Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story, books, Daily Work

Coming Back

Hey there! Remember me? I haven’t done my daily posts for a while. I think that the major reason is that I’ve been dealing with my mother’s death. Part of the way I dealt with her death was an attitude of “I don’t care” about a lot of things. I’m in a writing challenge and I’ve been struggling to meet my simple goal. As I struggle with doing any writing, I tend to be highly critical of what I’m doing – and part of that is because I don’t really have a plan for my writing and so I keep criticizing everything I write. I’ve given myself a sabbatical from writing my devotionals, but I finally began doing a little work on promoting the book series today. I should point out that if you’d like a free copy of my July – August devotionals, I now have a book funnel account so that I can give it to you freely. If anyone wants to help me out by going through the process of downloading it and making sure that everything works ok, I’d sure appreciate it. The bookfunnel link is here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/4nw47oq9cd If you’d like to leave an Amazon review, that would be cool too, but I’m not expecting you to do so. You are welcome to share that link if you find the book helpful to you.

Another part of my problem has to do with the animal kingdom: we now have a dog. We thought she was a year old when we got her, but the vet said she was about 6 months old. She’s been a hand full! She’s as sweet as can be, but she’s also annoying. This week has had some extra challenges because my daughter is taking her delayed honeymoon and we’re watching her dog. The dog that used to live with us when she did – which is why we wanted a dog. So now we have a 14 year old grumpy lady chihuahua and an 8 month old baby girl chihuahua. Only, the baby gets distracted when we take her outside. Then she comes in and wets the carpet. Or worse. Today’s been extremely tough on that front, with me needing to clean up between five and ten messes.

Perhaps I should mention all that’s gone on since I stopped posting regularly. I stopped after my mom died. Then we had her memorial service. After that, my daughter got married on March 16. Then, we traveled to Florida to celebate my wife’s graduation ceremony as she finished her requirements for an EdD. degree. She now lets me call her “Dr. Wife.” And finally, my wife and I just observed our 40th anniversary. So, I’ve been busy. And I haven’t been writing a lot. But it’s time to get back to the work of writing and photography.

I realized the photography angle today when I had the dogs outside. I heard the familiar thump of a woodpecker. She was on the utility pole thumping away. I ran inside and got my camera so I could take a few pictures. I couldn’t choose which of these two to use, so you got both. This is a golden fronted woodpecker and she’s been in the area for a while. My plan is to get back to more photography in days to come. I’ve missed doing that. I’ve missed sharing my pictures with y’all. So, maybe I’ll take a day or two each week, make some egg salad sandwiches, and spend some time taking pictures and sharing my adventures with you. Tomorrow, I’ll probably share some pictures of the Painted Churches of Schulenberg that we saw while we waited for the final alterations on the dress my wife wore as the mother of the bride. Anything you want to know about South Texas (that I can photograph) just ask in the comments.

 

Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

January 17 – A Few Surprises

I still do some volunteer work for our school district and today was one of the days that I had to meet for a committee I’m on. I brought my camera, in case I had time after our work to go down to the Bayfront and get some pics. I chose to go to Cole Park, one of the more popular places for activities in Corpus Christi. There’s fishing off the sea wall, walking and biking trails, a kids playground, a skate park, and an amphitheater. I didn’t expect much in terms of new birds, but, I figured I’d get a few pictures I could use. Was I surprised!

 

 

Well, not at first. The first birds I saw were the grackles all over the ground. I had to laugh at the picture you see here, because I imagined Jimmy Cagney as the gangster boss with his hands clasped behind his back as he was addressing the thugs under his command. While there was a flock in the grass, I was happy that I focused on this grackle.

 

 

 

 

I turned my attention towards the water, where, beyond the man fishing, a few cormorants were out searching for food. I considered them a whole heard of mini loch ness monsters. There seemed to be some interesting interplay between them as they worked together and then moved off on their own, only to work with the other one. Definitely shifting allegiances for these three.

 

 

 

The seagulls gave me a few smiles. The still pics don’t show the battle for the perch on the light, but these two guys got disrupted a few times and eventually there were three on the light. Then, when I tried to get a picture of the three, they all flew off.

 

 

 

I didn’t mention the fishing pier out at Cole Park, because it’s been condemned. I normally wouldn’t have two pictures of gulls, but, there are some pigeons here two, so this is a pigeon picture. It’s hard to tell from this pic, but the gulls were on the top rank of the railing and the pigeons wee on the bottom. I can’t imagine living downstairs from the gulls in a situation like this. The pigeons didn’t seem to mind in general, but there were a couple who tried to move on up to the top floor.

