Exciting Birds and Beasts

Whee! Yesterday was so much fun for me, as it tends to be when I go to a state park in any state. As we do every year we visit this area, Lee and I made a pilgrimage to Huntington Beach State Park, which is just a beautiful place full of nature, in addition to being a beach where zillions of people go. Last year we looked at the house where the Huntingtons lived, which was weird, to say the least, but this year, I just wanted to look at some birds. So I did.

Birds at lunch

We lucked out, because since it was a Sunday, the place was getting crowded by the time we arrived. But, in we got, and we were pleased to see only fellow bird nerds at the nature center boardwalk. I really enjoy learning more about birds and the marsh from people who know more than me, so I was in heaven. In fact, I learned a lot from a couple of little kids and their grandparents. It must be such a joy to have grandchildren to teach about things you care about.

Reflections.

There were birds a-plenty on the boardwalk , mostly dunlins and sanderlings, but I was happy to get to watch a beautiful plover in breeding plumage and the big thrill, a clapper rail. It’s a fairly large brown bird, but since they are shy, they are often hard to find. This one was preening, so we got to watch that really well.

There was also a very pretty snowy egret, who was later joined by a buddy. I love all their fancy feathers this time of year. There were lots of great egrets (bigger white birds), too. The best in the heron family, though, was a tricolored heron that I got to be the first to spot. It was gorgeous, with shiny feathers, red eyes, and a bright blue bill. We got to watch it for a long time, and the dude with the immense camera lens must have gotten some great photos.

Birds weren’t the only attractions, though. In addition to listening to the fun sounds of popping shrimp, we got to watch hundreds of fiddler crabs busy at work in the mud, and we were enthralled watching the oysters spitting. Some of them can really spit (sorry, no photos). It’s how they breathe, so when they are exposed, the water turns into a fountain. I also so lots of pretty fish and a blue crab doing its crab work. There is SO much life in a marsh!

In the wildlife center, we watched birds at the feeder for a while, then I enjoyed seeing what they had in some aquariums with native life in them. Watching the ray swimming around was mesmerizing.

After we left there, we headed over to my favorite nature walk along the marsh. I was happy to see that the area is recovering nicely from a fire a couple of years ago. I can tell woodpeckers are loving all the dead trees. You can hear them everywhere. As usual, I took lots of pictures, many of which I shared on Facebook, but here are some highlights. We were charmed by the signs some group had hung on some of the trees. Every sign had an uplifting, positive message that added to the pleasure of walking among all the huge trees and listening to the variety of birds.

I was pretty thrilled to see many painted buntings on this trip, but the best sight was in one eastern red cedar tree on this walk, where there were so many songbirds it felt like you were in an aviary. There were multiple painted bunting pairs, a cardinal family, a blue jay, tufted titmice, and a tiny, tiny bird that I think was a vireo. I had to take a picture of the tree and thank it.

After getting some pictures at the Octopus Tree (one that fell in a storm but didn’t die), we moved on to the next exciting portion of my day.

I knew I couldn’t leave without walking across the dam the road into the park is on, checking out that boardwalk, and seeing what was there. On the little boardwalk, I turned to take a photo of some “old man moss” and scared the heck out of a large white-tailed deer doe. I was happy to see something other than a bird! As I looked out across the water, I saw multiple alligators, and I soon learned why there are so many.

Another Diversion into Memories

As I walked down the dam, on the side that’s a lake, I saw a familiar sight, mullet jumping out of the water and making a big splash. It brought back memories for me. One was when my brother and I were pretty young and took the bus from Ft. Lauderdale to Gainesville to visit our grandmother. We ended up on the local bus that stopped over and over. We befriended an older black woman, who told us all about where we were. When we got to Lake Okeechobee she told us to look out the window, NOW. There, in the light of the setting sun, were dozens and dozens of mullet flying into the air and splashing down, creating diamonds of water droplets. I’ve never forgotten this sight.

