Ducks in a row.

I went birding at Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory in southeast Austin yesterday with Doray. We walked around for over 5 hours and saw more than 30 species of birds. It was nice to be out and about. I didn’t get many photos, though. Most of the water birds fly away when you get close. And the fog was persistent most of the morning. About the only cooperative birds were this family of mom, dad, and nine baby Black Bellied Whistling Ducks – making for a classic “ducks in a row” shot. 🙂

It was a lovely day to take the family out for a swim.

Wild thing.

After a hard afternoon of yard work on Friday, Monte and I were sitting on the back patio enjoying a brewski. Keeto was out there with us in his cage (sans brewski). I caught a flash of blue at the bird feeder. It was a budgie! And a blue one at that.

It appears to be a young male. I didn’t see a band, and the wings don’t appear to be clipped, so I don’t know if it is wild or escaped. He didn’t stay long, but I saw him again Friday, several times on Saturday, and again this morning. I have named him Niño. 🙂 I will put a cage out to see if he wants to take shelter.

What a sweet treat!

Sunrise to sunset.

I enjoyed my Saturday to the fullest. I got up early to go birding for a few hours at one of my favorite spots – Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park. I watched the sun rise above the prairie.

I headed down the path to the river, as the mist lifted. Everything was very dewy.

It was nice to be out looking for the birdies.

After returning home, I cleaned up and we headed to the lake. Monte and I enjoyed a long sail in mild-ish winds. As soon as we got into the slip the winds really picked up (of course). So, when Kurt and Kevin stopped by a little bit later, we all went back out, in more sporting wind. It was another great sail, though with 4 people in the cockpit, we wore masks.

We were tied back up in the slip in time to watch the sun set on a very nice day.

Change.

From drought to deluge – when it rains, it pours. 4 1/2″ at the chez so far. I’m thankful for the rain. It should save some of our trees and shrubs. And I’m enjoying the 30 degree drop in temps that the cold front ushered in. The transition from summer to fall in Central Texas turns on a dime.

Goals.

I found a poster on-line featuring scratch-off tiles for each of the 62 U.S. National Parks.   When you’ve visited one of the parks, you scratch off the gray-tone image for it to reveal a more colorful image beneath.   After framing the poster, I counted the parks I’ve already visited and was surprised that I have logged 10 already – without even trying!  I don’t really have a bucket list, but I certainly would love to see more of these national parks, especially those throughout the western part of the country.  Road trip!?

I bought it here, if you want to check it out for yourself.  Thanks to Monte for the handsome frame.  🙂

Messing about.

We headed to the lake yesterday for a mid-week overnight anchorage in one of our favorite coves.  We had a nice, long, light sail up the river and back for several hours before we anchored in the cove for the night, grilling dinner off the stern under a colorful sunset.

IMG_0963Then, after listening to our neighbor (motor) boat in the cove playing non-stop, loud, expletive-laced music for several hours, just 100 feet away from us, we opted for a lovely moonlit sail back to our slip.

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In the morning we decided to drive upriver to where Cupholder is docked for a daysail up to MM 48 and back.

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The winds were light, but cooperative.  The motor boaters were few.  It was lovely.  After we got back to our private dock we let it out a bit in anticipation of the lake levels continuing to fall.

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Two nice days on the lake.  Sa-weet.  I’ll leave you with this quote from Wind in the Willows:

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not. ”

Yep.

 

 

Sometimes…

I toted my camera and tripod to an overlook above Lake Travis last night to try to get a better photo of the Comet NEOWISE.   Again, I was not able to spy it by eye or binoculars, but I did get some more underwhelming long exposure shots of it.  It is getting very dim.  I took exposures ranging from 10 seconds to about 1 minute.  Still no stunning captures.  No matter, I stayed out there for over 2 hours, enjoying the views.

This is a view about 30 minutes after sunset, with Sometimes Island in the foreground.  The lake level is 668′.  Windy Point juts in from the right; the Austin Yacht Club on the left shore beyond that; and you can even see Starnes Island way back there, if you look closely.

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My second attempt at capturing NEOWISE.  Sadly, these are the best shots of the night.

A 10-second exposure, about an hour after sunset; very faint:

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A 25-second exposure about an hour and 45 minutes after sunset:

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And just because… a 10-second exposure of the big dipper, on the left, pointing towards the North Star on the right side of the shot:

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Cheers!

My first ever comet photo.

I have been waiting for an opportunity to see the Comet NEOWISE since I heard about it at the beginning of July.  When it was visible over the pre-dawn, northeast horizon last week, the sky Austin was overcast.  This week it is supposed to be visible after sunset.

Last night the sky was clear, so I grabbed my binoculars and camera and headed out to try to find a vantage point looking to the northwest horizon.  I found a parking garage that I thought might provide a view.   Since it was in the midst of Austin’s bright city lights, “visible” wouldn’t mean visible to the naked eye.   I was not able to sight it in my binoculars, either.  Instead, I took a number of shots using long exposure pointing at different areas of the sky in the general direction of where NEOWISE was supposed to be.  I did capture it in several photos.  Here’s the best one:

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It’s definitely not NatGeo material, but I was excited to get it.   If conditions allow, I may try again.   If so, I’m hoping that my experience from last night will help me get a better picture.

 

Early 4th.

Monte and I spent a couple nights at anchor on the lake this week. We chose to avoid the wake-heavy holiday weekend. It was hazy, I guess from the Saharan dust remnants in the air. But it was lovely. Keeto enjoyed it, too. We’ve launched the kayak for the summer, so I have resumed my treasure-hunt-paddling around the coves. I was rewarded yesterday with this long lost 11 lb. Lewmar claw anchor and stainless steel tackle that someone had to cut loose at some point months ago when the lake was much higher.

And we were rewarded again with this treasure at sunset last night.

I hope you enjoy a fun and safe 4th of July!

Rise and shine.

Today’s morning sun illuminates the blooms on my Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) also known as Red Bird of Paradise.   Whichever, it’s gorgeous.

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Happy place.

My pollinator garden is in its 4th or 5th year, and though it takes work to keep ahead of all the weeds and Liveoak seedlings that grow as well as the perennial flowers in this patch, I truly enjoy it.  The purple coneflower, which I originally grew from seed, is back for the third year, and it makes me so happy to see all its blooms.

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Garden surprise.

I noticed a new volunteer perennial in my pollinator patch a few months ago.  It stayed green and alive through our mild winter.   I didn’t know what it was.  A few weeks ago it started blooming and is thriving amongst the returning salvia, sage, purple coneflower, vinca, and scabiosa.  I finally took a good look and did some research and was tickled purple to find out that they are winecups (Callirhoe involucrata)!  I love winecups but find them very elusive in the sprawling fields of Central Texas wildflowers.  I’m glad they volunteered here in my garden.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe one small plant has exploded with 3 or so long branches that are creeping out through the garden, low to the ground.  The blooms roll up every night and reopen in the morning.  🙂  The bees enjoy them, too.

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This might take a while.

I ordered a paint-by-number kit a month ago to help me pass the time in self-imposed quarantine.  It took a while but arrived today.   Perhaps I should have picked something smaller…  No matter, I will start tonight and take my time.  Wish me luck!  🙂

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