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Friday, August 26, 2016

Tomorrow's the day

At 5 this morning it started to thunder and sprinkle. Checking the radar online I saw that the oasis was in the path of a big storm. I grabbed a flashlight and mixed some patching compound and got into the tank. But the leaks were still running and I couldn't do a thing about it. So I decided to go to town and let come what may. The rain was pounding down by then and I barely made it out to the highway.

My sister, a mile north of the oasis, got half an inch, and neighbors three miles to the south got well over an inch. So this afternoon I came back down to face the situation. I figured I'd at least need to redo the feeders.  I got a little over half an inch, but if it had come down faster it could have flashed. As it was, it all soaked into the ground. That's good.

So many flowers are blooming that the bees ignored the feeders. Here is the best my Senna wislizeni has ever looked. I'm just so amazed at how things can be so struggling and half dead after four months of record heat and no rain, and then a short time later be all lush and gorgeous, like nothing happened.

And I was excited to get a couple of halfway decent shots of an ovipositing (depositing eggs) female Eastern Amberwing. Hard for me to do; they move so fast. The background is rather busy, but I didn't have time to get the focus right while it was in constant motion. In hindsight, I think if I had gotten down to water level it would have worked better, but it all happened so fast. These are the best amberwing ovipositing shots I've taken so far.

And I'm really burned out on Common Green Darners. This is the most I've ever seen in one place.

Tomorrow early I'm going to make one last attempt at patching the last few leaks. Then I'm going to start filling the tank, leaking or not. Can't postpone it any longer or I won't have enough water to fill it. If the leakage is reduced from 2 inches per day to 1 inch per day, I can live with that.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

More frustrating setbacks

Daylight found me anxious to get the tank patched and start pumping. However, the hydraulic patching material did not work as stated. I followed the directions and tried over and over again. Wouldn't stop the water leaking in. So, I'm waiting. Too tired to go to town and try to find something that will work, so waiting for the leakage to subside. Another day lost. At least it hasn't rained yet and filled the tank. I got to thinking. The shallow end is 8 feet deep, about 96 inches. Even if I get the leakage down to half what it is, that still would mean the water would only last three months. If there's even enough water left in the dirt tanks to fill it. Hopefully, tomorrow.

A few photos from today.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, probably juvenile male

Silverleaf Sage

Condalia Warnockii

Same Condalia, (20 yrs old)

Texas Ranger

Eastern Amberwing, male

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Rain, rain, go away!

With the generous help of Michael and Cecilia Gray, we got the tank pumped out today. (I'm so very grateful to them.) Everything else is full of water and it's threatening rain. If any significant amount falls, there's no place else for it to go except into the stucco tank. I can't patch it until water stops running into the tank through the leaks. We all got very worn out today. I couldn't have done it without their help. They're the best!

The above photo is of me examining the leaks. It's not of my fall. That didn't get captured on camera. The ramp going into the tank is slick and muddy. I made several trips in and out for various reasons. On one of them I skidded off the ramp into the deep end of the tank. Had I been able to stand up it wouldn't have been over my head, but the bottom was sloped and slick. When I stayed underwater, trying, in vain, to stand, I finally decided time to swim or tread water or something. Once I did that, somehow I managed to get on my feet, but it took awhile. I hate getting my head underwater and swallowing that nasty water. Yuck! At least I didn't hurt my sciatica. That was my only fear in falling. The water was a soft landing. Thinking about it makes me laugh now. Not so much at the time.

Here is a photo Cecilia took. It was after I got to my feet and making my way out. Michael had been putting gas in the pump up on top and came down still carrying the gas can. I had lost my UV glasses and was trying to recover them, which I finally did. Normally, I entered the tank along the wall on the ramp. Everything was covered with mud so I used a broom as a walking stick, brush side down. Where you see the broom on the photo is where I skidded off the ramp and into the tank. Where I ended up the water was about 4½ feet deep.

Here is the biggest leak, but not the one that has the most water coming from it. Maybe because it's up higher. The piece on the left third of this photo is the patch that peeled off the hole (the rest of the photo). Obviously, I'm going to have to come up with better solutions. Right now, though, I want to get it patched and filled.

I was able to start patching the above hole. The round one below it is still leaking too badly.

Here's the caterpillar of a cool moth, maybe a Forester moth?

The laugh is on me. Michael and I were taking turns photographing an Elf Owl, fearful that it would flush. I snapped photos while Michael went to get a different lens or camera. When he walked back toward me he asked if it was still there. I said, it must not be very nervous of our presence, because "it has one eye closed." When I downloaded my photos, I had to laugh at my mistake. No closed eye on this owl.

Update: It only sprinkled tonight. Since there was nothing I could do to the tanks this evening, I came to town for hydraulic patch, gas, etc. That way I can get down there and patch early AM and start filling. Won't have to wait for it to set up. The only urgency to filling is that with every delay the water in the dirt tanks goes down a bunch. I want to hurry so I'll have enough to top off the stucco tank. But more important are secure patches. I think I'm winning.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

No time for photos

I came down to the oasis at daylight this AM intent on pumping out the stucco tank quickly, then refilling it tomorrow. Now I regret doing it. No place to pump the water and trying to save as much as possible I kept having to move pumps and hoses around. All back-breaking work. Spent an hour trying to get one gas pump running. Finally quit when the pull-rope broke. Lots of time spent in cold water for various reasons. Finally about 3 PM I just collapsed and couldn't go anymore. The tank still has only about 3 feet removed. Usually I don't even start pumping until it's 3' down. By then I don't have enough water left in the dirt tanks to fill the stucco tank. So I thought that by starting earlier I'd end up with a full tank. But that means wasting a lot of water. Of course, it would waste one way or the other. Anyway, I'm committed now. I asked Cecilia and Michael Gray to come help me finish it tomorrow. I just can't lift one more 50 lb pump. I can barely even move. Taking NyQuil and off to bed.

If I don't patch the leak it will really have been a waste. As it was, I could keep the tank topped off from the dirt tanks for weeks to come. So would have had water in it until around December. But that's too soon to start using the water from the big cement tank. It wouldn't last until rainy season. If I can top off the stucco tank, and if it doesn't leak, it should last until March or April. Life is a gamble.

Everything is blooming -- purple sage, yellow bells, beebrush, etc. The oasis is heavy with the fragrance of the beebrush. I'll try to take pictures tomorrow.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Newspaper article

The San Antonio newspaper did an article on the festival and trip to CMO but I haven't seen it yet. Hope it's accurate. I'll try to get a copy tomorrow, if possible.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Festival's conclusion

Earlier in the week I heard a blurb on National Public Radio about the festival. The speaker said the itinerary included a field trip to "a place called 'Lucifer Madness,' believe it or not." I knew they had to be referring to CMO and I couldn't figure out who had come up with that name. I figured maybe to protect my privacy one of the organizers came up with it. Then I found the festival schedule online. Here's a section of it:

It seems that was the name of the field trip, not the name of the location. Another example of not believing everything you hear on the radio.

Tonight the final event was a photo presentation by Larry Ditto. I was eager to see how his oasis Lucifer shots turned out. This first shot is one of my mountain reflected in the lower dirt tank. 

Next are my photos of the presentation screen of female and male Lucifers. Larry's actual photos are much better and sharper, but this gives you the idea.

And no festival would be complete without me buying a tee-shirt. Artwork by Clemente Guzman III.