A mullet

When we lived in Plantation (1972-1980 or so), there was a Corps of Engineers canal behind us (C-10). These were the canals they used to drain the Everglades so crappy suburbs could be built where the alligators once roamed. Well, alligators still roamed there, but the best part for my family was sitting on an old footlocker we’d found and labeled “Davy Jones’s Locker” and watching the mullet as the breached in the late afternoon. Dad said they did that to kill parasites by exposing them to the sun. All I know is they sure were pretty. I’m glad I have some good memories of that place!

Back to the Present

Anyway, I enjoyed watching the fish jump and move around right under the surface of the water. I was watching a particularly rollicking roil of fishie exuberance when I realized I was not the only audience member. Someone was trolling for lunch.

Fish in the front, gator in the back

I continued to watch the alligator as I defended my spot on the observation deck from a couple of barn swallows who were busy building a nest next to where I was standing. That reminded me of hanging out on the patio at home!

Coming in with nesting material

As I prepared to leave, I heard a noise where the fish were and picked up my binoculars. What a sight I saw! The alligator had found something to nosh on and was chomping away. I’d never seen a gator eat a meal before, despite living in Gator Country much of my life (really wish you could hear my mom’s gator call). There was lots of stuff sticking out of its mouth, and I could not tell if it had caught a blue crab or a mullet that had been surrounded by reeds (a recent storm had really filled the water with reeds).

ON patrol

All that gator action made up for the fact that there weren’t all that many interesting birds out, since I was there around mid-day. I enjoyed the ones I did see, then graciously allowed poor Lee to go back to the condo, since he was distressingly hangry. Here are a few more bird and people and landscape pix!

We had a surprisingly good meal at the Mexican restaurant next to the condo building. The food was very fresh and different from Tex Mex. The salsa was obviously fresh, but not quite what we were used to. However, when I declared it to be gazpacho, I loved it.

We just chilled in the room the rest of the evening, so I made great knitting progress and caught up with HGTV.

Lee is driving home today, so that’s it for me traveling anywhere, unless I take an Uber to the nice shopping center one evening or a guest magically appears (it HAS happened before). I have plenty of work to do, have the beach and hot tubs and pools at my disposal, and there is always someone friendly downstairs. I’m good. I do miss my friends, family, and animals, though.

Finally. Nature Cruise.

I stopped work at noon today, because I had triumphantly solved problems and published a new video upgrade. It was time to head back to the Waccamaw River cruise I went on last year.

So beautiful to me.

We had as much fun as last time. I got to take pictures of lots of plants and beautiful flowers, like spider lilies, swamp roses, and pickerel weed.

I found some insects, and many water plants trees.

But the best things were passing by many osprey nests and seeing the mothers and babies together. We saw males chasing each other, too. What a fun time of year to take the cruise.

Of course they were looking for alligators. It’s fun to see wild ones. We found three nice sized ones. One jumped in the water for us, and one gave a swimming demo. They are beautiful ancient beasts.

You might enjoy watching one of them swim.

Living the river life.

Mostly, though, I just looked at cypress and Tupelo trees and appreciated being away from people. It’s memories of times like this that keep me going.

We had a nice dinner at Murrell’s Inlet again. I enjoyed the view of birds and Goat Island. I sure love a good marsh.

And back at the beach? More birds, though perhaps not the fanciest.

I tell you what. Water is soothing and never the same from one day to the next. Of course, where you live is the same. Just keep observing. It’s a fine hobby.

Destination Accomplished

Yay. We made it to the condominium in Myrtle Beach. We are way up high in a small unit. If we have guests we will get another room. We will see if anyone comes. This weekend it’s just me and Lee.

Today’s drive wasn’t too fancy. But I did get to see Charleston, SC for the first time. Somehow I’d always missed going there when I had a chance.

I do want to come back and actually stay there. It’s beautiful.

Big trees

All my photos of plants from today came from the ditch at the South Carolina welcome center. There were some good ones, but mostly rushes and water plants.

Just before we got to Myrtle Beach, we stopped in Georgetown, our favorite nearby town. We got some ice cream and saw a gator and it’s turtle friends.

