I caught a glimpse of the crescent moon this morning as the sun was coming up behind it. Only a week ago I was watching the moon rise, just past full, over the desert. It made me think about how Time passes and Life happens. The James Taylor song Secret o’Life popped into my head. Give it a listen here. Enjoy the day.
In addition to having a wonderful visit with old friends, I did see birdies while visiting Palm Desert last over the weekend.
Right outside our house there were 2 palm trees on an island in a large pond on the golf course. Every night cormorants and egrets would come and roost. They came late and left early. I counted at least two dozen at one point. This is a shot from one morning as the sun was rising.
An American Kestrel visited me while I was drinking coffee one morning; he’s backlit by the rising sun. This is the first picture I have ever gotten of one.
A blue heron made an appearance. There were a number of mallard ducks in the ponds at the golf course. I saw a belted kingfisher flying away from the pond every night. We had a couple of bewick’s wrens scolding us when were out on the patio. We had many hummingbirds buzzing around. A flock of Canada geese flew over us on the way to the airport. There was a flock of unidentified colorful birds that stopped in a Joshua tree while we were in the park, but I didn’t get a good look. I also saw a verdin, and a cactus wren; both firsts for me.
We visited Joshua Tree National Park yesterday, drove the entire length of the park, from south to north, and stopped to explore all of the varied terrain and plants. The park is ruggedly beautiful, and marks the intersection of the Colorado Desert and the Mohave Desert.
We had a blast. And took a bazillion selfies. I’ll share some photos, but also wanted to share this cool interview I found this morning…. it’s 10 minutes long… of Steve Averill, the guy that designed and photographed the album art for U2’s album The Joshua Tree, which is celebrating its 30th birthday this year. I think this guy has my dream job. 🙂
A fine example of the namesake of the park, said to look like Dr Seuss trees:
Amazing rock horizons:
Skull Rock, spooky!
Another peek from beneath the rocks:
I love exploring new places, and I love hanging with my girlfriends. A perfect day.
With the Cooper’s hawk flying through regularly, my backyard bird activity has dropped significantly. But the resident Downy woodpeckers are not phased by it. I have at least one male/female pair. They frequent the feeder all day, every day. This is a photo of a female downy woodpecker (DOWO) on the finch feeder. They love to pick the sunflower chips out of the mix. Downy’s are notoriously difficult to ID versus the similar looking, but larger, Hairy woodpecker species. In this photo, though, you can see a couple of the markers that confirms it is a downy: the relatively short beak, and the black flecks on the outer white tailfeathers. Here’s a link to Audubon guidance on differentiating the two species.
I was sitting on the back patio today when four beautiful warblers decided to take a bath in the fountain, about 10 feet away from me! I was treated to a yellow warbler, two black-throated green warblers, and a mourning warbler. I had my binoculars so I enjoyed a nice long look. But of course, the camera was in the house. After they had moved on, I went back in for my camera. The earlier photo opp didn’t repeat, but I did get a shot or two of a beautiful yellow warbler that dropped down to the fountain for a drink. Fall migration is on!
Keeto often asks us, “Who’s here?” Well, this morning, when I opened up the blinds to look at the back yard, I was excited to see a flock of baltimore orioles in the bird bath/fountain that I put out in the spring. There were many more in the trees above, taking turns bathing. The orioles are currently migrating south for the winter. In the spring, on their way north, I only got a moment’s glance at a single male baltimore oriole. Today though, I got to enjoy them for about 15 minutes. And then, poof, they were gone. I hope they remember to stop here on their way back next spring.
Since coming home from our road trip, I have noticed a marked decrease in my backyard birdie population. I suspected a hawk was the reason. And today, sure enough, while sitting out back I saw one swoop through the backyard scattering the few birds that were at the feeders. Later in the day, the hawk flew in again and perched on an oak across from me for a few minutes. It is huge. I believe this is a juvenile Cooper’s hawk. Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks, both accipiters, are very hard to distinguish from one another. Based on field guidance I’ve read online (e.g., here, here, here and here), the overall size, head shape, tail shape, thick legs, and breast streaking lead me to lean towards a Cooper’s ID. Either way, it’s a beautiful bird, but I wish it would find another yard to terrorize. I miss my abundance of birdies.
We returned last night after our extended Eclipse 2017 trip; we took the opportunity to visit family in the area while we were up there. We drove 19 hours straight across five states, and got home a little after midnight. We wanted to get home to check on things, given Hurricane Harvey’s arrival the night before. I’m thankful that the only bad thing so far is that our power is out. I’ve no idea how long it will take to restore. But it’s not a big deal for us; it’s nice to be home.
This is a view of the sunset from the highway outside Dallas last night. I’m praying for the folks on the Texas gulf coast and southeast part of the state.
Days 3, 4 and 5 of our visit with family brought a trip to Barton Springs, Sno-beach snocones, a brewery crawl, an overnight at anchor on the boat on Lake Travis, and pizza night. The weekend was filled with swimming, diving and floating. A brother-in-law from Houston drove to Austin and he spent the night with us on the boat – whether he knew he was going to or not 🙂
I love the chance to spend this time with family. Keeto will be devastated when everyone leaves tonight.
This is a shot from the southern end of Barton Springs pool, looking north to the Austin skyline. The background has changed much since Mary Doerr captured the same vantage point years ago – the Capitol building is now obscured by skyscrapers. But the pool in the foreground is exactly the same.