Tuesday, 25 February 2020

An Attempt at Low Tide Birding

Skip has a tide app on his phone and determined 10:30am would be a good time to go birding at the Birding Center.

It was lower somewhat - maybe 20cm from high tide - but not as low as when there's a full moon. There were tons of people there today - a couple of groups and at least one person with a private guide.

Lots of roseate spoonbills were snoozing while a couple of brown pelicans lo.oked on
I imagined this double-crested cormorant was thinking "I am eagle!" In reality, it was just drying out its feathers.
Little blue heron
This was the best shot I could get of a reddish egret just above the water about 80 yards away.
A few redheads still like to hang around the mangroves beside the boardwalk.
I was very fortunate to spot the northern waterthrush on the mud at the base of some mangroves. We saw one a couple of weeks ago on the other side of the boardwalk.
The yellow-crownded heron was very alert
unlike its pal a few feet away. ZZzzzz...
We aren't sure what this gator likes about this pipe. It is often floating nearby it and Skip saw it in this same pose  (inside tail first) the first week we were here.
Green heron - back view
and front view.
Tricoloured heron
Mesquite trees are coming into bloom. The leaves unfurl like mini fiddleheads. They leaves are also my favourite colour.
 At the butterfly garden a queen was feeding. See how easily they can be mistaken for monarchs? They about 2/3 the size and have all those white dots on the forewings.
 The only bird I spotted in the butterfly garden was a male cardinal.
A common buckeye flew in to feed. It is missing a few chunks out of its right hind wing.
We love taking pics of the fiery skippers. I got a great shot of on head-on feeding on the mistflower. The thin, black proboscis is easily seen. I love the knobby ends of their antennae. The skipper measures about 2cm.
At the parking lot, a male monarch flew in. They're working their way north. This guy's grandchildren will be among the generation that will visit my garden this summer.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Sunday Birding

After our naps today we visited the Birding Center.

Right at the front in the pond was a green heron.
I heard the long-billed curlew fly in and land quite far away. We didn't see one here in November and it's the first one we've seen on this trip.
Out on the bay a few redheads are still hanging around.
Double-crested cormorant.
This was the only wigeon we saw and it was snoozing.
The yellow-crowned night heron was well hidden among the reeds.
The light was finally right for me to get a good shot of the Northern Pintail. All the markings on the feathers are easily seen. Behind it is a common moorhen (aka common gallinule, waterhen, and swamp chicken).
We see this (not so) roseate spoonbill in this location a lot. We've never seen it with others of its ilk.
I took this shot to show 7 species that are in this spot (alligator pond).
1. White ibis
2. Roseate spoonblill
3. Northern pintail
4. Mottled duck
5. Great blue heron
6. Yellow-crowned night heron (zoom in!)
7. Alligator

Nearby was another green heron.
Crabs are a favourite food of several of the larger birds. Their legs are blue.
A very handsome red-winged blackbird.
My camera battery ran out at this point. We also saw what we think were long-billed dowitchers. Also present were black-necked stilts, green- and blue-winged teal, and greater yellowlegs. I also caught a quick glimpse of a sora - one of the 'regulars' on my checklist that I hadn't seen yet.

Now when we go birding, we are watching for species we haven't seen yet this year. As the migration progresses we will see more and more species. We will have to tear ourselves away when we leave in mid-April because the warblers will be arriving in droves. The migration continues well into May but, of course, we will be well settled back at home and welcoming spring and the good weather.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Starting a New Project

After finishing my 'Bee Kind', I rummaged through my craft suitcase for something quick and easy. I pulled out the Hands On Design pattern, 'Sunshine on a Stem', the fabric (28 count evenweave), and threads. I'm using 2 of the Weeks Dye Works threads that I had in my stash, 2 called for DMC substitutes for the WDW threads I didn't have on hand, and totally substitued a different blue for WDW Dungarees for the jar.

