A couple of weeks ago I had to go to Las Vegas, New Mexico, for work. I decided to take a little time to see what might be at the local refuge. It was a cold, windy day so I wasn’t too hopeful of much being around.
Most of the small birds were hiding from the wind. There were a few Western Meadowlarks about but definitely weren’t interested in getting their picture taken.
With the cold wind, the Canada and Cackling Geese were hiding out in a low-lying pond. You don’t usually see these two species hanging out with each other. While we have difficulty distinguishing the two species, they definitely know who’s who!
In the distance I saw several Northern Harrier’s searching for lunch.
What was out and not shy at all were Red-Tailed Hawks. They were all juveniles. Such beautiful birds! And they let me get close and take as many photos as I wanted. What could be better than that!?!
This particular hawk had already been successful getting something to eat as you can see dried blood on his feet.
While photographing that hawk, some Morning Dove came in looking all fearful of the hawk nearby.
Nothing much else at the refuge. But as I was driving down the country road back to Las Vegas, I came across one of the most beautiful bluebirds I’ve ever seen. His colors were glorious!
Then to my delight I saw a Ferruginous Hawk on a telephone pole. Such a beautiful bird!
One last bird I saw was a very large Common Raven. Fortunately the lighting was nice and I was able to get a nice photo of this all black bird.
As I was driving home I decided to stop in a Storrie Lake to see what might be about. There really weren’t any birds around. Most of them were out in the middle of the lake where I just couldn’t get a good visual.
Just as I was about to leave, a Rough-Legged Hawk came in and landed on a post right next to my car. How exciting! The daylight was waning, but I had enough light to get a few nice shots. These birds are rarely seen in New Mexico so I was delighted to get such an up close sighting.
All in all I had two great side trips during my busy work day!
Here’s wishing everyone a very safe and Blessed Christmas!
I recently attended the annual River of Lights held at the Albuquerque Botanical Gardens. Each year they make it bigger and better! I hadn’t been for awhile so it was a real treat.
I went with my friend Dia and we had so much fun. This year they offered a “magic hour” from 5-6. You could purchase tickets for this time and they limited the number of participants so you could get some great photos without the crowds. We loved having the place practically to ourselves. The gardens are big enough that we really didn’t see many people.
We took a few photos of each other in the beautiful lights. It felt very festive!
Here’s a slideshow of all the fabulous lights we saw. If you are viewing this post on a cell phone, click on the photo below and you can scroll through the images.
Recently I decided to explore Plaza Blanca near Abiquiu, New Mexico. If any of you have seen the movie Cowboys and Aliens, then you may remember the white rock formation that was in the scenes of the final battle of the movie.
I have always wanted to explore this place, but never seemed to find the time to do so. We’ve gotten some small snows this winter, so I headed out on a day that I thought there might be some snow on the trail to enhance my photos.
It was a beautiful day and there indeed was some snow left on the ground.
When I arrived at the parking area, I had a wonderful view of the southwest landscape showing the many beautiful layers of color. I just love New Mexico landscapes.
I hiked down the trail and just started exploring. There’s not a lot of information about this area or the hike on the internet. At first you see the large, white rock formation that is the namesake of the hike. It is quite large and impressive.
Next to the white formation is a large brown one. I love how it stands alone. Looks like something from the set of a Star Trek show.
I then turned left along this formation and continued upstream in the arroyo. At first it was very wide. This is where the snow made beautiful accents to the landscape.
I came upon several trees in the bottom of the arroyo.
I turned around and love how the sun shone through the branches.
That’s when I noticed the hole in the formation. You can just see it behind the tree. I backtracked to get some photos of this.
I then saw another hole. Of course, I just had to see how creative I could get with the “window” in the rock.
I then went back up the arroyo. I came to a fork and decided to take the right fork as it seemed more interesting. The rock formations were really cool. I had Scarlett jump up on one to get a fun photo. She’s so cute in how she will do whatever I ask.
The canyon started narrowing as I followed it. For some reason I love hiking narrow canyons.
Soon we came across water in the bottom of the canyon. This is when I realized I had stumbled upon a slot canyon. I LOVE SLOT CANYONS!
Scarlett loved it too! She soon started running around and playing. She especially loved coming around the bend and jumping across the water.
This is a face of a very happy dog!
I followed the now very narrow canyon. It was so beautiful. The melting snow created some beautiful natural sculptures.
We continued further up the slot canyon until the end of the line. Well…then end for me. I wasn’t willing to scramble up this obstacle.
We headed back out of the canyon. It was a wonderful place to explore. When I got back to the main formation, I decided to take my time and get a few photos of the area.
