Big day.

Today I saw the most bird species in my back yard since I have started paying attention.  I was treated to a few surprise visitors, due to the migration that is in-progress right now, and all the good old locals.

An adorable pair of black-crested titmice have decided to make a hollowed out mimosa tree in the way back their home.  I got a few pictures of them:  venturing out of the nest, bringing material to build the nest,  and chowing down on bark butter conveniently hanging nearby.

Seeing if the coast is clear:



Bringing back a MOUTHFUL of nest material:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And taking a break for some bark butter:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


If you hang around Central Texans long enough, you will learn that we are fond of bestowing our own pronunciation on the names of some of our favorite local places; confounding out-of-towners, I’m sure.

One of those place names is “Pedernales” – the name of a river, a series of water falls, and a state park.  Take note:  locals refer to it as “per-din-al-iss.”

Whether or not you can say it right, you must go see all three.   I took a day trip and visited Pedernales Falls State Park today.   I enjoyed visiting their bird blind, walking down to the Falls, scoping out birds while hiking, doing a little geocaching, and taking in the beautiful scenery on a gorgeous day.


The falls from the scenic vantage point above:



Little golden headed birdie.

I had an unexpected morning free, so I headed to the Bull Creek Preserve again to go explore the trails.  Note that entrance to the the Preserve is restricted between March and July each year.   You’ll need to apply for an entry permit to enter during those months.  Today my goal was to catch a glimpse of the endangered golden-cheek warbler that nests in the preserve after migrating here in early March from Central America.   I went out on Monday and had a great 3 hour hike, and heard their calls everywhere, but I didn’t see the little bird – they were very elusive.

Today, I tried some different trails in the Preserve, and I finally saw several of them!  Next, I pulled out my camera to try to get a decent shot.  I took many more than these few photos, but together they might give you an idea of how hard it is to get a good shot.   Most of these won’t look like much unless you can zoom in on them…

I saw one sitting on the power line.  Right. Above. My. Head.  But, by the time I got the camera up and focused, zoooom, he was gone.   See the little bullet-shaped bird with a yellow head exiting the frame on the right?


A while later… I saw one in a shrub about 30 feet away!  See him in the center of the frame?  But, darnit, he wasn’t facing me.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then… zoooom, he took flight.  See the little yellow headed torpedo coming toward the camera? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then several miles and about 2 hours later…. one popped out of a cedar branch at eye level about 10 feet away!   He even posed for a minute.   I got several shots.  This is the clearest.  Success!  I’ll be back for more, though.  🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the yard.

Today is the 7 year anniversary of starting this Sheila365 photoblog!  I’ve enjoyed it.  I hope you have too.

Big day at the ranch today.  I saw so many different species of birds.   Even so, I missed a few of the regulars, but, hey, I can’t stand in front of that window ALL DAY.  🙂

  • House Finch male (M) & female (F)
  • Orange Crowned Warbler
  • Northern Cardinal M&F
  • Downy Woodpecker M
  • House Sparrow M&F
  • Red Winged Blackbird M&F
  • Bewick’s Wren
  • White Winged Dove
  • Blue Jay
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Yellow Rumped Warbler
  • Carolina Wren
  • Red Bellied Woodpecker M&F
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • European Starling M
  • American Robin
  • Lesser Goldfinch M&F
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Black Crested Titmouse

I got some ok bird photos, but I’ll share a few of the garden, instead.

About 8 or 9 years ago, a neighbor gave me a dozen or so purple iris cuttings when she was thinning out her beds.   I’ve had them in the ground since then but rarely have they bloomed.   A year or so ago I moved them to a few different beds that get much more direct sunlight.  This year I’m thrilled to see them in bloom!  I love these short-lived flowers.


We have bluebonnets coming up in the front and back yards.   Nothing says central texas like these beautiful wildflowers.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Monte’s got baby salad greens planted.  Fresh lettuce every night!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I simply love spring.  Oh, wait, we have 2 weeks to go before spring.   I can’t wait!

Birdies abound.

