Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Connemara, land and cattle

Connemara Meadow is about a 10 minute drive from my house. It's practically down the street. It is what happens when a wise farm family turns their family ancestral farm into a nature conservancy instead of a housing development.

I drove there this morning to go on the monthly 1st Saturday bird walk. Roughly 20 people attended the walk. The morning started very hazy, but then it cleared up a bit. I saw twenty-one species of birds, while others on the walk saw more. I heard an additional three or four species, but did not count those. The convention is that a verified call "counts", but I like to count what I see.

The big news today was hawks. We saw Cooper's hawks, a red-shouldered hawk and a red-tailed hawk. I took lots of pictures, but only a few worked out at all. Here is one of the two Cooper's hawks we saw:

cooper's hawk, connemara meadow preserve

Gaylon and Rodney are the volunteers who lead the majority of these bird walks. I know them a bit from Audubon Society, though it is more a "hi, how are you?" than any deep acquaintance. They are patient and helpful. When I called a yellow-bellied sapsucker the wrong thing (I said "hairy woodpecker"), they pointed out the field markings that should have clued me to the right answer. I have learned a lot from these free, informative bird walks. I was pleased to see butterflies out in some abundance--commas and mourning cloaks.

I went to lunch at Dickey's BBQ, and then I went to Dollar Tree for some office supplies. Then I came home. I did a fair bit of family business paperwork. Then I took Beatrice for an afternoon walk. This our last warm day before a major cold front sets in tomorrow. We walked, as we do, around Glendover Pond in little Glendover Park. The park is a short walk from our home. The walk is about a mile round trip. In the park, we saw downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, a multitude of grackles, a yellow-rumped warbler, mallard ducks, turtles, and four blue jays in a tree. Here is one of the blue jays:

blue jay in Glendover park 3 1 2014

My nephew called me at 5 and asked my wife and I to join he and my brother for dinner at Texas Land and Cattle. We had a great talk there about future plans and computers. I ate soft chicken tacos, while my wife had a lovely-looking small filet mignon steak.

Tomorrow the forecast is for the temperature to start at 12.75 degrees C. and then descend by 5 p.m. to 3.33 degrees C. Farewell to Spring weather for a day or two.

A lot of our neighbors use Bradford Pear trees in their front yards. Builders like to plant them before they sell houses because they grow rapidly and have a nice leafy look. Garden experts despair of them because they are short-lived and fail to hold up well in our inevitable Texas storm weather. Every year we see split trunks and downed branches. I both like them a little and yet do not want them in our yard.

One week a Spring, all the trees go on bloom at once, with lovely white flowers. This is that week. But the chill is coming in. Similarly, our camellia is in lovely bloom, as is our saucer magnolia. But the cold is coming in. People talk about it on the news, but it is just the way north Texas is and always will be--Summer-like January days followed by blasts of cold from the prairie.

Where I live is largely flat. Weather systems come in from largely flat areas just to the west.
The forests are not dense here, and usually accompany little creeks. There are lots of open spaces, but not like in western movies filmed in Arizona. It's prairie-ish but also tree-ish.
When the warm weather is here, the sun can be unrelenting. When the storms arrive, called blue northers, there are no topography things west of us to hold them back. We live in a place with a big sky and few restraints. I hope I can get out early tomorrow before the rain and cold set in.

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