A real treat.

I ventured out to get my first real birding of the year in.   Oh, I’m always looking for birds, but “real birding” means that I bring my binoculars and my camera.   The Golden-cheeked warbler nests exclusively in Central Texas, and there are preserves that are closed to the general public during their breeding season of Feb-July, during which they are only accessible to those with permits.  Welllllll.  I have had a permit for several years and took advantage of it today to get away from people and find me some birdies.

I was treated to my first of season golden-cheeked warbler:

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A very vocal, but elusive white-eyed vireo.  I caught him here mid-song:

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And one of many blue-grey gnatcatchers.  They are so tiny, vocal, and always moving!  This one stopped long enough for me to get a blurry picture:

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Nice.  Very nice.  🙂

Redbud.

My favorite flowering tree is the Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis).  Their blooms are fleeting but gorgeous, some of the first of the year.  This bee likes them, too.

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Tower Girl 2020.

I’m in my 3rd year of remotely stalking Tower Girl, the Peregrine Falcon that lives atop the University of Texas at Austin Tower.  The University has a live-streamed webcam pointed at her nest box on the northwest corner of the clocktower.  And they recently upgraded it, so it now also has audio.  Be careful with that audio volume, though.  The UT clock tower chimes every 15 minutes and it is LOUD.   This is a snap from about 5 minutes ago.  She has reportedly had a male hanging around lately, too.  February/March is the time she has been laying eggs, so I’ll be tuning in to see how it goes this year.

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As long as I’ve been watching, none of the eggs she lays each year have hatched.  I hold out hope that this is the year for baby falcons!

Septemberfest.

Monte and I rang in our anniversary with a trip through the Texas Hill Country.   We had our own mini-Oktoberfest exploring Altstadt Brewery and spent the weekend in Fredericksburg.

We enjoyed the wine and brews of the region and some local good-eats.  We also did our share of antiquing and mantiquing and each brought home a little sumpin-sumpin.

The Longhorns have an off-week, but we caught them chilling in the shade near the Pedernales River:

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We did a number of laps down Main Street in Fredericksburg.  Next week is Oktoberfest in F-burg, so GET DOWN THERE! IMG_9329

You gotta love the Texas wine trail… grape vines and live oaks.IMG_9333

And zinnias as far as you can see…IMG_9336

Happy Anny to us!

Fireworks, family, friends, and fun.

The last few weeks have flown by.  We’ve enjoyed family in Colorado, friends and family on the lake in Austin, and are looking forward to the next adventures on the horizon.

We hosted a boatload of friends and family to watch July 3rd fireworks on Lake Travis… Photo credit to Julie 🙂

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Then Monte and I headed upriver with Kurt & Kevin, to Mile Marker 47, up near the northern end of Lake Travis.

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We anchored off Grelle Park for two nights…

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Saturday, we motored farther north to around mile marker 50 before turning back and sailing down to Bar-K Park to anchor on Saturday night.

All told, we spent 4 days and 3 nights on our lovely lake.  Keeto accompanied us; a most pleasant sailing companion.

We ended the long weekend floating with Marty & Sue, and are now home doing laundry and laughing at good times had by all.

 

Coop-dominium.

I drove out to Doray’s house yesterday to bring Keeto home. She is a couple months into raising five egg-laying hens from chicks. These lucky birds moved into a beautiful chicken coop that Tom and Doray designed and built for them.

Cute!

EP.

A week ago, Monte, Susanne and I headed out from Austin, on a road trip to Estes Park, Colorado, to join in Dan and Erin’s wedding celebration.  We left at 4AM CDT, and pulled in to our destination at about 7PM MDT.   It was a long day of driving, but getting there made it all worth it.  I’ve never been to Estes Park before, but it is BEAUTIFUL!   It lies at an entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, surrounded by mountain peaks and streams, and is teeming with wildlife.  The town offers nice restaurants, breweries, music, festivals and all sorts of activities to tire you out.

We wore out our hugging muscles, but a good time was had by all.  After several days of visiting and sight seeing, we said our goodbyes and dropped Susanne off at Denver International Airport and then continued to made our way home.  We stopped overnight in Amarillo and then popped into Lubbock the next day to look for burrowing owls and to tour a winery, in the heart of Texas wine country’s vineyards.

A view of Lake Estes with the town of Estes Park and the Rocky Mountains in the background…

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We drove up into Rocky Mountain National Park, but the Trail Ridge Road was closed at Rainbow Curve, so we had to turn around at about 10,800′. We couldn’t do the complete drive across the Continental Divide.  But, the views were spectacular.  We got snowed on, and took way too many pictures.  I saw several lifer birds, a heard of elk, a bunny, and a varmit or two.

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Leaving Amarillo in the morning, we drove along historic Route 66 and made a stop at Cadillac Ranch. I wish I could have seen this back in its hey-day.  Now the cars are covered with ever-changing spray paint grafitti.   Sadly, you can see all the trash left on the ground by the “artists.”   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We stopped in Lubbock for lunch, and a tasting at McPherson Cellars Winery.  We also successfully tracked down some burrowing owls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I enjoy road trips.  I enjoy seeing family.  When they can be combined, it’s all the more special.

First fish.

We had a visit to the boat today from our friend, Rob, and his 5-year old son, Owen. Owen caught his first ever fish off the back of Nirvana. I hope he always remembers that moment.

We got away from the marina just in time, as tornado warnings sounded due to severe storms moving through. We made it home sweet home.

Frequent your happy places.

Commons Ford Park is one of my happy places.   I haven’t been out here in a while, though.  The prairie is breaking out in color and teeming with songbirds.

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A painted bunting singing atop a mesquite shrub:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One scissor-tailed flycatcher posing in the foreground, and another flying away in the background:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A dickcissel pausing his constant singing to give me the once over:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

First raft-up.

Camelot and Nirvana rafted up last night after going for a nice long sail.  It was the first raft-up of 2019, and the first one in quite a long time before that.  It’s nice to be at anchor, and we were tucked way up in a creek where the only wakes being thrown at us came from kayaks.  Perfect.

The lake is rising and is above full, due to recent rains.  We’ll see how high it goes in the next week or so.

I kayaked up to the end of the creek that we anchored in.  Lake sailing in the Texas Hill Country doesn’t suck.

A mallard duck came out to greet me.

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Pretty view of a lovely anchorage.IMG_0321