After finishing up my hike I decided to go by Abiquiu Lake. I’ve never been to the lake before. I thought there might be wintering birds there. But when I arrived, it was dead quiet.
I did like the reflections in one of the coves of the lake. So I took a few photos there before moving on.
I was really wanting to see some birds on my outing. So I headed to a place that I know I will see birds. I went to Ohkay Owingeh Lakes near Espanola, NM.
On the way to the lakes, I stopped to get a nice photo of the Rio Grande. This stop always offers a beautiful view of the river.
I hiked around the two ponds at the park. There was surprisingly few birds about. But I managed to get a few pics.
It was nice to finish up the day with some nice bird sightings. Scarlett and I had a wonderful day. I highly recommend you visit the Plaza Blanca area.
This past weekend was the annual Jemez Historic Site Luminaria Celebration. Each December for one night only the historic site lights traditional luminarias.
Some of you might not know what a luminaria is. It’s a brown paper bag that has sand placed the bottom. Then a candle is stuck into the sand and lighted. The effect is very beautiful and synonymous with the southwest holiday season.
I went with my friend Valerie. We had gone once before a few years ago but we had some technical difficulties with our equipment that hindered us from getting any decent photos.
This year we had much better equipment and a lot more skill too! The event has gotten more and more popular over the years. Needless to say, we had to buy a ticket this year and it was a lot more crowded.
Thankfully long exposure photography eliminates moving objects (e.g. people) in your photo. So what is in person a busy event, in photos looks like no one was there.
My favorite photo of the evening was this one. I love the lighting and composition of it. People were walking around with flashlights, taking photos with flash photography and in general just causing all kinds of light. Which turned out to not be a bad thing! They essentially did light painting for me. 🙂
Though there was a lot of light around me, I tried getting some shots of the night sky in my photos.
Here’s a gallery of the other photos I took at the event. I was pretty pleased with several of my shots. Just click on one of the images to open a slideshow.
Recently I had the privilege to take photographs of rescued raptors at 3 different events! It is a wonderful experience getting up close and personal with these beautiful birds. Plus! All fees associated with these events goes to help the rescued birds.
My first event was the 25th anniversary event of Hawks Aloft. They are a wonderful group of giving, loving people. They take wonderful care of the birds they receive through rescue. Gladly they get to rescue and release a lot of the birds they receive. But if they get a bird that cannot be released back to the wild, they take amazing care of these birds. And a few times a year, they allow the public the opportunity to photograph these amazing birds of prey.
The 25th anniversary event was a wonderful evening. We got to see and speak to many of the “behind the scenes” people of the organization. They had several birds there, but the photo opportunities weren’t that great. But I still had a wonderful time!
I manged to get a few photo ops of the stars.
Western Screech Owl – this photo gives you an idea of how small they are
They were going to have falconry demonstrations, but our unseasonably hot weather prohibited that event. Darnit! I was really looking forward to seeing that!
I did get a chance to photograph one of the participants – a beautiful Apomado Falcon. The coloring of this birds is superb!
The next event I attended was with Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico. They have an annual event known as “Breakfast with the Birds”. They held this year’s event at the Rio Grande Nature Center in one of the areas that you normally can’t see.
It was a wonderful morning! I got to see so many beautiful birds. Some of the birds were injured but some were “human imprinted”, which means they associated with humans to a level that they cannot survive in the wild on their own.
Here’s some of best photos I got that morning.
Western Screech Owl
Great Horned Owl
I liked the perspective of the next photo. I love getting their wings when they are outstretched.
My favorite photo of the event was of this Barn Owl. So beautiful! I think the coloring of the Barn Owl is so unique.
While photographing the raptors, an inquisitive Greater Roadrunner came through. He was very curious of us. You’d think he would have been terrified of all the bird of prey around him!!!
When the event was over, I took a stroll through the Rio Grande Nature Center. I was surprised to see some hummingbirds still hanging around. I really liked this photo I got of a Broad-tailed Hummingbird.
And any chance to photograph a warbler is always treat!
My 3rd event I attended was the annual Hawks Aloft Photo Event. They held it this year in a remote area of the Sandia Foothills. A wonderfully quiet place.
On the way I couldn’t resist stopping to take a quick pic of this Curve-Billed Thrasher. I just love these birds!
I got to get some great photos of the raptors they brought. Here’s my favorites of that event.
Harlon Red-Tailed Hawk – such unusual coloring for a Red-Tailed Hawk
Near the end of the event they brought out “Beautiful”. Believe it or not! A Turkey Vulture can be beautiful!
Turkey Vulture – look at the size of that wingspan! 6 feet of total beauty!
