Bird on a wire.

We spent a fun weekend on the lake.  Sunday morning, I was greeted by 7 or 8 little barn swallows grooming themselves on the lifelines and jib sheets of the boat next to us.  I stole this shot of one in the morning sun.  It’s hard to get a good photo of these little ones because they usually dart around and never light on anything close by.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

An overdue visit.

I made it to Laguna Gloria today.  It’s remarkable that it is only my first visit, after living here over 20 years.   It is the home of The Contemporary Austin, an art consortium.    The grounds are beautiful, full of trees, and trails that will take you down by the (glorious) lagoon, as well as Lake Austin.  A sculpture garden is spread throughout the grounds and trails.  It made for a lovely afternoon of hiking, birding and art appreciation.

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Texas Historical Marker for Laguna Gloria Villa

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The lovely Villa

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Looking towards Lake Austin from the Villa

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Miffy Fountain – Tom Sachs

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Looking Up – Tom Friedman

 

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Canopy Tower – John Grade

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Iron Tree Trunk – Ai Weiwei

Kite spotting.

While hiking at Pedernales Falls this week, I brought my camera along.  I wasn’t really birding, but I was keeping an eye out for them.  We saw a number of species of birds.  This one was a lifer for me – a mississippi kite.  I am really surprised this turned out, the bird was at least 200 feet away, way atop a dead, scraggly tree.  The sky was very overcast and the light was flat.   After severely cropping and adjusting the exposure, I like how this one turned out.  The kite is a cool looking bird.

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Looking up.

Happy New Year!

Unlike last night, which was incredibly foggy, the sky was very clear tonight.  I went out back and took a picture of the setting conjunction of the waxing crescent Moon with Venus.

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It’s cropped a bit close, so that both are in frame, yet still able to see some moon detail.

Then I tried to get a shot of Orion, which had just risen on the other side of the horizon.

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Here comes Orion!

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.

Today I went birding with my friend, Doray, to Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.   I’m a novice.  I was able to get a lot of amazing photos of tree branches.  🙂   If I ever get an amazing photo of a bird, I may share here.  But for now, I won’t bore you with it.   We did see several kinds of birdies, so I’m calling it a success.

Here are two non-bird shots from the morning:

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Knocked one off the bucket list.

Over the weekend I took a roadtrip with 4 girlfriends to Big Bend National Park in far southwest Texas.   I’ve lived in Texas over 20 years and have never made it out there.   And it was long overdue.   It is all that they say it is.   Big, beautiful, rugged, inspiring, with mountain, desert and river views to die for.

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We made it!

Six and a half hours by car from Austin, we made it to Ft. Davis by about 7pm Friday night.  We had reservations to attend one of the evening Star Parties held 3 times a week at the University of Texas McDonald Observatory, and made it with a little time to spare.   The skies were dark and the stars were out.   The Milky Way was amazing.   The stars and constellations visible to the naked eye were too many to count.  Through the telescopes they had placed for visitors, I saw Saturn, the Andromeda Galaxy, M11 star cluster, and the 2 star clusters in the Perseus constellation.   If you’re going to make the trip all the way out to Big Bend, you really should combine it with a trip to the observatory.   Get tickets ahead of time online.   They sell out frequently and have to turn people away.

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McDonald Observatory giant telescopes on the hill – viewed from where we stayed outside of Fort Davis

Saturday morning we drove to Big Bend and hiked inside of Big Bend National Park.   Saturday afternoon we did the Window Trail – to experience the Chisos Mountains part of Big Bend.   Four hours round trip, a moderately challenging hike, with breathtaking scenery all along the way.

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The Window in the Chisos Mountains from the beginning of the Window Trail.

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The Window view at the pour-off at the end of the trail. Watch your step!

We started Sunday at Santa Elena Canyon at dawn – to experience the Rio Grand river part of Big Bend.  It was about an easy 2 hour hike roundtrip – though we had to bushwack a bit to get onto the trail.  The Rio Grande has sliced a 1500′ deep canyon through the mountain there.  At sunrise, the face of the sheer mountain walls glow in the brightening sunlight.

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The Santa Elena Canyon trail, looking northeast with the sun rising over the Rio Grande.

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About a mile and a half into the Santa Elena Canyon trail along the Rio Grande.

Sunday afternoon we hiked the Mule Ears Springs trail – to experience the Chihuahuan Desert part of Big Bend.   A 3 hour hike, moderate difficulty, mainly due to the rough terrain and 90+ degree temperatures.  Packing water with you is a must!

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Mule Ears, in the distance on the left, from the Mule Ears Springs trail.

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From the Mule Ears Springs trail, looking back south to Santa Elena Canyon in the distance.

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Chihuahuan Desert scape, looking north to the mountains from the south side of the park.

Another very awesome trip.  We hiked our butts off.