Monday, April 24, 2017

Florida Mountains

Post by Henry

We've left Texas behind and currently have a view out our window of the Florida mountains.

Florida Mountains

Say what?
Florida doesn't have mountains you say?
That's correct.
The highest point in the state of Florida is 345 feet and the highest point in the Florida Mountains is 7,295 feet and they are located in New Mexico.

And that's where we are. Deming, New Mexico to be exact. Back in the mountain time zone, land of low humidity and big time winds. It's ALWAYS windy here.

Check out this five (5) day forecast:

Yep, it's windy alright

Nearby is Rockhound State Park in the Florida Mountains and we've done some exploring there. The weather was beautiful, the scenery spectacular, and even though it was the weekend, we nearly had the place to ourselves.

Welcome to Rockhound State Park

This Place is Rock'in

Visitor Center

The first thing we saw was a hawk sitting on a post, being patient with us observing him nearby. It wasn't until his patience ran out and he flew away that we realized he had a snake in his talons he'd been snacking on.

We didn't even notice the Snake

3
I'm Outta Here

The highlight of the day was a hike out to Lovers Leap. Only a mile hike out to the Leap, but it was nonstop uphill, gaining 800+ feet elevation along the way.

Phew..........We've come a LONG way up!

We didn't see any evidence of Lovers that had leaped, but the 360 degree view at the top was gorgeous.

I can see for Miles and Miles and Miles..............

I'm gonna take a Break and Enjoy the View

After the hike we pulled out our chairs and just kicked back enjoying our peaceful surroundings.

So Peaceful...........

Nearby was a ???????? plant with yellow flowers that we were getting oh-so-sweet whiffs of with the breeze.

Not sure what is was but it smelled GREAT!

On the ground we watched a New Mexico Whiptail Lizard going about his business.

Ever feel like someone is watching you?

With the bird calls on our phone app, we lured out a Black Throated Sparrow to within a few feet of us, looking desperately around for the bird of his dreams he had heard.

Where is She?


Who needs television?
This is our kind of reality show!

Check out more of the sights in and around the Florida Mountains:

Desert Bunny

Labyrinth

Great Scenery
 
Purple Haze

We won't be taking the Rambler down this road

Going Down

Scaled Quail



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rockport Birds and Blooms

Post by Henry

We've been doing quite a bit of birding here on the coast of Texas, The birds are everywhere and the spring migration hasn't even kicked in yet. In and around the Rockport area there are numerous birding sites ranging in size from just a few acres to thousands of acres.

Some of the birding sites have boardwalks jutting out into the water and the birds come up incredibly close - like you're not even there.

Boardwalk at Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center


Here are some of the birds we've been seeing captured by staff photographer, Loretta.


American Bittern

Great Blue Heron Battling a Snake for Lunch

Snowy Egret

Green Heron


Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Cute Little Pied Billed Grebe


Pied Billed Grebe with Fresh Caught Crab

Black Necked Stilt in Formal Wear

Action Shot of Tricolored Heron Catching Dinner

Black Bellied Whistling Ducks Giving Us the Evil Eye

Blue Wing Teals

It's definitely springtime here and flowers are popping up more and more every day. One place that really caught us by surprise was the Rockport Cemetery which is a field of beautiful wildflowers!

We kinda found it by accident turning down a street just to see what might be there and WOW!


Beautiful Final Resting Place

Peaceful

Soon the spring migration will begin as the birds start returning from points further south. They'll stop here near the coast to rest and feed before heading off to other parts of the country.

We'll start our migration soon too, as we'll be making our way west and north towards Montana and Idaho for the summer.

Here's a few bonus pictures from our birding trips these last few weeks.


Northern Shrike with Lizard

White Eyed Vireo

Female Northern Shoveler

Ruddy Duck

White Tailed Hawk

Wilson's Snipe

Female Blue Wing Teal

American Bittern Stalking a meal




Sunday, February 26, 2017

Texas Gulf Coast

Post by Henry

After spending three (3) months near San Antonio, visiting family and making a trip back to Alabama, we are rambling again.  We're down on the Texas gulf coast, staying near Rockport in an RV park nestled under a canopy of Live Oak trees.

Rambler in the Live Oaks

This area is known as the Live Oak peninsula, so there's an abundance of these beautiful, twisted trees in the area. We've only been here a few days, but we're calling the area "Florida West".

Looks Like Florida to Me!

Palm trees, salt water, warm temperatures, great birding and seafood!

We've been craving seafood and especially raw oysters.  We were craving oysters when we were in Washington, but the going rate was $24 a dozen!  Really?!?  I'm sure they were delicious, but $2 for each slurp of an oyster was out of our price range.

We found a place down the road from us here in Texas with open seating overlooking Aransas Bay that has a happy hour with oysters for $5.50 per dozen and draft beer for $2.25!  REALLY!!

Give me Oysters and Beer for Dinner
Every Day of the Year
and I'll Feel Fine
(Jimmy Buffett)

Delicious fresh shucked oysters, cold beer, and a gorgeous view.  We're gonna take advantage of this oyster heaven numerous times while we are here.

We were looking forward to birding along the Gulf Coast, and it hasn't been disappointing. We've visited a few of the Texas Birding Trail sites where we've seen some great birds, including one of Loretta's favorites - the Roseate Spoonbill.

Roseate Spoonbills Preening

We spent a full day at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

This refuge is probably known most for the whooping cranes that winter here. This is the only natural wild flock of whooping cranes in the world. They spend their winters here at Aranasas NWR and then fly 2,500 miles to Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Canada for the summer. We were lucky enough to see a few, but they were waaay in the distance.

Aransas Wood Buffalo Whooping Crane
(Pretend this is a fine art painting)


We were also lucky enough to spot two new birds for us that day. The Pyrrhuloxia is a bird we've been on the lookout for for quite some time.  It looks very similar to the female Northern Cardinal.

Pyrrhuloxia

The Tropical Kingbird was another unexpected new bird to add to our life list.

Tropical Kingbird

We spent another day at Padre Island National Seashore. The birding here wasn't as good as Aransas NWR, but we did manage to see another new bird, the Forster's Tern.

Forster's Tern (Small bird)
Royal Tern (Larger bird)
Winter Plumage

Besides birding here, we spent several hours on the beach listening to the waves, soaking up the vitamin D and watching nearly constant lines of Pelicans soaring past.

The National Seashore stretches south for 70 miles along the Texas coast with 60 miles of it open to beach driving and primitive camping. Of course 4-wheel drive is recommended, but the park brochure claims the first 5 miles is doable with 2 wheel drive. We took the HHR down about a mile or so along that stretch. We even saw RV's set up for some boondocking!

Padre Island
Driving and Camping ON the Beach

We've been here on the Texas coast for less than a week, and so far, we're digging "Florida West"!