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Friday, January 31, 2020

Winter weekend

I'm sittin' in town by the fire
Watching time pass away
I'm sittin' in town by the fire
Wastin' time

I guess I can tolerate one weekend of winter as long as it doesn't last any longer. Monday is supposed to be in the upper 70s at the oasis, so I'm planning to be there. It snowed in town this morning.

Last night my new camera (Sony RX10iii) arrived, and I haven't seen a bird since. But in a couple of days it'll be February and Lucifer return month, so how bad can it be!

Meanwhile, my arm is healing.

I'm sittin' in town by the fire.....

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Slight glitch in my owl nesting plan

This morning I saw the new agave stalk in the sunshine and noticed for the first time how green it is. As in the color green. No wonder it was so heavy!

Now I'm wondering if Ladder-backed Woodpeckers will drill holes in it before it dries out. Oh well, it's lovely anyway. A Golden-fronted Woodpecker seemed to enjoy foraging around in it today.

I think this is the first time the oasis had verbena (Glandularia wrightii) blooming all through the month of January.

Monday, January 27, 2020

New oasis skyline

Old age and treachery prevailed... with the help of my two sisters. Got the new agave stalk installed. Whew! I brought it in the long way around the Corazone Peaks so I didn't have to chance not making it up my big hill.

W Corazone on left / E Corazone on right
I averaged about 5 MPH on the 5 miles of dirt road.

We tried to muscle it into place but when we couldn't hold it anymore, the rope slid and took a flap of skin off my arm. (I have it set back in place and bandaged now).

After that failed, I decided to try to hoist it with my pickup. That succeeded, but we had to put up three guy wires, as the stalk was so top-heavy.

All worth it, though, to have this awesome agave stalk ready for woodpeckers and Elf Owls. 

While I was occupied with the stalk installation, I forgot I had turned on water into the water feature. So, naturally, it ran over and, once again, wasted a bunch of precious water. At least this time there were nearby trees getting watered. Very generously watered.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Alpine ready for nesting ducks

Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess. Didn't want to worry about the ducks not liking the next tube for some reason, so I made and installed another. This time I made sure hubby didn't cut the bottom off the photo. I zoomed the lens out as far as it would go and then just cropped the photo. I would have preferred he put more of the foreground on the picture, but hey, beggars can't be choosers! (I cropped out the top half of the photo.)

I'm always multitasking, and as I was doing laundry and changing sheets on the bed, I saw a hummer at the feeder outside the bedroom window. Had left my camera out by the pond nest project so only option was no photo, or cell phone photo. Barely documentary, but I believe it's the female Rufous with the broken bill. Can't tell with such a poor quality shot. Maybe it'll come back later today.

In a couple of days I'm going to take the agave stalk to CMO. If I can't  find someone to install it I'll just leave it there until I do find someone. Then CMO will be nest-ready.... as soon as Ladderbacked Woodpeckers drill the holes, that is. I sure hope the Golden-fronted Woodpecker doesn't enlarge it. I doubt Elf Owls will use it if they do. Should be interesting.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Working on my list

I got the duck nest installed, but added another chore to my list so not making much headway. I handed my husband my camera, showed him the button to press, and asked him to take a picture of me installing the nest. He's not so good at taking pictures. Cut off half, so this is what I got. If he hadn't cut if off you could have seen the rest of me in the hip boots.

Here's the finished nest. (Photos by me.) 

Next I got my big strong son, Eric, to cut down the agave stalk and load it onto a trailer. He's going to take it to the oasis Saturday afternoon. I'll meet him down there and stay through Sunday.

Gonna be an exciting spring watching the woodpeckers create holes for the owls in this stalk. I'll document it as much as I'm able to.

UPDATE: My son had to cancel taking the agave stalk to the oasis Saturday. Hopefully, he can do it the following Saturday. I thought it was happening too quick and easy. Things don't usually go that smoothly. 😞

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Slow winter day at oasis

The weather was lovely, but not much going on. I've still only seen one butterfly species for the year, and no dragonflies. The feeders were empty so I filled them and headed back to town. No need just sitting there building a fire in the stove to keep warm. I have some projects I want to do in town. Someone gave me a perfect dead agave stalk for my Elf Owls. Just gotta figure out how to get it to the oasis.

Want to caulk my son's shed, and make a duck nest for our ducks. (I wouldn't, but my husband insists.) Still have at least one [female] Anna's Hummingbird at the oasis.

Yuccas are starting to bloom along the road to the oasis.

Gonna be an early spring.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Moving right along


The shed is done and my son is headed back to Austin.

While waiting for it to warm up enough to paint the trim I ran out to the cemetery hoping to get photos of a Harris Hawk that's been seen there but I couldn't locate it. Did see a Vermillion Flycatcher there though. Nice to see a live one after the dead one I found on our patio (See post of January 16)

I saw a different Rufous Hummingbird at our town feeder today, not the one with the broken bill. I can't help but think the Rufous hummers just roam around in the winter, for no reason other than that's what they've evolved to do. Maybe those that roam have a better chance at survival. Otherwise, I don't see why one doesn't just hang around here. I check the feeder dozens of times every day and only saw this hummer the one time.

