Who are we? We are our stories.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Wilson's Snipe

You birders know how hard it can be to get eyes on a Snipe or Sora. 

Over time I have come to the conclusion that almost no bird really fears human beings and are hiding from us. It certainly can seem that way at times, but I suspect they just make a living working in really secluded environs.

Usually these are "hard" birds, but I must have a hundred photos of Wilson's Snipe walking out in open sunlight. It is always on their terms not on ours.

Ask me tomorrow about the Berg Theory Of Bird Fear and I will likely argue that it is a crock of shit.

- Gunnar

Moths: the Big and Small, the Extreme and Weird

First, the Black Witch Ascalapha Odorate, at over 6", our largest North American noctuid insect. I took the photo outside our house in Port Isabel.

You think that is one weird bug? I give you the Pearly Wood Nymph Eudryas unio. This is a one inch moth which, with wings folded, mimics a bird dropping. Ain't evolution grand?

Photo taken yesterday on a sheltered wall at Estero Llano Grande.

And finally, a Sickle-winged Skipper with its curled back wing tips.

- Gunnar

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Fat Tuesday

Eating, drinking, and music with family and friends. Spicy gumbo, potato salad, corn bread - with white wine or IPA. With Kurt playing hot Cajun on his vintage diatonic button accordion.

Yes, life can always be a little better, but not very much. Tonight we were teetering on the honed fine edge of perfection.

May your life be as fine - Gunnar

Spring's In the Air (and Water)

Lorna spotted (and I heard) a Purple Martin yesterday, which is heralded as the beginning of Spring migration here in south Texas. No photos, but here are some Skimmers and a sleepy Black-crowned Night-heron.

Yeah, it must be Spring, these Roseate pink guy Spoonbills seem to get pinker (and grosser) every day. Seriously, almost daily.

As we were editing (deleting) photos, I was struggling to find clear photos of this exceptionally colorful male bird because there was always a white first-year juvenile who seemed to follow him around and was always in the frame. 

Looking at her photos Lorna noted that the juvenile even aped the alpha males movements.

I was so busy getting focused photographs I missed the real show - a juvenile bird following dad (?), learning how to be an alpha male Roseate Spoonbill.

Spoonbills get their color from the carotenoids in the the shrimp they eat. My urine smells when I eat shrimp. They get pink, I get stink. All things considered, maybe my symptoms could be worse.

- Gunnar

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

My Journal: For Tom Sanders

What I did today and why I don't keep a journal.

I ate half a banana and drank one cup of coffee for breakfast. Then we drove across the causeway to South Padre Island. We walked the boardwalk at "The Birding Center", aka 'sewage treatment plant'. It releases treated freshwater into the hyper-saline Laguna Madre. This attracts various waders, shorebirds and waterfowl - and viewers thereof. Mostly we talked to friends ... or strangers if they were wearing binoculars or were kids.  I also shot a few photographs as we moseyed along.

We stopped to eat Chipote Shrimp at Yummies on the way home.

Back here at Long Island Village, listening to the MSNBC political rantings, I drank another cup of coffee as I sorted and cropped the photos I took today.

Now I am going to post the photos, drink a decent mosaic IPA and likely take a nap.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Skimmer and Turkey

Black Skimmer skimming deep.

A couple of days ago we were after the Dusky-capped Flycatcher and/or the Rose-throated Becard at Resaca de la Palma. The Dusky-capped would have been a life bird. I do not keep a formal number life list, but I damned straight know which birds I have seen over the years. We don't need no stinkin' lists.

Some folks in our group saw or heard both of them. With my funky eyesight I saw small feathered shapes flitting above a veil of twiggy leaves and branches. I was told by the better sighted folks what they were, but it will not go on my memory life list which requires recognition not birdie hear say.

So I came up gobblers. 

Then six of us went to Super Cream in Brownsville, where we ate off each other's plates. It is maybe my favorite Mexican (not Tex-Mex) restaurant in The Valley. I have no explanation for the name. Nor the bright red modern industrial furnishings.

- G.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Sometimes I Make Lemonade

Not much today. Someone claimed a Masked Booby* flying way out over the Laguna. Sure couldn't prove it by me, so I am not entering it on my mental life-list, although I really could have used a piece of pie. A few fleeting photos of a rail, and of course the herons and egrets, which are constant and more or less stationary.

* For you non-birder folks, the Masked Booby is an actual bird, not a bad joke.

I will spare you the back end of a Clapper Rail existing through the cattails. - Gunnar

Monday, February 10, 2020

Very Clean Rail

We went to Yummies with a mixed bag of friends and relatives. I strongly recommend their chipotle shrimp. After an extended meal the rest of the crew went to Anita and John's roomy place while I hit the Birding Center boardwalk. I met friend Rosanne there and we helped members of a Road Scholar tour group identify birds.  I have crossed paths with their guide Michael Marsden a number of times in the past. We discussed how difficult his job was because only a couple of his group were experienced birders; the rest knew very little but were enthused. He also said that guiding seniors was like herding cats because they don't take orders well and they tend to wander off in all directions.

After every senior got photos of a Clapper Rail bathing - only a couple appreciating how wonderful it really was,

I wandered off.               - Gunnar

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Laguna Madre Low Tide

This for a couple of Facebook-adverse friends who complain I do not post writing anymore. True. Willie Nelson once commented that playing music is fun, writing songs is hard work. Well, taking and editing photos is fun.

Today was one of the lowest tides I have seen in a while. The weather was sweet. No excuse not to be in it. We went to the World Birding Center boardwalk with Jerry and Roseanne, friends that we first met at the Alamo Inn six or eight years ago. Good company and Jerry still has really good eyes and a gift for remembering bird I.D. markers - that shit I used to have and lost over the ravages of time. Iffy vision? No problem, hang out with Hawkeye. 

The mud flats were exposed far out and the birds tend to hang out at the perimeter. Sometimes that heavy, shoulder aching lens I pack around can make it seem like everything is close. Sometimes the birds are close, but they seldom are. This is what was actually between us and the waterfowl. This why their feather detail is sometimes a little fuzzy.

Enough whining. Below, Reddish Egret in foreground, mostly Royal Terns, Brown Pelicans and White Pelicans. It makes it easy to see how much larger the White Pelicans are. The Brown Pelicans are strictly salt water birds. Those White Pelicans will migrate north, to maybe nest on Albert Lea Lake, kettle up into the blue prairie summer skies and drift over to fish off the front shore of 1410 Oakwood on quiet Sunday mornings. Which do you suppose I favor?

Caspian Terns
Ring-billed Gull - first year

We spent an hour or two at the end on the boardwalk catching up on the past year and identifying birds for people who really don't give a rat's ass what the names are. We continued back on the boardwalk, getting some really nice looks at a Northern Waterthrush, which is not a thrush at all, but a Warbler. This bird should not be in the U.S. in winter, but in Central America. Sometimes birds just cannot read field guides or maps. I have taken a couple of photos earlier of this individual bird, but today was the best looks. 

As we were leaving the Center for lunch at Padre Brewing I saw this Loggerhead Shrike beating the hell out of a worm. It was fairly close, but brightly back lit and I am not a good enough photographer to compensate for that ..... so for today, he doesn't get eyes.