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Friday, March 24, 2017

Wore myself plum out!

Mac and I went to Big Bend National Park today. I was determined to find a Big Bend Scrub-Hairstreak butterfly. When I saw that acres and acres of its host plant Texas False Agave (Hechtia texensis) were blooming I figured it would be a sure thing. But after many hours of searching, nary a one.

I guess this red bug dining on an insect of some sort will have to be my consolation prize. 

Loved the Red-spined Prickly-pears (Opuntia spinosabacca). 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

All systems go!

Background: My husband worried that such a prolonged sinus infection might cause other problems (like in the eyes, dental implants, or even brain), so I agreed to take antibiotics. When I went to the doctor Monday I asked for blood work, explaining that since I'd last had it done I had gone on a high protein/high fat diet and wanted to see how it was working. Of course the doctor was horrified and said that fat had to go somewhere and I'd get gallstones. Feeling new concern after hearing that, I asked if we should test for gallstones. She said let's wait and see what my cholesterol level is now.

Today: When I called this morning to find out, the first words out of her mouth were, "OK Smarty Pants." Seriously. All my levels that I've struggled with for years were now normal. No more borderline high cholesterol, or borderline high blood pressure, or borderline high blood sugar. All were perfect. Naturally she said I must be one of the rare people who genetically can handle that diet. Well, I didn't tell her that the book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the high protein, high fat, low carb diet was good for everyone. I let her save face by telling her everyone is a unique genetic experiment.😏

But, as you may recall, I was really sick yesterday. Figured that one out too. When I got the antibiotic prescription she insisted I also take Musinex "to help my sinus infection." I told her I wasn't congested at all, so wasn't sure what help it would be, but I acquiesced (I had just refused a steroid shot) and took it so I wouldn't come across as totally dismissive of everything she recommended. Over-the-counter so how much damage could it do? Well, yesterday I was feeling terrible and knowing it couldn't be the antibiotics since I took the same kind last year for my bronchitis, I suspected the Musinex. Googled it online and couldn't believe I'd been stupid enough to actually take the stuff. And it's expensive. Over a dollar per pill. I had all the "common side effects," except hadn't started vomiting yet. I say yet because I had only taken half the daily dose every day (for the past 3 days). Headache getting worse, starting to get nauseous, breaking out in a rash, drowsy to the point of just dragging around on sheer willpower. Ugh! Today I got all my work done and energy left over!

Here's the finished hummingbird stands.

Mac finally got time to set up his camera at the sprinkler. 

He got a good shot of a Varied Bunting that came in to bathe. That's an early record for the oasis. My previous early record was April 11, 2012. And that was after the horrible drought of 2011 where we didn't get rain until June 2012. So my oasis was the only wet spot in the area that April due to my buying and hauling water.

Photo courtesy Mac Womack

Also today I saw my first Giant Swallowtail for the year. Here it is being photobombed by a Black Swallowtail. Per Brian they're both males. Really getting a lot of mileage out of that verbena patch.

My sister and I even got two new flower species for our properties. Here's one of them, a Bushy Wild-Buckwheat (Eriogonum suffruticosum). This species is locally common, mostly in South Brewster County, but otherwise somewhat rare.

Ann identified it. She's so much better at that than I am. But, between us, I hold the title on bird, butterfly, and odonate IDs. If she can ID a new flower 50% of the time, I'd be lucky to do it 1% of the time. I have done it though. When Michael Powell's new flower book comes out both our skills will improve drastically. Like I didn't get a good handle on birds until Sibley came out with his bird guide.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Worse today

This is the third day of taking antibiotics for my sinus infection and now it's worse. Hadn't had a sinus headache for two weeks and now it's back. Dragging around here. If I'm not well by Monday I'm going back to the doctor. Bummer.

Considering it's still March, the oasis looks good. Hoping it doesn't get zapped by a late freeze. A little coolness would be welcome. Got up to 96° today. Mac and I were really hot working on the new feeder stands. Plan to finish tomorrow.

Yes, I helped. I dug one hole (two more to go) and painted the stands and attached the numbers and such stuff as to keep me busy most of the day. (I work very slowly these days.)

Mac hasn't had time to try his Lucifer decoy, but I took a photo of it anyway. 

I noticed today that one male Lucifer was displaying to a female hidden in the brush. He'd get tired out, rest, and then do it again. She never let him mate. Either the females are on nests or not ready to start nesting yet.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring now

Finally, after 5 weeks of a sinus infection I started taking antibiotics. The doctor said it wouldn't go away on its own. Feeling real puny. Watered everything at CMO as it had been awhile since I had watered. The verbena are still looking great.

Sure doesn't seem as if we're going to get another freeze this spring. Fingers crossed. Found this cool moth. A master of camouflage. Only saw it because my water hose flushed it.

A photographer friend from Houston (Mac Womack) is staying in the guesthouse for a week. He's determined to get a good photo of a displaying male Lucifer Hummingbird so he carved (and painted)
 a very convincing looking female Lucifer. He hopes to get a male to display to the decoy while he's all set and ready for it. It might work. I'll post photos of the whole process later this week.

Right now, I'm wiped out.

Friday, March 17, 2017

So much to learn

When I blogged yesterday I didn't even know there was such a thing as bee flies. Learned thanks to Heidi Trudell's comment. Now I may have at least two species of them. The one I posted yesterday, and this one. Unless it's the same species, different sex.

Here's a picture of an Ash-throated Flycatcher that shows the rufous on the primary feathers in a way that I hadn't noticed before.

And another Henry's Elfin. Can't find new stuff so have to post the same old stuff. But this species flies just a short while in the spring so I can't resist.

Claret Cup bloom

American Lady butterfly
My family from Austin is here over spring break enjoying our wonderful weather and scenery.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Great butterfly year so far

By mid-March 2016 I had only documented 10 species at CMO. By March 8th of this year I've already documented 43 species. That's an incredible difference.  Even taking into consideration that Brian wasn't here until late April last year and this year he was here in early March, resulting in 10 of those documented by him that I wouldn't otherwise have seen up on top of the mountain, it's still a huge difference. Hope this year continues being a record butterfly year. Here's a Mormon Metalmark (Apodemia duryi) from today. I've posted this species several times before but not on a Desert Marigold flower. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

I couldn't figure out what this was but I'm thinking it has to be a robberfly of some sort. I guess I've seen them perched before but never nectaring.