Finally we’re at the Ocean Enclave, in our room in the sky. I was happy to see my favorite bartender is still here! We all got caught up. She did teach kindergarten this year and has survived. Good for her.

Lights and sea.

I’ll be more chatty tomorrow. Things are happening back home! Right now I just want to snooze. Not feeling too good, but I like where I am. It’s actually quiet.

I can see for miles.

Let’s Wander through the Deep South

Today, Lee and I took the road less traveled through the great forests of Mississippi and Alabama. I managed all my meetings so far and have been able to get work done, even with occasional sketchy internet.

A wild scabious plant.

I started out taking pictures of flowers near our hotel. I found an empty lot with excellent weeds. This hotel didn’t have roses, but there were a couple of cute cultivated flowers.

I have to say, though, that it was just so darned fun to drive on a practically empty road through state forests bordered by riotous wildflower displays. Lee was nice enough to stop a few times so I could get photos of plants I’d been interested in from looking out the car window.

From a distance this gorgeous cogon grass was very stinking. And it’s striking up close.
This very bright verbena covered the roadside with splashes of fun.

Those two were the ones I was most curious about. But the coreopsis and others below made the DeSoto National Forest and surrounding area fascinating and a balm for my soul. Enjoy some samples.

Lee took a more distant view at our longer stop. I look like I was having fun!

I saw lots of trees and other plants but they made rather snooze-worthy images. Now Lee wants photos of small towns. I’ll see if I can look up.

What’s Blooming and Growing, May Day edition

Around May, the dominant wildflowers change from bluebonnets and paintbrushes to Indian blankets and Black-eyed Susans.

Our front field

What else is blooming now? Here are a few familiar friends I was glad to see back again.

But the best new thing over in our world is an animal. Look who Sara saw shortly after I left her place this afternoon? And she had kits! exciting new life!

Beautiful gray fox!

The chickens say this is why I need to lock them in each night, however. No foxes allowed in the henhouse.

This way we don’t have to sleep with the snakes.

Good night from the Hermits’ Rest, where we spent a lovely evening watching ducks and tiny birds flying in formation. I hope they were eating all the swarming termites…that’s another story. Still. A good life.

Murmurating. Or whatever.

Trying Not to Cry Over Spoilt Milk

Last night the dinner we’d planned to have didn’t happen, so both Lee and I had cereal for dinner. I looked at the milk carton, which said it was good until that day. So I poured it on my Oaty Something and chomped away. The cereal tasted odd but I thought nothing of it. But then Lee said he’d thrown out the milk, because it was bad. Oops. The oats hid it too well.

Speaking of things that smell bad, this one horsemint blossom made my office smell like marijuana all day. In a bad way.

So last night, my stomach told me what it thought about that milk, all night. And it gave me weird dreams, like trying to wash horses in my sister’s living room. (She and my mom have both been in my dreams a lot lately — the women my grandmother messed up real bad.)

These flowers cheered me up. I have to pick them now, because they will soon be gone.

Today I dragged along, feeling pretty fuzzy. I got lots done at work, including reading dozens of surveys explaining exactly how much the users I support hate the software I support. Fun times.

In more cheery things. Look, two kinds of vultures, turkey and black. Who knows what they were eating?

Feeling so rotten meant I had no urge to saddle up and ride, so I groomed Apache and murdered botflies that were after him. Then we headed over to the dreaded new trailer. Imagine his surprise when he discovered all sorts of treats scattered on it! I think it did help settle him down, especially since I approached the trailer slowly and indirectly, like it says in my new book (and Tarrin said, too).

You do know my favorite undergrad course was neuroanatomy, right? Well, next to pragmatics.

We went on to do a lot of ground work, and then just hung around with the menfolk, chatting. It was good for us both. I also spent time with Drew after he ate, practicing standing at the mounting block. That boy is looking better.

No picture of Drew, but this is the best I’ve seen Billie Idyl and Blanca, the front two, looking in ages. Star and Buttercup always look good.

