Gate Guarding and Birding

We are settling in our gate now. Started out having to use paper logs….yes pen and paper, can you believe that!! We finally have an ipad, which makes it so much easier and faster. Most days are pretty slow, but we have had others that are super busy and the day just flies by. On those slow days you have to find something to do. I brought my camera and found some great subjects to shoot. All photos are my own.

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Sunrise in Atascosa County
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This is a Loggerhead Shrike. I have seen at least 2-3 everyday and because of the lights that are on all night we have a lot of insects which in turn attract a lot of birds looking for a easy meal. Shrikes will sit high on a perch and swoop down to catch there prey. While they eat most of what they catch, uneaten prey is stored in a most unique way as evidenced in next picture.
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They impale their uneaten prey on thorns or barbed wire to eat later.
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Fun birds to watch
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I have seen several of this bird, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. They also like the insects and can catch their prey in mid air.
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Dinner Time
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The Eastern Meadowlark is plentiful at our gate. They have a very distinct call and I love their color. This is a rare shot of one on barbwire as most I have seen on on the ground or on a wood fence post.
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Here is one foraging for seeds and insects.

So there it is…. some of what I do while not actually working. Yes, we have a 12 hour shift, but you average just working just 2-3 hours at the most. So it allows some down time to pursue other interests. Not a bad gig, I like it.

Hiking the Madera Canyon Trail

We were off today and the weather was great so we headed out to  Fort Davis to do a short hike. Madera Canyon Trail is part of the Nature Conservancy’s Davis Mountain Preserve. When we arrived it was clear skies and 68 degrees.

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Trail Head…about 2.4 miles round trip.
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Very green and scenic.
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Madera creek had lots of water in it.
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Wildflowers were still blooming
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Butterflies were numerous
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Grass covered parts of the trail and plenty of color too!!
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We arrived at Chico tank which was covered in deep pink flowers with bees buzzing everywhere.
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Closeup of the flowers with a bonus butterfly
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Nice reflection in the water
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More flowers below the spillway of the tank with water flowing beneath them
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Some skippers taking a sun bath in the mud.
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A huge grasshopper with a very colorful coat.
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Butterflies were posing for photos in every direction
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Another one…
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There are called Apache Plumes

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Great weather, and lots of photo subjects made for a wonderful day.

Big Bend Visit part 3

We really had a great day with the rain and cool temps. Enjoy some more photos of our day in the Big Bend National Park.

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Great views to the South on our hike.

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Heading to the Basin
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Winding road
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Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
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High Desert Country
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Rain makes it green
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Another Black-Throated Sparrow

I’m looking forward to going back asap. The summer rains has made everything green.

Big Bend National Park Visit

We planned on a few hikes down at the park today despite the threat of rain.

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Low clouds were still over the tops of the mountains when we arrived this morning.
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Beautiful scenery
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We hiked around to a dry wash and down to the spring

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Interesting rock walls
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Santa Elena Canyon seen in the distance
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Small pour-off from the dry wash
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This area will hold water when it rains and fall down to the spring
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A small cave on one side
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Mule deer

As we were coming back I noticed some clouds towards the basin area.

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Looked like it was raining just east of us

We finally got back to the trail head and wanted to check out the rain clouds

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Stopped by Sotol Vista overlook and it was booming thunder and lightning at the basin
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The Basin was getting hammered with rain
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This is part of the old Homer Wilson Blue Creek Ranch. It was here long before the National Park was established.

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Saw this swallowtail as we were leaving to go to the basin
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A few miles down the road and lots of water was flowing across
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This dry wash is no longer dry
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Black-Throated Sparrow
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We later found out the basin had received 1 inch rain in less than an hour. Water was flowing down the side of the mountains.
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Texas Madrone Tree. These are odd looking trees
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Another waterfall
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And one more…

Not a lot of hiking but a great day, cool rain made it enjoyable. We headed back and run into more rain on the way to Marathon. Once we arrived back it had rained there as well.