Heading to the oasis early in the morning. Can't wait.

UPDATE: Just before dark it rained in Alpine. Great that the shed is done, except there is a little caulking I was planning to do on it before it rained. He used old used metal on the back side and it had old screw holes in it that I'm going to caulk. Shouldn't have procrastinated.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

January blues

I was surprised to learn there is such a thing as January blues and it's not just me. I feel better already.

My Austin son is in town to finish up the storage shed he's building on the lot he bought last year. Slowly transitioning to Alpine. Here are both sons working on it.

I think he plans to finish it tomorrow. Even though he left Austin at 4 AM, he only had half day to work today.

The Rufous Hummingbird with a broken bill is still visiting my feeders. I first saw it a week ago. (This photo was taken today.)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Window pain

On January 11 I posted a photo of this female Rufous Hummingbird with a broken bill, probably caused by a collision with a window screen.

Photo taken in bad light late in day

Today I saw the bird again and it seems the bill is healing (per Kelly Bryan).

This poor Vermillion Flycatcher wasn't so lucky. I found him at the base of the patio storm door yesterday. I remember about a week or so ago I heard a thud against the door's window, but when I checked I didn't see a bird. I'm sure this is the unlucky victim. Sad! That's the first casualty I've had from that door. Hopefully, the last. (I had moved him out onto the yard before I thought to take a photo.)

Monday, January 13, 2020

Life in the slow lane

I got a late start this morning because I helped Hugh process some of the feral hog meat before I headed to the oasis. So I missed prime birding time, and didn't get a lot done today.

One of the 3 oranges from this season is visible on this photo
It was nice to arrive to a cleaner house than I normal do. That inspired me to clean the oven and broom closet. Had to service feeders and start watering too. Will finish watering in the morning. Everything is getting done slowly, bit by bit. Not to say I'll ever catch up. Stuff breaks down faster than I can keep up with. Just going as fast as I can.

Although no hummers, the weather was in the 70s with no wind, so a beautiful day. Even found some globemallow blooming. Not bad for January.

Sphaeralcea angustifolia
The courtyard isn't too depressing, thanks to the palm tree. Sure hope we have a wet and early spring though.

I rerouted the hose going to the water feature drip at the oasis. Had I done that before that big freeze I wouldn't have lost that 10,000 gallons of water. Or if it did leak, it would have been under the cottonwood tree and into the wildlife pond, which wouldn't have been such a calamity. I just have to be thankful that I have enough water to make it through to rainy season. No way am I going to entertain the thought that we might not get summer monsoons this year. All thoughts are positive.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Hog butchering (not for the squeamish)

Feral hogs are the best meat I've ever eaten, but processing the meat is a pain. We did two this morning and we're both exhausted.


I have a chance to snap photos while my husband is resting, otherwise I have to hold the carcass still while he butchers.

After I hose the meat off good we put it in the refrigerator to cut up and package another day.

And now for a nap. Oasis in the morning.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Doing time in town

Getting really restless, but only six weeks until Lucifer Hummingbirds are back. At least I haven't had to do without seeing any hummers so far this winter. Yesterday it was horribly windy here in town, and today a hummer with a broken bill visited my feeders. I think it's the same individual Rufous that I photographed yesterday with a perfect bill. Perhaps the wind blew it into a wall or something.


Today's photos were taken in low light late in the day, so poor quality, but you can still see the broken bill. 😢

A few days ago my drummer son Leonardo's idol, Neil Peart, died of brain cancer at the age of 67. Lee loved him so much he got  me to do a painting of him about 40 years ago. This is for you Lee!

UPDATE: Since I posted this I've gotten better photos of the hummer with the broken bill and it's not the same one as the Jan 10 Rufous.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

An uneventful first week

The weather has been nice, but nothing of interest happening. The male Allen's Hummingbird was last seen on Jan 5. The next day I determined to clean house. Hadn't deep cleaned it for a couple of years. Made it through cleaning the upstairs fine, but downstairs my body began giving out. By 3 PM I could barely move, so am frustrated that I didn't get to the kitchen. Maybe one of these days. I know never again will I be able to clean the house in one day. And thinking about cleaning the storage buildings, tool shed, etc. is too daunting to contemplate.

Sitting in town now, recovering. Lots of ducks but no hummers. Today I saw at least 35 ducks. No more than seven of them could be our "domestic" ducks. I can't tell them apart from wild Mexican Ducks, but I can see there are also some Mallards in the mix.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Some common CMO winter birds

Here are a few shots from today.

Lark Bunting in winter plumage

Curve-billed Thrasher


Red-tailed Hawk