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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Oops, I forgot to post yesterday.

I finished my curb yesterday and meant to post a photo of it, but forgot. So here it is.

The ligher colored cement in the foreground is the dry part and the rest is wet.

The white you see on the middle right side is the newly coated tank. 



Friday, March 28, 2014

Skippers, and more skippers

Just couldn't quite finish the curb today. Will finish in the morning and take a photo. Meanwhile, I tallied another butterfly species for the oasis. Not really dramatic. It's a Texas Powdered-Skipper and almost indistinguishable from the Arizona Powdered-Skipper. I saw both species today. Guess because lots of mallow has started blooming and they like mallow. Here's the mallow (with a Checkered-Skipper on it).


Here's the Arizona Powdered-Skipper that is quite common at the oasis.


And here is the Texas Powdered-Skipper. (All photos taken today.) The key to telling the two species apart is the pale median band on the forewing. On the AZ (above), it's jagged. On the TX (below), it's smooth. Tricky, huh?



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bent out of shape

I decided to concrete my bench today. After I had the legs stuck in wet cement and the rock seat on, I saw that the seat was lopsided. Couldn't slide it and mess up the legs* that were setting, so I just picked up the huge rock slab and moved it an inch. Maybe I'll be able to straighten up tomorrow. If I can get out of bed. Kidding. You know I'll be down hauling sand and mixing cement in the morning, working on the curb that's supposed to keep water from running along the west side of the tank. After I started, I remembered that since I put in a raised parking area, the water no longer runs along the tank. But, since I already have it started, I'll just go ahead and finish it, hopefully tomorrow.


And that male Red-naped Sapsucker has me further bent out of shape. (Photo of him on post of 3-22) Look what he's doing to the poor Velvet Ash tree.

It was a good day today. Finally got all the Drylok on the tank. This will be the last photo of the tank until it fills with water.


And late this afternoon I saw a butterfly that I assumed was just a faded ordinary Marine or Reakirt's Blue, but for some reason I photographed it, anyway. Good thing I did. It turned out to be a new species for me and the oasis--- an Eastern Tailed-Blue. Had I known it was different, I would have tried for a better photo. This is the only one I shot. Kind of a "just-in-case-it's-something-different" shot.


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* The reason I put four legs under the rock seat is because I wouldn't enjoy the bench fearing one of my heavier visitors might get excited and twist around to look at a bird or something and cause a leg to tip and crush a foot. I've learned that chairs I don't think can get broken, often do. Plus, I can imagine a rattlesnake coiling under that nice cool rock bench. Now, with all those legs, that can't happen.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

YES!

No thanks to mother nature! It barely got warm enough to work with the Drylok. Directions say at least 50,° so the minute it got that warm, I braved the raging wind and finished up. I guess I could say, "the difficult I do right away, and the impossible takes me six weeks and two days." The wind kept blowing grit all over the place, so I just kind of helped it blow to the part that was already done. That worked out pretty good.

Looking south
I am going to spend another day soon covering that gray area with a diluted mix of Drylok, though when I started doing that today, it seemed quite durable without the Drylok. Can't hurt though.*

One hard part of coating the tank that you probably hadn't thought about was the knee pads. Not possible to do it without them, but my 74 year old body (in a few months it will be) had a devil of a time getting them on and off. They're tight elastic bands that slide up the legs, which was doable in spite of my stiff hips, knees, etc. But then taking them off afterwards, when they were wet with sweat, and my legs seemed swollen, and my shoulders felt broken, was the biggest difficulty. And they weren't too tight, because sometimes they would work down and I'd have to pull them up. I used to have some that strapped on, but could never keep them in place and the straps cut into my legs bad. I'd like to say one more time with the pads and never again, but I think I'll coat the upper part of the big tank one of these days. It doesn't leak, but the concrete is eroding from wave action. It needs to be protected somehow. Remember a few years ago some friends came and helped me patch it, but that didn't adhere very well. The water level in that tank won't be low enough for me to attempt coating it until at least May.

Meanwhile, next time I come back to the oasis, I'm going to start that rock and concrete diversion  curb. I realize water coming down the arroyo that the tank is built into is probably getting under the tank, as well. Gonna have to do something about that eventually. I think I'll concrete a wider spillway. That should help. And on my list is fixing those two bad places on the road.

Not getting out in this hurricane to take wildlife pictures today. Tomorrow we'll be banding. Maybe I'll get some shots of that.
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 Interesting side-note: Yesterday when I was cleaning the very last few uncoated square feet of the tank in preparation for finishing today (an area I KNEW didn't leak), I found an old patch of something rubbery, that flaked off as I was cleaning. Underneath was a round hole about the size of a silver dollar (think bathtub drain here). That floor was, I thought, heavily reinforced and 4 inches think. Had I just patched the tank, like I did every year, and not coated the whole thing, I would never have discovered that hole. The reason the tank didn't leak when the water level was low had to have been because there's a void between the tank and bedrock that holds water when the tank is low. And when I pump water, some of that undoubtedly seeps back up through that hole. I've seen that happen in the walls before, so I know it happens. BUT, when the tank's water level is high, the void beneath overflows up and around the sides of the tank. So had I not persevered to the very end, I would have been whining that I patched that tank so good, how could it be leaking (like I did last year)? The only way it could leak this year is if something caves in where there's a hollow behind it. But that has never happened, so I don't think it will.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Too much of a good thing

Another perfect day. I pushed myself to do my quota on the tank. Tomorrow is D-Day-- Done Day. Two more gallons should do it. I hope to put some Drylok on that gray Thoroseal though. It doesn't seem rugged enough. I can scrub it off. Not good.

