Sunday, June 25, 2017

I'm concerned about sad dove

What happened to your neck?
I see doves around the bird feeder all the time. They all look the same to me although I've noticed that the white-winged doves will get on the feeder while the mourning doves prefer to stay on the ground.

This week as the rain threatened a strange dove came for a visit. It's been hanging round for the past three days, and I've started thinking of it as sad dove.

At first its distinctive dark color caught my attention. But when I looked closer, I noticed it had lost feathers around its neck. It looks thin compared to the other doves.

What's your story, sad dove? I wonder.

I've started watching for sad dove. It keeps its distance until most of the other birds have left then it approaches the feeder for seeds that have fallen to the ground. In my imagination I've decided the other doves are being mean to sad dove.

When it started raining Saturday, all the birds left the feeder so sad dove moved in.

Sad dove alone pecking under the feeder in the rain. Awww.

This morning sad dove was back although it wasn't near the feeder. But I just looked out the window and didn't see it. I hope it comes back.

It makes me a little sad when I don't see sad dove.

Wet and thin.
It doesn't let me get close for pics.
Mourning dove with sad dove.
White-winged dove with sad dove.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Random thoughts after a tour of five state parks

Feral cats behind a Dumpster near the historic Big Spring.
We stopped by five state parks on our way to a wedding Amarillo. The weather was a bit unsettled, so our plans changed a couple of times. But that was part of the adventure.

Big Spring State Park: One of few Texas state parks with free admission. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the three-mile roadway loop to the top of the scenic bluff and some buildings. The sunset view from the top is supposed to be remarkable, but we were there around noon on Memorial Day and didn't see many people. The playground near the pavilion was empty.

We wanted to see the historic Big Spring, but discovered the spring has its own park. Alas, it was closed for renovation. It looked like trails and landscaping were being added behind the chain-link fence. It should be nice when it reopens.

I think this is a spotted ground squirrel hiding in the shade at Lake Colorado City State Park
Lake Colorado City State Park: This a park for camping and boating. We hiked the rocky shoreline trail among the mesquite and cactus while rain clouds threatened.

Lake Brownwood State Park rents cabins that were built by the CCC.
Lake Brownwood State Park: Spent the night in a CCC cabin on the lake. A rain storm blew in and we didn't have wifi to check on the severity of the storm, but figured a cabin built into the hillside was a pretty safe place. There are several CCC-built trails, benches and fire pits that are quite impressive. CCC also constructed the recreation hall with a rooftop view and a walkway to the water.

The next morning the canoes looked inviting, but it started raining again.

An easy trail with plenty of wildlife.
Abilene State Park: This is where we saw deer along Elm Creek Nature Trail and on the hike to the bird blind. Saw lots of campers and families but not many on the trails. I think most were more interested in the lake and the CCC-built pool.

Not much tree cover along the trails at Copper Breaks.
Copper Breaks State Park: I liked this park because the terrain was so different on the trails. It was also hot without tree cover. There is nice museum at headquarters featuring Comanche and Kiowa tribes, with a section on Cynthia Ann Parker.

When asked about the longhorn herd, the ranger said if we honked our horn at the fence, longhorns might walk up. We decided not to honk because we didn't want to seem obnoxious.

Friday, June 23, 2017

When a butterfly lands, I hold my breath and snap a pic

Little Wood-Satyr
Silver-banded Hairstreak
Hackberry emperor and basket flower
Pearl crescents find some tasty dung on the trail.

Popular flower
Western pygmy blue
Roadside skipper?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Snake in the pond

It was drizzling this morning when I forced the dog to go outdoors. The dog was the first to spot the snake in the bog area. It slithered into the pond and stuck up its head to look at us. The dog didn't care, but I did.

I'm accustomed to seeing the occasional ribbon snake. They are small, slim and quick. This snake was dark and fat.

I sent pics of the morning visitor to my BNC buddy Crissy to reassure me that this is a harmless Yellow-bellied water snake.

"That's what it looks like to me," she emailed in return. Uh, thanks, Crissy.

When I looked out the window later, I'm pretty sure I saw two snakes circling the pond. I'd rather see frogs. Sigh.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Deer along the trails at Abilene State Park

This deer was just down the trail from a bird blind with feeders.
White-tailed deer were easy to spot in Abilene State Park.

It hightailed it when we got closer.
Along the Elm Creek Nature Trail, deer watched us pass. The one in front had a limp. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Leopard moth pays a visit

Good morning, moth!
Opened the side door this morning and found a Leopard moth on the step.

It wasn't moving.

It was starting to rain so I coaxed it onto a stick and put it in a dry place in the backyard. When I got back a few hours later, it was gone.

Maybe it will return tomorrow morning.

The abdomen has blue and orange markings.
The wingspan is about 3 inches.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Roadrunners on the road

The stripe behind the eye is more noticeable during breeding season. Breeding pairs mate for life.
On a weeklong adventure to a niece's wedding in Amarillo, we saw roadrunners in Lake Brownwood State Park and Copper Breaks State Park. And, yes, they they were on the road.

We also saw a coyote (sorry, no pic) during the trip. But there was no sign of any Acme equipment.

Roadrunners are omnivore ground foragers. They eat insects, reptiles (including rattlesnakes), small mammals, fruits, seeds and eggs.
Roadrunners can reach 20 mph; coyotes are faster.