in Alpine. I went  today to check it out but it was just a big mud hole. Too bad. It still had live water lilies in it though. Considering the huge rain Alpine got less than two weeks ago I would have expected it to have at least some water in it.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Oasis ups and downs

In October of 2017  a bear demolished one little Chinkapin Oak. Here it was a year ago, trying to regrow itself.

Looking south
Now here it is today, looking half-way decent. Sure hope it doesn't make acorns this year. If it does, I'll try to remove them all before they get ripe so it can have a respite from bears.

Looking south
Here's my poor dried up dragonfly pond.😞

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Good and not so good!

The good is a new oasis dragonfly species, Halloween Pennant.

The not so good is that my dragonfly pond is dry. That's where my Citrine Forktails were hanging out. I feel certain I'll get monsoons yet this summer so am tempted to squander some of my water to put some in the dragonfly pond, but it's against my principles. Just can't bring myself to do it. When it does rain, it'll fill up and dragonflies will return to it.

Good and not so good, both, is that I saw a lifer dragonfly in Alpine today, but couldn't get a photo, so can't count it. I know it had to have been a Spangled Skimmer, since it had a very dark head, all blue thorax and abdomen and white pterostigma. I waited an hour for it to return after my one brief sighting but it never did. And had to come to the oasis to service feeders and water.

Also good and not so good is that I saw a California Spreadwing at the oasis late this afternoon but could not get a decent photo of it. For some reason the flash on my camera doesn't work. I know it's a California Spreadwing, but not sure it'll be accepted by the vetters.

And also not so good is this amberwing. It looks almost like a Mexican Amberwing, but I just don't think it is. One of these days one will show up though. Just wish my pondweed would come back. It all disappeared in the rain three weeks ago when the tank filled up. Not even sure it will come back.

Probable Eastern Amberwing

Friday, July 26, 2019

Miscellaneous catch-up

Here are a few photos I never got around to posting from the past week. First, at the oasis, is a cool antenna topper for my pickup. What could be better than a live dragonfly? Only problem, it was  temporary.

Then I stopped at Calamity Creek on the way to town. No good odes there but some pretty territorial Javelina with young.

Arriving at Alpine I saw a thunderstorm in the distance. The time before I saw that huge monsoon as I was entering town. CMO hasn't had a drop of rain in two weeks, on top of daily triple-digit temperatures.

And back at the oasis a couple of days ago, some of the Tree Tobacco is looking great. It'll be a success when I get a photo of a Lucifer foraging on the blooms.

Also yesterday a big black scorpion.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

First migrant hummer

A visiting group of birders saw and photographed a male Rufous at the oasis today, the first fall migrant. I put out extra feeders too, but even so I plan to go back in two days to make sure the feeders aren't dry.

Saw my first Palmer's Metalmark of the year today on some Soapberry that bloomed late. 

And couldn't resist photographing the Citrine Forktails again. The novelty hasn't worn off yet. 😊

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A memorable day!

Today was the first day I've been alone at the oasis in 3 months. No Mac, no film crew, no birders. I figured the only memory of the day would be remembering it had been my parents wedding anniversary, and also the date my late husband, Sherwood, died. (He and I built the oasis together.)

Today is now also the day I got a new oasis damselfly species, Citrine Forktail. And not just one, but 6 or 7. Hard to count, as they don't sit still long enough. They're also so small that it's hard to find them even when they're in motion. Nearly impossible to locate through my camera lens. Not to mention getting a clear shot through the grass blades. But I persevered.

Here's how their size compares to a straight pin from my sewing box. The females were duller in color so harder still to locate.

I found them inside patches of overgrown Bermuda grass along the edges of my dragonfly pond. I sure hope it rains before that pond is totally dry, which will happen in a few days if it doesn't.

I couldn't find any records of that species for the Big Bend area even though their range map shows them throughout. The only place I'd ever seen Citrines before was in Andrews, Texas, four years ago.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Big feeder oops!

Mac had been helping me service the hummingbird feeders lately, so when he left I wasn't as aware of the volume of sugar water being consumed. Before leaving to town Sunday I filled what I thought were enough feeders. As I was driving off I was tempted to go back and fill a couple of giant feeders just to be on the safe side. But I just kept driving and resolved to do it next time.

I emailed the film crew yesterday and they said 3 feeders, of over a dozen, still had solution left in them. That wasn't good, I knew, so planned to come down at noon today. But before I could tell my husband, he asked me to make a spaghetti supper for him this evening. Rather than disappoint and upset him, I chose to stay until after supper. As soon as I finished washing the dishes, I rushed to CMO, arriving here around 7:30.