Looking west

Hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. (Say's Phoebe)


Cottonwood tree leafing out (Scott's Oriole on top). Soon Mourning Cloak larva will be munching on the leaves.


And a doggone Red-naped Sapsucker showed up today. Hope he leaves soon.

Kelly's going to come Monday and try to catch that Lucifer Hummingbird with the stuff caught on her leg. It can't be band related because he bands on the right leg and this stuff is on her left leg. He would come sooner if the bird seemed to be in distress, but she's acting totally normal.


Maybe tomorrow I can get a clearer photo. She moves faster than my lens and I can keep up with. Probably what happened is the spider webbing she was building a nest with got tangled in some of my tempting cotton offering. Likely it would wear off by itself.

UPDATE: Kelly came and trapped the bird, as planned. It was her 10th recapture. He cleaned the stuff off. It was totally natural stuff, and tangled in her foot. It would have come off by itself. That might happen a lot in the wild when they're nesting. She was a good healthy weight and gravid (pregnant with egg).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Perfect spring day at CMO

I just wish I had been well enough to get the maximum work out of myself today. As it was I could only do 1½ gallons of coating. The problem is that I wear myself out cleaning where I'm going to coat before I ever open the can of Drylok. Today marks six weeks since I started coating the tank. If I can do 2½ gallons tomorrow, I'll be real close to finishing.

Coming down from Alpine in the pre-dawn was so lovely, I kept stopping to take photos. The Christmas Mountains appeared haloed with a pretty pinkness.


Lots of birds and butterflies today but no unusual species. I saw my FOS (first of season) Ash-throated Flycatcher, but have not seen or heard an Elf Owl yet.

I was distressed to see a female Lucifer Hummingbird with her foot tangled in something. I try be be careful with string and stuff like that. Don't know what it is exactly. Hope she gets it off.


































Driving from the house to the habitat late this afternoon, I saw an American Kestrel with a mouse. Just in case it flew when I opened the car door, I took a photo through the windshield. OK, through the dirty windshield. Good thing too, because he disappeared as soon as I opened the door. So I'm left with only this really poor image.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Alpine drive-about

I got really restless in town today so grabbed my camera and drove around town looking for flowers and butterflies. Forgot my binoculars so missed IDing a good raptor.  (Also too close to the sun and my camera was on auto-focus with traffic coming.) I did see quite a few flowers, but not a single butterfly. There were patches of white Blue Bonnets....


...patches of blue Blue Bonnets, and patches of mixed.


Back at the house I got a good shot at a  female Mexican Mallard Duck. I've never seen such a clean orange bill on one before.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Going strong again


As the saying goes, all I lack is finishing up. I can visualize getting this done in 6 days, but not consecutive days, though it would be great if I could.

Had a really tiny lizard for the last few days. Couldn't figure out what it was so finally posted it online. Turns out it's an Greater Earless Lizard. (I now discovered that I posted a photo I took of one in BBNP on April 16, 2013.)


It was a lovely day. I think spring has finally arrived. White-lined Sphinx Moths are abundant at CMO.



Monday, March 17, 2014

Nothing impressive today

I was determined to get more of the tank floor coated, and I did. Nothing impressive. It's a huge tank and still a ways to go, but I'll eventually get it done. I have 4 other projects on my to do list (all involve mixing concrete).


Also today,  I tallied a new butterfly species for the oasis. Probably the least impressive species ever, a Henry's Elfin. When I first photographed it on the ground near the apricot tree, I thought it was a plain old generic moth.


But when I sent the above photo to Brian Banker (my personal butterfly expert), he said it was an Elfin, probably a Henry's Elfin. A very worn one. When I read up on the species, I learned redbud trees are one of their host plants. So I parked myself by my blooming Mexican Redbud tree and located it, or a different one.


































I guess that Mexican Redbud tree is finally good for something.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Saved myself from myself

The weather was perfect this morning and I felt ready to tackle the tank again, but came to town instead. Afraid I was still not recovered from my "cold" and would end up with pneumonia. That usually happens to me when I overwork on the heels of a cold. It's been years since I've had a cold or anything, so I didn't want to take a chance. Next week I'm going to finish the tank.

Remember a couple of years ago my husband had a bad batch of deer feed that I spread on the ground? Well, now he has a bad batch of corn, so one by one, I'm going to dump it on the ground beneath the feeder. I hope it doesn't attract too many javelina.


