Who are we? We are our stories.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Santa Ana NWR Trump Wall

For the past five years we have spent our winters in Alamo, Texas, less than ten miles north of the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a major reason why we selected this location. 

Much, likely most, of the property along the border is privately owned. As the Federal Government already owns this land it would not be required to use eminent domain acquire the property. Therefore, someone who has likely never seen it, selected it as the site for the first section of the proposed Trump wall. The proposed wall will bisect the refuge and pretty much destroy it. 

Except for the last photo, these are typical photos I shot in the past couple of years. The last photo from two years ago is a first year Northern Jacana, a Central American or Caribbean bird which drifted north - a "life bird" for me and virtually anyone else who were lucky enough to see it.   

- Gunnar   :-(

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Warbler Showing

It was hot and humid this afternoon, so after dividing and transplanting some Hostas (never ending) and Irises, I sat in my chair in the shade of the Growlery with a camera in my lap. There was a intermittent progression of bathing birds escaping the heat. Occasionally I would shoot a couple of pictures, just because I had a camera and there were birds in front of it so I pulled the trigger. Just because. Chickadees, Wrens, Robins, Chipping Sparrows, Goldfinches, etc - all the usual suspects. There are so many Goldfinches that I have to refill the thistle-seed tube feeder twice a week.


Cardinal, female, very wet


Earlier this afternoon I had been wondering to myself why all those Warblers migrated through our yard and none stayed in Oakwood, not even those that should be nesting here. 

Then another female Goldfinch quietly slipped into the shadows of the upper stream. Wait, that isn't a Goldfinch! It is a Yellow Warbler. Actually Yellow Warblers and Goldfinches do not even look alike, except they are both small and yellow. How many times have I glanced at a Yellow Warbler and not really seen it?  

Gunnar, open your eyes! Er ... open your eye!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Late, Great Strix varia

Strix the harbinger
guards the life gate, asking all, 
Whooo will pass this night?

At 1410 we normally sleep with our ears to an open window. Often shortly before dawn when we are floating out of sleep and about to hit the morning shore, we are awaken suddenly by the hooting calls of the Oakwood Barred Owls calling back and forth between mates - “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?”, or the screeching challenges to that pair of owlish interlopers who live across the bay in Oakhurst.

This weekend word came down from the Oakwood children that there was a dead owl beneath the playpark swings. It was a Barred Owl, wings at its side, not a feather askew. Of course Lorna retrieved the deceased bird body, and of course she bagged it up and put it in the freezer (next to the ice cream bars) - which is technically illegal I suppose "collecting wildlife for the purpose of ... " and more than a little creepy. 

The feathers are destined to dropped off at the Root River Rod Company to be tied into fishing flies (Dunns or Cahills?) - another illegality I imagine.

How did it die? Likely by natural causes, but the theory I like best is that it inadvertently called out it's own name and stricken, fell from the tree, stone dead before it hit the ground. It would seem to be the only logical explanation.

Breaking laws left and right. 

Ask not for whom the owl calls; it hoots for thee. - Gunnar

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Chipping Sparrow Bathing

Some species of birds seem to love splashing about in the water and will take a long bath, shake it off and hop back in again - sometimes a number of times. My little stream has a series of four mini dams creating varying depth shallow pools for bathing options. I have been surprised at how the small birds often prefer very shallow water - shallow, like 1/8". 

"1410 Oakwood, Keeping the Bird World Clean For 30 years" - Gunnar