Friday, May 25, 2012

Quilters Break Out

No sooner had we returned from the Texas birding trip, when it was time for me to pack up the car and head northward for my semi-annual quilting retreat. 

Once again, the event did not disappoint.  Our Maryland contingent arrived in fine style, having driven their work of art all the way down, even through heavy rain where pieces went flying!! 

These bits of fabric were lovingly applied to the vehicle using starch and/or wheat flour paste. 

Not to be outdone, Miss Elizabeth, the Magnolia Madam, thought we were all winners and presented every one of us with our very own personalized beauty queen sashes!!    Our retreat virgins were presented with tiaras during an induction ceremony conducted by Miss Congeniality.   And, we've all got that parade float riding, beauty queen wave down pat!!!

Oh, did I tell you that we actually did get some sewing done?  No?  Well, we all arrived on Thursday (some even Wednesday night) and proceeded to take over the retreat center.   We sewed, we ate, we sewed, we shopped, we ate, we sewed and we ate some more!!!!  And through it all, we seldom stopped talking and laughing.

I'm just learning to paper piece and Ms. Bluesnail made sure we started learning by piecing the tiniest block she could find!!! 
That block is a whole 3 1/2 inches!!! 

I also worked on my first hand applique project.  Not being inclined to start on tiny projects, I figured I'd go about as big as I could get. 
This one is about 3 feet tall!!!  

Immediately upon my arrival home, my hubby's first question was:  "So, when are you gonna do it again?"   My answer:   "November!!!"      Is it November yet????????????????

Y'all take care.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bird Search, Continued

After the spectacular first afternoon of birding on the Bolivar Peninsula near our campground, we really didn't know whether to expect more of the same later in the week, or just count our blessings for having seen it.   Turns out the latter.    Every day thereafter, the water receded more and the shore/water birds became more and more scarce on our little road.

However, we did have some very good birding over at the Anahuac Wildlife Refuge where we investigated two new areas for us.  They were both wonderful places and we'll be including them in the future.   We took one of our days to claim as our Bird-a-Thon day and wound up with 98 different species.  Had we really worked the day, I'm sure we could have accumulated at least 20 more species.  But, being the sleepy heads we are, we didn't get up and going until about 8 a.m. and we didn't even stop at the wooded areas in High Island on our way home for the day.  After we got home, we found out that had we worked just a little harder, we just might have had a chance to be the winners of our local Audubon chapter's bird-a-thon competition.  Oh, well.  
American Bittern 

One doesn't normally get excited by grackles, but this one just shimmered in the sunlight.  It was also odd to see it apparently "fishing" in the canal.  I've never seen them do that before. 
Tropical Kingbird 
One of the very good birds of the day was this Tropical Kingbird. 
Common Nighthawk
Another treat was this nighthawk.  I've seen them before, but this is my first picture of one.  
American Avocet
A couple of days before heading home, we stopped on the east side of Rollover Pass and went out to the spit.  Among the thousands and thousands of birds out there were at least 250 American Avocets!   Oh, what a sight to behold.  The formed a thick line and fished in their unique way, swinging their upturned beaks back and forth through the water.  What a magnificent sight to behold. 

Nesting Roseate Spoonbills
At the rookery in Smith Woods, the roseate spoonbills were busy pairing up and courting, but no nest building was taking place.   Now, the great egrets were already on the nests, as were some cormorants. 
Great Egret in breeding plumage 
The egrets in breeding plumage are just wonderful with that lime green patch on the face.

American Alligator
This fellow presented a concert of numerous bellows.  He was obviously in competition with another fellow on the other side of the little rookery island.  In fact, the other guy sounded like he could be even bigger than this one.  

Throughout this entire week, my dear, sweet Hubby allowed himself to be generally ignored and left alone so that my Birdlady friend and I could simply immerse ourselves in birdwatching.  It was a wonderful week and, from the rumors and whisperings I'm already hearing, this trip may be on the agenda for next spring as well. 

Y'all take care. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Proper Texas Bird Greeting

I know.  I'm lolly-gagging around again.    When we left off, we had visited Lake Martin near Lafayette, Louisiana, and were headed off toward the spring birding destination of High Island, Texas, located on the upper Texas coast, between Galveston and Beaumont.  It's just a tiny community set on a salt dome which provides the only treed area for miles around.   Thus, migrating birds are drawn to it like a magnet as they complete the trans-gulf flight.   The marshland and flats surrounding it are also magnets for wading birds, shorebirds and raptors.   In other words, the whole area is a birder's version of heaven in the springtime!! 

Stiff southerly winds buffeted us around quite handily as we headed southwest toward High Island.  The winds had picked up on Saturday and continued all night and through the day on Sunday to our arrival.  We pulled into the little campground, spotting a scissor-tailed flycatcher like this before even getting started with setup.  
Scissor-tailed flycatcher
Once the bare minimum setup was accomplished, Birdlady and I bolted to see the birds.  Due to the strong southerly winds for many hours, a timely high tide and significant rain prior to our arrival, the flats behind the park were mostly standing pools of water.   

There were so many birds that we didn't know which way to look first!!   There were birds in every direction and flying overhead.  It was magical.   More than once we each commented that we were behaving like little kids in a candy store.
Reddish Egret fishing 

Clapper Rail
As we continued down the road beside the campground, the water kept creeping further and further into the road.  By the time we reached the Inter-coastal Waterway and headed back, it was across the road in some places.  Most of these flats held water that was only a few inches deep, but it was enough to make for wonderful foraging by the birds.  We had gulls, pelicans, terns, roseate spoonbills, ibis, dowitchers, long-billed curlews, willets and so many more.    

I had seen most of these birds before but there were a few new ones, most notably the long-billed curlew.  What an extraordinary creature and he is beautiful.  The beak must be about 8 inches or more.  It is North America's largest shorebird.
Before we headed back to the RV, we had counted 46 different species of shore and water birds.  We hadn't been gone more than a couple of hours, either.  This was a glorious way to start off our week in the area.

More coming. 

Y'all take care.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cajun Birding

I simply cannot believe that another month has passed!  I know it has been a busy time, but really ------ 

We had company for nearly a week early in April.   As soon as they left, we pulled the RV out of storage and took off to Louisiana and Texas on a birding trip.  I went there in 2010 for the first time and was anxious to return.   My Birdlady friend went with us. 

We stopped in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana in order to take in the rookery at Lake Martin.  The conditions were different this year from before, but that was expected. 

I didn't take a lot of pictures there but did get a lovely Prothonotary Warbler on the boardwalk. 
These little guys were all over the place. 

Another highlight of the trip was seeing two baby Barred Owls.  They were out of the nest and could fly for 10 or 15 feet, but they were still covered with fuzz.  We would never have seen them but for their crying for Mama to come feed them.   We also got to see a nesting Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. 

The rookery this year was much further away from the road than last time, so it would have been useless for me to even try to take pictures.

On our way home on Saturday afternoon, we stopped in downtown Breaux Bridge for a bite to eat.  We wandered into Angeline's, hearing the strains of haunting Cajun music.    After ordering, we sat down to enjoy the weekly jam session.    We enjoyed our food and some pure, true music all in one place.    These folks drop in and play for tips every Saturday.

We spent only the one day there, so next morning it was on to Texas.  That'll come later. 

Y'all take care.