I’m home tonight because I decided I’m no longer a good fit for the Austin book club. I think they also decided that. It’s okay, since I had a special dish I was going to make for dinner. Only, dinner got delayed again! I’m laughing. You just go with the flow around here!

Tomorrow is another day. I hope the sunrise is as nice as today’s was!

And tomorrow I’m double booked. How did that happen when I’m trying to cut down on obligations? It’s because I like both Master Naturalist parties AND horse webinars! Glad the latter will be recorded.

Send me vibes for better sleep tonight!

Rain, and Other Things That Pass for Excitement around Here

You know when we are bordering on yet another drought around here when the grass starts to crunch under your feet when you walk across the fields. In the past week or so, even our relatively green pastures had started to get crunchy. Other parts of the state have it a lot worse (not to mention other parts of the US. But we here in scenic Milam County care about the Hermits’ Rest microclimate the most! Because of that, I was extra happy to hear drops falling onto the roof this morning.

A welcome sight.

I went out to feed the chickens (and would have fed Drew, but he ignored me) this morning and saw we’d gotten two tenths of an inch. Even that much made Lee happy. I was really hoping for more, since we hadn’t even gotten any puddles yet. I watched the forecast and tracked clouds on the radar. More was coming.

Thank you, clouds

April is a kind of weird month here. Sometimes we get hardly any rain and sometimes it’s a lot. This year has been on the scant side.

Today’s rain will make this month no longer the least rain since Lee has been measuring (and yes, the dates go right to left – thanks to Lee for the graphic).

Today has gone well, though listening to the steady rain makes me a little woozy. We are getting the good kind of rain, with no tornadoes, hail (far as I can tell), or other severe stuff. Just a nice rain that has finally filled up Lee’s “pond” and given the new gutters a workout. The fact that it’s up to a half inch is exciting for us!

Other things that pass for exciting are small. For example, I’ve had a pot that appeared to be a pot of dirt sitting on my porch for going on two months. I was beginning to think that Lowe’s had sold me a pot of dirt rather than some bulbs in dirt. At last, things have poked up and someday there will be calla lilies and caladiums in there.

At last, life appears. I am proud of myself for not digging in there and checking to see if anything was growing.

My nails also are exciting this week. I had been doing them in boring ways while some problem nails grew out, but this week I layered flowers over a nice turquoise color and got something that really goes well with my overly abundant rings. By the way, I am using the ColorStreet stuff. I find it works very well for me and lasts about ten days. I can even do nail repairs and it helps keep them looking fine. (I’m actually going to break down and do an MLM party for this stuff, just because some friends want to get some of the colors, and I could use some freebies.) I don’t like it (or anything) enough to sell it, but I can help some other woman make money, even though I am not a fan of MLM “small businesses” in general (here’s where I ranted about that once). The particular sales person I am using right now actually is a good marketer and has nail tips even I, a person who’s been doing her nails since 9th grade, didn’t know.

And that’s it for my blissfully rainy day. Oh, wait, one more thing. I got us more of the pool floats that we like so much. I call it my yacht. Kathleen has a much bigger yacht, but it likes to blow away. One of the man-folk in the family actually asked if I could get a bigger one for him, so I got one in XL. When they arrived I got a chuckle out of the stereotypical bathing-suit lady in the regular one and manly man in the XL (though he is not an XL man, in my opinion). At least they are racially ambiguous; they could be mixed, white, black, Latinx, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or maybe even Pacific Islander. That’s rather good. My favorite part of the packaging, though, is where they have one of those square things to scan. I found the fact that “scan me” is “scanne-moi” in French is pretty funny.

Like I said, it doesn’t take much to pass for excitement around here, and with all the other stuff going on, anything that brings a laugh is good with me.

The New Tree

I’d been noticing a young tree by the tank/pond behind our house, so I went out to check it out this morning. That displeased the basking turtles, who spent the rest of my visit floating around peeking at me, waiting for me to leave.

The little tree.

