Welcome to my world!

Backyard Birding in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas:
Surrounded by great birding destinations, our favorite patch is still the backyard (or the front), where we've seen more than 270 species of birds. Sit awhile, and watch the river and yard with us!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year:  Doin' the Green Jay dance!
It's a windy cool New Year's Day.  (I realize, of course, that's relative--most parts of the country would like a day in the 60's but after 88 degrees yesterday, we were hoping for better.  We got home from cold Missouri last night just before the wind switched around from the north and dropped temps a bit. Though not cold by most standards, it's windy by anyone's--at least 30 mph is my guess.

Even before helping unload the car, I turned on hoses to fill up baths as soon as we got home yesterday evening. With no rain since about July, the birds seemed delighted this morning to find saucers filled and drippers dripping.  Green Jays and Kiskadees sounded like they were celebrating the New Year, loud despite the wind.  No birds celebrate quite as much as Green Jays.  The photo above is a favorite one from summer 2010.  Those jays looked as though they were dancing--that's not wind blowing their feathers, but sheer jiggling, twisting joy! Today was also a celebration. 

Just after dawn this morning I took the dogs out and looked eagerly for the first bird of 2011.  I heard it rather than saw it at first--a very loud Buff-bellied Hummingbird sitting in the fiddlewood near the hummingbird feeder near the garage. Our common resident hummer, Buff-bellieds are larger than the small Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and much noisier. Males have bright red beaks and all have green backs, heads, and throats with buff breasts and bright rust-orange tails.  Certainly a worthy New Year's bird.

I'm adding something to the blog today.  Reviving  my twitter account, I have linked tweets to this blog (right sidebar) and will try to add yard-bird updates daily.  Of course in 140 characters I can't list all the birds for a day, but I can add the new ones for the year.  This is mostly for my benefit since I want to keep records of first-of-season appearances and birds to remember. When I started my blog (exactly a year ago today), it was sort of on a whim when I couldn't find the journal I usually wrote nature sightings in.  I wanted a misplace-proof place to record the goings-ons in the yard. I am really pleased with how it turned out, except for the fact that I ended up writing longer and more infrequent posts than I had envisioned.  Adding tweets may solve the problem of not really recording enough details to help me compare the sightings from year to year.

Birds aren't all we see from the yard and I'll tweet/ list other animals as well.  I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to capture photos of dolphins that swim in the Arroyo--maybe in the new year I'll be luckier.  Neither did I shoot (with camera, of course) a Bobcat or Javelina.  The best mammal sighting ever was an ocelot about 13 years ago.  I don't even hope to see another of those severely endangered cats from my window.

Here are a couple of other mammals seen from the house. I don't know for sure what the red deer is--it's definitely not our native white-tailed deer, being much larger and redder.  We saw it during the Big Sit in October (which may prove that there are all sorts of surprises to see if you are just sitting and looking.  As I said a couple of days ago about the Pine Warbler,  I think many birds are here that I never see.  And I think anyone that spends as much time looking --and sitting--as I do would see lots more birds and other critters than they do).

The people who own the ranch land across the arroyo must import exotics for hunting.  Besides this animal (Red Deer?  Red Stag?  Looks like the ones we saw in Scotland),  we've seen Nilgai which are commonly imported to ranches around Texas.  (Yesterday just before dark I heard guns and hoped the targets were running fast.)

The wind is still howling (as Winnie the Pooh would say, it's a "Blustery Day"), but the sun is shining and the temperature has climbed above 70.  I'll go see what else I can see from the windows on this first day of 2011.  I wish the best of days and all of nature's blessings to all of you in the New Year!


Arkansas Patti said...

Love the dancing Jays. I have never seen one in person, they are really unusual looking.You really have some exotic looking animals.
I am like you when I hear the guns bark. Under my breath, I whisper, "Run baby, run."

Kay said...

Hi, Patti--You're right about the Green Jays--nothing quite like them! I do miss the Blue Jays I grew up with in Oklahoma, though. We've had only two in our yard. They are always a pleasant surprise.
Happy New Year!

robin andrea said...

What spectacular birds you see there, Kay. I have to confess I'm utterly jealous. I've never even heard of a Green Jay. They're gorgeous! I love your coyote too!

If you stop by the Dharma Bums
again, check out our link (on the right side our page) to our bobcat posts. If I had a totem animal, it would be the bobcat. I sincerely hope you get to photograph one. It's an amazing moment, every time.

Thank you so much for your comments on our blog. It's always so heartening to be found anew by a fellow blogger. We are celebrating our sixth year of blogging with many actual and emotional miles covered in those years on the blog!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I'd never even heard of green jays before I read this post! They look like characterful birds!

How wonderful to have a hummingbird as your first bird of the year!

Happy new year!

Grizz………… said...

A hummer on New Year's Day! Now there's a concept almost impossible for a Buckeye to wrap his birding mid around! And oh my, what color!

Hey, I'll trade you a handful of blue jays for on of your green ones!

Kay said...

Yes, a hummingbird is a perfect New Year's bird!What a great word for Green Jays-"characterful"!

Kay said...

Robin Andrea-
I will definitely check out your bobcat posts. One of my favorite mornings was spent watching a family of bobcats across the river. While an adult stretched out along a branch of an Ebony tree, two cubs knocked dirt clods down the bank and then chased down to the river to play with them--just like kittens at play.
I'm so glad you stopped by my blog!

Kay said...

Wish such a trade were possible! We have plenty of Green Jays this year (never too many!)but haven't seen a Blue Jay here for years. I enjoyed them in Missouri over the holidays.
Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you liked our hummingbird. Today I'm posting a photo that shows its colors even better.