Lots of action in the backyard this weekend.

I don’t usually care much for the mourning doves, as they aggressively hog the feeders.  But I like the color around the eyes of this dove.


Red-winged blackbird:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-bellied woodpecker:




Beautiful, red cardinal:


A fun, full, first weekend of Fall!

We’ve been busy!  This past weekend, we made a roadtrip out to west, stopping first at William Chris Winery, where we caught up with a friend of ours that we ran into, by chance;  then we hopped over to Wildseed Farms to pickup a bunch of seed; then made it over to one of our faves, Becker Vineyards, where we had a tasting, a picnic, and checked out their new field of zinnias.  Just beautiful.

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On the way home we headed over to the Real Ale Brewery in Blanco.  We took the river road south/southeast from Hwy 290 to Blanco, and stopped along the way several times to check out the now lazy river that was uncontrollably raging just 4 months ago, tragically sweeping away homes and families over Memorial Day weekend.IMG_9158

At Real Ale, Monte sampled a flight, and I sipped my favorite – Hans Pils.

IMG_9170 IMG_9179

Then Sunday rolled around, and we headed out to see the Anderson Mill historical site, near its original location at Cypress Creek on Lake Travis.   The Anderson Mill Gardeners do a wonderful job of preserving the site and its history.IMG_9183We made it to the boat in time to cheer the Seahawks on to their first win of the season, enjoying the recently repaired air conditioning on Nirvana (yay!).

About an hour before sunset, Kurt, Barbara, Dakota and little Leila joined us on the boat, and we motored out to the body of the lake to drift and watch the supermoon lunar eclipse.

Have I mentioned taking photos of the moon and stars on a moving boat is hard?  I didn’t get any good shots.  But I thought this one was kinda cool… you get the idea.


It was a great weekend, indeed.

A busy two weeks and a new find.

I have been challenged in posting the last two weeks.  We are in the middle of a 3 week set of back to back visits from family.  Which we absolutely love, but it means a little less time to tend to my photoblog.   The real challenge though is that the WordPress for iOS app that I use primarily for quick posts is broken and completely useless since the last 2 updates (both updates ver 5.4 and 5.4.1) of the app.  So I’m using the browser version of the app for this post.   I hope they get it together and fix the problem in the next update.

One set of guests were unaccompanied minors, so I had to get a pass to go through security and accompany them to their gate to pick them up and drop them off at the airport.   As I was strolling along the concourse on the west end of the ABIA terminal, I spotted some lovely, colorful prints on display from a Texas artist that I hadn’t seen before.  The artist is Margie Crisp, and her prints are simply beautiful.   I took a picture of one – couldn’t avoid the reflections from the lights in the airport.  This one is called In the shadow of Buchanan Dam.   Inks Lake is in the foreground, with images of all the things I love about the Central Texas Hill Country.


I googled her to learn more about her and found that she has produced a book called  River of Contrasts: The Texas Colorado, which features many of her river prints.  As I’ve come to love the Colorado myself, I’m going to order one.

You might want to check her out, too.

As for me, i need to get moving… we are headed to the lake to raft-up overnight.

Every rose has its thorn.

When we moved to this house, I scoped out all the plants and trees in the yard, looking forward to taking care of them:   the amazing live oaks all over the place, a couple of pecan trees that are majestic but don’t seem to want to produce nuts, a redbud that has since died (sniffle), the ginormous red oak in the front yard, the (now ailing) flowering pear, the resilient Texas mountain laurels, several red yuccas that I love to watch bloom, silverado sage that forecasts the rain, a mimosa tree in the back with its fine pink puffy blooms… just to name a few…AND one tiny cactus that seemed to be too much in the shade.

It was small in the beginning.  Monte mowed over it accidentally way back when, after which I staked it out with a ring of limestone.  But now after 9 (!) years and much thinning of the small forest under which it sat, it has sunlight, and has thrived.   And I am happy to see two buds on it this year!   The first one opened today.  I’m enjoying my flowering prickly pear cactus.  Perhaps this is the yellow rose of Texas?