The strip of green wool is included in the kit. the leaves are cut from it and sewn on after all the stitching is done,
I'm not sure I'll make a pin cushion out of mine. Whatever I decide to do won't happen until my return home in April.

15th Annual and Final BirdFest

This morning Skip and I got up in time to make it to a 9am talk at BirdFest at the golf course in Laguna Vista. Javier González (aka Javi pronounced "have-ee") did a great slide show about distinguishing characteristics of sparrows and warblers that frequent this area. Listening to him speak, one can tell he really loves his job being a birding expert at the Birding and Nature Centre on the island.

Before his talk started, BirdFest coordinator, Janet Randall told us it was the 15th BirdFest and would be the last. In recent years it has been more and more difficult to arrange for speakers and other activities. One of the scheduled speakers had to cancel on fairly short notice so Janet, and Mary Ann and Bob Severson showed slides of their birding whilst travelling to Africa and South America respectively. Janet remarked that she could now totally empathize with new birders who really don't know the names of any birds as she was totally stumped when seeing new birds in Africa.

During one of the breaks, Janet gave a plug for the Fish and Shrimp Fry fund raiser for the Laguna Vista library that was taking place at a nearby park. Skip and I headed there for lunch. For $8 we got several deep fried shrimp and a decent-sized piece of a white fish. They had run out of cole slaw so gave us extra shrimp. There was also a cookie in each container. It was all very yummy.

Then we went for a walk on the Laguna Vista walking trail.

Up on a wire was some kind of flycatcher. The light was bad so I'm not sure what it was.
The huisache have reached their blooming peak. They still smell great.
I'm very pleased with the birdwatching setting on my Nikon CoolPix B700. It makes a very small focus 'box' which allows me to take shots of birds behind branches and foliage.

The Northern Mockingbird is the state bird of Texas. It's also the state bird of Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
A few yuccas are in bloom.
At one of the bird blinds, a female ruby-throated hummingbird was sharing the feeder with some bees.
Yellow-rumped warbler.
Orange-crowned warbler.
The grey catbird didn't come out from behind this branch.
Then a rabbit hopped in to take a drink at the water feature.
It didn't seem to be bothered by this white-tipped dove.
This is the white-tipped dove's habitat.

A lot of the birds we see here are only place they're seen in the US.

The rabbit hung around for a while. It didn't know that I hate rabbits.
On our way back to the car I looked up at the overhead wires and saw a Great Kiskadee.
We'd had a lot of activity for one day but stopped in at WalMart to make a couple of purchases then headed back to the condo for naps.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Bee Kind II

I finished my Bee Kind sampler. It is stitched with 1 thread over 2 on 36ct Edinburgh linen.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Feb 17 Birding

It was warm and sunny two days ago. We took a quick spin around the Birding Centre in search of any new species.

Some of the 'usual suspects' were there.
Spotted Sandpiper
Great Blue Heron drying its feathers
Snoozing Northern Pintails
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Our first spotting this year - the flash of green alerted me. It's a green-winged teal.
The greater yellowlegs was hopping around on one leg. It is missing its right foot. It was here a couple of days ago. We call it 'Stumpy'.
The pied-billed greve was snoozing and gently drifting.
We always check the overhead wires on our way back to the parking lot. That day there was an American Kestrel surveying the area.
On the way back to the parking lot we spotted a couple of Pyrrhuloxia hopping around an in a brush pile. The Mockingbird was on the top.
There is a big 'Betony Mistflower' (conoclinium betonicifolium) garden beside the parking lot. There were lots of Fiery Skippers. They're only about 1.5cm in diameter.
To me, mistflowers look like blue ageratum we grow at home but these are on much longer stalks.

Queen butterflies are about 2/3 the size of monarchs and easy to distinguish because of the white dots.
There were also several Tropical Buckeye butterflies. They look a lot like Common Buckeyes but the 'eyes' are a more uniform size on Tropical Buckeyes and the part encircling the top 'eye' is paler.
They're also quite small - maybe 4cm in diameter.