Feeding Spoonbills

Feeding Spoonbills
Feeding Spoonbills

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Visit to South Texas Botanical Garden and Nature Center

I finally had enough of sitting around and wanted to visit friends in Corpus Christi before going on to visit my daugher for Thanksgiving. So I practiced shifting my five-on-the-floor left handed, then took off.

I spent several cloudy days waiting for a chance to visit the botanical gardens there. South Texas Botanical Garden and Nature Center is fairly new, (since 1996) but is growing and changing.

It also maintains a place for rescued parrots - there are several big flight cages and has an exhibit of snakes and other reptiles.

I had never been to the various greenhouses so was fascinated to find one was devoted to bromeliads. They are hanging from all the windows and walls, as well as on shelves and the floor.

One of the few bromeliad blooms

A second, huge, two room greenhouse was devoted to orchids, many of which were in bloom.  I think I have at least forty pictures of blooms but I tried to restrain myself in sharing with you. 

There are gardens all along the trails and greenhouses. I particularly enjoyed all the butterflies that were flitting around.  Most of them were queens.

I loved the colors and textures of these fall leaves against the grass stems

One of the queen butterflies

The garden has extensive rose beds and a lot of them were also in bloom. I fell in love with almost all of them. These were some of my favorite pictures of them.

I spent a lot of time on this bed of mistflower trying to get pictures of butterflies. Just I got in place to catch several of them, a toddler ran up and chased them away. But I still captured a few after waiting a few minutes.

Then I walked on through a lovely picnic area to trails that run around a lake.  There weren't many birds around, but I suspect that at times, this would be a great birding spot. But it is a wonderful place for a hike at any time.

When the trails brought me back to the developed gardens, I found a large cactus garden. The day was getting ever more cloudy so these will be much prettier on a sunny day.

By this time I was getting a little tired and was ready for a rest so was delighted to find a pair of couches just sitting in an outdoor room.  But they turned out to be a little harder than I expected.  They were made of stone. Even the textiles!

From the couch, I could enjoy the view of this bronze showing the history of the area, with farm workers getting a drink at the well.

I love chile pequins, the ancestral pepper. They work really well as a ground cover under trees.  I had never seen them used as a companion plant with pomegranates.  Now I wonder how well the two would combine into a recipe.

On the personal front, I'm out of my sling and working to get some of the use of my hand and shoulder back.  I'll be leaving for Louisiana this week.  But I have several other little adventures to share with you.  It still hurts to use my computer and I've been busy visiting and traveling but should be able to get at least one blog a week written. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are keeping the Christmas madness at bay. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tormented by Butterflies

November 4, 2016

Paddling buddy, Dave invited us to go paddle at Champion Lake, another of my favorite swampy places in Trinity River NWR.  He even offered to paddle both me and Ellen in Natalie's tandem canoe, while Natalie paddled his kayak.  I declined because I'd rather hike then sit and I have spent many happy hours on land there.

I immediately started checking out all the distant birds by taking pictures and then blowing them up in the camera.  A pair of white dots in a distant tree turned into wood storks, a most coveted species in the late summer and fall, when Mexican juveniles sneak across the border and wander along the Texas coast.

Natalie and Ellen enjoying the put-in views

A long view of a pair of woodstorks

After the paddlers left, I started walking the mowed path on the levy that forms the lake.  It goes all the way to the Trinity River but I got ambushed by thousands of butterflies and only managed about a half mile of it.  Every step caused twenty to forty butterflies to jump out of the grasses and forbs. The sun was bright and the air was warm. so the butterflies quickly out of camera range, while others caught my eye.  Most of the butterflies were less than an inch across their wings so I couldn't even see them on my camera screen. I spent a lot of time trying to capture them, getting ever more frustrated until the sun got too bright for pictures. Then I just enjoyed their bright movement while listening to the hum of honeybees and syrphid flies.

Queens were the most abundant and cooperative 

But only occasionally showed me their monarch-like undersides 

Migrating monarchs were resting in grass.....

Or among willow leaves.....

Or feeding on the abundant fleabane

The waterway narrowed along the trail and I was able to ambush
this pair of white ibis feeding on the far side
Metalmark species?

Think a different species of metalmark

I also checked out a side trail that went through wet woods full of little, mostly dry sloughs.  Finally I turned back so I wouldn't make the paddlers have to wait on me,  I had time to compile my bird list and then add a pair of roseate spoonbills before I caught sight of the returning paddlers.

One of the very few signs of fall

This little slough had enough water to make pretty reflections

There were lots of palmettos,  one of my favorite plants

This comma sat quickly on a tree trunk

There were cloudless, and I think, dogface sulfurs but most were too fast to capture -
this cloudless was in the butterfly garden

The last bloom of marsh mallow - it was across the lake from me

Great blue herons are hard to see against the trees

Returning paddlers

A pair of roseate spoonbills were the last birds on my checklist

Their flight starts with free fall

By the time we were ready to leave - around 2:00 PM, we were starving and had to make a stop for hamburgers. Another beautiful day.

I'm linking up to Wild Bird Wednesday.  Click on the picture to see bird blogs from around the world.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Good Friends and Good Birds

October 30, 2016

Soon after my surgery, I got a note from one of my favorite friends,  Tracy, that she and husband, Dutch, were ready to come pick me up to go birding.  We decided on October 30. Carol, a volunteering friend, joined us, along with my hostess, Natalie, and her daughter, Ellen.

We all met at East Beach Park and were soon enjoying common birds while searching for the pomarine j aeger that arrived here in July.  We noticed a man taking pictures, looked where he was aiming, and saw the bird sitting on the beach.  We approached the bird carefully, and were soon enjoying good looks of it. Later, while we were trying to identify the bird species resting together along the easternmost beach, the bird flew in just in front of us.

I apologize for the poor picture quality. I'm having to use an inferior method of holding my camera at waist height and look into the screen.  And I'm using the camera to just ID birds from distances too far to make good pictures.  Then I am making you look at them.

Not all fliers were birds

Royal Terns and herring gull

How many species can you identify?

Incoming brown pelicans

A Forster's tern flew in

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We discovered several black skimmers in the mix

The only marbled godwit we saw checking out the trash

Black bellied plover

Pomarine jaeger

Successful fishermen with their stripers

We checked out a couple of nearby birding spots, but high tide and lots of fishermen had cleared the birds out. Natalie and Ellen had to leave for Natalie's symphony practice but the rest of us headed west to find very few birds along Eight Mile and Sportsmens Roads.

Then it was lunch time, so we adjourned for a lovely lunch.  Dutch and Carol treated Tracy and me because it was Tracy's birthday and I was all crippled. 

It was another great day and more are on the agenda.