Thursday, March 28, 2013


Seems like I’ve always collected something.  When I was very young it was stuffed animals.  When I got into junior high school it was, oddly enough, beer cans.  The Jackson Brewing Company came out with a beer called Fabacher Brau.  My maiden name is Feuerbacher.  I had a small collection of Fabacher Brau advertisements and beer cans.  Later in life my father-in-law and his wife opened a Hallmark store and that’s when I started collecting Christmas ornaments.  I had an enormous collection which I sold right before I retired. 

Now I collect something smaller and more manageable for the RV lifestyle. 


Here is a picture of the refrigerator at home:
Here are a few that I’ve gotten since we bought the new RV:
Here is my latest:
We’re packing up today and will be heading to Medina tomorrow.  I hope everyone has enjoyed reading about our time here at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge as much as we have enjoyed being here. 

Look for new posts starting Monday about one of our favorite vacations.  I hope everyone enjoys it.  If you haven’t already done so, please become a follower.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sneakers - But not shoes...

We are wrapping up our time here at Laguna Atascosa NWR, and made our final trip out to the South Padre Island Birding Center on Saturday.

Most of the waterfowl has moved north, but some of the nesting birds have moved in.  Many of these guys skulk around in the reeds, so I called them "Sneakers".
Common Yellowthroat
Marsh Wren
This Swamp Sparrow really didn't want to come out, so this was the best picture I could get.
Swamp Sparrow
Soras usually don't walk around in the open, but this one gave us some good looks.

The End!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Better Get It Right!

Red and yellow, kill a fellow.
Red and black, friend of Jack.

We went out to the World Birding Center on South Padre Island this morning.  We only have one more week here at Laguna so this was probably our last trip to the Island before leaving for Central Texas next Saturday.  

There were some folks from the Gladys Porter Zoo set up inside.  They had a couple of Texas Tortoise, a tarantula, and a couple of snakes.

We used to have coral snakes at our place in Elgin and every time I saw one I would think "Red and yellow ..."

Mark got to hold this very striking milk snake.  It had just shed its skin the night before and was very shiny.

You can definitely see it's "Red and black ..."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

NABA Butterfly Garden

The North American Butterfly Association has their National Butterfly Center near Mission Texas.  They have a wide variety of plantings that attract various butterflies, with an emphasis on tropical species that come up from Mexico.

We recently visited the Center with our friends Rick and Sharon and enjoyed walking the gardens.

The Gulf Fritillary is common throughout much of Texas, but the Mexican Fritillary barely makes it into the southern tip of Texas.
Gulf Fritillary
Mexican Fritillary
The Brown Longtail is another that just makes it into the southern tip of Texas.
Brown Longtail
The Fiery Skipper is more widespread, but still very much of a southern butterfly.
Fiery Skipper
The Question Mark is widespread throughout the eastern US.  It is well camouflaged with its wings closed, but much brighter with them open.  The third picture is an interesting shot just as it is taking off.  They flex their wings a very long way!
Question Mark
Question Mark
Question Mark taking off
We also saw a Praying Mantis waiting for something to eat.  A butterfly, perhaps??
Praying Mantis

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The sun, the moon, and Sandhill Cranes

Once a week we head out to an area here at Laguna that has thousands of Sandhill Cranes, Snow Geese, and White-Fronted Geese.  The dawn fly out is an unbelievable sight (and sound).  If you have ever been to Bosque del Apache, you know what I'm talking about.  Except - we are in an area by ourselves, and, we are not freezing our butts off.

We have already finished our waterfowl count for this week so this morning we drove into the refuge just to take pictures.

I've cut this video to about 13 seconds.  Turn your sound up!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Estero Llano Grande State Park

One of the best birding locations in the Rio Grande Valley is Estero Llano Grande State Park near Weslaco, Texas. This park was specifically built as a World Birding Center and has wonderful trails and boardwalks that make it perfect for bird viewing and photography.

There are many man-made wetlands that attract ducks and waders.  The conditions were perfect for this picture of a Green-winged Teal male.  He was close, the light was great, and the water was calm. Why don't they all come out like this?
Green-winged Teal - Male
Not quite as attractive as the Teal, we saw plenty of Northern Shovelers.  They are well named for their over-sized bills.
Northern Shoveler - Male
Northern Shoveler - Female
Estero Llano Grande is one of the only places that you are practically guaranteed to see a Common Pauraque, which roosts on the ground and is very well camouflaged.
Common Pauraque
Another South Texas specialty is the Great Kiskadee. 
Great Kiskadee
And like so many other places near the Texas Coast, you can find American Alligators in the freshwater ponds.  This big fellow was catching some sun.
American Alligator

Monday, March 4, 2013

Rattlesnake in the Road

On a recent waterfowl survey we drove around a corner and nearly ran over this Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.  I slammed on the brakes and backed up to find that we had indeed missed it.  Since it was already heading off of the road I shot these images through the windshield. I decided not to jump out and chase it!
Rattlesnake - Doubling back on itself
Rattlesnake - Heading off of the road

Rattlesnake - Going, going,...
Rattlesnake - Gone!


Saturday, March 2, 2013


One of the great resident birds here at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is an Eastern Screech-Owl that lives at the Visitor Center.  There are some drainage tiles up on the wall, and the owl lives in the left-hand tile. He doesn't always sit out far enough to be seen, but we always look up there when we visit the area.

Eastern Screech-Owl