Monday, December 31, 2012

The Yolk's On Me

We are lucky to be able to get fresh, organic, eggs from some folks in Medina.  When I opened up the carton I noticed there was one egg that was a lot larger than the others.  These folks also have turkeys and I thought maybe we had gotten a turkey egg mixed in.  I boiled a few eggs to use in our salad and imagine my surprise when I sliced into this one.  I’ve never seen a double yolk before.  No wonder that egg was so big!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

On the road again

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of our beautiful HitchHiker RV. 

We loaded up and headed out.  Our destination is Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge where we will be volunteering for the second year.  We will be there January 1 through the end of April. 

On the way to Laguna we are going to spend a couple of days at Choke Canyon State Park.  It’s a very nice park with big, easy to back into, sites.  We’ve stayed here several times. 
 Choke Canyon is located on the 26,000-acre Choke Canyon Reservoir, a water supply for Corpus Christi.  There are 40 RV sites and 20 screened shelters.  Only about 25 of the RV sites are occupied right now.  Our site backs up to the lake.
 The weather is pretty cool and cloudy but we are enjoying walking around.  We got into a really nice group of birds and in a few minutes saw:  Northern Cardinal, Green Jay, Osprey, Great Blue Heron, Least Sandpiper, Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Savannah Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, Greater Roadrunner, Black and Turkey Vultures, Great Egret, Killdeer, Ring-billed Gull, DC Cormorant, Long-billed Thrasher, Audubon’s Oriole, Wild Turkey, Northern Harrier. 


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pedernales Falls Birds

The past two years we've volunteered at LBJ State Park for the months of October - December.  Nearby Pedernales State Park has some amazing bird blinds that offer excellent photo ops.  We didn't volunteer at LBJ this year but we did decide to stop by Pedernales one morning to see what was going on at the blinds.

The water feature was popular with the various finches:
Lesser Goldfinches and House Finches bathing
There were very few sparrows, but this Lincoln's Sparrow made an appearance:
Lincoln's Sparrow
Lot's of Northern Cardinals, and the Texas State Bird stopped by!
Northern Cardinal - male
Northern Mockingbird
On the small side, an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet posed long enough for pictures:
Orange-crowned Warbler
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
The larger White-winged Doves and Western Scrub Jays enjoyed the water feature.
White-winged Dove
Western Scrub Jay
The male Lesser Goldfinches were striking:
Lesser Goldfinch - male
But the best show had to be this male Northern Cardinal bathing in the lower pool of the water feature.  He must have been getting ready for Christmas!!
Get this side clean...
Now that side...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tree Lighting

Our friends at LBJ State Park invited us to help out at the 43rd annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.  We had a lot of fun last year and were looking forward to it.

There have been a few changes to the park since we were there last year.

New sign:
Mark had to have a little help from one of the staff:
Looking good!
Sauer-Beckman Farm:

One of my job duties was to take pictures during the evening for the park’s Facebook page.  Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to use my own camera for very many pictures.  You might check out the parks Facebook page for more photos.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

We’re hiking to where!?

We have a lot fun trips planned for this upcoming year and have decided we really need to get in shape.  It’s been a while since we’ve been serious about eating healthy and exercise.

We headed out this morning to visit Lost Maples State Natural Area. It was a pretty cool morning with light clouds. We decided to take the East Trail today.  We’ve hiked it a couple of times in the past.

Lost Maples is a beautiful park.  It is one place where you can see the unusual Texas Madrone Tree.  This small tree has pretty red berries and very unique peeling bark.

This tree is showing the smooth, new bark.

