Friday, April 3, 2020

A Last Trip to see the Whoppers with Pam and Roy

Pam and Roy had not yet been to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge, this year, and so we decided to make a day trip. The temperatures have been above average and so we talked about the possibility of seeing a snake. Sure enough, a six-foot long snake was stretched out across the road.
We wondered if it was a boa so I later sent a picture t my brother and he identified it as a snake we had never seen. Called a corn snake. I had thought it was a glossy snake, but I am about as good at the identification of snakes as I am flowers.
Our first stop was at Jones Lake where we were entertained by redheads, alligators, a Hudsonian Godwit, and a chorus of huge bullfrogs.
We enjoyed it so much that we stayed for a while before we next drove to the Observation Towers.
After climbing to the top of the tallest tower we failed to see and Whooping Cranes.
The pair had left, and we later saw four cranes forming into formation. Later Renita found a website that showed that the cranes had left and that they some had flew as far north as South Dakota.
Pam and Roy had not been out on the new walkway and while it’s a nice boardwalk there wasn’t a lot to see. So, we returned to the car and drove up the eleven-mile road. We wanted to see if the eagle nest was still occupied and we easily spotted the nest with one of the parents standing on top with outstretched wings.
After lunch, we made a last stop at the Heron Trail. The pair of whoopers that had taken over the area were still there and put on quite a nice display.
I took some images as they took off and they are the best images of flying whoopers we have ever shot.
Returning to the park we were tired but happy with the day. It’s always nice to be with family regardless of what you have planned but it was especially a good day of birds, wildlife moments, and a beautiful snake, Now we sit here with a stay in place order, waiting for our Wyoming place to open up. Clear skies

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

More Birding Adventures

Pam and Roy are here and this year they rented a cottage in Lamar. Their place is near fourth street, alongside the pond and do they have birds, (also two alligators one of which is huge and in th backyard of a house).

On a lucky day you can watch ten different whoopers feeding in the field across the way.
The attraction is a timed automatic feeder, and a dominant mated pair take control of the feeder! They keep away the eight immature whoopers, like our teenagers, a flock of smaller sandhill cranes, and even a herd of deer. All of these are well aware of the long sharp beak of the whooper’s They use the beak to rip apart blue crabs and there is a recorded case of one male whooping crane killing a feral pig that neared its chick.
Besides the whoopers dusk is filled with squawks as flights of tricolored herons, white ibis, little egret, and others all come in and land. As they fight each other for a preferred reed or tree branch they all raise a huge roar of squawks. Its lot of fun to hear such a raucous party.
Yesterday we decided to return to Port Aransas as Pam and Roy have not been there this year. As always, we started the birding by stopping at Leorna Turnbill Birding Center, and then driving to Paradise Pond, and Charlies Pasture.
There is a pair of whooping cranes that have taken possession of the area, (the whoopers are expanding their range), but they were not there and so we concentrated on the ducks, cranes, avocets, and other waders.
The usual blue wing and green winged teals, along with the northern shovelers dominated the water. The sun was just right, and we were able to see the blue,(the blus wing patch pictured is actually a female mottled duck), and green patches. A pair of black bellied whistling ducks paddled serenely along the water seemingly oblivious to all the other birds.
An immature night crowned heron flew near us and we got a great landing shot! And a tricolor posed a few reeds away.
We next drove to paradise pong and it was pretty deserted but there were some Great Crested Fly Catchers. Now, if we could only find our life bird list we could see if it’s a new bird for us.
There are also reports of a clapper rail, which would be another new bird on our list, but we didn’t see it.
It was a nice day with family and a nice day for a picnic. We sat near by the ferry landings and enjoyed our lunch even though grackles and laughing gulls threatened to steal our lunch. Clear skies and stay well.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A Great Day of Fishing and Catching near Rockport, Texas

