American Holly

American Holly
American Holly

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Stopover at Mojave National Preserve

April 23, 2017

I had three stops before I got to Mojave National Preserve.  The first was not photogenic.  The second was at a motel before I toured the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  The third stop was to camp at the Preserve. I got to the Hole-in-the-Wall campsite about 10:00 P.M. only to find the camp site was full.  So I started down the dirt road that was supposed to be OK for two wheel drives. I soon found a side road that didn't have a no camping sign and set up my tent under the starry sky. I was pretty tired because I had spent the morning touring the museum and taking a quick peek at Saguaro National Park. So I was soon deeply asleep under the bright starlight sky.

 I woke up the next morning to see the crescent moon rising near the morning star in the early dawn. I jumped into my clothes and added a sweater and started taking pictures. I was camping in a little wash which  also made a good path to travel and look at the wildflowers.

 I continued finding new flowers around the visitor center, a few miles away. And I was able to get a camp site for Monday night.



Boondocking in Mojave National Preserve


These flower bloom as soon as they clear the ground







Closeup of the flowers in the above picture





Bees love this bloom


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A little vine 


These tiny flowers made a gorgeous ground cover


Cactus bloom


View of part of the caldera near the Visitor Center

Clift detail near the Visitor Center


This looked like the mountain boulders were puzzle pieces

I took a road trip because it was too hot and bright to want to hike.  I passed the sand dunes and and interesting area full of Joshua trees.





The end of a rocky outcrop








A closer view of the tunes

Bee in flower


Joshua Tree


Lots of Joshua trees


Interesting rock formation

 I got back to camp at dusk and soon went to bed. I was awakened at 1:30 A.M. by a high wind that continued to get higher, finally smashing my tent down on me.  I decided I needed to leave before my tent broke down so got dressed and backed the inside of my tent. I had left my socks hanging outside my tent door and could only find one of them. So I put that one in my pocket and just put my shoes on to load the car. Then I had to leave the tent staked out until I had the poles down and put away.  I also had to hunt for the tent bag with the tent cover and extra stakes inside it, because it had blown away. Put I got all packed up and then finally found my sock.  Then I realized I had left two 2-quart water bottles on the table and they were gone. The wind had blown them to the ground.

Then I ran into cold weather and decided to take a little detour and go to the coast before going north. I spent the night in Monterey before realizing I should have been north of San Francisco if I was going to get to my friend's house in Portland at the agreed on time. More on that later.

But I'm spending more time traveling and taking pictures than I have time to edit and put into blogs. I'll catch up again in a few weeks.

Currently I'm in Portland visiting a fellow volunteer I met when I worked at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. I will visit at least one of my old bosses who has moved to Washington, then will visit another friend I met at Malheur and who comes to visit me every year.



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Birds of the Beach

April 7, 2017


My houseguest, Winnie, and I share a love of birds, paddling, and camping, so we are usually doing at least one of these when we are together unless we are volunteering together. We decided last Friday was for the birds so we set off just before sunrise to take the ferry over to Bolivar Peninsula. This is on one of the loops of the Upper Texas Coast Map of the Great Texas Wildlife Trails and has several sites.

We started off looking at several beach areas but I don't think we took any pictures until we got to Audubon's Bolivar Flats. There we found the tide was out and most of the birds were very far away.  But the eastern willets were back and were looking for mates, as were the the little guys with the big snozzles, Wilson's plovers.  So both species were abundant in the little dunes, along with a few lingering Savanah sparrows and horned larks. We found a few other species of shorebirds, most two far away to photograph, including a huge raft of at least 1000 avocets and lots of brown and a few white pelicans.  We didn't seen any of the heron species, except for one great blue heron, a very unusual occurrence.


Foraging Savanah sparrow

Female Wilson's Plover

Male Wilson's plover
Paired Wilson's plovers

This seemed to be part of mating behavior for the Eastern Willets

Semipalmated plovers a long way out

Dunlin

Great blue heron

After we used up Bolivar Flats, we moved on to Rollover Pass.  The view is looking north and the light is much better.  The birds were mostly VERY far out. We could capture some of the small flock of avocets - maybe about 50.


Willets in their breeding plumage

Willet and reflection

Love to watch that snowy egret strut

Snowy and reddish egret

I spent a lot of time watching the reddish egret because I noticed it was shaking it's foot.  This is a motion I've seen snowy egrets perform many times to attract fish to their yellow toes so they can catch and  eat them. But the default hunting of the reddish egret is to lurch about like a drunkard and mantle its wings to make attractive shade for minnows. Finally I had to take a video to share this interesting behavior.




We spent the rest of the day at High Island and Anahuac. (In a previous blog.).
I'm connecting to Wild Bird Wednesday.  Click on the picture below to access more great blogs about wild birds from around the world.






Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tour of Rosedown Plantation House


Rosedown Plantation is very beautiful.  It was bought from the family and fully restored before being sold to the state. You can only see it by going on a tour. I enjoyed both the house and the talk given by the tour guide.

The house has front porches on both levels. You enter into a stunning front hall. To the left of the hall is a master bedroom; to the right the parlor. Behind it is the dining room and then walking left you get to the kitchen, pantry and Martha Turnbull's workroom. The wing on the far right houses the master's study. Bedrooms and work rooms are upstairs.



The house sits down a long allee  of Oak Trees - with the front yard fenced from the main garden that I featured in a previous post. 

A line of rockers invites lingering


View down the allee from the front porch




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The stunning mahogany staircase and the block wallpaper by Dufour et Cie

A detail of the wallpaper


The dining table set for a banquet with the "fan" over it. 
The stairs for the slaves - these worn stairs evoked the many feet that had climbed up and down over the years


The desk from where Martha Turnbull ran the plantation - The room is just off the kitchen and has an outside door so the slave managers can come in to get their orders. 


Ceiling medallion


Lace curtain detail

The master bedroom just off the front hall


Same bed from another angle

Window treatment


Medallion and chandlier


The nursery

The rest of the nursery

A sewing area


The upstairs rooms had this flooring - a kind of painted canvas, a precursor to linoleum


Chess table of inlaid wood


Detail of rug in the study

First used as a doctor's house, then schoolhouse



The greenhouse and surrounding garden


Inside the greenhouse


Chicken coop


Currently I'm traveling and will soon have a blog about the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, one of my favorite places. And three friends will all be taking me sightseeing so I'll be able to share lots of adventures. I'm finishing this on the Friday before it comes out from a motel in Tucson, AZ.  It was too hot to sleep out in my hammock last night and was 93 today, so I chickened out of camping and got in a shower. I also drove over 650 miles so I'm ready for bed.