ghostly gray owl hides
in deep dark OakWood blackness
one eye on the moon

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Forgotten Photos

Today we were out to Estero and the day was a bust. So here is a shot of an Audubon Oriole in the brush that I took at McAllen Nature Center a couple of weeks ago.

Hot and breezy. Still 93F. Headed to Willie BBQ - Gunnar

Monday, February 20, 2017

Birds and Flutterbys People Pictures II

Pickers, singers and listeners.

Rainy day weather, getting sunny. Sweet. - Gunnar

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Birds and Flutterbys

Miscellaneous "people pictures" from the past four years of birding and butterflying in the LRGV.

Add caption

Fair warning: I have many more. - Gunnar

Group Shots

It is hot (90F) and windy; a day that will just sap your energy. We went out to Santa Ana NWR this morning. The Cattle Egrets were actually out on the park lawn across the street from our apartment. There are usually three of four out there. Not necessarily a "bad" bird, but they are a little bit urban. Originally from Africa they are like Mallards, not really domestic, but not really wild either.

Black-necked Stilts, White Pelicans - mostly juveniles, and Long-billed Dowitchers. Nothing spectacular, although I think the dead tree, Dowitcher shot is an interesting photograph. I considered photoshopping out the cattails in front of the Pelicans - even a faint one in the Dowitchers, but then I thought ... meh. 

I think it may be time for a Belgian style ale in the wind sheltered shade of the front veranda. You all carry on as you see fit - Gunnar

Saturday, February 18, 2017

On remembering a smooth-skinned callow fellow

My life in a morning mirror
looking to see whiskers missed,
healed cuts or bug-bite welts
Never seeing the sun beaten man
looking from behind the glass. 

And then a photo appears. Ambushed by time.

Who is this wizen farmer,
Come from the faraway fields
worn saddle leather face,
unkempt grizzled hair, glasses 
framing an unseeing eye?,

Be god-damned if I know.

Still shocked and amazed by it all. - Gunnar

White Morph Reddish Egret

Lorna was down on South Padre Island spending a few days with her sisters who are not birdcentric, so she did not even go birding at all. Whaaa? Family more important than looking at birds? I was going to go down to retrieve her back to Alamo on Wednesday, but a package from Amazon was delayed for a day.

The package contained a Nikon D5500 camera body. The D5500 has been superseded by a D5600, which has pretty the same specs with more bells and whistles, so the D5500 was decently priced. This set is from my first outing with my older Nikkor 55-300mm lens mounted on that new camera body. I am quite satisfied with the results. Issues are mine, not the equipment's.

Called and found that Lorna and her sisters were out walking the beach and we were to meet at Padre Brewing for lunch, so I headed directly to the Birding Center. The birding Center is actually a fancy building to the side of the sewage treatment plant which releases treated fresh water into the Laguna Madre. The resulting little freshwater to brackish streams are filled with tiny fish and the birds love it. Cattails had overgrown the place over time and were choking the streams so this month they came in with heavy equipment to remove some of them and dig out the small ponds. The fish and birds don't seem to mind a bit, but the Rails that hide in the cattails are now more distant and harder to see, let alone photograph. These photos are not in any particular order, but I tried to group photos of the same species together. 

At first the white egret/herons are a little confusing; there are Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets, then we have little Blue Herons which are white the first year, in Florida there are white morph Great Blue Herons. Oh yeah, the are Cattle Egrets, which came over from Africa - even flocks out on the lawns here in Alamo. The first two photos are first because it is a white morph of the Reddish Egret. It is a male coming into breeding plumage, probably its first year because the lores and upper bill are still rather dark - whatever, it is a rare and beautiful bird.

Tricolor Heron

Common Gallinules fighting as female looks on. There were as many as three battles going on at once with hfemales watching. A march lek.

Roseate Spoonbills - more beautiful from a distance than close.

Little Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Green Heron - amazing plumage.
Snowy Egret - oh them golden slippers.
Old guy with young camera - Gunnar

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

On Light and Vision

This will probably won't be an organized posting. I just have a couple of only vaguely related things I want to put out there.

As most of my personal friends know I have had a bit of a run of bad luck with my eyes - cataracts (of course), macular degeneration, but the most serious has been thirteen retinal tears which have been lased by the fine folks (Dr. Sophie Bakri) at the Mayo Clinic. They have been repaired, but it has left me with a black veil of floaters. Unfortunately tear number fourteen (I number them now) tore directly through the macula of my right eye, rendering the eye pretty much nonfunctional. This of course has made me very aware of the vision in my good eye - if or when will another tear cut loose? will it hit the macula bullseye again? will my macular degeneration go wet? I try not to worry and obsess about it, but dammit, all of this is affecting my birding right now and it could affect much more in the future. 

Now, a leap back:
I was pumping gas every day after school and weekends during the school year - farming in summer. I never took a book home, some classes I never even opened the book at all. I slid by. The result is that I am not a formally educated man, at least compared to my high school friends, almost all of whom went on to graduate school in various fields. While I am terribly proud of them, I am still shocked and amazed because we tended to be a group of smartass jerkoffs, not academics.

I did have a great set of English teachers in high school. My favorite was Hildred Tennehill. Not only did I have her for English in 10th grade(?) she babysat a study hall I was in. I usually sat quietly doodling in a notebook. One day Miss Tennehill said if I had to be in there anyway I might as well do something, write something, write anything. So I wrote. And she critiqued. The next year I must not have had free study period. Somehow Hildred conned me into eating lunch in her room once in a while and continued to have me write. So ultimately she is responsible for all of this bullshit. 

I suppose it was Hildred who really introduced me to poetry. I thought I had forgotten it all, but every once in a while one will come back and of course the internet is always right there help fully retrieve it again. John Milton lost his sight early and spend half his life blind. This is a bit whiny and 'woe is me', but now I really, really get it. On his blindness. 
When I consider how my light is spent
  E're half my days, in this dark world and wide,
  And that one Talent which is death to hide,
  Lodg'd with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
  My true account, lest he returning chide,
  Doth God exact day-labour, light deny'd
  I fondly ask. But Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
  Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
  Bear his mild yoak, they serve him best. his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
  And post o'er Land and Ocean without rest:
 They also serve who only stand and waite."
Looking good, right now - Gunnar

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Brushline Road

A ree-port for past partners. Drove the length of Brushline - no Pyrrhuloxia, no Pipets, and no Green-tailed Towhees (one of my top ten birds). There were a lot of Meadowlarks (?), a small group of Sandhill Cranes, some miscellaneous little brown birds. Not much, but a beautiful morning to be out. Then we went east over to Delta Lakes where we had seen sooo many shorebirds a week ago. The water level was up, covering the flats - nothing. 

Then we headed for Tucker's BBQ in Lyford. Closed. Closed? Bummer. We were forced - forced I say, to stop at the Blue Onion for craft beer, soup, and shrimp calzones.

  - Gunnar

Friday, February 10, 2017

Foggy Morning Breakdown

We were out early this morning, took it slow on the drive down to Santa Ana due to thick fog. It was still foggy enough on the hike out to Pintail Lake that nothing was stirring. By the time we were actually on the shore the fog was starting to lift - still hazy, but I shot photos as I could see. Some photos may be a little fuzzy, but I trust they will capture the feeling.

Common Egret

Mixed bag

Long-billed Dowitchers

Wilson's Snipe

Lincoln Sparrow ----- Nevermind, Blackbird. :-)

By the time we were on the way back it was not exactly sunny, but clear enough to get a couple of crisper photographs.
Altamira Oriole

Maybe time for a beer now. - Gunnar