Looking back so that the view looking forward is even clearer

Reflections

April 9, 2022

Photo Number 99

When April rolls around, Charles can usually be found in his favorite seat in front of the TV, watching the Astros game. This is the third game of this season and Justin Verlander is pitching, so he's doing his best to root his team on to a win. More often than not, it works.


April 20, 2022

Photo Number 110

Yesterday we got a new bird that we'd never seen before, a "lifer" in birding terms. It's a Wood Thrush. It breeds in Wisconsin and only passes through Southeast Texas during migration. The best shot we got yesterday was the small photo on the left and he wasn't cooperating. So, this morning, on the way to High Island, we stopped at Anahuac and got a much better picture. He actually posed for us!


April 13, 2022

Photo Number 103

On a day when not much is happening, we can always depend on the birds to entertain us. I saw the bird on the left this morning and the one on the right this afternoon. On the left is the female Yellow-rumped Warbler and on the right is the male of the species. During the winter, they both look the same, like the female, but this time of year, the male molts and changes his appearance to announce to the world that he is available for breeding. Nature at work.


April 21, 2022

Photo Number 111

Another new bird for the year. He's called a Black-throated Green Warbler. I know, I'm not seeing the green either, but that's his name. The back does get a little greener, so I guess that's an okay name. High Island is supposed to be a major international birding location, but for some reason, the birds are slow to come in this year. I guess we could blame it on Biden, or Putin, or Covid-19.


April 14, 2022

Photo Number 104

After a few days when we were seeing our normal birds every day, I was sitting on the patio and a shadow passed over the yard. I looked up and saw a hawk land on a branch of an oak tree. He brought along a little snack and was trying to eat when he was attacked by a mockingbird, who eventually chased him away. Later, I saw both of the Broad-winged Hawks fly over and land in a tree in the yard next door. So, our birds have gone again. I hope the hawks move on soon so we can see some of the migrating birds that we normally see this time of year.


April 6, 2022

Photo Number 96

Our Eastern Bluebird babies are taking a nap after being fed by their parents. Feeding is an all-day chore. Every time we go out on the patio, we see momma and pappa bluebirds catching food and feeding the young birds. They eat bugs, worms, spiders and caterpillars. It's hard to believe that, in a week or 10 days, these babies will be flying. We are a bit concerned, though. The pair of Broad-winged Hawks that we saw in the yard yesterday have started building a nest in one of our pine trees. We haven't seen many other birds today, but the bluebirds have no choice but to stay.


April 12, 2022

Photo Number 102

We saw a Baltimore Oriole at Anahuac yesterday, so that tells me that they are migrating through the area. So, I went to the store and got a few oranges to attempt to lure one into our yard. Orioles love oranges for some reason. Maybe that's why they're orange.


April 22, 2022

Photo Number 112

We're going to be going on a trip next week so we won't be home to water the plants that were in pots on the patio. However, we do have a sprinkler system that waters the plants in the flower bed, so I moved the potted plants out into the flower bed. As an added benefit, they have been thriving out there. I'll have to decide, when we get back, if I need to just leave them out there.  Just one of the little decisions you have to make when you own a home.


April 16, 2022

Photo Number 106

Fledge Day! Well, at least for a couple of the baby bluebirds. We saw the one above left, peeking out of the nesting box, then he suddenly came out flying and I followed him up to a branch on a tree in our yard. Another one followed and flew away. For several more hours we patiently watched to see if any other birds would come out, but to no avail. So, I opened the box and there were three more in there. They kept teasing us by showing up in the hole, but could never get the nerve to fly. I guess they will spend another night in the nest.


April 1, 2022

Photo Number 91

Today, Shirley was visiting us and she wanted to go out to Brookshire and visit the Brookwood store, so that's what we did. We got a new hanging plant among other things. While we were out in this neck of the woods, we decided to go see some bluebonnets. At Chappell Hill, we stopped by an old cemetery and found the graves of two of William Barrett Travis's children and got a little history lesson. On to Washington-on-the-Brazos to sit among the bluebonnets. It was a great April day, no FOOL-ing!