Cattle appear to have pruned it nicely so it must taste better than cedar elms. It wasn’t the same as any of the other trees, though I knew I’d seen one before. So, I took photos of the leaves and looked it up.

I remember seeing these out somewhere, and they are really cool to look at. The leaves are so shiny! Of course, they are prickly! I can’t wait to watch this little guy grow from the swimming pool porch.

Milkweed! Hooray!

Of course, I had to see what else was happening out in that pasture. The lack of rain for the past few weeks has sure made things crispy. But the pink ladies are still blooming up a storm. They make even the chicken coop look nice(ish).

Scenic?

The pond always looks nice, at least to me. It’s why I put the house where I did.

The wine cups do make it prettier.

Go out and see what’s new where you are! It try not to scare the turtles!

One turtle hadn’t dived off yet.

Go Outside, They Said. So I Did.

Out here in my field
         I fight for what's real
                  I put my back into my livin'
I don't need to fight
       To prove I'm right
                 I don't need to be forgiven...
...Suna's Wasteland

I’m still dealing with some anxiety, so when my noon meeting ended, I went out and just stood by the entry into the property. Ostensibly, I was waiting for the letter carrier, but they drove past the other way and never actually delivered anything. That was fine.

My field

It certainly wasn’t a quiet time out in my field. The incessant “peep peep PEEP” call alerted me to the arrival of the dickcissels for the summer. Those little birds are so extra cheerful that it’s almost painful. The background was punctuated by the sounds of red-winged blackbirds, scissor-tail flycatchers and one male cardinal.

Only bird that sat still.

I heard a sound behind me. Hey, look at that! It was Mrs Hummingbird dropping by to say hi. Honest, that’s what it felt like. Thanks, little buddy.

Hi!

I leaned on the fence and just breathed, like you’re supposed to when you have the stress going on. That’s when I said to myself, “Damn, it smells good here!” I looked down and figured out what was going on. The native grapes are in bloom. I believe I was today years old when I realized the mustang grape flowers were incredibly fragrant. It looks like we will get a lot of them this year, in addition to dewberries, if only it will rain just a bit.

Well, droplets of water did fall from the sky briefly, but I wouldn’t say it rained. Nonetheless, it took the horses from quietly grazing in the scenic field to racing to shelter, as if they were going to get inundated. They did not. But it was fun to watch. I also enjoyed watching Apache being friends with Mabel, which was sweet. She is doing SO much better with some magnesium supplements in her.

It never did rain, so I sort of plopped myself into a relatively insect-free part of the only field that hasn’t been mowed to a nub and enjoyed the variety of flowers and grasses I saw.

Plop

Once again, there are new bloomers coming up, including some big ones and some tiny ones. I just love the variety. Being among all this diversity brings me so much peace and joy. I am so lucky to have all these plants and animals nearby.

Speaking of animals, first, the chickens are happy as heck, because they can now go back out and roam, thanks to a screen door being added to the garage. They express their thanks by taking care of any horse poop they run into and eating all the June bugs Lee fishes out of the pool. They are hardly eating their chicken food now! And they are just so happy to be able to get all fluffy and take dust baths, which is a chicken’s favorite activity after chasing bugs.

New Resident

I don’t know if I’m happy or sad to report this, but apparently we have a new ranch resident. It’s a large, fluffy, apricot-colored cat. It was first spotted Saturday morning when Sara and I were leaving for Sandhaven. It’s still here, and was in the middle of the chicken pen this morning. Luckily, we have no missing poultry. I shall be more diligent about shutting the door to the henhouse from now on.

It looks like this. Obviously, this is not the cat, as it is indoors. If you are in Calgary, you can adopt it.

I guess it’s okay for the cat to hang around, since we have a lot of things for it to eat around the barn area. Barn cats are good. Now that the dogs are reliably fenced in, cats seem to be able to hang out here. I am unable to tell if it’s male or female, and I haven’t even gotten close enough to see if it has an ear notch that would indicate it’s been spayed or neutered. I’ll work on that, of course.

