My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Saturday, December 17, 2016

On the Hunt

One of my paddling friend, Robert, has taken up photography.  He enjoys getting pictures of birds but doesn't know a lot of birding spots yet. So I invited him to join me in Galveston. Then when I left my hat in his truck, I invited him to bird in Houston at a Arthur Story Park, which was a wonderful hot spot for birds when I lived near there.

Our best spot of the day was at the end of Eight Mile Road.  At first we saw nothing and then we found birds popping up everywhere.  Some were wandering around close to the truck, while others flew over, safe from my camera as I still can't quite use the viewfinder.

This semipalmated plover was almost next to our truc

Think this is just bonding, not breeding behavior on this resident pair of American Oystercatchers


We found a small group of six sandhill cranes - think most of them are still further north

Then we backtracked a block and explored Sportsmans Road in the deteriorating  light. This road has expensive mansions on the right side, along the bay, and a marsh along the left side. We heard a rail, probably a Virginia, watched a big female osprey siting down in the grass too far away to photograph.

We spotted a juvenile yellow crowned night heron sleeping in the grass

A dock had several species of birds: here (I think), western willets, dowager sp, and ruddy turnstones

Is that rufus bird a Hudsonian godwit?

The little blue herons wouldn't explain why they were acting like shorebirds

Gulls weren't flying but we found a few ring billed gulls in the the reset of the pier birds

A few white ibis were feeding in the marsh

We also found a few adult yellow crowned night herons further down the road

Then we stopped by LaFitte Park but didn't find many birds. photographable birds. But we took scores of pictures of this nutria as he swam ever closer to us, then stopped and ate weeds that were just under the water.


We were both starving so finished out outing with lunch.  Thanks for the treat, Robert.

A day later, I realized I had left my hat in Robert's truck so suggested another meetup, this time in the park closest to my old Huston condo. This park is also a flood control plain, so changes from lots of pretty deep water to just a few streams and large ponds.

Bird are just not yet migrating all the way to Texas in great numbers and we didn't find many of the expected birds. But we enjoyed the park and the few birds we found.

We saw lots of double crested cormorants and snowy egrets

We spent a lot of time taking lots of pictures of this cormorant trying to get this fish eaten

Snowy egret in a tiny puddle

The only phoebe we saw in two days of looking

Now I'm settling into living in Louisiana.  I've been spending a lot of time trying to get started on Physical Therapy and getting another doctor's appointment.  So far, I finally got my first secession with PT, just to get me evaluated for what I'll need. Now I have to wait to see if I can get in next week.  After that, I'm booked for three times a week until March. Still trying to find a doctor who takes my insurance for my other problem.

 My friend, Hulin has been fighting a bladder infection for about a month and is still under a doctor's care, although he is finally starting to feel normal. But we had to cancel our trip to California.

 I'm going to visit some of my favorite volunteer friends in New Orleans next week.  Stay tuned - we always have the BEST adventures together.

Hope you are staying sane in this stressful time of the year.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Fall at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

November 29, 2016

A traditional fall, with lots of colored leaves, is very hard to come by, but the Lady Bird Johnson National Wildflower Center is a treat to visit as a hot Texas summer cools down.

There is a lot to see and do in any season. The buildings are in the traditional hill country style and are very pleasing to view.  There is a water collection system that collects water off the roofs and sometimes becomes part of the architecture.

Normally I walk in and shoot ahead on this entrance area.  This is from behind a pond on
 one's left when coming in - pond is in foreground

The small pond offers many lovely views

A beautiful multi use tower - has a seating area at the top  and stores water, I think

Entrance to the tower

A view from the top over the planting beds which are at chest level along the top

Looking down from the tower at a water tank and landscaping by the administration building

The area where plants are raised for the semi annual plant sales - I spent a lot of hours working here before I became a vagabond

Stock tanks are used with great effect just behind the greenhouses- there are several "habitats" of them as well as beds of representing the different ecosystems of the state. 
 Flowers were almost non existant on this late fall day - but oh the butterflies. They were competing for the few flowers left so they were very concentrated. And the day was still cool enough that they were sitting a long time, allowing even me to capture them with my camera.


Painted Lady

The Wildflower Center is dedicated to using native plants whenever possible and has done a lot of research on grases and sedges that make fine yards that don't require fertilizers and pesticides, and which support native fauna. One of their beds was a demonstration of one of their yard grasses.

One building on the grounds is dedicated to art shows and is changed out frequently with work that may be purchased.

Part of the current exhibit

A quite, cool place to sit and and enjoy the outside butterfly gardens

Part of a wooded garden


Dogface sulfur on echinacea

I love these benches in spring/summer when they are backed with blooming vines

The center had three demonstration gardens showing how native plants can be used for landscaping, in casual to formal gardens. Can you believe those are CEDAR TREES?

The demonstration of how to have a formal garden using native plants - the statue is part of the temporary art

One of the many volunteers that were cleaning out the beds for winter

A neat little secluded patio

Another volunteer working in the butterfly garden at the end of a long arbor

Several groups of children were there on field trips and were getting mini lessons

This area is part of the children's gardens and also has picnic tables

Loved how they channel water 
And did I mention there were lots of butterflies?  I got sidetracked by the several times.

Variegated fritillary 

Zabulon skipper

Think this is one of the painted ladies

Anybody know this one?

Or this one?

Dogface sulfur on turk's cap

Butterfly blowout - how many species can you find?

I enjoyed seeing Chile Piquin used in a raised bed- bluejays and I love to eat the them. 

An ancient tree near the entrance

 One of the last lantana blooms

There were sayings on several rocks within the family garden.  This one once again reminded me that we too, are part of nature and divorce ourselves from it at a great cost to ourselves.

Any time you get near Austin, Texas, be sure and visit this wonderful, ever changing place.  I didn't have time to tell you more but one of the new interesting sections is an arboretum where seeds from historically famous Texas trees have been planted.  Signage tells about their famous parents.

On the personal front, I've just arrived in Louisiana and will start another round of doctor visits and physical therapy on my shoulder soon.  Hulin and I will be traveling to California for Christmas with some of his family.