April 30, 2022

Photo Number 120

On Saturday, we met Chuck and Andra at the Tucson International Airport. We watched the monitor while Chuck waited for Andra to catch up. Then, we greeted them as they came down the stairs.  It was only the beginning of a great adventure. We got so busy that we never had time to keep up to date with our 365 Project, so if you are following us, we apologize for the gap in our coverage. It might take us a few days to catch up, so be patient with us. Together, Janet and I took over 3,000 pictures, so we'll get them posted as soon as we get them all sorted out! Since this is a birding trip, we hope to get many "Lifers", birds that we've never seen before. Later in the day, we had time to visit a great birding site and start birding. The beautiful bird above is our "Lifer of the Day", the Rivoli Hummingbird. We found it in Madera Canyon. More on that later.



 

April 25, 2022

Photo Number 115

A pair of Red-heads eating peanuts in a rainstorm. They must be hungry!


April 17, 2022

Photo Number 107

The babies that were left in the nest last night didn't wait for morning to take flight. When we checked this morning, they were all gone. One of them was brave enough to take its first bath on a beautiful Easter morning. He was probably going through some bath training by his Papa. Now, that's a good Dad! They had to be brave considering that our own neighborhood hawk was flying overhead at the time.  If it seems like we spend a lot of time watching birds, you're right. April is the time when most birds are in migration, and it's the best time to find new birds. We haven't seen a lot of new ones yet, but you don't see them if you don't look for them.


I saw that bird and I just snapped!                                                                                      

April 15, 2022

Photo Number 105

There was a little drama going on in the back yard today. The baby bluebirds in the nesting box are expected to fledge any time now, so the parents are alert and protective of the box. They sit where they can watch it and chase away any bird that might appear as a threat, like the blue jay and others. They continue to feed the babies and have been busy all day doing that, even with the hawk perched almost directly overhead. Stay tuned for more developments.


April 18, 2022

Photo Number 108

He's baaaaack! We've had Red-headed Woodpeckers in our yard for the past few years, but this year we had almost given up on him. But now, he's back and we're glad to see him. There are a lot of red-heads in our family, so I guess we're partial to them.


April 29, 2022

Photo Number 119

If you think our life is all about birds, you're right, at least for the moment. April is known in the birding world as the time for spring migration. We're going to Tucson on a birding trip with Chuck and Andra, so we're extending spring migration for another week or so. Today we went to the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and the lady working there told us to watch out for Cactus Wrens, who were building a nest. We got a picture of a Mama wren feeding a baby. The nest was way up in a Faxon Yucca tree. Our "Lifer of the Day" was the Phainoplepa, which we saw at Davis Mountains State Park. Tomorrow we meet Chuck and Andra in Tucson for some more birding adventures.



 

April 24, 2022

Photo Number 114

A bird flew into our yard today and landed in our bird bath. It was obviously a blackbird, but looked a little different. But on closer look, I saw the red eyes. It's a Bronzed Cowbird that has never been in our yard before. In fact, it's a lifer; we've never seen one before. Good thing I took a closer look.


April 10, 2022

Photo Number 100

For the past week, ever since the hawks have been hanging around our yard, we have been wondering where all the birds went. Today, we noticed that we have more birds, so the crows and blue jays may have finally ran the hawks away. We even had an unusual visitor. I saw a flock of these Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks fly over and one of them decided to take a rest in our big dead tree. He didn't stay long, but we enjoyed him while he was here.


April 26, 2022

Photo Number 116

We finished our 2021 vacation book just in time to take advantage of unlimited free pages. We have to order it today and the Internet isn't cooperating. Like always.


April 5, 2022

Photo Number 95

Backyard Birding.  I sat down on the couch this afternoon and fell asleep. Nothing new. But, when I woke up, Janet asked me if I had a photo for the day and, of course, I hadn't even thought about it. So, I went out on the patio, and was watching the Bluebird nest, hoping that, when the couple left the yard for a minute, I could get a picture of the baby birds in the nest box. Then, I heard the squeal of a hawk. I found it high up on the dead oak tree, a pretty Broad-tailed Hawk, which I had never seen in our yard before. Before I could get a good shot of her, she was attacked by a crow and flew to another tree. I thought I had missed my chance, but I found her and managed to get a lot of good shots. After a while, I even saw a male join her for a few minutes. While I was looking up for the hawk, I saw a couple of Swallow-tailed kites and managed to catch one in flight.  That was a bonus that I hadn't expected.


