Painted poppy. 

Ok, it’s not really painted, but a photo that I morphed with an iPhone app called Brushstroke.   The poppies came back this year out back. I love their deep red. Hoping for even more next year!

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A new (to me) park. 

I discovered a lovely park, right off Loop 360 and Spicewood Springs Road. The trail head for the Irving and Hazeline Smith Memorial Trail is on the northwest corner of the intersection.  You can park right nearby.  It’s an easy, flat, 1.5 mile loop through woods, grassland and near the creek.  No dogs permitted, though.  

Little golden headed birdie.

I had an unexpected morning free, so I headed to the Bull Creek Preserve again to go explore the trails.  Note that entrance to the the Preserve is restricted between March and July each year.   You’ll need to apply for an entry permit to enter during those months.  Today my goal was to catch a glimpse of the endangered golden-cheek warbler that nests in the preserve after migrating here in early March from Central America.   I went out on Monday and had a great 3 hour hike, and heard their calls everywhere, but I didn’t see the little bird – they were very elusive.

Today, I tried some different trails in the Preserve, and I finally saw several of them!  Next, I pulled out my camera to try to get a decent shot.  I took many more than these few photos, but together they might give you an idea of how hard it is to get a good shot.   Most of these won’t look like much unless you can zoom in on them…

I saw one sitting on the power line.  Right. Above. My. Head.  But, by the time I got the camera up and focused, zoooom, he was gone.   See the little bullet-shaped bird with a yellow head exiting the frame on the right?

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A while later… I saw one in a shrub about 30 feet away!  See him in the center of the frame?  But, darnit, he wasn’t facing me.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then… zoooom, he took flight.  See the little yellow headed torpedo coming toward the camera? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then several miles and about 2 hours later…. one popped out of a cedar branch at eye level about 10 feet away!   He even posed for a minute.   I got several shots.  This is the clearest.  Success!  I’ll be back for more, though.  🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spring!

I visited Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park today.   There are some short trails that go down by Lake Austin, through a bit of woods, and around a beautiful, recently re-established prairie with native grasses and flowers.  I saw about 10 different species of birds, including my first Eastern Bluebird.  The bluebonnets are everywhere.

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TV-free. 

We cut the cord last year.  And it has been ok.  Amazon Prime and a Roku streaming player give us lots of viewing options.  We also have a Channel Master DVR+ digital DVR with which we can record shows from over-the-air (OTA) channels, which is what we do 95% of the time.  It downloads schedule info for 2 weeks for each channel via a wifi connection to your home network, so you have a nice channel guide to browse what’s coming up. There are a surprising number of OTA channels which we can get at our house, the majority of them are HD.  You can enter your location at antennaweb.org and they’ll tell you what OTA channels you might be able to get where you live.

I can get my Seahawks fix by paying for Tune-in Premium month-to-month during the football season for live game audio broadcasts.  

It’s all good. 

But today we buried our TV.  It died a slow death.  I wonder how long it will take to fill this space. 🙂

Dinner in the rear view mirror. 

We had a fun day! Julie collected 7 souls to go sailing with us on an amazing sunny & breezy day on Lake Travis.   We sailed to Volente and then anchored in arky north, on the way back, for several hours.  Back to the dock by sunset.  We grabbed dinner at P. Terry’s on the way home.   Overall:  awesome!

Bird thingie.

The backyard is getting quite crowded with bird-thingies.  The latest one is a bark butter feeder that I hung up a couple of weeks ago.   Bark butter is a spreadable kind of bird food that you can mush onto the bark of a tree,  or onto a hanging feeder.   You can buy both bark butter and bark butter feeders.   But, I decided to try my hand at making both myself.  Long story short, the birdies like it!  This is a Bewick’s wren snacking on it.  I have also seen black crested titmice and woodpeckers try it out.

