Sweaty betties.

I went birding and hiking today with my friend, Doray.  We started early, at Reimer’s Ranch Park, and then did the guided tour of the canyon and grotto at Westcave Preserve.  After that, we went back to Reimer’s to hike their River Trail.

Let me just say, “Whoo dogie, it was HOT!”   Whew!  100 degrees or so.  But it was beautiful, we did see lots of birdies, and we enjoyed a lovely day in our hill country.  Pretty good day.

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Jacob’s Well. 

I joined Doray for a trip to the Wimberly area.  We stopped by their new home site to check out progress.  Then we visited Jacob’s Well Natural Area.   Jacob’s Well is a narrow (10-20′ in diameter), but deep (up to 100′) hole in the limestone of the springfed Trinity Aquifer.  Young and old jump from the rocks into the waters of the well to cool off.   We were only hiking but I enjoyed watching the divers.  


Watch your step!   That first one can be a doozy.  

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Red yucca blooms.

Pretty flowers.  I have four red yucca plants in the yard, each one seems to bloom every other year.   But luckily for me they are not all on the same schedule, so I’ve had at least one in bloom every year.  My next plant on the wish list for the yard is a white yucca.  Stay tuned.

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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.

Who’s watching who?

I really don’t have the intention of turning this photoblog into a birding blog, but since, for the time being, I’m spending lots of time looking for my feathered friends, bird moments are what you get.  🙂  But I will try to work some other subjects in.

I was watering plants out back this afternoon and heard some birds making a ruckus in one of the trees by the fence.  I walked over to find several birds squawking at a large shape sitting in the tree.  I’ve discovered hawks and crows in other similar situations, which quickly fly away after I walk under the tree.  I walked along the fence line to see if I could get a good look at what it was.  I saw our resident eastern screech-owl:

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He didn’t budge, other to turn his head from time to time.  I didn’t have my camera when I first saw him, so I walked back to the house to get it.  He was still sitting there when I got back.  I assume he has a nest he is guarding.  I’ve captured him on the infrared critter cam once or twice at night, but have never laid eyes on him before in person.   And he can say the same.

Saturday.

We packed a picnic basket and visited Becker Vineyard’s annual lavender festival.   The lavender fields bloomed early this year so there wasn’t much purple to photograph today.  But a good time was had by all.  

Lil’ baby bird.

Seen at the bird bath this week – a baby blue jay.  We have found two dead jay fledglings on the back patio this month – lots of predators out and about.  I’m happy to see some have made it.  This guy is adorable with his short tail, fuzzy white belly feathers and pinkish baby-beak corners.

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Newsflash:  this week we have seen another blue jay pair building a new nest in the red oak in the front yard.  Their nest is visible from our kitchen window.  I’m looking forward to more stealthy shots.  Stay tuned.

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:

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Mid-exit:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bringing back a MOUTHFUL of nest material:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Perdinaliss.

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.

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The falls from the scenic vantage point above:

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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?

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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