Beautiful enjoying the attention. She is one of the birds that has been human imprinted.
My favorite photos of that event were of the Long-Eared Owl, the Great Horned Owl and again the Barn Owl. Beautiful!
Long-Eared Owl – I loved getting the fall foliage coloring in the background
Great Horned Owl with attitude
I captured a couple of photos of the handler with their birds. Wonderful people!
Handler with the Prairie Falcon. You can tell they adore each other!
One of the attendees getting an introduction. This photo gives you an idea of the size of Turkey Vultures.
Someone suggested the “two old buzzards” take a photo together 🙂 Larry and Beautiful
I hope you enjoyed the many photos I took during these events! It’s been awhile since I last posted. This summer and fall were busy times for me. It’s good to be back blogging!
Back in July my friend Dia and I spent a long weekend at Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I had never been there before, so I was really looking forward to a long, relaxing weekend hiking and soaking in the hot springs.
On our way we stopped in for lunch at the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm in Abiquiu, New Mexico. (Pronounced Ab-eh-Q) It was a beautiful place to stroll and the lunch was delicious.
Purple Adobe Lavender Farm
Kelly enjoying a wonderful lunch
We also enjoyed shopping in the little store.
Shopping at the cafe
As we drove down the road, we decided to pop in and check out the famous Ghost Ranch. When people hear Ghost Ranch they usually think of the artist Georgia O’Keefe who loved to paint the beauty of the desert here. We didn’t spend long, but I did take some time to take a few photos.
Great old western wagon
Storms over Abiquiu Lake
Old hand-hewn log cabin
Beauty of the Ghost Ranch
As we neared Chama, New Mexico, we passed an Osprey nest. Of course, I had to turn around to get a photo. 🙂
Female Osprey on the nest
While I was photographing the female on the nest, the male showed up with lunch.
Male Osprey with a meal
We stayed at the beautiful Springs Spa and Resort. They have 25 different soaking pools that vary in temperatures from 96 degrees to as hot as 111 degrees. HOT! The hottest pool was called the Lobster Pot. I couldn’t get more than my foot in before I was yelping in pain!
The Springs Resort and Spa
After checking in we decided to go have lunch and let Scarlett run around a bit. Of course, she was thrilled to play in the river.
Scarlett stretching her legs after a long drive.
We ate at a restaurant across the river that had a great view of the resort. We couldn’t wait to get in those pools!
View of the resort and the San Juan River
Looks fabulous doesn’t it?
Of course, we had ourselves a giant margarita at lunch to kick off the relaxing weekend.
One of the things I really wanted to do while staying at the resort was take night photos. I don’t get many opportunities to do night photography, so this was a real treat to have a unique setting.
I first photographed the resort’s hotel. Such a beautiful place.
While photographing the hotel, a pair of girls were playing the outdoor chess game. I was thrilled they consented to let me take their photo. I think it came out nice.
Outdoor chess game under the stars
From there we toured the pools. The first pool we came to overlooked the resort. I liked that there were some people relaxing the in pool. I think they added interest to the view.
Soakers enjoying the beautiful evening
Here’s some other shots I got touring the pools.
Sunken foot bridge through the warm springs
I loved the travertine formations that builds up with the flowing waters of hot springs
I took a few shots from the bridge across the river and from the other side of the river. Beautiful with the reflections in the water.
Gorgeous at night
Definitely a special place
The next day we went on a couple of short hikes. I really wanted to see the waterfalls in the area. I never seem to tire of photographing water.
The views during the hike were spectacular.
Our first hike was to Treasure Falls. It’s not a very long hike, but really beautiful. Of course, where there’s water, there is always wildlife.
American Robin with a mouthful of moths
Northern Flicker digging for grubs
This year the southwest had experienced a pretty severe draught at the beginning of the summer. Because of this, the waterfalls were pretty thin. But I think they were still beautiful.
Lower part of Treasure Falls
My favorite shot of the entire trip was taken at this waterfall. I hiked all the way to the base of the falls to discover a tranquil pool.
To my delight, I spotted an American Dipper. It’s always a real treat to see one of these birds. I love how they dip and bob along the water’s edge and dive into the pools looking for food.
Looking for goodies in the falling water
The other hike we did was to Silver Falls. Dia was my co-pilot and was responsible for finding the trailhead. She led me on a one-hour 4WD goose chase!!! DIA!!!!! I was so busy stressing over the drive, I didn’t take any photos! LOL!
