Big day.

Today I saw the most bird species in my back yard since I have started paying attention.  I was treated to a few surprise visitors, due to the migration that is in-progress right now, and all the good old locals.

An adorable pair of black-crested titmice have decided to make a hollowed out mimosa tree in the way back their home.  I got a few pictures of them:  venturing out of the nest, bringing material to build the nest,  and chowing down on bark butter conveniently hanging nearby.

Seeing if the coast is clear:

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Mid-exit:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bringing back a MOUTHFUL of nest material:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And taking a break for some bark butter:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So proud!

A few weeks back I posted about a Bewick’s wren couple building a nest in the birdhouse that I hung under the eaves of my house.  Since then, I have been watching the birdhouse closely.  For the last two weeks or so, I have seen the wrens flying back and forth, to and from the house, feeding babies.  Those wren parents were delivering bugs every few minutes from sunrise to sunset!   Amazing.  I listened to the baby wrens chirp each time the parents brought food.  I watched them feed the babies.  I watched the parents take away the fecal sacs each time.  I watched as the babies started looking out the hole of the birdhouse.  It was like an episode of PBS Nature show right outside my window.  🙂

Today I sat 10 feet from the birdhouse outside and watched the baby wrens fledge!   I saw four of them fly out, there may have been more.  I hope they come back to nest next spring under the eaves, too.   I thought I recorded a video of it, but apparently I don’t know how to use the video mode of my camera yet.  Oh well, it was very cool to see it happen.  I’m so excited that I was able to watch them, especially since we spent the entire weekend on the lake.  And Monte and I had just returned to the house after running an errand.  Five minutes later they were all out of the birdhouse.

So cute!

From earlier this morning:

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Seconds before the first one flew out:

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One of the babies, right after his first flight:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Perdinaliss.

If you hang around Central Texans long enough, you will learn that we are fond of bestowing our own pronunciation on the names of some of our favorite local places; confounding out-of-towners, I’m sure.

One of those place names is “Pedernales” – the name of a river, a series of water falls, and a state park.  Take note:  locals refer to it as “per-din-al-iss.”

Whether or not you can say it right, you must go see all three.   I took a day trip and visited Pedernales Falls State Park today.   I enjoyed visiting their bird blind, walking down to the Falls, scoping out birds while hiking, doing a little geocaching, and taking in the beautiful scenery on a gorgeous day.

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The falls from the scenic vantage point above:

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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!

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

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!

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.

 

I ♥ Bewick’s.

I’ve been observing my backyard especially carefully over the past several months.  I love that I was able to observe several Bewick’s wrens among the frequent visitors.  I recently hung a couple of new birdhouses up under the eaves, hoping to get some takers this year.  We also have a number of older birdhouses that have been hanging out there for several years, including one that I made and hung in the backyard over six years ago.   As I have been stalking my backyard birds more carefully, I’ve watched two pairs of Bewick’s wrens pick out houses in which they have built nests.

Rest assured, I will keep an eye on them and report back.  🙂  This is one of the residents of a new house that I hung a few weeks ago.  I bought it at Joann’s – it had the desirable-to-bewicks dimensions.  I drilled holes in the bottom for airflow, and I also cut off the perch.   So cute!

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This is the one of the new residents of the seasoned peek-a-boo bird house I made in December of 2011.  Happy to see it in use.

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I’ll be watching to see what develops.

First world problems. 

We went to Kurt and Barbara’s Oscar watching party Sunday night – complete with red carpet, paparazzi, and bubbly.

At the beginning of the night, we each had a ballot to fill out with our guesses for winner of each category.  Then we marked which ones we got right as the night went on.  I got 7 out of 24 right.   Not bad having only watched 2 of the nominated movies.  But then my hopes were dashed as the best picture winner mixup unfolded.  And my score fell to 6 out of 24.  Sniffle.

But I took the blow with grace and poise.  Life will go on.  Somehow.

🙂

Hiking Bull Creek.

Last weekend, I went for a 3-hour group hike with one of the biologists that does research for the City-of-Austin-managed Balcones Canyonlands Preserve.  It was really interesting.   We hiked a short loop along the preserve at Bull Creek.  Along the way, I learned much about the native Ashe junipers throughout the hill country that I had previously come to detest, due to my annual cedar fever allergy symptoms.   But I came away with a new appreciation for the tree and the role it plays in the ecosystem of the Balcones Canyonlands.   I also learned about the other native grasses and shrubs that make up the understory of the woodland.  And about the endangered golden-cheeked warbler that will soon make its annual trek from Central America in early March to nest in the woodlands of the preserve until returning south in July.   I’m looking forward to more hikes out there.  Stay tuned.

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Bull Creek  is flowing nicely since the drought has broken.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And, I caught a tiger swallowtail butterfly taking a break along the creek.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Very nice!