 

As I moved along the Bayfront, I saw these ruddy turnstones. While I had seen them before, they were a pleasant surprise. I found them in a couple of places along the way. This pic with the two of them appeared to be both of them moving away from threats – one being me. I’m sure when they met here, they warned each other about the danger ahead of them. One of those dangers was me.

 

Then, I saw the willett. While I had seen these birds in the past, I hadn’t seen any this year. It was a nice surprise.

 

 

 

 

Next, I saw this little bird that I thought was a ruddy turnstone at first, but when I focused on him, I realized that it was something different. When I got home, I looked him up and discovered that he was a spotted sandpiper. This was a new one for me, or a lifer, and it was a great surprise. But wait…there’s more!

 

 

 

 

I still haven’t figured out what this one is. Google images caught it as a common sandpiper, but they’ve been so far off that it isn’t funny. It looked to me like the sandpiper feet were claws and this one’s were webbed. I could be wrong though. But, if I don’t know what it is, obviously, it’s new to me. Another nice surprise.

 

 

 

 

My son called while I was walking back to the car and we discussed some of the arrangements for my mom’s memorial service. As we were getting ready to hang up, this pelican came flying by. I had to get this picture.

 

 

 

Finally, one last surprise. This bird, I didn’t have time to identify him was swimming along the way to my car. I’ll be looking him up and identifying him in an edit when I can.

I had far lower expectations for this trip than I had or any of my other excursions so far this year. There were four new birds for the year, with three of them new for my career as a birder. The day was full of surprises and left me in a great mood.

Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

January 16 – The Other Side of Life, The Other Side of the Wetlands

Yesterday was a bad day. Not your ordinary, things aren’t going right, bad day – an especially bad day. I had gone to the bank to get our cash for the last half of the month when I got a text that my mother was being rushed to the hospital. I sent a text back to my sister that I was praying, and waited for the next teller. The phone rang and it was my sister telling me that my mom had just passed away. The phone call was brief, but devastating. I went back and waited for the same teller to finish what she was doing. When she finished she told me to have a nice day. I didn’t ruin hers by telling her why I probably wouldn’t.

My original plan had been to go take pictures after going to the bank. Obviously, those plans were derailed and I spent yesterday at home, mostly, dealing with the grief. As a Christian, while I grieve, I don’t grieve as those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), but I can rejoice that my mother is at home with the Lord. Yesterday was rough, but I made it through the day. Today has been a better day mentally and emotionally. I did get out to take pictures today. Last week I was on one side of the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve, today I visited the other side.

 

We had rain most of the day yesterday and last night. I’ve always loved the pictures of water drops on leaves and as I entered the trail, I was able to get this picture. There’s probably nothing special about it to most people, but I enjoyed the chance to get this picture. There’s such a beauty when you see the raindrops on the leaves like that.

 

 

 

 

I’ve heard folklore about cardinals. I’m going to be honest with you and tell you that I don’t believe the stories. They don’t seem to have any biblical basis and it’s more of a superstition than fact. That being said, the first bird I was able to see and photograph was a cardinal. Superstition and folklore aside, I love cardinals. They’re beautiful birds. So, this first picture of the day set the tone for a good day, even though there weren’t many birds out today. Let’s face it…about the only time I don’t like cardinals are when they’re from St. Louis or Arizona.

 

 

 

 

Next along the trail was a white wing dove. We get a lot of these in South Texas. The white on the wing isn’t very distinctive on any of the pics I got, but as I debated on whether it was a white wing or a mourning dove, the eyes told the story. The blue circle around the eye makes this a white wing.

 

 

As I walked along, I saw, far off in the distance in the bay, these ducks. Given what I see most and the fact that I could barely see them, I figured they were northern shovelers. When I blew the pics up to 100%, though, they were a different type of duck. I had to look carefully, but they appear to be Northern Pintail ducks. That’s a new one for me, so that was exciting. I always love seeing the variety and beauty of the birds that God created.

 

 

 

 

 

Along the trail, I saw a bird do one of those things that kingbirds do when they sit on a tree, fly out to catch a snack, and then go back to the tree. I wasn’t able to get a real good picture of the bird. Google images says that it’s a house sparrow. I think it has too much yellow color for a house sparrow. I could be wrong, though. Any experts able to tell me what this is for sure?

 

 

 

There weren’t many birds out in the mud flats from the observation deck. I saw an egret, but it was so far away that I didn’t get a good picture. Then, two sandhill cranes came flying overhead. They’re apparently still working that cornfield where I saw them last week.

 

 

Heading back down the trail, I heard some beautiful singing I stalked the bird until I finally saw him. After discussion with one of the people in charge (later) and my own research, I believe it’s a long billed thrasher. They sing beautifully.