I’m not expecting to last here long. If it is here after a week, I’ll bestow a name.

Hope all is well in your world. It’s not bad here; I have no clue what’s up with the chest pains.

Grassy-Ass, Sorta

That’s thank you in grass language. I’ve been laughing my ass off this afternoon for a couple of reasons. First, I spent my lunch hour resting my eyes by seeing what new blossoms we have. I also was marveling at how many varieties of grass we have in the front field and how beautiful they looked waving in the breeze.

So pretty. I think it’s Dallis grass. I’m bad at grass ID.

I carefully took pictures of all the rye, oats, barley (it’s beginning to sound like bread, isn’t it?), and other grass varieties. I was looking forward to seeing what else came up.

No sooner had I gone in to get lunch than I heard the Kubota tractor start up. I quickly realized it was going back and forth across the field. I had damn good timing! The field was getting shredded (mowed in ranch talk). There go those waving seed heads! I got a good laugh out of that. There’s still plenty of other grass and flowers out there…at least for now.

This one was hopefully too low for the shredder.

I did find lots of new flowers, though, and most were on the roadside. We finally have Indian blankets blooming, though I’d seen them lots of other places already. And bindweed is blooming its tiny mini-morning glories. I’m very happy to see the Engelmann daisies are kicking into high gear, ready to take over where the bluebonnets (going to seed now) leave off. Here’s some of what I saw:

I enjoyed my break, and I enjoyed working with Drew this afternoon. He’s back to paying attention. Kathleen’s horses had opinions of me not working with them, though. I think they flipped me off in horse language.

Well, grassy-ass, to you guys!

Bonus Birds

Hey! Some of those quiet gulls just flew over and I managed to get photos! Distant, but there they are. Zoom in!

Crissi McDonald

Heartline Horse Training

sara annon

seeking the middle path

Tonya's Tall Tales

My life with horses, bunnies, chickens, ducks, and cows.

rfljenksy - Practicing Simplicity

Legendary Wining and Dining World Tour.

The Backyard Horse Blog

All about keeping horses at home

Hazel's Animal Adventures

My life on the ranch.

Diary Of The Wests

The West Household Runs Of Love And Laughter

Katie Zapfel

Children's book author. Mom blogger.

365 Knit Socks

I knit, crochet, and dye yarn

recoveringpornaddictcom.wordpress.com/

Coach, author and educator

The daily addict

The daily life of an addict in recovery

Just Vee

A regular gal who likes to stop and smell the flowers.

Happy Heidi's Happenings

My life in the country.

BrownesPups

A family of dog lovers, owners & breeders since 2015

The Adventures of a Mountain Coward

panic-stricken mountain adventuring!

Something Over Tea

Scribbles from my notebook

The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

Heccateisis's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

The Upstate Gardener

The Upstate Gardening blog with Gardening Information, Recipies, Home Improvement Ideas, and Crafts Projects to make your life more beautiful and healthy.

Read, Learn, Live

Look closely around and about you, and you will see all forms of beauty.

Nature And Photography

Bring Nature Into Life

AT PATHO

no streetlights, just star light

Words and Stitches

woolgathering at its best

The Grief Reality

Normalising the conversation about Grief.

iRoseStudios.com

Art Studio Dumfriesshire

The Creative Pixie

eat up some crafty goodness with this creative mama

Writings of a Furious Woman

My thoughts, sentiments, and scribbles on womanhood

Paws Bark

Dogs Leave Paw Print in your Heart

Yeshua's Child Art

Art that Expresses the Heart

Chicken Coop Plans

Build Your Chicken a Home

Leaf And Twig

Where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry.

Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Cathartic Tendencies

motivational posts, rants, and stories!

TotallyTexasGifts.com

Featuring Fine Arts & Crafts created and sold by Texans

Seasons As My Teacher

Truth Written In The Wind

claudiajustsaying

Aging & Attitude

The Tragedy Kween

A boisterous introvert illustrating her way through life.

Zoewiezoe

Where a little insanity goes a long way