Roadkill Specialist

If you drive much in Far West Texas, you will encounter lots of Turkey Vultures. They keep the roads cleaned up from whatever animal met up with a vehicle the night before. I got up close to one this morning.

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Turkey Vultures have a keen sense of smell. The only sound they make is grunting and hissing. And…a face only a Mother could love.

Nice night in Marathon

Had a few nice days-no rain (not that I’m complaining!!) I needed to drive around town before sunset tonight to find some photo subjects.

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Happened to see this night hawk waiting for it to get a little more dark.
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Layers of color. Everything is so green after the rain we had last week.
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If you look at the arrow you can see 2 deer on the side of this mountain.-Next photo is zoomed in.
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Can’t escape the zoom lens.
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Wow, what a beautiful sunset tonight!!

 

Sundown in Marathon

It’s been a windy, but cool day today with a threat of rain for the next 3 days. Lots of clouds so I thought the sunset might be good tonight. Decided to walk around and see what I could find.

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Pretty easy to find a train, these guys stay busy all day and night.
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Just like that it was gone…very short one. It will probably be back soon.
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Ahh-yes….there it comes.
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Roadside wildflowers

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Even the birds were enjoying the show
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Wow…anybody that was inside watching TV should be ashamed.
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Roadside Thistle
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I enjoyed the show and hope you did too!

Daughter, Quest for the Cup, & Back Home

We traveled North to the DFW area last week. My daughter had a surgery scheduled and we went to help her out for the week. Left on Sunday and drove to Abilene to spend the night. Boondocked in Walmart parking lot and arrived in Lewisville Lake park Monday for our week stay. Did not stay at the park much but did see a nice bird while there.

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Baltimore Oriole

CAST

 

 

We spent most of the week at the hospital and her house helping with food, errands, Dr. appts, and medicine. She will have a cast on her foot for 8 weeks. Surgery went great, no big problems and she was doing good.

 

 

We headed back to the Big Bend on Sunday morning. One of the most interesting things we did while on the road was trying to find the elusive Walmart stainless steel tumblers that are wildly popular and almost impossible to find in any store.

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These are “Yeti like” knockoffs that are better and MUCH cheaper. Yeti-$30.00+ Walmart-$7.74

Since we were traveling 500+ miles and pass by many Walmarts, the hunt was on!!

First stop was Big Spring, Texas where we spent the night. We asked the sporting goods clerk and he said they had a shelf full 2 days ago but none left now, however he had saved one for a fellow employee that hadn’t picked it up that he would sell to me. I finally had one!! But I wanted more… He said they had a truck in and might be unloading some later that night. Since we were in the parking lot all night it was no problem to check later around 9pm. We did-still no more cups. We checked once more the next morning and yes, you guessed it…none! So off we went.

Next stop Midland, Texas. Nope, none in stock. Clerk said one guy bought 25-30 cups and they couldn’t keep enough in stock for the demand. Usually lasted only 1-2 days. Had him check Odessa and he said they showed to have 40 in stock, however he said he would be surprised if they had any either.

Next stop Odessa. Well you can guess what happened….none in stock. There was only one more Walmart on our way back to Marathon and that was Ft. Stockton. He checked stock showed none there also. We were going there anyway so we will stop and check anyway. I was just happy I had one.

Next stop Fort Stockton.

Cup Display
JACKPOT!!!!

After this picture was taken there were 8 less on the shelf. I must say they are very well made and for $7.74 a heck of a deal. Our last Walmart, wasn’t supposed to have any, and they were loaded. Great way to end our long drive back to the Big Bend. All that for a crazy cup!! We had fun.

After we returned I left one out with ice and water in it overnight for about 10 hours and it still had ice in it the next morning. So we did good to snag some.

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Leaving Ft. Stockton with a Dairy Queen shake. One more     hour and we are home.                                                                    (My first ice cream in about 6 months) Man was it good!!

The winds were really blowing but we dodged most of the rain, just had a few areas where we had to run the wipers on high.