The Oso Bay Wetlands is a beautifully maintained park area and they have lots of learning activities for kids and adults. You can find information about this amazing place on their Facebook page

Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

January 14 – Going Back to the T-Head

Today was cold which means that most of the birds wouldn’t be out. The one place I was sure would have some birds was the People’s Street T-Head, one of my favorite go-to places. If you’re not from Corpus Christi, The T-Heads jut out from the shore in the shape of a T. (Thus the name.) People’s Street is the home of the shrimp boats and you can buy shrimp right off the boat. The other T-Head and the L-Head (should be self-explanatory) have other emphases. All of them sport marinas. I like the People’s Street T- Head because the shrimp boats draw birds.

The first bird of the day was a Ruddy Turnstone. It was the first time I’d seen them this year. These little guys are energetic when they want to be and I saw them as they were darting across traffic. (Well, the street since my car was one of the few on the T-Head today, and I was .) They joined a herd of pelicans and some seagulls for a birdy party. I love the way the coloring works out on these cute little birds.

 

 

 

 

This pelican was slightly apart from the flock a little farther over on the dock. I think he was trying to get their attention so they’d join him in the hokey-pokey. “C’mon guys! You put your left foot in…” There are always a few comical shots from these birds.

 

 

 

The seagulls, meanwhile, were joining in the fun. This guy joined the pelican in his dance, and a good time was had by all. They were so cold that I was able to get pretty close to them. They may have been thinking, “This guy’s a Texan. Maybe he’ll barbecue us and we can finally get warm enough.” Of course, some of these birds take their hokey-pokey a bit too seriously!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, the cormorants were out. I was able to catch a couple in flight this time. I missed one taking off. Before they leave the water it seems like they’re running on the surface as they try to gain the speed to take off. They’re ungainly until they get in the air. Once they take off, though, they can move it!

 

Finally, I saw the obligatory grackle. Anywhere you go in Corpus Christi, the grackles are already there. There are some places at night where you’ll see hundreds if not thousands all sitting on the same wires. I don’t like grackles very much, but I love those eyes! They get me every time.

We have a lot of cold weather coming in, so I may not get out much to take new pictures. Would you be interested if I posted pics i took earlier? Would you prefer I posted birds from Rwanda? What suggestions would you have?

Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

January 12 – Lots of Egrets

The #BirdBoxChallenge is a big deal these days. Based on the actions of characters in a Netflix movie, people are putting on blindfolds and trying to do normal, everyday tasks. You’d think there’s be limits, of course, because there are some things even the dumbest people won’t do. Like, who could imagine anyone being idiotic enough to drive a car blindfolded. Just won’t happen. Nope. Not here. Not in America….well, maybe. PT Barnum was right: no one ever went broke because they underestimated the intelligence of the American people! Anyway, I bring that up because I want to offer a variation of the Bird Box Challenge. I’m calling it the Bird Brain Challenge. Instead of blindfolding yourself to the fears of our surroundings, open your eyes and notice God’s handiwork in our world today. Look at the beauty and variety we see in people, in plants, in animals, and especially birds. Enjoy this beautiful world that God has made!

As to the pictures today – lots of egrets. There’s a reason. I’m actually going to link a picture back to my facebook photo album so you can see the whole sequence of an amazing egret battle! But, first things first. We were at the South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center today. Lucy walked with me. We didn’t see the variety of birds we usually see, but we saw that amazing egret battle. The first bird we saw, though, was an Inca dove with it’s distinctive pattern on the wings. They used to visit our backyard when we fed the birds, but this is the first one I’ve seen this year.

 

Then, we saw some birds that were too far off to get good pics. After that, we came to a lake where there were numerous water birds. Most of them were too far off to see too much, but there were some egrets close by. They were photobombed by a darker bird that made me wonder if juvenile egrets are hatched with dark feathers. I late discovered what kind of bird it was, but I’ll save that reveal for later. What we did see was a growing tension among the egrets that led to a great battle between two males, I believe. Finally, one prevailed and chased the other one off, but thee was a bit of a twist in the ending. If you click on the picture of the egrets fighting, you can see the beginning of the fight all the way through. The captions explain the twist.

 

The darker bird was a juvenile white-faced ibis, if I got the identification right. He kept right on eating through the fight without a care in the world. Front row seats to the premier boxing match of the spring and he kept staring down at his dinner. I would have caught the identification when I looked at the pics later, but a different angle confirmed that it was an ibis.

 

 

 

As we continued on our walk, we saw some beautiful flowers and even a lizard. The last picture of the day was the butterfly below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a great day to be out in God’s world today. It was good to see families and friends walking the trail at the Botanical Gardens. It’s a beautiful place to go. Get yourself a yeary membership and you can go there often and see the beauty of God’s creation in the different stages of the year.