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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Wintry weather

Had to do my outside stuff indoors today. The passionflower vines are growing so fast I had to put them in bigger pots.

Those are my Purple Passionflowers (Passiflora incarnata). Soon I'm going to sprout my Birdwing Passionflower  (Passiflora tenuiloba) seeds. The latter have white flowers and are the more native to my area. About all I can do until spring arrives.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Moisture in the air

Rain is in the forecast. I woke up this morning to an overcast world, but still a lovely sunrise.

By pre-sprouting my Passionflower seeds I may end up with them needing planting into the ground before the temperatures are warm enough. These are the Passiflora incarnata. I have some P. tenuiloba seeds too, but going to slow down with sprouting them.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

More work-play

Every spring before birders start arriving I restore my dike/arroyo trail. But I got a head start on it today. Of course, if a big rain comes down the arroyo and fills my tanks I'll have to go back and pick the rocks out of it and rake it level again, but it'll be worth it to have the tanks topped off. The pruning won't need to be redone. And pruning needs to be done in January before the deciduous stuff starts leafing out.

The whole circuit is about half-mile long. When birding, especially morning time when the sun is to your back, it's best to walk the dike overlooking the arroyo, then walk back down the arroyo to the oasis. Lots of migrants seem to follow arroyo vegetation on their way north, so it's a popular little trail. Last spring I was so busy making trails up the mountain that I never reworked the arroyo trail, so it was impenetrable in places. It's also a good place to look for our native desert species. Last year Black-tailed Gnatcatchers nested way up the arroyo so I ended up sending a lot of birders that wanted to see that species up the dike trail to see them. Most of  CMO's Virginia's Warbler sightings have been along the dike trail also.

After lunch and a quick nap I pruned the lower dam trail. It didn't get used last year. Only use it when ocotillo are blooming and Lucifers aren't at the feeders. Then a male is defending his territory below the dam and if birders are desperate to see one, I send them, or take them, there.

The mountain trails (Blue Oak Trail on west side, and Saddle Trail on east side) shouldn't need any work. There's also a very short trail in the arroyo alongside the oasis (between the upper dam and middle dam) that I keep maintained and use a lot. It's where my stand of Soapberry trees are. I manicured and pruned it a bit today too. Can't stand to squander this wonderful weather. The last 3 days have been great, considering no lush vegetation or good odes, butterflies, or birds. But I felt good, everything is in working order, and I got a lot done. No leaks and plenty of water. Even got my oasis computer working.* I have my laptop here, but hate to process photos on it.

Several species of flowers are blooming. What used to be called Wright's Verbena is now called Glandularia Wrightii. It's hard enough learning the flowers without all the name changes, but what's not to love about a flower blooming in 12° weather. Of course, it's 80° today.

This Dalea frutescens is blooming too.

Also several species of yellow daisy-type flowers are blooming, but I haven't gotten the yellow ones sorted out yet. Back to town tomorrow. Vacation is over.

* I installed the old mouse and keyboard from my non-working town computer. When I bought a new one for town it came with a new keyboard and mouse. So nice to have the computer working down here. It's my first computer, 13 yrs old. Very slow but OK. My son is going to put a new hard-drive in the broken one (5 yrs old). Since it's fast, I'll bring it down here and retire this old one. But son is so busy, who knows when he'll get around to it. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The trouble with play

As I found nonstop projects to do today until I was exhausted, I realized the reason I don't play is because work is play. Being in town is work; being at CMO is play, regardless of how hard I work. So I'm playing. Put up the last satellite dish that I'm going to until Mac comes with more stands. I think he said in March.