Happy hour is a daily occurrence and unlike the Happy Hours at bars very few people drink. It’s a time when we all gather together to share what we have done that day and a time to make plans for trips, fishing, or other fun events. Our friend Dave asked Roy and I if we would like to go fishing in his boat and of course we jumped at the chance.
We woke up the next morning to a heavy, dense fog and  a fog advisory had been issued but we were able to make the short drive to the boat launch and the fog seemed to clear enough so that we could motor to Dave’s fishing hole.
After things quieted down a little, we started to see some swirls from larger fish and casting dead shrimp to the sand holes, (if you look carefully you can see the slight color change where the sand holes are,) holes it didn’t take long before I missed a bite.
Casting back out it wasn’t long before my bobber started to move and then sudden disappeared. Setting the hook, I knew I had a nice fish and Dave netted the nineteen-inch black drum.
Dave’s turn was next as he cast to my spot and his bobber disappeared. It was my turn to handle the net and we soon added another nice black drum to the cooler. After several more fish Roy set the hook on another black. All three were about the same size and then things slowed down.
After lunch the bite the returned and we added more black drum. Later in the afternoon redfish started to hit and I caught a twenty-two-inch keeper which Dave surpassed with a twenty-four-inch fish. It had been a steady day and we had not moved from the first spot we had tried.
We had enough fish in the cooler for our upcoming fish fry! All that was left was to clean the fish and the boat! Its always fun to go fishing with Dave and for some reason we sure seem to catch lots of fish. Thank you, Dave, for the great day! 
Clear skies

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Society 2020 Show

It was time for our first big show of the year and so we traveled to Robstown, Texas for the Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Societies’ 2020 gathering. The show was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday and so Friday was the setup day.
Arriving early, I helped to setup the GCGMS display cases while Renita carted our display to our tables. We purchased a pull wagon several years ago and she quickly and efficiently got our tables ready. Meanwhile I and others helped to sort the twenty cases. My main task was to set up the lights and electrical cables for each case.
Everything went quickly and by noon we were back in Rockport. There we washed and cleaned more of our jewelry, replaced some of the price tags, and packed the car. We don’t set out our pieces until the morning of the show, even though security is provided by the club.
Saturday arrived and we left early. It was an hour drive to Robstown and it only took an hour for us to set out jewelry out. The past year has been good to us and we have added lots of new stones, opals, rings and bracelets. We hoped for a large turnout as our success depends on the number of people that walk through the door. Not everyone buys our work, but the numbers tell us how successful we will be.
The gates opened, and there was a lineup of people, but it didn’t seem as busy as last year when we had a record turnout, and for us record sales. It was a slow day, but we had returning customers who stopped and visited us, which is always fun.
That night Renita totaled our day’s receipts and she came up with an extremely disappointing result. We had made a little money, after deducting the entry costs and travel expenses but the total was less than half of last year’s first day.
The second day arrived, and as usual Sunday morning was really slow. Still we made sales and one bright spot was having more returning customers. Another bright side was that our new bracelets made up twenty percent of our sales.Still it was slow and I was able to wander over to the silent auction table, run by Rita and Josie, where I did buy a rock.
At the end of the day, we talked with other vendors who told us that their sales had also tanked. At least we weren’t the only ones. As we left, we talked with the GCGMS president who told us the numbers of ticket sales had dropped from 2200 last year to only 1200. No wonder.
The coronavirus had caused many to stay away and who can blame them. Luckily, we don’t depend on our sales for our daily lives, unlike many of the others. Let’s hope that things will get better for our summer shows in Alpine and Cody, Wyoming.
Clear skies, and don’t forget to wash your hands!

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Fishing, Making Bracelets, a Quick Trip to Houston, and Getting Ready for the Robstown Show

The last week has been extremely busy but as the title suggests I still made time to go fishing. Terry asked me if I wanted to wade fish an area called Tin Can and even though I knew my waders leaked I decided to go.
The fish didn’t bite, and the water was cold but at least I found the leak. Water quickly filled my right boot and when I took the boots off, I noticed a large hole the size of drill bit. No wonder it flooded into my neoprene boot waders! Did I say the water was really cold?
Monday Renita and I made a quick trip to Sugar Land as my hearing aids had develop a loud static noise. The hearing aid specialist asked me if I had worn them in the shower. I told her no, at least not for quite a while and then only for a few seconds, but the fog here has been like pea soup and as soon as you go out in it you are coated with heavy dew.
Its so bad that you can not wear glasses! Anyway, both were sent in and replaced under warranty. The problem is it took a week and so for a week I couldn’t here much of anything. I was really glad to be able to hear Renita again!
Finally, our first big show of the year is this weekend and while Renita has been making kumihimo necklaces, she and I have been making a new style bracelet. They take quite a bit of gold and silver wire and expensive pattern wire. All three types of bracelets have been getting compliments and so here’s hoping that it results in sales.
The show is the annual Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Show. Its this Saturday and Sunday at the Robstown, Texas, County Fairgrounds building.
It really depends on the size of the turnout. There are no cases of the Core 19 Virus in Texas yet so here’s to optimism!
Clear skies

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Valentines Day and A Concert in the Rv Park

Its not that I haven't been taking images/pictures. Its just that our internet service is so poor that I can't retrieve them after I send them as an email. Suffice it to say that Verizon is not a service that I would recommend. I will be happy when I can switch to a better system but until one is available in Star Valley it just won't happen.

