Thursday, March 24, 2022

Family Time!

We have been blessed this year, with visits by friends and family. This month Renita’s brother Phil and his wife Brenda, drove here in South Texas, from their home in Florida. It had been five years since we had seen them at our daughter’s wedding, and Renita and her sister Pam were excited about their family reunion. Pam had also gotten a call from her youngest son Brent, that he was going to stop by on his family’s spring break vacation to South Padre Island. They all managed to coordinate their dates and so it was family reunion time!
Phil and Brenda showed up first and of course we took them birding! The whooping cranes cooperated, and we had a great time in Lamar. Driving down fourth street. A pair was feeding at the first feeder. There were also sandhill and whistling ducks.
The dominate pair was being closely watched by six more whooping cranes. It was a great sight to be able to see eight of the five hundred whooping cranes in existence. Whooping cranes numbers have risen from nineteen birds to the present flock and are one of the most endangered species in North America.
We stopped for more pictures on Beach Road before we headed to Big Tree for the stroll around Big Tree. If you have ever been there, the tree used to have a sign stating its age but now the sign reads that the live oak tree is one of the largest in the state
. While at Big Tree Renita spotted a vermillion flycatcher. It was across the street, but we still got pictures of it along with a flying red tail hawk and sandhill cranes.
The rest of the time together was spent visiting about sharing family memories, new plans, retirement tales, and future trips.
It was so nice to have the siblings reunited! Clear skies

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Oysterfest Fireworks

On the same weekend as our Gem and Mineral Show Rockport has an Oyster Fest celebration.
It is a fund raiser for the Fireman and we always attend it on Thursday night. This year I decided to try out our new camera. Setting up by our lighted pier,
I was able to catch the fireworks and even ones rising from the fireworks barge! The blossoms of the fireworks were only surpassed by the images of what I call fireworks flowers!
Once and a while I get lucky.
Clear skies

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The 2022 Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Show

It was almost ten o’clock. Soon the show would open, and we all wondered if the crowds would appear. Covid had caused us to cancel last year’s Gulf Coastt Gem and Mineral show. During the past year we had good shows in Wyoming, and so we had continued to make more jewelry from our lapidary studio. Now we had so many cases that we had to add two more tables.
At first a trickle came in, but a line grew and was soon out the door. The line continued until after noon and we were swamped and the aisles were packed for most of the day! It was just what we hoped for. The club officers had changed their advertising and had concentrated on using social media, and it had worked! We were so busy that we did not have time to walk around and take pictures, as we usually do, so instead we took pictures of the material we had purchased. Joining us were my cousin Angie and her husband Pete along with Pam and Roy, Renita’s sister and brother-in-law. It was a good thing we had so much space. The rock shows are places where we look for special rocks for this year’s production, and we found the number one rock we had been searching for, extremely high-quality clear rutilated quartz! This will allow us to make doublets with rutilated quartz, backed with lapis, jade, and sodalite
We also found a great piece of Wiggins Fork petrified wood which you may recall was one of the spots we rock hounded last summer. Its funny that the piece we bought in South Texas will be now going back to Wyoming, (we purchased it from a dealer in Colorado, who also told us where we should concentrate this year’s rock hounding efforts).The same dealer also had some Wyoming Youngite, We had used up all we had last year so it was a lucky find.
One of the fun things is a silent auction where the club members and the club both offer specimens and cabochons for sale. We were the high bidder for an old 1950’s collection of small cabochons that we plan on setting into rings, (Small cabs take extra effort and time. These pieces save me about thirty hours of sawing, doping, grinding, and polishing).
Last year we ground and finished over one hundred and fifty cabochons ourselves. We also purchased a chunk of Louisiana Opal, (first photo). Few people know that opals were discovered near Shreveport, but the mine was later submerged when a new flood control dam was built. Our plan is to saw it into slabs before making more Louisiana opal cabochons. Its going to be a busy summer of family, friends, and bear watching. Of course, we must include fishing and pickleball! Clear skies

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Fred and Becky's visit, and teaching a wire wrapping class, (passing skills on)

The last week has been cold, there were a couple of days where it was warm and foggy, but the first of two cold fronts passed though, and we have been hiding inside ever since. Of course, we had company, as our Star Valley friends came down to camp and fish. We had also planned to teach a class on a wire wrapping, so the cold fronts did not interrupt that. They camped at Goose Island State Park at a great site for their camper van. We met and talked over our options, deciding to try to spot whopping cranes the next morning. The next morning, we awoke to a heavy fog. It was a really poor day to take decent photos, but as we could not wait for better weather, we drove over to their campsite and picked them up.
Getting our cameras ready, we first drove down fourth street and after passing the cattails, we spotted two whooping cranes. They were in a field along Lamar Beach Road. Pulling over along the beach side. Fred, Becky, and Renita bailed out as I rolled down my window and shot through the opening. We knew right away that the fog was going to cause problems, and it did. Still, we hoped our computers image processing programs would allow us to mitigate its effects. Renita and I use a standard processing program on our windows program and our friend Fred uses a free program on his iPad. After we exchanged our best photos, I noticed how Fred had been able to lessen the effects of the fog. Our program had also worked but nowhere as good as his. He retouched one of our photos and sent it back to me. The difference is plain to see. We need to get his program and learn how to use it.
The first image is our original image, the second we retouched using Windows,
and the third is the one Fred edited with his iPad.
We did see quite a few birds. Rosette spoonbills have arrived as they use a rookery nearby. A cara-cara landed on a telephone pole,
and a few ducks were swimming in a puddle in the field. After taking their pictures two young bulls decided to engage in a head-butting match and we were actually able to get the cloud of dust as the charged each other.
Meanwhile a flock of sandhill cranes landed and the spoonbills flew away. Now the four whooping cranes were nearby and one of them flew over to the sandhills and started to chase them.
Imagine our surprise when we saw that it was not the dominant male but instead one of the juveniles. It sure did not take the new whooping crane long to emulate his father actions. After making one charge the sandhills scattered and he then began feeding.
After returning home we noticed an unusual bird in one of the photos. Posting the picture on the Bird ID Group, where it was identified as an Upper Sandpiper, a new life bird for our list.
We spent the rest of the day watching the whooping crane family. After lunch we got live shrimp for bait and then drove back to the park where we fished on the Fishing Pier. The fishing was terrible but at least Fred was able to catch a pinfish with his new pole. I caught a couple of stingrays, so we never caught anything for dinner. The next day our friends decided to check out sights around Rockport. We had a wire wrapping class to teach. It was a free class where the participants tired their hands at what we do for our business.
While we have taught classes in the past, its not our favorite thing to do. Some of our older students have difficulty manipulating the tools and wire.
This time the small class of five had great day. Here are the result of three of the students!
This week we are getting ready for the Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Show, in Robstown Texas. Its our second biggest show of the year. Now if covid numbers will stay low and if the crowd will attend…. Clear skies