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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Worn out welcome

I was disappointed to see that the Golden-fronted Woodpecker is still around. It makes the bees uncontrollable at the feeders. Hoping this too shall pass.

Feels like spring. Warm weather, Sandhill Cranes heading north...

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Miserable cold spell

Got up the morning to discover my husband had ruined our apricot tree. He put a sprinkler on it all night and the weight of the ice broke it completely. Gonna buy one more suitable for our climate.


Just stayed indoors and read a book all day. Luckily I had a book I wanted to read. Still felt like a wasted day though. (The book I read was written by a women who has one thing in common with me....  our grandmothers were sisters. She spent 40 years writing the 700 page biography of her father.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Lucifer sighting, not by me

Epic Lucifer fail on my part. Yesterday morning I saw a hummer zip across the parking area near the new tank and never saw a hummer since. I continued looking all day. This morning I looked again. Nothing. Around noon I headed to town.

When I reached town and got cell service I had an email from neighbors three miles to the south of the oasis. At 12:15 PM today they saw a Lucifer at their house. I'm sure if I had stayed at the oasis I would have seen one there this afternoon. My husband told me it was going to get cold tonight, I was out of firewood, so decided to head to town. Bummer!


Monday, February 24, 2020

Last week of winter

Started watching for Lucifers today. I thought I saw a hummer whiz by me as I drove into the oasis parking area, but can't count it. Meanwhile, here are a few pre-spring photos of the Tree Tobacco. Most of them survived the winter and are putting on new leaves. I expect the seeds from last year to make a bunch of new plants, but so far haven't seen any.

After I lost water twice from leaving a faucet on, and once from frozen fittings, there isn't much left in the stucco tank. In a few weeks I'll have to pump some water from the big tank to make it to rainy season. I'd be stressed if I didn't have the new above ground tank to fall back on in case rains don't come, but hopefully won't have to use it.

The Cardinal and Golden-fronted Woodpecker are still around. I wonder when, or if, they'll leave.

The oasis may look bleak in the winter but the afterglow never disappoints.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Alpine blooms - ready or not

We groaned when we saw the apricot tree breaking out in blooms. A hard freeze is forecast for Wednesday. Same old story. I'm trying to find out what a good species to plant here would be. This Gold Kist didn't produce any fruit last year.

Other stuff blooming is Henbit, Daffodils, Violets, etc.

Tomorrow I plan to go to the oasis and start watching for the first Lucifer Hummingbird arrivals.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

A real bummer of a day!

My husband and I went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch and awhile later I couldn't find my iPhone. I knew I had it in the car on the way to the restaurant. When we rushed back to look for it, it wasn't anywhere. Finally, I spotted it in the parking lot under a car that was parked where we had previously been parked. It was in a mud puddle, as well. My heart sank. It was demolished!

I went and bought a Galaxy A10 which is cheaper than an iPhone. I've never used an Android, so I'm pretty lost with it right now, but I'm sure I'll learn. No cloud storage so I lost everything, all my apps, messages, and contact. Really stressed.

Just have to accept what I can't change. Weather is real wintery, but that's very minor right now!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Nice soaking rain

It started lightly raining around midnight and continued all morning until I had to leave for town. So I didn't get much watering done. The trees need more than the third-inch that fell, but it'll do until I can get back down there. Was surprised to flush a Killdeer. Very seldom have that species at the oasis.

Flowers are already sprouting everywhere. That means an awesome display this spring, but it also means I'll be lucky to conjure up any hummers at the feeders. Hopefully, a male will set up his "territory" at the oasis so people can get their "lifer" anyway. I plan to spend all next week at the oasis watching for the first Lucifer to arrive. And I need to practice shooting flowers with my new camera. Doing terrible at it so far.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Mystery solved

It seemed this is the only winter I've ever had a bee problem on my hummingbird feeders at the oasis. I couldn't figure out why until today. It's also the first winter I've had an overwintering Golden-fronted Woodpecker. Dots connected.

The woodpecker tilts the feeders and dribbles on them. That's plenty of excuse for bees. My photos aren't sharp. I'm having a rather puny day. Got up too early. Also my new camera is heavier than the Lumix. I have to support the lens with my left hand and that hand has an essential tremor. No time to set up a tripod though. It's not as bad at a closer distance, but I was far away. The woodpecker flies off if I try to get closer. I love the added zoom on my Sony. Great camera once I learn it. If the woodpecker decides to live here permanently, with a mate, it will definitely be a huge problem. I don't know any easy solution either.

This Green-tailed Towhee was more cooperative. It isn't singing and it isn't feeding. Must be yawning.😮

I was surprised to see flowers starting to bloom. Desert Marigold, Bicolor Mustard, and several others. The Verbena has been blooming all winter long.

Heading to bed early. Been yawning all day. I think I have brain fog.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Back to normal

My brother left this morning and my husband won't be home from his fishing trip (Black Gap WMA) until tomorrow so I'm just taking a day for myself relaxing and playing. My arm is basically healed. Haven't bandaged it for 3 days or so.

One of the guys  Hugh went fishing with has some kind of satellite phone and sent me this photo from this morning. (Hugh is on the left.) I'm impressed. They must be having a good time.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Lajitas golfing day

I've spent plenty of time riding in a golf cart at Lajitas looking for dragonflies etc, but today was the first time I rode with golfers while they were golfing.... my son Eric, my brother Jack, as well as my brother's significant other. They moved too fast for me, so I didn't get satisfactory photos of birds. No odes this time of year.