Nights get below freezing more often than not, and I'm wondering if that's the cause of the red spots on these leaves. They may be weeds, but I call them wildflowers.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Four hummers, four species

I only saw four hummers today (that I know of) and all were a different species. I guess the biggest surprise was the female Anna's, because I thought they had all left weeks ago. I only saw her fly-catching briefly this morning and not at a feeder, so here is the only shot I could get of her.


The Black-chinned tried out the apricot blooms before going to the feeders. He did a lot of displaying but I never saw a female Black-chinned. He was too fast for me to catch him with his bill inside a blossom.


I've already posted too many pics of Rufous and Lucifers, but they were the other two species I saw today.

The weather was lovely so it was difficult for me to not overwork myself, but hopefully, I didn't. 

I had been brewing some banana mash to attract butterflies. They disdained it, but honey bees and flies like it. Back to the drawing board.





You can see from the above picture how the butterfly has its back turned away from the bee-covered pile of mash on the left foreground .

I optimistically toted a couple of citrus to my new citruseria. It's a start.

Front- Kumquat (Meiwa), Back- Toothache tree (Zanthoxylum hirsutum)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Yuck!

I left Alpine way before daylight this morning, then at the edge of town, I realized I forgot my cell phone, so went back after it. It was so cold and windy that I considered just staying in town. There was no chance I'd accomplish much at the oasis. Additionally, I had a sore throat and a lot of congestion in my lungs, still from my getting rundown overworking. But even all things considered, I couldn't wait to get "home" to the oasis.

The wind had created quite a lot of dust in the air, making visibility low, and not helping my respiration any.


When I arrived at the oasis and saw the sun come up, it took a while to realize it was the sun and not the moon I was seeing.


I used to take March winds for granted, and always hated March for that reason. But with the advent of weather forecasts, which for today predicted the winds would abate in the afternoon, I was really disappointed when they didn't. 

Birders are scheduled for tomorrow so hopefully the weather will be good. And hopefully I'll feel like getting more work done. I'm so close to finishing that tank. When I started I wasn't sure if that could happen, but now I know I can do it. Even though a large area remains to be coated, it's an area that doesn't leak, or doesn't leak much, so a thin coat should suffice. I'm so ready to get it done with.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Winter's back

Probably just as well, otherwise I would have overdone myself again today, and I fear it could have been bad. Not feeling so well. I'll leave it at that.

Flame-colored Tanager painting by Dennis Shepler
Here are photos showing yesterday's progress, and then back to the fire and stir-fry for me.




Friday, March 7, 2014

Overloaded myself

I was planning on coming to CMO early tomorrow morning, but got really impatient and came down this afternoon. I have all my energy mornings but thought I'd try to do a little on the tank since the weather was so perfect. You add the Thoroseal to water, not the other way around. I don't know what I was thinking, but I added some to about 2½ gallons of water, then it took 2½ gallons of the powder to get the mix right, so I ended up having to spread 5 gallons of the stuff. My record for one day, with break and nap in between, was 3 gallons a day. Couldn't waste it though, so I persevered. It helped that I borrowed my husband's electric mixing paddle (actually, that's what got me in trouble because I would have started with a one gallon can if not for the paddle). Also I think the floor is a bit easier on my shoulder. I hadn't cleaned a large enough area and had to hurry before the stuff set up, so a little dirt got mixed in. I hope the Thoroseal is a bit forgiving in that. Picture tomorrow. Didn't have my iphone with me. I only brought 10 gallons of Thoroseal, sure that it would be enough to finish the floor, but that 5 gallons today barely made a dent. Gonna take about 15 gallons more to finish, so I'll order 2 more buckets tomorrow. That floor is huge. Photos don't really show how big that tank is. I promised myself I'd take the day off from the tank tomorrow to let my painful shoulder rest.

So, of course, no time to bird or anything. I filled the seed feeders and noticed lots of blooms.

Apricot tree

Mexican Redbud
Also saw both male and female Lucifer Hummingbirds. It must be spring. Even the mesquites are starting to leaf out. That's a good indication.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Never-ending winter

That's what I heard it called on the news, and it seemed perfectly appropriate. I can attest that it's even worse in Alpine. At least today was nice at CMO. It's hard to tell on this photo what is what. What appears to be water is actually sky (sunrise), with a dark band of clouds above it. That vertical line in the lower sky area is a utility pole. Kind of an optical illusion.


I finished the walls. The floor is at least patched, so if the tank was to fill up, it should hold water. Actually, we do have a chance for rain this weekend, but doubt it'll amount to anything. Never know, though. Tanks did all fill once in January. And with this crazy erratic weather, it's anybody's guess.


The above photo is looking south, so the wall I finished coating was in the shade. I won't be able to work on the floor for about a week due to visitors coming, starting Saturday when I plan on getting back down there. I know it's going to be scalding on that floor very soon, but I'll do it all in the early morning hours, so I don't worry about that.

I saw my first Mourning Cloak of the year. It looks pretty beat up to me, probably due to the gale force winds we had night before last.

And had 5 visiting Green-winged Teal today. That headband really was green. Don't know why it looks so blue on this photo. I didn't do anything to it.