Monthly Archives: February 2012

Critters and tomato juice

Two burrows along Salt Creek bank.

Along the banks of Salt Creek that divides my pastures into two sections, I find burrows of armadillo, skunk and other critters.  Back at the barn, below the ranch house during the night, various critters slide under the wall railings and scour for grain that falls through feed bins.  When I walk the dogs in the early morning — about 5:00 a.m. — I scan the trail for tail of skunk so as to avert a stinky collision of critter and dog.  When my dogs are sprayed by the effective skunk, I wash them in tomato juice.  That has not happened in thirty years as I have successfully intercepted the fight — at least thus far.

Successful remedy for partially washing skunk from dog.

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Filed under Adventure

Meadow lark with morning sun

Early morning landing.

Early this morning as I walked down the road to feed Star, I saw these meadow larks (Sturnella neglecta) sunning on the barbed wire fence between the house and arena pasture.  I walked quickly back up to the house, grabbed my camera and took a few shots.  The larks are skittish and I did not get close, but I edited the ‘Early morning landing’ above as the sunlight pierced the feathers, creating an illumination that I saw only when I enlarged the picture.  Fascinating.

The photograph below captures the small flock on the fence.  When I came back to the house after feeding Star I looked out the front window and saw that the flock (or another group) had come around to the front of the house and was feasting on insects and seeds on the front lawn.  You can click on the ‘Larks on barbed wire’ below and obtain a larger image.  I did not get a picture of the flock at the front of the house.

Larks on barbed wire.

I have noted that birds are singing more here at the ranchito since the weather has warmed and rains have come.  I saw my first Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) a few days ago perched on a T-post beside the road to the barn.  I have a goal to photograph the bluebird this year.  I have seen as many as eleven bluebirds bathing in the runoff water from the horse trough.

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Notes, corrections and additions:

To disclose my identification of the ‘meadow larks’ above, I have to add that my confidence in typing the above birds as meadow lark is fairly high, but with a bit of doubt about western or eastern.  When I got the Peterson’s guide open and starting reading about the meadow lark, there are at least two varieties, western and eastern, and I will have to look closer for the signature attributes.  The white edges on the tail (seen in the first photograph) are specific signatures for the western variety, so I go with that identification.  Besides, this is west Texas. 

I will look again in the morning at the flock, pending their reappearance.

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Filed under Birds

Southwestern farrago

San Saba Weekly News, October 9, 1891.

Within the last two months, I have collected a special farrago of items relative to the Southwest and travel south of the border.  I had thought about writing a post on each of these items, but probably will not in the near future.  I do not want these bits and pieces to go stale.  So, in this mixed bag of  items you may find something of interest.  Click on the hyperlinks for details.

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Tundra Native Flies To Texas | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth.  The Snowy Owl comes to Texas — near Dallas.  This is so rare of a sighting down here that I may drive over to the area and photograph the owl (Robertson State Park at Lake Ray Hubbard Snowy Owl sighting site location courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife).

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In Arizona, Rare Sightings Of Ocelots and Jaguars – NYTimes.com.  The New York Times relates to Arizona.  But, two years ago near Abilene, Texas, three sober people sighted what was thought to be a jaguar.  The Texas Parks and Wildlife agency did not confirm the sighting along a brushy ridge line that extended for miles running east and west.  Given the craziness of some hunters, I have not given the story publicity and I do not intend to pinpoint the location.

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How safe is Mexico for tourists? – World – CBC News.  This writer has experience in Mexico and his website seems worthwhile.  This is a valuable article for those of you seeking to take your Spring break in Mexico.  Combined with the State Department’s guidelines and warnings linked below, avoid some places and enjoy safely other areas.

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Mexico.  U.S. Department of State Travel Warning to Mexico.  The State Department updates these warnings regularly.

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BBC – Travel – A German enclave in central Texas : Cultural Activities, Texas.  This is about Fredericksburg, one of my favorite towns in Texas.  I went to Fredericksburg as a boy, before it became touristy.  It still has the old-town feeling.  This was written for the British Broadcasting Company.

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Filed under Birds, Fredericksburg Texas, San Saba Texas, Texas

Overflowing pond

I’m not for sure the drought here in my area — central-west Texas — has been broken, but the recent rain filled my neighbor’s pond and it has overflowed gently the last few days into my pond or cow tank.  I walked yesterday to my pond and noticed the overflow, catching me by surprise as I jumped the slight current, avoiding getting my boots wet.  It was quite cold, by our standards, and I returned to the house after a bracing hike.

The overflow from Blue's pond, February 11, 2012.

Star follows me on the hike yesterday. He is browsing on grass sprouts, lately erupting from the rains.

I like the contrast of the leafless trees and Star with the previous photograph that shows emergent winter grasses and water.

The temperature yesterday when I hiked was 28 deg. F., not cold enough to freeze the runoff, but cold enough to wear a warm coat and toboggan cap.

Today the temperature remains about the same and we are forecast sleet and rain from 6:00 p.m. until tomorrow morning.

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Filed under Star, Weather