I got up early this morning and gave Beatrice a walk before daylight. I got a bill paid. Then I picked up my young friend at 8 a.m. We drove to Denton, roughly an hour away. First we went to South Lake Park for some exercise. This little concrete path park meandered by some small ponds. We watched the happiest chocolate labrador retriever in canine history running off-leash as his owner watched and smiled. That peaceful dog savored the moment. We spoke to his owner, who was perhaps only a bit younger than I am, and talked about what a good thing it is to be able to bring such joy to a dog.
The little ponds were of interest to me. The first pond had American widgeon ducks swimming in them. We get American widgeons in the Winter, but these were the first I had seen this year. The morning light was not good for photographing them. I contented myself with watching them swim.
I also saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk chasing an American Crow. Sharp-shinned hawks are about the same size as crows, so I knew that this chase was a sequel to an off-stage effort by the crow to harass the hawk. Inevitably, the hawk, after being harassed a bit, recollected, I am sure, that its talons made it more than a match for the crow. As these things go, though, the two birds landed near each other, until the hawk tired of its crow companion and started hunting again in a less crow-besotted area.
I also puzzled over a species identification as I took pictures of what I was sure was a starling, but whose breast coloration seemed wrong. It was not until I got home that I realized it was an immature starling in transition, for which the coloring was exactly right. I still have to work to sort out my IDs and sometimes get some wrong.
I was glad to sort this one out.
Denton is a college town whose university has a music emphasis. So its used book and CD store, Recycled Books and Records, always has great CDs at good prices. I picked up a John Cage composition CD, A Harry Partch CD I once owned in LP form, a CD of Gorecki's 3rd Symphony, and an Imogen Heap CD that I thought my wife would enjoy.My friend got a compilation metal CD and DVD set for five dollars.
We then went to Denton's downtown new CD store, Mad World. This is a fine small record/CD shop with a fine selection. My friend got two CDs, while I chose not to buy anything here.
Denton was having a little Days of the Dead carnival, but in my view it needed more mariachi and less skull-shaped chocolate. After lingering there a few moments, we drove to Rafael's, a cafe fifteen minutes east of Denton. It's a great Tex/Mex restaurant. I had some of the best chicken enchiladas with green chile sauce ever. Then my young friend and I went to Barnes & Noble, where we bought ourselves magazines.
After I dropped my friend off, I drove to the portion of Trinity Trail with a trailhead near Highland Park. As I drove on the little country road, I saw a huge
female northern harrier on a nearby cedar tree. Just before I could get a picture, it took off. On my walk, I saw a lovely little rough green snake, a few robins, Carolina chickadees and lots of migrating monarch butterflies. Then I went to Bethany Lakes Park, and watched pied-billed grebes and double-crested cormorants, as well as
my first Autumn 2014 sighting of northern shoveler ducks.
Bethany Lakes Park is one of those little suburban lake parks like similar parks in similar suburbs all over the sunbelt and the midwest. It is always a fun walk, but in the Winter it becomes a wintering ground for all manners of ducks. So far, though, only the first arrivals are here, to go with the customary mallards and Canada geese.
My wife and I went to Rockfish Grill for dinner, where we had halibut. The service was really good tonight and we had a fine meal. Now we are watching the World Series game 4 and taking things easily.
I notice that my mail has thank you notes from the chess team kids at IS 318, to whom I donated a little money via the charity DonorsChoose. As I know their teacher, a bit,I'll have to let her know how I thought the notes were very nicely done.