OMG! The place was swarming with hummers like angry hornets and all the feeders were dry except two that had a little left in them. I filled ten feeders in record time, and by 8:15 all was calmed down. Still a couple of stragglers tanking up for the night.

Before I leave here again I'm going to fill two large 48 oz feeders like this one. Not letting that happen again.

I didn't take time to see what all was coming in. I know there were lots of Black-chinneds mixed in with quite a few Lucifers. I think the Black-chinneds are fattening up for migration, whereas the Lucifers are still on their second nesting.

Monday, July 22, 2019

First migrant hummer

Today a male Rufous Hummingbird showed up at the feeders in Alpine. That's the first hummer migrant this summer. So it's beginning. Hope we get some really good ones this year, especially when the Davis Mountains Hummingbird Celebration is going on late in August.

Gotta love the lotuses.

Basically the flowers are better at CMO where I enjoy dayflowers, four o'clocks, verbena and other good stuff. Here in Alpine there are so many disgusting weeds. Like Johnson grass and goatheads. But the lotuses, which we planted in the water, are really spectacular.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Butterfly numbers are up

I've seen quite a few Two-tailed Swallowtail butterflies, but this is the first one I've seen at the oasis this year. As ragged as this one is, it managed to keep most of its tails. Watching it fly, it looks perfect. The flaws only show up on the photo. Photos don't do justice to the florescent yellow either.

Lots blooming everywhere, and lots more butterflies, but half of the increase seems to be American Snouts.

Here are a couple of recent drone shots of the oasis.

First ones since the new tank. Here's the drone shot from 2017 for comparison. The angles are different so hard to compare.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Hot at work

By the time I arrived at the oasis around 9 AM the film crew was already hard at work. I started watering almost immediately but by early afternoon I had to take a break. Will finish later this afternoon after it starts to cool down. It was over 100° today in the shade.

Shot this lovely Red Admiral lurking in the shade

Mac is packed and leaving in the morning. The film crew said they got an extension on their deadline so they may be around for quite awhile yet. In the 3 months they've been filming here, off and on, the finished documentary will probably only have fives minutes of footage that was shot here. They're always striving for that perfect shot as they sit in the shade watching through the lens via a computer screen. 

I hope these award-winning videographers get a big award for this one. They've endured a lot.

Every once in awhile I find an interesting plant at the oasis, but it's been disappointing on birds, odes, and butterflies so far this summer. The California Spreadwing is the only interesting ode I found. Today I couldn't even locate one of those. Hoping for Mexican Amberwings soon now.

I got this plant, growing in the mud along the edge of the dragonfly pond, ID'd today. It's Round-leafed Mud-Plantain (Heteranthera limosa var. rotundifolia) of the Pickerel-Weed family. As the water evaporates and leaks out of the pond the leaves get that white residue on them. 

This male Kiowa Dancer left the female dangling for a bit, but she swung her body up and latched on after a couple of tries.

This Western Giant Swallowtail was so gorgeous that I couldn't resist taking a bunch of shots of her. Here she is, oblivious to me, with her head stuck inside a Flame Acanthus bloom.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Trying to make lemons into lemonade

Since I was stuck in Alpine for a couple of days, and since Alpine had a huge monsoon a couple of days ago, I went to Alpine Creek, which runs through Kokernot Park, looking for interesting odes yesterday, and again today. It's fun but I don't find much of interest.

Soon the water will be all but gone, but I plan to visit whenever I'm in town in the meantime.

Mac is leaving this weekend. I've become so dependent on him taking care of the oasis when I'm in town that it's going to leave a big void. He plans to return again next year. Hope it works out. Life is so short and unpredictable.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Alpine monsoon

Yesterday about the time I hit town I got smacked was hail and walls of water. By the time I got to the house and the shelter of the carport it had all but stopped.

So today I went to Kokernot Park to see if there were more dragonflies. Really no more than before but I did enjoy photographing a female Blue-eyed Darner as it was busy laying eggs.

This arroyo is usually not running. It just has a few pools of water in it. Today it was running a bit but you could see where lots of debris had washed down.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

View from the blind

It's amazing what all you can see without ever leaving the viewing blind. Dragonflies, butterflies, birds, lizards, snakes, animals, and insects of all sorts.

Mac took this Common Buckeye photo yesterday inside the viewing blind. 

And here's a centipede he photographed from the blind.

This little earless lizard that hangs out at the blind has me baffled. It looks like an adult but it's only 3" long. I'm told the only species of earless lizard we have in this area is the Greater Earless. Makes no sense.

CMO has been home to several California Spreadwing dragonflies this year. I've observed that they only seem to forage when the temperature is around 80-90.° Their favorite perches are inside this thorny Tasajillo cactus that hangs over the water. No wonder their wings have tears in them.