The well really had me mystified but I think I have it figured out. When the coupling was broke the well seemed to shut off after a few minutes so I figured it wasn't making much water. Hardly worth the bother. Yesterday I fixed the coupling and it seemed the well didn't run very long before it automatically shut off (when it's out of water). So today I turned it on and it ran for at least 2 hours. I was stymied. I finally decided that when it pumps freely it removes the water from the well pipe fast and shuts off, but when it has to get the water all the way up to the house that slows the process down and water enters the pipe faster than it pumps out, which means water is accumulating on the outside of the well casing and coming through slower than the pump can pump it out without the added pressure of going up to the house. A well expert could probably tell me if that is what's happening. So yesterday it was probably just pumping the air out of the line to the house and I thought it was out of water, and turned it off. That's all I can figure out. Doesn't make much sense, but more than any other explanation I can come up with. I turned it off and gonna turn it back on in the morning and see how long it pumps. Then I should know how much water it makes per day.

I finally got a photo of that first 2017 CMO dragonfly, sort of. It landed between me and the sun so I took a shot, then tried to slowly circle around to get the sun to my back, but it flew and disappeared before I could. Never got the shot or saw it again. I'm sure it's a Variegated Meadowhawk though. In spite of the weather being in the 80s, I'm ready for some real summer.

The Wolf Moon was lovely tonight as usual. I feel like I need to photograph it to show my appreciation. Just wish my moon shots were better.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Play time

My husband went on a 3 day fishing trip so I came to CMO to play. After I got some things done that I wanted done I didn't have energy to play. I saw one dragonfly today, first for this year at CMO, but I could not get a photo of it. When it was perched I didn't have my camera on me and only got one more glimpse of it later and it didn't perch. So I can't record the species because without a photo I can't ID it. Maybe tomorrow.

Did add two more butterfly species to my January list. Female Southern Dogface and  Lyside Sulphur. Hope the year continues being good for butterflies.

It got up to 82° today. I finally got the coupling fixed coming from the well to the house so it can't come apart anymore. Should have just done it right in the first place. Gonna take it a little easier tomorrow. Just install another feeder cover, and play.

A couple of sparrow shots from today.

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Eventful day

I decided I couldn't sit indoors any longer so went to CMO to make sure no pipes were broken. Lots of people had frozen pipes. But mine were fine. By the time I got my feeders serviced and raked the rocks that had accumulated on the big hill, I could easily have called it a day. But I had been so anxious to visit Lajitas that I pushed onward. Enroute I decided to check out the sewage pond in Study Butte. It mostly just had a couple dozen Northern Shovelers.

From there I decided to swing through the "Nature Area." (The sewage pond is framed between the support posts of the sign in this photo.)

Distracted by a bird, I missed a narrow culvert crossing. After having to get towed out, I lost interest in exploring the area. I would have headed home, but would have been even more disgusted with myself, so more determined than ever, I continued toward Lajitas.

While driving there, with nothing to do but think, I was struck by a weird analogy. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out where Robert Fabian buried Zuzu, and what was the timeline and his frame of mind, etc. When I dropped into the hole I felt panic, like I imagined Fabian did when he realized he'd killed Zuzu. My first instinct was to back out. His first instinct was to get her body out of his apartment. So he put her in the trunk of his car (and likely cleaned his apartment). His second act was driving around town looking for a suitable place. 

When I realized I couldn't back out, my second thought was to call for help... son, husband, sisters, who? Then, upon more sensible reflection, I determined the best option would be to walk to the nearest person with a big pickup and ask for help. Fabian, upon more sensible reflection, decided to borrow a pickup and bury her far from town. That's what I theorize anyway. We know he drove around town (forensic evidence in the trunk of his car) and then borrowed a pickup in the middle of the night. 

And we both succeeded. I found someone to tow me out, and Zuzu's body has remained undiscovered for 3 months of extensive searching. Twice now they've gone through the city landfill with cadaver dogs, and numerous search parties keep looking. Now is that a weird analogy, or what?

At Lajitas I found a Common Merganser in the pond by the golf shop. Ebird flagged it, which surprised me. Didn't realize that was unusual. I took lots of photos of it but it was at a big distance from me, so not very satisfactory. Good enough for identification though.

Only saw two butterflies, one a Eufala Skipper, and this female Fiery Skipper.

And only one dragonfly, this Variegated Meadowhawk. It was a welcome sight, nevertheless. My first ode of the year.