April 2, 2022

Photo Number 92

Since today was the last day of Shirley's visit, we had family over for supper. In the group shot we have our five redheads, Jake, Mick, Shirley, Kara and Noah! Will is in the photo with Shirley, not because he isn't a redhead, but because he had to leave before we thought about taking a group picture. We're so glad they could all be here to see Shirley. We had a wonderful time telling stories (some of which can't be repeated) and sharing memories.


April 28, 2022

Photo Number 118

We drove to Fort Davis today, arriving about 3:00. We checked into historic  Hotel Limpia, then headed to the state park. There were a lot of birds, most of which were already on our list for this year, but 2 of them were lifers, one of which was the Scaled Quail, shown above. We found a pair of them in a cemetery, believe it or not. We're staying here tomorrow before going to Tucson Saturday. It's been a fun day.



 

April 27, 2022

Photo Number 117

We drove to South Llano River State Park today, on our way to Tucson. We got pictures of 24 birds to add to our 2022 list. The prize was the Black-capped Vireo, which is endangered and very difficult to find. And, we didn't get here until noon, so we were pleased. Now it's on to Fort Davis in the morning.


365 Project April 2022

April 11, 2022

Photo Number 101

We went over to Anahuac today, but we got a late start and it was a little windy. The first thing we noticed was the sheer number of alligators we saw. The water was low and there were alligators of all sizes sunning themselves on every bare spot of shoreline. Janet tried to count and she estimated that we saw over 200 alligators. She spotted the Baltimore Oriole and we followed it until it lit in a bare bush and she was able to get this great shot, the first oriole we've seen this year. We also saw our first Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, hiding in the grass among a bunch of grackles, an unusual place to get his photo. Normally, they present themselves on a wire or post. On the way home, we stopped at the ANWR headquarters building where they have an old-growth cypress swamp. That's where we saw the Yellow-crowned Night-heron on its nest. It's not an unusual bird, but to see the nest is rare.


April 19, 2022

Photo Number 109

We've decided to make a couple of trips this week to take advantage of the bird migration that's going on. Today we went to Sabine Woods, which is a notable stopover for the birds. It's near Sabine Pass and Port Arthur. We weren't disappointed, as we found and photographed 29 different species of birds, not counting the ones that are here year-round.  These are some of our favorites, starting at top: Scarlet Tanager and its cousin Summer Tanager. In the middle is the Hooded Warbler and at the bottom, the Blue-headed Vireo and the Veery. It was a good day for the birds.


April 7, 2022

Photo Number 97

The day Charles has been waiting for all year has finally arrived. So today, Charles put up the Astros flag to show his support for his favorite team, which just happens to be the best team in baseball as well as your 2022 World Series Champions! Go Astros!


April 3, 2022

Photo Number 93

Sadly, every happy visit has to come to an end, so this morning we had to take Shirley to the airport to catch her flight home to Lubbock. We don't get to see each other very often, so every time we do, it's a special occasion. This time was no exception.


April 8, 2022

Photo Number 98

Two or three years ago an oak tree in our yard fell, crashing through the fence in the back of our yard. We had the tree removed and Charles fixed the fence, but the root ball was left and became an eyesore. It was time to get rid of it, so first we power-washed it to remove as much dirt and rotten roots that we could. We uncovered some critters in the process who were making a home in the roots. Then, we had to physically chop up what was left and put it in the burn pit. It turned out to be a giant ant nest, so we had to put out some ant poison for a few days. Finally, we've got it down to a manageable bare spot in the grass. A little more raking and the grass should fill in nicely. That's life in the forest. 


April 23, 2022

Photo Number 113

We feed our birds several different types of food. Woodpeckers and Blue Jays and a few others prefer peanuts. Sometimes they go through it pretty fast, so we keep a supply on hand. Today, Charles had to refill the feeder. We can't put out enough food to last while we're gone on our trip next week, so I guess the birds will have to fend for themselves. There are not as many in the yard since the hawks have been hanging around and we haven't gotten any new birds for the same reason. But, birds are wild things and they'll manage.


April 4, 2022

Photo Number 94

We drove out to the Atwater Prairie Chicken Preserve today. We got there just after daybreak, hoping to see one of the chickens. They are really a grouse and this particular species doesn't exist anywhere else. The picture above is not that bird. We didn't see one of them but we did see an Upland Sandpiper, which is the bird shown in the photo. In fact, we saw many of them, all over the preserve. We probably saw a hundred or more. It's a lifer for us, so it was a good day at the preserve.