A pair of old boys.

Drove by a house today that has a pair of majestic century plants going into bloom, one on either side of their driveway.

They say these agaves bloom, and then die, after 100 years.  Google sez it takes more like 20-40 years.  Either way, it’s a sight to see.

Both of these must have been planted when the home was first built about 35 years ago.

Bonnets of blue.

The wildflower patch out back didn’t yield much last year.   This year we have a few patches of bluebonnets.   They’ve started to show their beautiful colors.IMG_3027

Oh, and Happy St. Patrick’s day!

Checking out the creek.

What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday we spent the night on the boat and enjoyed a sunny weekend with temps in the 80s. This week the temps are in the 30s with lots of wind and rain. This morning I took a walk in the rain through the greenbelt at the end of our street. A creek cuts through the woods there. But it is dry most of the time, due to the endless drought. Today there is a creek where one should be.


A (more specific) prayer for rain.

I’m very happy to see all the rain that has been sent our way. It’s an answer to countless prayers over the last few years of severe drought in Central Texas. I’m sure the Austin City Limits music festival-goers are bummed about yesterday’s cancellation, but they did have an extra weekend of music to enjoy this year.

My trees and lawn are drinking in this much needed water. It’s truly a gift.


However, the rain this week and in the year past seems to fall where it flows into the creeks and river below the lakes. Onion Creek is raging right now, having received 6-10 inches in the last few days. Barton Creek and Williamson Creek were flooding for the same reason, but all of them dump into the Lower Colorado river below the Highland Lakes. E.g,:


I see that there is more rain in the forecast for this week. So, more thanks in advance for that. But I’m sending a humble prayer for that rain to drop in the Lake Travis watershed. Right over Marble Falls and Burnet would be simply awesome. Or even a bit southwest of that, in Fredericksburg, Johnson City or thereabouts would be fantastic, as all that rain would end up in the Pedernales River, which feeds into Lake Travis.

After all the rain in the past week, Lake Travis is up only 2′. And I do sincerely appreciate every drop that ends up in the lake. But we need to come up more like 50-60′. So, I’m praying for it to dump buckets of rain in the shaded are below. That would be divine. Seriously divine.


I have another prayer for better management of our lakes and water reserves than what the LCRA has provided over the last decade or so, but I’ll leave that for another day. Just please keep the rain coming.



Sunday sunrise.

Hello September, and… good morning!  One of the nice things about anchoring in Arky cove is that you are treated to beautiful sunset and sunrise views – this was the view off the port-side of Nirvana, as I was drinking my morning coffee.

Back at the marina, we popped into Shades for lunch for the last time this season, after this weekend they close up shop until next spring.   This is the sobering view of the marina from the restaurant.   The lake is at 620′ and some change.   Just 6 feet from the all-time low for Lake Travis of 614.18′ in August of 1951.   Less than 3 years ago, the lake was brimming at 680+ with the lakewater lapping the parking lot.  With the LCRA’s mismanagement of this incredible natural resource, and with no rain in the future, we’re sure to go much lower than that this year.   All docks are now moved out, off-shore, accessible via shuttles that leave from the courtesy dock.   No electricity or water on the docks for the forseeable future.    This is sad, not only because we love playing on the lake, but scary because this is Austin’s drinking water supply, quickly disappearing downstream.

Pray for rain.


Fall florae.

Purple dainties.

We worked in the yard today.  The rain yesterday is long gone and strong winds dried the grass enough to mow.  The temps were lovely all day, in the 70’s.  A rare treat for yardwork.

Soon enough all the color will disappear for the winter months.  For now, though, Mother Nature still has a little left.

The rains have brought out bunches of these little purple flowers.  They seem to be flowers that are part of the clover, but I’m not sure what they are.

The lantana bushes will be going to seed in the next month or so, when the weather turns colder.  For now the bushes are going strong and still putting out lots of color.

Good ole lantana.

In the wooded area in the back the yaupon holly boughs are covered in red berries.   A feast for the birds.