Friday, February 5, 2016

American Goldfinches return to my yard

American Goldfinches are cleaning out the sunflower seeds in the feeders this winter. I didn't see many last year.

Some speculated that we didn't see them last year at backyard feeders because there was plenty of wild food for them. Also the migration numbers vary from year to year.

I'm happy to see them return although it means filling the feeders more often.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Osprey shakes it off

This cloud bank was more impressive in real-life.
After a late-morning downpour, the sun peeped through.

As the sky brightened an osprey perched on a tree top to preen.

It was probably getting ready for another fishing foray over the water at Baytown Nature Center. The hawks like to snag fish with their claws.

I'm a terrible birder, but it was hard to miss this big one on the top of tree.
This osprey was checking its feathers after a rainstorm.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Little green treefrog peeks out

During a sprigging session at Sheldon Lake State Park, I had to take off my mud-caked gloves to snap this pic with my phone.

The Green Treefrog was a welcome diversion.

The frog was safely captured on the work table and set loose near the water's edge.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Hooded Mergansers chill out

I was walking the trail and the Hooded Mergansers were floating in the canal when we noticed each other.

While I admired their fancy feathers, they swam quickly the other direction.

Then the ducks took off.

I guess the admiration wasn't mutual.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Mustang Island is quiet during December

If you want the beach at Mustang Island State Park all to yourself, go on a chilly, overcast December day.

You can drive on the beach to choose a camp site.

Jetties along the north end.

What a clean beach.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Overwhelmed by the Big Tree at Goose Island State Park

What was happening on the Gulf Coast in the year 1015? Did this tree start as a sapling near a Karankawa fishing camp?

When I saw The Big Tree of Goose Island State Park my brain couldn't comprehend that I was looking something 1,000 years old.

I know there are older trees in the world. But this one caught my attention.

Your imagination cranks up when you think about what has happened during the past thousand years around this tree with the big, crazy trunk and crooked branches.

It was an overcast blustery 50 degrees but the grass was still green in early December at Goose Island State Park. Birders were looking for Sandhill Cranes, which I heard but never saw that day.

I enjoyed looking at the tree.

There are lots of bumps and scars on the tree, which survived hundreds of years of floods, fires, droughts, careless humans and up to 50 hurricanes.

The height of 44 feet has been stunted by the Gulf breezes, but the tree's impressive girth is 35 feet around. It is 89 feet across the crown.

The tree has also been called the Lamar Oak, named for the town that was mostly destroyed by a Union naval bombardment in 1865 that started fires. It is also known as Texas State Champion Live Oak and Bishop's Tree, for the Catholic retreat near  Lamar.

The state of Texas acquired private lands from 1931 through 1935 to create Goose Island State Park and now cares for the tree, which outlasted so many others without any help.
The Big Tree's younger relatives look slim compared to the old-timer.

Saturday, November 21, 2015