Junior’s Adventures

Many years ago, my BFF and I took our girl scout troop on one of their year-end trips and our IMG_0219 (1)destination was the vacation home of one of our scouts. It became our home base as we engaged in different day activities. One of those was the YO Ranch in Central Texas. It is quite a fancy place today, but back then it was a taste of the Old West combined with an African wildlife adventure. It was an opportunity for our girls to see up close and personal many exotic animals they had never seen before. It was fun!

We went dam sliding, horseback riding, floating in tubes on the Guadalupe River while eating watermelon, enjoyed outdoor theatre presentations and just thoroughly savored an escape to a paradise in Ingram Texas.IMG_0218

Roaming throughout the 27,000 acre YO working ranch were giraffes, deer, and mountain goats to name a few. One of the main attractions of the YO Ranch back then was their Ostrich and Emu population. The day we visited and bounced around in trucks touring the property, we were allowed out of the vehicle to walk around. I most remember the open prairie with a few scattered trees throughout. I don’t remember a whole lot about why we were walking around, but we suddenly became aware of our guide yelling at us to run toward one of the trees. We took off running and glancing around we understood why. Romping quickly toward us at a rapid pace was a huge Ostrich and he was closing fast. We reached the tree and stayed there as our guide drove the truck over to us and shooed Junior away.

Why is this Junior’s Adventure? Time passed and Junior was a fond memory of happy times spent with our scouts. One day while reading the newspaper, we discovered that Junior had moved on from the YO Ranch to be a junkyard guard bird. We knew he was aggressive since we had personally experienced it and apparently he was better suited to guarding junk than roaming around the ranch attacking paying guests. I am sure he lived a happy life doing what he liked to do best….terrifying people!


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…..