Fort Davis abreviated visit.


Once again, my medical problems intervened with our anniversary trip to the Davis Mountains.  But not to worry, as I write this I am feeling fine again.

We arrived late in the afternoon on Sunday, and this is what greeted us just a few miles before we were to arrive in Fort Davis.

Gathering storm over the Davis Mountains of west Texas.

Gathering storm over the Davis Mountains of west Texas.

We were in luck as the rains held off until later that evening.  As we were unloading, this Say’s Phoebe hopped along a concrete curb.  That was a bird that we could add to our 2014 Texas Big Year list.  A nice start to our weekend.

Say's Phoebe

Say’s Phoebe

We were staying at the Davis Mountains Inn, a very nice bed-n-breakfast.  Our room was huge with king-sized bed, flat-screen TV, jacuzzi, walk-in showers, and a walk-in closet that was big enough to use as a spare bedroom.

We were early enough so after checking in and putting our stuff away, we decided to make a quick run to the bird viewing area at Davis Mountains State Park.  Immediately, we were able to see and photograph a White-breasted Nuthatch.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

A Rufous Hummingbird lit on a nearby feeder.  I had only a few seconds to get a shot.  I rattled off a few, but unfortunately all of the images caught him as he was dipping his head to get that nectar.

Adult Rufous Hummingbird at the feed trough.

Adult Rufous Hummingbird at the feed trough.

We left after that to get some dinner then head back to our room to get some sleep, looking forward to a full next day of birding and getting some photographs.

The next morning, Monday, Annette Huffaker cooked us a very excellent breakfast of scrambled eggs, tasty sausage and a creation of hers, french toast casserole.  Breakfast was served at 8:00, but as Ann and I rise much earlier, we were there drinking coffee and sitting on the porch, watching the sunrise, and a few butterflies.

Queen Butterfly

Queen Butterfly

After eating, we headed back to the state park.  Going straight to the bird viewing area, we were then quickly rewarded with a female Black-headed Grosbeak,

female Black-headed Grosbeak

female Black-headed Grosbeak

a male Black-headed Grosbeak,

male Black-headed Grosbeak

male Black-headed Grosbeak

then a male Summer Tanager.

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

We saw several other species there, but the above photos were some of the highlights.  Traveling between the park and our inn, I was able to photograph a Cassin’s Kingbird.  It wasn’t a new bird for me, but it was the first time I was able to get a good photograph of one.  The Cassin’s is a rare kingbird around our home in San Angelo, but here in the Davis Mountains, they are seen quite regularly.

Cassin's Kingbird

Cassin’s Kingbird

It was about then that I experienced some medical problems, and I ended up spending the rest of the day resting in our room.  But we were happy with what we saw for the three or four hours that we were able to spend.  We saw 32 species and we added four new one to our 2014 Texas Big Year list.  We are now at 178, with our goal of 200 well in sight.

We hope to come back to the Davis Mountains soon, but we also want to visit Bob Shackleford down in Uvalde, Texas so see some great birds, and also make another trip to the Big Bend National Park area.  So if my health holds out we still have an exciting fall and winter coming up.

I hope you enjoyed this post and and the photographs.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.

 

Celebrating our 56th


Ann and I will be gone for a few days.  We are leaving tomorrow morning, August 17th for Fort Davis, Texas.  We getting away from our 100 degree heat for a few days.  We will be staying at the Davis Mountains Inn, a bed and breakfast.  Our 56th anniversary is Monday the 18th, but we will probably celebrate by doing a little birding and some photography at Davis Mountains State Park.

We are only going to be gone for about three days, but during that time we hope to drive the scenic loop that takes us around the Davis Mountains and near the McDonald’s Observatory.  In the past we have been able to see plenty of wildlife and see magnificent mountain scenery.  My camera will be ready.

We will be back home here in San Angelo sometime the afternoon of the 20th.  Hoping to bring back plenty photos to show you in future posts.  In the meantime, here is a recent photo of a Greater Roadrunner.   Enjoy.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Come visit west Texas with me……


Today, I am going to get away from my usual subject of birds, and give you a sampling of the images of west Texas that you may see if you travel here.  These photos have been compiled over the past ten to twenty years, maybe more.  A few I may have posted before, but most of them should be new to you.  This post is best watched on your computer.  Click on any image to see enlargements.