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To make the feeder, I  grabbed a couple of pieces of cedar scrap from the shop, drilled shallow holes in each side with a forstner bit.  I staggered the holes on each side so they were not directly opposite each other, so that I wouldn’t accidentally drill all the way through the board.  Then I glued and nailed a piece of wood on top as an awning.   I didn’t measure, but I’d say that my board is about 16″ long and 6″ wide.

There are recipes on the web for bark butter that contain lard and corn meal and peanut butter and bird seed.  I simply got some all-natural peanut butter and mixed it with my current bird seed mix (mine is a mix of peanuts and whole sunflower seeds and millet) until it was spreadable.  Then I stirred in some cayenne pepper to dissuade the squirrels.   I spread some into each of the holes on the feeder and hung it up.  Within a week I saw some birds feeding off of it; which made me smile.

 

 

In the yard.

Today is the 7 year anniversary of starting this Sheila365 photoblog!  I’ve enjoyed it.  I hope you have too.

Big day at the ranch today.  I saw so many different species of birds.   Even so, I missed a few of the regulars, but, hey, I can’t stand in front of that window ALL DAY.  🙂

  • House Finch male (M) & female (F)
  • Orange Crowned Warbler
  • Northern Cardinal M&F
  • Downy Woodpecker M
  • House Sparrow M&F
  • Red Winged Blackbird M&F
  • Bewick’s Wren
  • White Winged Dove
  • Blue Jay
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Yellow Rumped Warbler
  • Carolina Wren
  • Red Bellied Woodpecker M&F
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • European Starling M
  • American Robin
  • Lesser Goldfinch M&F
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Black Crested Titmouse

I got some ok bird photos, but I’ll share a few of the garden, instead.

About 8 or 9 years ago, a neighbor gave me a dozen or so purple iris cuttings when she was thinning out her beds.   I’ve had them in the ground since then but rarely have they bloomed.   A year or so ago I moved them to a few different beds that get much more direct sunlight.  This year I’m thrilled to see them in bloom!  I love these short-lived flowers.

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We have bluebonnets coming up in the front and back yards.   Nothing says central texas like these beautiful wildflowers.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Monte’s got baby salad greens planted.  Fresh lettuce every night!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I simply love spring.  Oh, wait, we have 2 weeks to go before spring.   I can’t wait!

Trivia is Hard. 

We met up with friends tonight for trivia night at a nearby bar.  Whew!  22 teams.  8 rounds.  Very tough.   We think we might have made it into the top ten.  

But fun, though!  Check out Geeks Who Drink to find one of their trivia nights near you.  

Beer me.

After a very rainy weekend the sun finally came out Sunday afternoon.   We decided to check out a couple breweries nearby.   Austin Beerworks has a new and expanded tasting room and patio area that opened recently — kid and dog friendly.  My Pearl Snap was great!


Just down the road, Circle Brewing Co. was serving up some good brews.   I had the Alibi blond ale.  Monte tried a flight. 


We’re lucky to have so many local breweries nearby.  We’ll hit a few more next time. 

The Blanton museum, revisited.

In a post earlier this year, I shared a visit to the Blanton Museum that we took, to see an Andy Warhol visiting exhibit that ended in January.  When we went, we didn’t know that the museum’s permanent exhibits were temporarily closed, due to a total revamp of the permanent gallery areas upstairs.   Even so, we enjoyed the visiting exhibit.

The museum’s permanent collection galleries are now open again, so I stopped by this week to check it out.  They have an interesting mix of art – Latin American, early American Western, Contemporary, European, Native American, Modern, Spanish American, Ancient Greek and Roman, Film and Paper/Documents.   The gallery remodel was nicely done.

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I recommend a trip to the museum.  I enjoyed it.  Check out their website for days & hours.  And keep in mind that every Thursday admission is free, and every 3rd Thursday the museum is open late – until 9pm.  Parking is easy at the nearby Brazos garage.  If you bring your parking stub into the museum, they can give you a discounted parking rate.