We finally realized we had driven past the falls. We turned around and found the trailhead. This was also a short hike, but very steep! We followed Silver Creek the entire way. There were small waterfalls along the trail.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got to the main waterfall. All I can say is WOW! It was spectacular! I think it was about 5 stories tall! The sounds of the falls was almost deafening. I can only imagine what they would look like if it hadn’t been a drought year. Dia and I spent quite some time here enjoying the view and taking a few photos.
Lower portion of Silver Fall
Lower portion of Silver Falls
My beautiful friend Dia
Dia took a picture of me at the falls. I look terrible after a stressful Jeep drive! LOL! My headband says “Jeep Hair, Don’t Care!” 🙂
We spent the rest of the afternoon and the next morning soaking in the pools. It was sooooooo relaxing. We spent some time shopping the great shops on main street before we left town. We found lots of goodies!
On the way out of town I spotted a Black-Billed Magpie. I wish we had these birds closer to home.
When we drove through Chama we spotted a little foal in a pasture along the highway. We just had to stop and say hi.
Dia made new friends fast 🙂
This guy was so new he still has his dried umbilical cord
The drought was about to be over on this trip. The monsoons started in earnest on our drive home. I stopped to take a photo of the storms over Abiquiu Lake. Monsoons in the desert can be very dramatic!
Storms over Abiquiu Lake
All the rain made the Rio Grande turn red.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my lovely weekend at Pagosa Springs! I’m so ready to go back!
This should be my last post from my trip to Texas last May/June. It’s taken awhile to get caught up on my blog.
Birding in Port Aransas this last time was bitter sweet in many ways. First off I knew it was most likely the last time I would be visiting there. I lived in Corpus Christi from 1982 to 1994. With my parents living in San Antonio, it was an easy drive for us to go to the beach whenever I visited them. The last time I posted about birding in Port Aransas, my dad was still alive and me and my parents had taken a 5-day trip to the beach. It was in May during spring migration. I had plenty of time there to explore all the bird sanctuaries. All the wonderful boardwalks into the marshes and estuaries were so much fun to explore.
Since that last visit, I had forgotten that Hurricane Harvey had come through and dealt a lot of damage to the coastal towns of Padre Island. So while I was excited to visit the beach, I was sad to know my dad wouldn’t be there to join us and that all the bird sanctuaries had been destroyed.
Demolition and construction was still ongoing while I visited. This restaurant still hadn’t been addressed.
Going to cost a pretty penny to get this boat fixed.
Birding this year was tough. I believe a lot of the birds did not linger during the spring migration because the usual areas they visited were completely destroyed. Also, I think a lot of the local birds had left and not returned. Needless to say, it took a lot of driving around to find any birds. But I did manage to find a few good spots.
The first evening we were there I drove to the ferry and the walkway along the intra-coastal channel. The damage from the hurricane was very evident here. Huge pieces of concrete were lifted like they weighed very little.
Destruction from Hurricane Harvey
While here I enjoyed the antics of several dolphin getting dinner. It was interesting to watch them herd fish toward the wall so they could catch them. I spotted a mother and her calf working the wall.
Mother dolphin with calf looking at me
The sunset was gorgeous!
The next morning was when I realized all the local birding hot spots were destroyed. Thankfully I saw signs saying they already had funding in place to repair all the boardwalks. It looked like their plans were even going to improve what was originally there. Someday if I make it back there I will have to see what they did.
I headed to the beach and jetty where I knew terns had gathered in the past. Thankfully, this spot was still favored by the terns. The surf was rough and the birds were gathered in big numbers fishing.
Terns and gulls fishing the rough surf at the jetty
I found an area where the birds were resting and grooming after tackling the rough waters. I was able to get several good pics of the terns resting.
Black Tern Juvenile
From there I headed down the road toward the big bridge going to Corpus Christi. There is a marina there. I’ve seen birds hanging out there in the past so had high hopes I would see some that morning.
Along the highway I saw a hawk looking for breakfast in the coastal grasslands. I had to take a second look as I realized it was a new bird for me! A White-Tailed Hawk. Gorgeous!!!
I saw a Roseate Spoonbill fishing the shallows not far from the marina. I pulled into a construction area to get closer for pics. I managed a few photos before I was run off by the foreman. 🙂
As I was driving into the marina I spotted a beautiful Osprey hanging out on the electric wire. He let me take a few pics before flying off.
The marina was not a disappointment. There were several birds hanging out hoping for a free meal.
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Near the marina is an area that shorebirds have liked in the past. I drove over there to see if I could find anything. I was thrilled to see a pair of Willets with two young babies. I’d never seen Willet babies before. Adorable! I sat for some time just watching this little family. You can’t help but smile and enjoy new life.
Soon though the parents grew nervous and started telling me to move along.
Willet telling me to move along
There were also some Black-Necked Stilts and a Reddish Egret enjoying the shallows.
