Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Leaving 2010... behind!

I finally got my picture of a Carolina Wren:)

Happy New Year, everybody.
Thanks for visiting and for inspiring me.
Looking forward,

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Tom has been located.  He is safe.  And, it turns out, a very fortunate young man.  Word is, he was assaulted near the border, robbed of everything he owned, including his car, and left unconscious.  He woke in a hospital in Mexico.  He is home with his family in Maine now, and recuperating from his ordeal.    Thanks to you all for your thoughts and prayers.

Missing Son
A Parent's Holiday Nightmare

Instead of preparing for a family Christmas in their beautiful, turn of the century home in Portland, Maine, dear family friends are embroiled in a frantic search for their missing son.  I'm begging you to please take just a few moments to copy and paste these links into e-mails to everyone you know in the United States.

Is this not the season of miracles?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Texas Bandit

(Lanius ludovicianus)

The Loggerhead Shrike is known in many areas as
the "Butcher Bird" because it
impales it's prey (large insects, lizards, and small birds)
 on barbed wire, fence posts, and thorny branches.
Some believe this is because it lacks the strong talons
of the larger birds of prey.
For a fine illlustration of this, check out this post on

I include this photo to give you
a glimpse of its beautiful markings.

For more, detailed information about the Loggerhead Shrike ,
visit Sibley Guides for their latest post, which happens to be -

For more Nature Notes, visit Michelle at Rambling Woods

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Texas Insects

(Atta texana)

So enthralled with watching this army of ants at work, I only took this one picture of the pile of leaf pieces
 left outside the entrance to their tunnel.
These ants were following the trail to home,
carrying pieces of leaves that, as you can see here, 
were larger than the ants themselves. 
It was quite a sight.

When I looked them up, I was amazed at what I learned. 
These are fungus ants, found mainly 
in the south central and eastern parts of Texas. 
Basically, the worker ants bring pieces of leaves to the nest,
other worker ants chew them up into little pieces,
yet other worker ants carry them to the appropriate chambers up to 8 feet down (everyone has their own job to do),
where the chewed up leaves turn into a fungus.
They are cultivated fungus gardens for food,
with proper venting, and everything!
It's necessary to farm the gardens properly,
because, according to What's That Bug,
the population of one colony can number up to
2 million ants!
Their underground habitat can spread out to over 1/2 acre,
rendering them difficult to manage
and presenting a large problem to farmers,
who lose an estimated
$5 million annually to these hungry critters!
Homeowners aren't too crazy to share space with them, either!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Riparian Rarities

Be very still.
Is that what I think it is??
Yes, indeedy!

Children at Play!
One of most favorite things!

"There is a real world, beyond the glass, for children who look, for those whose parents encourage them to truly see." Richard Louv, "Last Child in the Woods"

And that reminds me
to remind you of a couple of great books
I've mentioned in the past
that would make great Christmas gifts. 

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, would make a great gift for any parent, grandparent, or teacher on your list.  This book really gets to the core of some present day issues surrounding the activities our youth participate in, or the lack there of, and why.  It is written very clearly, in everyday language, and there's no beating around the bush.  If there is anyone on your list you would like to encourage to expose their children to more meaningful outdoor activity, this is the book for them.

Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson would definitely be on my list for gift giving this year to all the families in my life with small children or grandchildren.  I consider this among the 'must haves'.

 The Young Birder's Guide to Birds of Eastern North America by Bill Thompson would make a great first birding book for any child this
Christmas, in the hopes of sparking some enthusiasm for becoming a new birder.  Bill engaged, not only his daughter, but his daughter's class, in putting this book together for the younger set, and it is terrific.
After all, it's
Kid Approved!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I can't resist sharing this cake recipe with you. 

"Some Oreo cookies and banana Runts make this birthday cake a real hoot."
Parenting Magazine

There are more adorable cakes of all kinds - animals, fairytales, insects, sports!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Guadalupe River State Park

Saturday morning dawned gloriously warm and sunny, so we headed to Guadalupe River State Park to enjoy some safe outdoors time, escape the unnerving sprawl of the city, and to check it out as a possible winter camping destination while I am here visiting.

Located in the Texas Hill Country, the park is comprised of 1938.7 acres along 4 miles of the Guadalupe River and is adjacent to the Honey Creek State Natural Area, another 2293.7 acres, which itself is only accessible on Saturday mornings during a guided interpretive tour.

The river is lined with enormous bald cypress trees, their massive exposed, gnarled and twisted root systems making an interesting walk along the river bank.

The Bald Cypress, Taxpdium distichum, is a deciduous tree that can grow to 130 feet tall and boast a trunk diameter of up to 10 feet.  Also called the Swamp Cypress, these native trees are most commonly found along riparian wetlands in the southeast sweep of the US from Delaware Bay to central Texas (range map).  The largest known living specimen, dubbed "The Senator", near Longwood, Florida is 118 feet (36 m) tall, and with a trunk diameter of 11 feet (344 cm). The tallest known, near Williamsburg, Virginia, is 145 feet (44 m) tall, and the stoutest known, in the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has 17 feet (521 cm) diameter. (Wikipedia)

Rife with winter birds who were too busy to pose for photos, I heard the staccato rattle of and observed my first Sage Wren (Cistothorus platensis) ever, several sparrows that I could not identify because they wouldn't sit still long enough for me to ponder, Phoebes, and more Northern Cardinals than I've ever seen in one place before.  The Park Rangers told me that earlier in the morning the trails were full of kinglets. 

A week exploring the abundance of this park on my own and at my leisure should be lots of fun.  Hopefully I will have more pictures to share!

Speaking of sharing, one of my favorite Texas blogs can be found by clicking right HERE.  Kay does an amazing job photographing and sharing information about all of the South Texas specialty birds that frequent her property.  You'll be so envious!

And for more Scenic Sunday posts, just click HERE!  It's as easy as that!

Scenic Sunday