This morning there’s thunder everywhere, so I went out early to feed the chickens. I’m glad I did, because when I looked into the pond behind the house, I saw something in addition to the usual great egret and blue heron: wood storks!
They used to visit for a while periodically, but lately they just drop by and move on. I’m so glad I got to catch them before they left. They are such gorgeous birds, with white bodies, black heads and black wing tips that make them easy to spot when they are flying.
You know they are big when you compare them to the resident blue heron, who is HUGE thanks to all those catfish and minnows it ate while the ponds were drying up.
Wood storks (Mycteria americana) are the only American stork, and they move around with the seasons. Interestingly, they must have shallow water to feed in, because they feed by touch. That’s why they breed when water levels are falling (in South America). They are predominantly subtropical birds, which is why they hang around here only when it’s warmer. They are listed as a threatened species in the Western hemisphere, because of predation (bad ole caracaras) and believe it or not, ecotourism disturbing their nesting colonies. (Source: Wikipedia via iNaturalist)
I’m extra happy to have gotten some videos. The one of them flying away is so lovely. I hope they visit again soon!
PS: Yes, we had a good amount of rain yesterday, and should have more today. Happy news for all the plants around here!
Glorious. That’s the word for today. So, I went out to the woods to look for signs of Christmas and miracles. I found some of each!
I ended up standing right where the above photo was taken for a long time, just listening to bird songs and watching them flit around. It’s lots easier to spot them in winter. I saw one I could not identify that could have been a black phoebe.
Once I got walking, the subtle signs of Texas Christmas began to appear. First, there was a Christmas cholla. That’s pretty obvious.
Then I found our one holly plant, a possumhaw (deciduous holly).
So, how much more holiday greenery could I find? Of course, mistletoe!
After a long day of working through my mental paralysis, I came home to do the usual chicken and horse chores. I decided to really look hard at what I saw on the path and just live in the moment.
It helped more than I thought it would to immerse myself in the life on the ranch. There were so many bees in the blooming clover and so many butterflies on the flowers and so many birds and so many bugs! The 5 Vitamin Bs: Blossoms, bees, butterflies, birds, and bugs.
The most common butterflies were Buckeyes, checkered whites, and sulphurs. I also saw a hairstreak.
And in the bird department, I was extra excited to hear a familiar call. The dickcissels are back! They’re one of those birds whose numbers are dwindling, so it makes me happy to know they like it here.
I also enjoyed the sounds of sparrows rushing out of the grass and the red winged blackbirds calling and flying around. They’re everywhere right now.
I enjoyed a lot of interesting bugs, but my favorite is this Texas flower scarab. It was vigorously digging away in this thistle.
Just enjoying the light on the grass, along with my friends the butterflies, bees, birds, and bugs got me in a better frame of mind. Thanks, Mother Nature!