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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Practice makes perfect.

I am still working on improving my manual focus skill with my Olympus camera.   In this picture, I was trying to focus on the butterfly, but turns out I got an absolutely crisp image of the opening zinnia that is just above and to the right of where I was trying to focus.   I’ll keep trying…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oh, Austin…

Austin dubs itself the “Live Music Capital of the World.”  A well-deserved title.  An equally well-deserved moniker would be “Rubbernecking Capital of the World.”

Seriously.   Austin traffic is dismal.  Bad.  Horrible.   We suffer through long and much-delayed construction projects, restricted lanes, new tolls on well traveled routes, terrible rush hours, and endless debates on funding affordable, responsible mass transit.

In my humble opinion, we can help ourselves out for free by just NOT RUBBERNECKING.  Come on, Austin!   I’ve lived in and traveled through many different cities, but nowhere have I seen this level of self-induced misery.

Case in point:  today we attended a beautiful Bat Mitzvah of the daughter of our friends.  On the way home (1:30PM on a Saturday ), we popped onto Mopac North.   Traffic was moving very slowly.

So, I looked at google maps to see what was going on.   Yuck.  Mopac was red for miles in both directions.  Luckily for us, we were almost through the worst of it.

IMG_2181

Hmm, was it a terrible accident up ahead?  Overturned car?  Lane closure? Jack-knifed trailer tractor?  Police pulled someone over on the shoulder?  A backup on the exit?  Ambulance blocking lanes?

Ummmm.  No.   It was simply an open house and Muster Day at Camp Mabry – lots of brightly colored tents, military equipment and helicopters on display on the parade grounds of Camp Mabry, WAAAY off to the west of Mopac.  But, sadly, it *is* visible from Mopac, if you just turn your head and hit the breaks to take it all in.  And that’s what people were doing, in both directions.   No amount of infrastructure funding is going to help that.  Sigh.

IMG_2182

 

 

 

Again!

Yesterday, our resident mom & dad Bewick’s wrens started building a second nest!    In a different house than this season’s first brood.  I’m pretty sure this is the same mom & dad, since I’ve been watching them tending to and feeding their babies at the same time that they are building the new nest.  I’m just amazed at how hard this pair of birds have been working over the last 6 weeks or so.  I was surprised to see this behavior, but found this website whose explanation of their nesting behavior helped me learn a bit more about this lovely bird.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I can’t wait to watch the next round of babies make their way into our backyard.

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seconds before the first one flew out:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

IMG_2048

The falls from the scenic vantage point above:

pedfalls

 

Barrel o’fun. 

We have a new rain barrel out back.  Just in time for today’s rain.   Installed yesterday, and today it’s full!  Fyi, City of Austin offers modest rebates for rain water harvesting devices.  Check it out if you are interested, or see if your city offers something similar. 

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!