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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Hold still!

Scissor-tailed flycatcher, in motion.  They say the male’s tail is longer than the female’s, so I’m guessing this is a she.

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Taken at Commons Ford park.

My fair city.

A bird’s eye view of downtown Austin from last night:

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If you look close, you can spy the UT Tower, at least one moon tower, Darrel K Royal Texas Memorial football stadium, the Capitol building, the Erwin Center, the brand new Dell Seton Medical Center at UT, Frost Bank building, Austonian tower, Congress Street bridge, Long Center for the Performing Arts….. and lots more.  The skyline seems to change just about every day.

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!

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.

Super hunter’s moon 2016.

I enjoyed playing with my big-girl-camera while photographing the moon last night.  The first one was right after it rose above the horizon, and the second was shot a while (and many frames) later.  I was especially pleased that I got a good shot or two given that I took them from the boat.  It’s a magical time for a moon dance….

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Scenes from the weekend.

We rafted up with Marty & Sue in Bee Creek over the weekend.  No wind, but we had beautiful weather.

We were treated to an exceptionally stunning sunset Saturday evening.  This photo is not edited; the colors really were that amazing.

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And in the morning we were surrounded by hazy fog rising off the warmer-than-air lake water.

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Twas beautiful, indeed.