1.  Twin Mountains.   Also called Twin Buttes and a few other imaginary names that the locals thought of.  It is located just outside the western city limits of San Angelo, Texas.

Twin Mounains (Twin Buttes)

Twin Mountains

2.  El Capitan.  Located in far west Texas, at the southern end of the Guadalupe Mountains.  The higher peak behind it is Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas.

El Capitan

El Capitan

3.  Painted RocksAlong the Concho River near Paint Rock, Texas, for about one half mile, there are about 1,500 pictographs along the 75 foot high bluffs.  The age of some of them are estimated to be perhaps 1,000 years old.  I picked out one single area for this image, to have a close-up of one of the pictographs.

Pictographs at Paint Rock, Texas.

Pictographs at Paint Rock, Texas.

4.  Monahans State Park Sand Dunes.  On this particular day, the wind was fierce and these sunflowers were swaying in the strong breeze.

Sun flowers in the wind.

Sun flowers in the wind.

5.  Road to Nipple Peak.  No explanation needed for the naming of the mountain peak.  Near Robert Lee, Texas.

Road to Nipple Peak

Road to Nipple Peak

6.  Antelope at Blue Mountain.  This landmark mountain is between Marfa and Fort Davis, Texas.  The area is populated with several Pronghorned Antelope.

Pronghorned Antelope grazing near Blue Mountain.

Pronghorned Antelope grazing near Blue Mountain.

7. Mule Ears Peak at Dusk.  Aptly named mountain peak in Big Bend National Park.

Dusk at Mule Ears Peak

Dusk at Mule Ears Peak

8.  Pecos River High Bridge.  Located on Hwy 90 near Langtry, Texas, this 1,310 foot bridge spans the Pecos River Gorge 273 feet above the water.  This image faces north, but about two miles south of the bridge, the river meets it’s confluence with the Rio Grande.

Pecos River High Bridge

Pecos River High Bridge

9.  Ghost Town ruins.  Old adobe ruins near the ghost town of Terlingua Texas.

Ghost Town ruins at Terlingua, Texas.

Ghost Town ruins at Terlingua, Texas.

10.  Adobe house.  This structure is located on the Contrabando Movie Set near Lajitas, Texas.  Along the Rio Grande, this site has been the location for several western movies.

Casa Adobe

Casa Adobe

11.  West Texas Storm.  I caught this image of a building storm near Alpine, Texas.

West Texax thunder storm.

West Texas thunder storm.

12.  Wild Rose Pass.  This stunning vista greets you as you travel Hwy 17 going north from Fort Davis, Texas.

Wild Ross Pass

Wild Rose Pass

13.  West Texas windmill.  A familiar sight as you travel through the big sky ranch country of west Texas.

Windmill and stock tanks in west Texas.

Windmill and stock tanks in west Texas.

14.  Old Barn and Wagon.  Somewhere in west Texas.

Old Barn and Wagon

Old Barn and Wagon

15.  Mountains in the Mist.  I believe that I have posted this image in a previous post, but it is one of my personal favorites.  Photographed in Big Bend National Park, on a very cool and rainy day.

"Mountains in the Mist"

“Mountains in the Mist”

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of my adopted home of west Texas.  Click on any image to see beautiful enlargements.  I will be traveling out through that area again during the next few months and I will be hoping to come back with another nice collection for you.

 

 

 

Blowing Winds of West Texas


Ann and I drove out to the San Angelo State Park late this morning for some impromptu birding.  Unfortunately, the wind got up (again) and the birds were staying down.  We did get some glimpses of some Bullock’s Orioles that are starting to arrive, but they were not visible enough to get any useable photos.  We did spot this Greater Roadrunner near the bird blind so I have these images for you.

Greater Roadrunner

 

Greater Roadrunner

 You may have read about all of the wildfires that have been going on here in west Texas.  At Fort Davis there is still a fire raging over 200,000 acres that still isn’t under control completely yet.  Closer to home we had one just outside of town.  This image shows it coming over a butte.  Just a few hours later, it had reached this fence, and the road on which I was standing was closed to traffic.  As of this writing, it has been contained and the fire units are mopping up some hot spots.  Hopefully, the high winds today won’t stir them up again.