We have been extremely busy the last two weeks. Our park held its annual Valentines Day feast. The dinner was cooked by our resident barbecue pit master, Alan and organized by his wife Zita.  They are the activities directors here at Blue Lagoons and are the best we have seen in thirteen years of rving.
The dinner, as all ones here do, started with a prayer before the tables were called up to be served a giant plate of prime rib or chicken. Alan had smoked both in his Traeger grill. They were excellent.
Another night found us gathered together for a free concert by Kevin Motsinger. He is the son of our friends Dale and Delores and he plays a mean guitar and sings many old country western tunes, church songs, and even some of his own works. It was a great concert and we all love it when he is here.Thank you Kevin!
Adding to these days were three days of fishing. The first day fishing Renita, Terry, and I paddled the Sailboat Channel. Its a place where we have had some great days but there were so many people there that the fishing was slow, (Presidents Day).
The next day our fiend John invited us to go fishing at the North Jetty where I caught a pompano, one of the best eating fish there is!  Our friend Terry unintentionally hooked a rare sea turtle but we were able to get it near enough that I was able to carefully unhook it. It swam away and a little later we saw it feeding with no apparent damage.
The third day found us again in John's boat and Terry caught a great black drum on he first cast. A few casts later I hooked a keeper red fish, and we continued to catch more fish but none were in the slot limit. Still it was a fun day, it always is when John takes us out, Thank you John.

So I wish I could show you some more images but I can't even find them in the server or in our sent and received email accounts.The one picture of our friends took half an hour to download and save.
Hopefully things will get better when our account is reset. Clear skies

Sunday, February 16, 2020

A Day at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, 2020

Each year we travel to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge for a day of birding. The highlight of course is getting close enough to see whooping cranes, but we are usually left with a distant view from on top of the Birding Tower.
The birds are so far away that they look like little white spots, instead of the five-foot-tall regal birds. A good pair of binoculars is a must!
However, we got a much closer view as another pair has showed up and has claimed an area near the Heron Trial!
Arriving at the Refuge Headquarters we saw that the old building and museum has been leveled. The roof had been torn off by Hurricane Harvey. The refuge now has plans to start construction this summer, provided that the budget is passed and that the funds are not diverted.
The Volunteer told us that they were excited to announce that a pair of bald eagles had successful produced an eagle chick and that the nest was visible from the Nine-mile one-way loop. She also showed us what the nest looked like form the road and told us to drive exactly 5.6 miles, park in the turnoff and walk a little further for an unobstructed view. It’s the first pair to successfully nest in the last fifty years.
Deer were everywhere but it was very cold and windy, and the alligators were not in their usual places. We stopped at Jones Lake where we saw pied billed grebes, Green winged teals, and shovelers. There had been talk of two large gators, but they were not in sight, we did see a family of raccoons, one of the gators favorite food, and they tempted fate as they made a brief trip to the lakes edge.
We wee pleased to see that the boardwalk at the Towers had been reconstructed and allowed us to walk to the Big Tree trail. The Refuge’s Big tree is four hundred and eighty years old, about half the age of the Big Tree at Lamar. It has not had the care of the oak tree there and most of the large branches had been shorn off by the hurricanes direct hit.
The view from the Tower gave us a great panoramic view, and we watched the whoopers, along with a fly fisherman being guided as they polled along the edge of the bay. Returning to our car we next drove the Nine Mile Loop in search of the eagle nest. The directions we had been given wee excellent and we easily spotted the aerie with one of the adults standing guard. It dd leave the nest briefly made a dive and before returning with a fish!

Renita spotted an armadillo and so we stopped for images but the best view we got of armadillos was at the picnic area where she got an image of an armadillo standing up as it watched her. After lunch we finally stopped to see the alligator named George, by the refuge staff, and as usual it appeared to be sleeping while sunning on a muddy bank.
It was a good day filled with many wildlife moments. Lots of birds, deer, armadillos and a big gator. We also ended up with ten thousand steps for the day, its too easy to sit inside during the cold and not get any exercise, something