We took our binoculars and saw a few birds including Raven, American Kestrel, Field Sparrow, American Goldfinch,  Ruby-crown Kinglet, Northern Cardinal, and Green Kingfisher.
American Kestrel 
Green Kingfisher
The trail is quite steep in places (going up and coming down).  But, the view at the top is well worth the hike.  There is a 400 foot elevation change that takes place in less than a 1 mile.
 Steep trail heading back down.
View from the top.
The trail crosses the Sabinal River several times.  
 The water here is some of the clearest you will ever see.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Let's Visit a Sewage Treatment Plant

It has been a while since we've visited a sewage treatment plant, but we learned that a nice group of ducks had been sited in nearby Comfort, Texas, so off we went.  It may seem odd, but sewage treatment plants are often a great place to find birds. Some have large final-treatment ponds that are full of vegetation and insects, so birds love them!

There are three large ponds at this site, and as we approached the first we saw a group of Hooded Mergansers. These are some of our favorite ducks, as the males are spectacular.

Hooded Merganser - male
The female Hooded Merganser looks very different, but she also has a snappy hairdo.
Hooded Merganser - pair
It turned out that there was a flock of about 50, but they decided to fly to the other end of the pond just as we arrived!
Let's get out of here!
A nearby group of Northern Shovelers decided to follow.
Northern Shovelers
So with all of the ducks safely 500' away, we ended up doing a little long-range bird watching. We identified some Lesser Scaup and Buffleheads (both are species of ducks).  The Bufflehead male can be confused with the Hooded Merganser male as they have a similar white crescent on their head. But the Bufflehead has a striking white body.
Lesser Scaup (left) and Bufflehead (right)
There were a few Green-winged Teal males. These are among the smallest ducks in North America.
Green-winged Teal
We found a couple of introduced species as well. A pair of escaped Egyptian Geese and a large pesky rodent called a Nutria. Nutria are known for burrowing into banks and levees and those burrows can cause problems. 
Egyptian Goose
It is still surprisingly warm here in Texas (upper 70's during the afternoon) so we are continuing to see butterflies. We saw a lovely Gulf Fritillary on a purple thistle flower.
Gulf Fritillary
We looked a bit more closely and realized that there were three other butterflies feeding on that single blossom!  Not too many flowers available on December 9th for all of these butterflies.
Four butterflies on a single blossom
We are expecting a hard freeze here in the next couple of days, so we'll be seeing fewer butterflies in the coming weeks.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Think Pink

When I was in 3rd grade our house caught on fire.  While it was being rebuilt my dad asked me what color I wanted my room to be painted.  I told him I wanted it pink. Not a rosy pink but Pink pink.  It had to be pink.  Most of my stuffed animals were pink.  Most of my clothes were pink.  Pink was my favorite color.  I Loved Pink!

When I turned 16 my dad asked me what kind of car I wanted for my birthday.  I told him I didn’t care what kind of car it was as long as it was red.  It had to be red.  Red was my favorite color.   I Loved Red!

When I was young, the Pink Panther was one of my favorite cartoons.  I don’t know if I liked pink so much because I liked the Pink Panther or if I liked the Pink Panther because he was pink.

Well, these stories don’t really have any purpose other than to show that I can really get serious about color.

I came across a graph crochet pattern of the Pink Panther.  It really brought back memories.  I wasn’t sure if I would get sick of working with pink yarn since pink isn’t a favorite color any more.  But, I had a lot of fun making this afghan and found that I still like pink. 

Any idea what my favorite color is now?

Here are a couple more afghans I've finished recently:

The Pink Panther, Buzz Lightyear and Woody, and the ABC123 afghan will all be donated to Linus.

Did you guess my current favorite color?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Rosemary and Butterflies

Here in Medina, Rosemary is a popular landscaping plant.  It does well with little water, and is too pungent for the deer to eat. Our neighbors have a large rosemary plant that has been blooming for the past couple of weeks.  The small purple blooms are not showy, but the local butterflies have sure enjoyed them!  Here are some that I got pictures of in just an hour.


American Snout on Blooming Rosemary.

Common Buckeye, looking a little tattered. 

Dainty Sulphur

Gray Hairstreak - Wings open.

Gray Hairstreak, Wings closed.

Orange Sulphur

Reakirt's Blue

Sleepy Orange - Wings closed.

Sleepy Orange - Flying.

Variegated Fritillary.