I managed to snap a few photos of birds with my new Sony. Just set it on auto. No time to mess around. Greater Roadrunners were very tame on the greens. Totally ignored the golfers.

This is the only Orange-crowned Warbler I observed. It was very acrobatic as it foraged along a tree trunk.

Ruddy Duck

Here's a shot I couldn't resist taking even though it wasn't about birds or golfing.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

A little family time

Came down to CMO with my brother and his significant other. He lives in Washington State and I hadn't seen him for 5 or 6 years. At our ages we never know if we'll ever see one another again, so I try to cram in all the quality time I can.

Still trying for a good Cardinal shot with my new Sony. Quite pleased with this one. The bird doesn't give me much time to focus, but hopefully I'm getting  better at it.

A woodpecker started a hole in the new agave stalk. Hope it continues, and soon.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Vicariously at CMO

I wasn't able to be at the oasis today but a visitor kindly shared pictures that she took there today. Next best thing to being there. I really like this cell phone shot she took.

 My arm is pretty much healed. I think it looks worse than it really is.

My son is here. He brought a load of stuff to his storage shed in preparation for moving here. He has to leave Thursday early.  Juggling too much but I guess that runs in the family.

Monday, February 10, 2020

From despair to exhilaration

This is a long story, so feel free to skip over it. I'll try to be brief.

For several years now my watering system at the oasis hasn't been working right, even after we replaced everything except the underground wiring and the pressure tank. New pump, control box, pump wiring, breaker boxes, pressure switch, etc. I finally decided it must be the bladder inside the pressure tank and I can live with it as it is. It eventually comes on and stays on until pressure builds up. Then it cuts off and won't come on again for 5-15 minutes. However, if I run two hoses at full force, pressure doesn't build up enough to cut off. Therefore, by rushing between moving hoses I can water everything at one time, which takes about 4 hours. I can live with that.

In my senility, I decided to leave a drip on the water feature over night, so turned off the two hoses, but left the breaker on (for the drip). This morning I went to water the trees forgetting I had left the breaker on, and thinking I was turning it on, I was actually turning it off. Duh! So I waited 15 minutes, no water, 30 minutes, no water, 1 hour, no water, etc. Finally, in desperation, I took a little pump and put it in the big tank, dragged long hoses around and watered. I thought the whole time the breaker was on to the water system. When I eventually finished watering the hard way, I decided to turn off the breaker before heading to town. Can't leave it on just in case it actually comes on at some esoteric point, then we get a hard freeze, breaking the faucet to the drip. I've learned the hard way not to take any chances. Turn off breaker before leaving. When I went to turn off the breaker, for some unknown reason, I noticed that it was already off. I then realized it had been off all day, thus the reason for no water. So after being devastated and desperate feeling all day, trying to figure out what on earth I could do to get the system fixed, I was ecstatic to discover it was still working as before. I could live without it, except that would mean I couldn't leave a drip on my water feature. The extra work of doing the pump and hoses and taking eight hours to water would be torture, but doable. But living without my drip, not. Whew!

While watering (slow with the one hose) I managed to snap a few photos. Mostly was glad to get a decent shot of the Cardinal. I switched between my Sony and Lumix. The cardinal is with the Lumix. The Green-tailed Towhee and Curve-billed Thrasher are with the Sony.

I'm slowly learning the Sony. I'm not only happy with it, but relieved to have a second camera in case my Lumix breaks. Can't be without a camera.... or a drip. LOL

While SLOWLY watering today, I noticed how bleak the deciduous part of the oasis is, and how pleasant the evergreen part is. Unfortunately, the "pinery" has no nearby water and no feeder, so no birds. But without a viewing area there, and with the difficulty of making a bear-proof feeder, it's not worth doing it just for a couple of winter months. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Camera practice at CMO

Trying to learn to use my new (to me) camera. Right off the bat I missed getting a good shot of a cardinal because I couldn't seem to focus. Got 3 blurry shots that I won't even post here. After that I got some decent shots of ordinary winter or year-round birds. I love the Pyrrhuloxia males in their bright spring plumage. A photo can't do it justice.

The Green-tailed Towhees that winter here are special to me. Glad they'll still be around until some time in May.

It's hard to believe Lucifers will be back in 2-3 weeks! Still no woodpecker activity on the new agave stalk, but there will be.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Trying to stay upbeat

It's hard to hang around Alpine so much, but there's nothing to do at the oasis except burn firewood so I'm trying to endure. My arm must be healing by now, but it's slow. I've been just using vaseline on the bandages, but I'm thinking it might heal faster with antibiotic ointment. Trying not to use antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.

When I was last at the oasis the woodpeckers hadn't made holes in the new agave stalk. Didn't see any hummers, and accidentally left a faucet on overnight, wasting yet more water. I would have been better off had I stayed in town. This too shall pass. At least I'm alive and well, as are my loved ones.

I shot a couple of photos out the window in town but just the same old species.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Snow in Alpine

 This is winter for real! Yuck!



Monday, February 3, 2020

CMO a bit disappointing

I arrived at the oasis at daylight, eager to play with my new camera, but the weather didn't cooperate. Didn't take many photos like I had anticipated, or even spend much time at the oasis. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Today was rather windy and overcast with a light shower. Got a quick glimpse of sun in the distance over Nine Point Mesa.

Here's a shot of a Lesser Goldfinch like you might not have seen before.