A Butcher Knife, a Cup of Water, Some Sticks and Faith


I visited my sister in Burton again this past weekend. We jumped into my car and headed over to Lake Somerville to do a little birding. Along the way we spotted a Crested CaraCara, Black Vultures and once in the park, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Whimbrels, Sanderlings, Killdeer, Cardinals, Mockingbirds, American Coots, Ring-billed Gulls, Common Terns, a lone Cormorant and a Savannah Sparrow. The lighting wasn’t great, but we captured a few photos as memories of this outing. We headed home and had a lovely dinner…pork roast, sweet potato, vegetables and an apple crumble for dessert. After dinner we drove out into the country and tried to call up an owl or two. Unsuccessful, we went home and reminisced on a good day of birding.

Common Terns

One of the things I love about visiting my sister is hearing some of the stories from our childhood. Being older than I, she has some memories of our maternal grandmother that I don’t share. One of these was of a time when our Grandmother was visiting us at our new house in Southwest Houston. Grandmother had some azalea cuttings and she was determined to plant them all along the front of our new house. Armed with a butcher knife, a bucket of water, those bare cuttings and my sister Linda, she began directing the planting of those cuttings. She used the butcher knife to stab holes in the soil, instructed my sister to plunge the cutting into that hole and pour a cup of water from the bucket upon each one. Our Grandmother had great faith and she must have provided an ample amount that day because those azalea cuttings flourished and grew to be enormous, each Spring bursting forth with beautiful blooms to adorn the front of our modest house. My sister confessed to me that as she was performing this planting ritual with our Grandmother, she had serious doubts about those “sticks” growing. She thought that the effort was pointless and it was a big waste of time and energy. Yet she forged ahead and helped our Grandmother. I believe our Grandmother planted her own seeds that day…the seeds of a master gardener in my sister’s soul.

As we sat on her front porch overlooking her beautiful gardens, listening and watching the IMG_8380resident birds, we were witnessing the transformation of our Grandmother’s faith before our very eyes. Each plant, seed or cutting in my sister’s yard was lovingly planted, tenderly cared for, vigorously protected, and ultimately culminated in a peaceful place of repose. We sit on that porch drinking our morning cup of java, enveloped in the peacefulness of nature that surrounds us on all sides. It is a great place to reminisce, share memories and plant the seeds of our next adventures.

Happy bird searching!!!





Burton Birds Revisited

Just a few of the birds I managed to capture with my camera this past weekend.

American Tree Sparrow
Male Cardinal
Black Vulture
Crested CaraCara
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Red-Tailed Hawk
Eastern Bluebird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Blue Jay
Red-shouldered Hawk
American White Pelicans – Lake Somerville – January 2016

Happy bird searching!!!

Road Trip – December 5-6, 2015

Red-Tailed Hawk

Today BFF Linda and I headed toward College Station to attend a relative’s wedding. Once again we were blessed with a beautiful crystal blue sky day, perfect temperatures and we set out in good spirits.  It is my practice to never travel (even within the city) without having my binocs with me. To see a bird and not be able to get an up close and personal look for identification is very frustrating. So there one of the best tools of birding remains….in my car to satisfy my desire to feed my voracious appetite of learning more about this relatively new hobby of mine.

It would take us approximately two hours or so to reach our destination with many miles of potential bird perches between start and finish. Driving along the highways presents you with an excellent opportunity to BBC (Bird By Car). As I drive, my eyes are always scanning fence lines, fence posts, power lines and poles. Mile after mile there are perching birds or soaring birds if we train ourselves to be more observant.

Northern Mockingbird – State Bird of Texas

When a bird is spotted, we try to pull over, stop and get the bird into our binoculars for identification.Then off again until we see another one. On our trip today we spotted many Starlings, Red-tail Hawks, a Crested Caracara, Black Vultures, and Great Blue Herons. The thrill is in the hunt. And even if it is one we have seen many times before, the fulfillment and satisfaction of the spotting and identification never gets old.

Happy bird searching!


What is BBC?

Picture this….it is cold, rainy and the wind is blowing at gale force making it feel even colder. Not ideal birding weather for people for sure. Perhaps so, but I am still driven to try to see as many birds as possible since I am probably in one of my favorite birding towns. My solution is a simple one. Jump into the car with binocs and camera and slowly drive my favorite haunts, hoping to spy some of my special friends and every now and then a new one I haven’t seen before. It never gets old, even if I have seen the same bird species repeatedly….another blue heron, great egret, spoonbill, sandhill crane, canada goose, reddish egret….it still stirs something within me as I admire their beauty. It doesn’t matter that the weather is horrific. Inside the car it is warm, I have something to drink or eat and if I happen to spot a bird, I can capture their picture with my trusty zoom lens.

BBC, or Birding by Car, can be quite satisfying when nature doesn’t cooperate to give us ideal bird watching conditions. Many times I am not sure what I am seeing, but if I can get a photo, then once I am back in the comfort of my hotel room, I can examine my books and apps to try to identify my subject.

One of my BBC ventures led me to one of the smaller communities on the West end of Galveston Island. There weren’t many houses in this subdivision and it wasn’t on the ocean side, but driving slowly around, I spotted a bird that I knew was just different. I stopped my car and watched him, snapping pictures repeatedly. He sat on one of the power lines, was pretty good size, had the raptor beak and had distinctive coloring. As I watched, he flew over a grassy field and helicoptered in place scouting the ground below for his supper. He fired toward the ground but missed his target and then flew back to the power line. His behavior, along with his distinctive coloration helped me to identify him as a beautiful American Kestrel. That same day I was also treated to two Crested CaraCara’s hanging out together on some fence posts.

American Kestrel
Crested Caracara


So, my message here…..don’t let the inclement weather keep you from having a positive birding experience. One never knows what might be found just out the window of your mobile bird blind.

Happy bird searching…..