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.
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.
We have some giant sunflowers growing out back. Seriously. They are at least 8 feet tall.
One of the blooms:
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.
Last night the sky was full of greyish, swirly clouds before the rain came. I took this from the end of B-dock at the marina.
You know it’s a good party when someone whips off their flip flop to open up a beer with an opener that’s built-in to the sole of their sandal.
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.
Then I tried to get a shot of Orion, which had just risen on the other side of the horizon.
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:
Happy Super Beaver Moon!
One shot as the moon was just rising over the tree tops in my yard:
and then one later, higher, and brighter:
My best shot of the supermoon rising last night. Not as good as I would have liked. I played with ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Forgot to take off polarizing filter (doh).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Another very awesome trip. We hiked our butts off.