Wildfire near San Angelo, Texas

 Click on any image to see an enlargement.

More West Texas outdoor photos


We made our usual bird-feeeding trip to the San Angelo State Park this morning.  Afterwards we tried to do a little birding ourselves.  It is a typical West Texas hot summer day, with all the doldrums.  So, in lieu of any exciting bird photos, I again, will try to impress you with some of my West Texas outdoor photography.  I hope you will enjoy the images.

First up is one of my personal favorites.  About 20 miles or so east of San Angelo there are some Indian pictographs dating back hundreds, if not a thousand years ago.  They are along the Concho River, on private property.  The ranch is owned by Fred and Kay Campbell.  After being closed to the public for many years, they decided to open it so that the paintings can now be appreciated by everyone.  You only need to call them and let them know when you want to go. 

The first time Ann and I made the trip, Kay, who is a retired school teacher, gave us the grand tour.  Before taking us to see the 100 foot cliffs, she demonstrated to us how the Indians of that time made their paint.  She then drove us to the site so I could do some photography.  Since the pictographs are so high from the ground, at times I would make a move to climb the rocks to get a little higher.  True to here teacher personality, she would say, “Now you get down from there, Bob.  There are rattlesnakes in there.”  A very colorful and funny lady.

Painted Rocks, Paint Rock, Texas

The following photo is of a notable landmark outside of Ballinger, Texas.  A local rancher and business man, John Studer, took it upon himself to build this beautiful cross on his land, then open it to the public.  It rises about 120 feet and can be seen from miles around.

The Cross at Ballinger

About 30 miles north of San Angelo you will find the two communities of Bronte and Robert Lee, Texas.  When you travel the highway between the two, you will come to a turn-off for Hayrick road.  It takes off to the north then follows a gentle turn, eventually returning to the main highway.  It is a great birding drive.  It takes you through remnants of the old village of Hayrick, which was the original Coke county seat.  Nothing there now but the old cemetary.  A few years ago a lady commissioned me to photograph Hayrick Peak.  She also liked the cemetary, so I managed to get the two together in the following photo.  Below that picture is a photo of Nipple peak that is along the same road.

Hayrick Peak and Cemetary

Road to Nipple Peak

I’m sure that most of you are familiar with the song “Luckenbach, Texas”, a song made famous by country singer Willie Nelson.  Well, there really is a Luckenbach, Texas.  It is about 12 miles southeast of Fredricksberg, Texas.  It consists of a cotton gin, dance hall, and the famous Luckenbach post office.  Besides the postal work, it is also a little trading post, and at the rear is a small bar where you can go to whet your whistle with a cold beer.  You might even get to hear Jimmy Lee sing you a song while you relax from the heat.

Downtown, Luckenbach

Further out west, in Big Bend National Park, you will find Robert Luna’s Jacale.  A jacale is an old dugout type of structure, made of sotol, ocotillo, mud and local rocks.  Senor Luna built this one after he got married.  He resided in it until he died at the age of 108 – in 1947.  So if you do the math, this homestead is probably near 150 years old.  It is a surprise that it is still standing, but the walls are very thick.  When I discovered the place you could walk inside and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees.  Since then there has been the occasional incidents of vandalism, so the National Park Service has now covered the front door with chicken wire.  They had been maintaining it and you can see the cement patching on the roof.  I feel very lucky that I got this photo.

Luna's Jacal

North of the Big Bend and west of Fort Davis there is a beautiful drive that takes you through scenic mountains.  The following photo was taken as I was leaving Fort Davis and heading for Balmorea.  It was early morning and the sun was just rising.

West Texas Morning

Back here in San Angelo, just west of town, we have these nearly identical hills that are called “Twin Buttes”.  I had been asked to come up with a good photograph of them.  It was a difficult assignment as it is hard to find a suitable place to get the right view, to include both in the same photo.  Some vantage points had private housing in the way.  Other spots I didn’t like the way the buttes were positioned.  Also I had to make the photo interesting in itself.  I finally found this place across the Twin Buttes Reservoir where I had an unobstructed view.  But without an interesting sky, save for just a few white clouds, I decided to get down under these mesquite trees and include their branches.  I think the result was nice.

Twin Buttes

I hope you have enjoyed these photographs.  Click on any of them for an enlarged view.