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!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Riverblog Resumes

I started blogging a couple of years ago as a way of keeping up with what was going on in our yard.  I'm not keeping up.

The blog seemed like a good idea.  A lazy birder, I seldom wandered out of the yard, but I spent a lot of time wandering around in it. And wondering.  I wondered what birds were nesting here and when they were nesting.  I wondered if the birds that showed up this year kept to last year's schedule or if they were weeks early or late.

  I wondered what butterflies flittered through and if the number of bird species in this Rio Grande Valley yard  was actually greater than I knew--if I could just start keeping a list in one findable location, I could answer those questions.

So I bought a relatively simple automatic camera with a built-in zoom lens, found out how to stumble through the mechanics of posting to Blogger--and the Arroyo Colorado River Blog was born.

At first I kept up pretty well, posting at least every week, then every two, then once a month (usually on the last day of the month). Now three months have passed by without a word from me. Three months--that's a whole season of yard happenings. (If posts appear below for late winter and spring migration, it's because I plan to cheat and post-date them if that's possible. I have a couple of drafts that I will finish up and slip into the spots I would have posted them if I had been posting.  My last update was actually just before February's Great Backyard Bird Count and it was little more than a photo of a huddled clump of Inca Doves. I had planned posts about January hummers and even a couple of birding trips away from the yard--but was already getting recalcitrant and lazy. Not blogger's block exactly but just resistance to the computer. At night I'd rather sleep or take in the night view from the windows; during the day I'd rather sit out in the yard. ) 

Looking at photographs from the last three or four months, I can recreate details from my lost blog. 

Hordes of Red-winged Blackbirds that crowded feeders and baths all winter and into the spring have come and gone. (Individuals stay, of course, especially in the sorghum fields across the road, but the invading army has retreated -- or rather advanced.)

Common year-round residents  such as this Curve-billed Thrasher and Green Jay that hung around winter feeders now just grab quick bits of seed  as they go about their primary Spring business of tending to nestlings and fledglings. (I'm waiting for this year's crop of new fledged Green Jays to show up with their parents).

Kiskadees built their  messy nest again in the Ebony tree and are now catching lizards and insects for hungry nestlings.  

Eastern Screech-owls decided against last year's nest box beside the sandy driveway and opted instead for an old woodpecker hole in the dead cottonwood. I'm glad our former neighbors left that 15-foot stump between our houses. When the tree (once the tallest in the neighborhood) died, we lost a convenient look-out for Great Horned Owls who who-who-whooed from the branches, but after a busy few years of excavating by Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, the branchless trunk has plenty of cavities for titmice, starlings, wrens and woodpeckers (the latter have thankfully left the eaves of the house alone since they found such a perfect place to construct their condos). I wouldn't have thought the hole in the picture above was large enough for a screech-owl, but the little guy seems satisfied.  That disgruntled look (Angry Bird) is probably due to my taking a photo from the bedroom window a few feet away rather than its being unhappy with the nest. The young are not yet fledged but we expect them any day. Clumsy baby Great Horned Owls fledged a couple of months ago from their nest three yards upriver.  Their awkward flight and voice has entertained us already.

(The lovely ripening berries in the owl photo are on an Anacua tree that has grown up around the old cottonwood.)

Chestnut-sided Warbler

 April brought warblers that stopped by for rest and water when north winds or quick rains caused "drop days." Writing about these guys last year and posting photos of their brief visits helped me remember just which one is which.  I didn't even have to remind myself this year that the bather above is a Chestnut-sided Warbler. Or the one at the top of this post is the lovely Mourning Warbler, so much brighter in spring than fall, its exquisite  black bib setting off the yellow breast and blue-gray back to perfection.

Canada Warbler

Though we did not host nearly as many species of warblers this spring as we did last year, it was still exciting to see such colorful species as Canada Warblers,  Yellow Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, American Redstarts, Swainson's Warblers, Prothonatory Warblers, Ovenbirds, and Worm-eating Warblers, among others. (I'll update my side-bar species list and get it posted soon.)

Yellow Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler
The photo of the acrobatic Prothonotary Warbler was taken at the South Padre Island Convention Center rather than our yard.  I know many people  are thrilled to be at the warbler lots on SPI on a fallout day, but I just feel uncomfortable in the crowds and always wish I were in my own yard.  When  we got home the same birds we saw there were here.  If it weren't for being able to eat at Blackbeard's where British Burgers and onion rings make up my favorite meal, I'd probably always stay home.

(A day of watching so many birders crowd around a small water feature  is anything but relaxing -- but it is entertaining. And there are days that I like the excitement and social aspect of that kind of birding.)

I like these two shots of Yellow and Prothonatary Warblers.  They show that any side of a spring warbler is a good view.

Nothing beats the view of nature we have here on the Arroyo Colorado. When I stepped outside with the dogs this morning, I heard young coyotes and chachalacas across the river and the whistling of Whistling Ducks above me.  Perfect sound track for a perfect view.

So that's the news from the Baughman Yard.  Lots of details are left out of my account, but at least I'm back to the Riverblog.  Life of the yard goes on even if blogging doesn't.