The next morning I decided to go the Horace Caldwell Fishing Pier. Not sure if I would see anything here, but it was fun to go there at sunrise.
Horace Caldwell Pier
Beach at Port Aransas, Texas
I came across these two children fast asleep on the pier. Their parent must have gotten them up really early to fish. 🙂
Too early of a morning for these kids
The only birds I saw were White-Winged Doves and Pigeons. What I found curious though, was a cross between these two species. Interesting bird.
The Rock Pigeons at the pier had very dark plumage. Doesn’t make sense at a hot beach!
Rock Pigeon and White-Winged Dove Cross Breed
After the pier I drove to the lone surviving boardwalk that overlooked a salt flat. Most of the birds were too far away for photos. I managed to see one bird closer to me. And to my surprise it was a lifer! A Black-Bellied Plover Juvenile. Too bad it wasn’t an adult. They are beautiful birds. Even better, this is a rare sighting for the area! I wouldn’t have believed I identified this bird correctly if it hadn’t been sighted by other birders on eBird.
Black-Bellied Plover – juvenile
I spotted a few birds flying over and managed to snap a couple of photos on the fly. 🙂
During this trip I decided to take a ride on the Red Dragon.
While waiting to start the boat ride, I saw the local offshore fishing tour boats had come in as well. They were hanging up the catch of the day. Lovely Red Snappers with a few other interesting fish mixed in.
Nice haul for the day
It’s was fun sailing with the pirates!
Kelly sailing on the Red Dragon
Arrrrrr…there be Pirates!
Beautiful boat ride
The Captain at his helm
I took the sunset tour. We boated along the intra-coastal and made it to the lighthouse. We got there just as the sun was setting. So lovely!
Sunset over the lighthouse
One day at the ferry I spotted a juvenile Laughing Gull trying to swallow a whole fish. He tried and tried to gulp that fish down.
Laughing Gull juvenile
I love people watching. I think most people do. While there I captured a few fun moments of people watching.
The waiting line for the ferry was so long and slow, this girl had time to get into the back of the car and get cold drinks for everyone. It was fun to watch her walk along with the car while digging in the cooler.
I saw lots of turtles about while birding. I had never really seen turtles there before so it was fun to see several on this trip.
Turtle moving along
I had a great time at the beach birding and spending time with my mother. We enjoyed sitting on the beach, enjoying the warm summer days. And we had fun shopping and eating delicious fish and shrimp dinners. I’m so glad we took the time off to relax after all the stresses.
I feel like I’ve been going a lot lately and haven’t had any time to blog. I’m still trying to catch up writing about my San Antonio visit last May/June.
While there I took the time to visit the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. The park encompasses 5 missions and an historic acequia (water canal). Sadly, the park didn’t open until 9 am. By this time, the best lighting had passed, and the weather was already hot as fire! Despite the conditions, I had a good time exploring the missions.
I did manage to get a nice pic in the morning light just outside the monument walls.
Mission San Jose
The first mission I visited was Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo. This mission was constructed in 1768 and was designated a National Historic Site in 1966. It had a large fenced in lawn with lots of buildings that used to house the friars that lived there.
Mission San Jose
Old well outside of the mission
The front of the mission has been beautifully carved. It’s amazing that these works of art are still in great condition after 250 years.
Front doors of Mission San Jose
The inside has been preserved beautifully.
Sanctuary of Mission San Jose
The National Park is large. It has about 15 miles of trails to hike and bike. I wasn’t about to do either in the Texas summer heat and humidity. So I drove to the next mission: Mission San Juan Capistrano. This mission was built in East Texas in 1716. Then in 1731, the mission was moved to San Antonio. It was designated at National Historic Landmark in 1972.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Bell tower of Mission
Sadly I wasn’t allowed to go inside this mission.
Following that was Mission San Francisco de la Espada which was established in 1690 in central Texas. It underwent several name changes until 1731 when it too was moved to San Antonio. This mission was added to the National Historic Register in 1972.
Mission San Francisco de la Espada
I was able to step inside the sanctuary of this mission. I didn’t realize there was a ceremony underway. You can see the girl in the chair up front in her white dress. She was celebrating her Quinceanera. A celebration in the Latin communities for a girl’s 15th birthday. I took a quick pic and left the patrons to their celebration.
Quinceanera being celebrated
I then stopped at the Espada Aqueduct. This aqueduct was built by Franciscan Friars in 1731 to supply irrigation water to lands near Mission San Francisco de la Espada. The aqueduct is still in use today and is an Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. It received these designations in 1964.
The double arches of the aqueduct.
I walked down to the stream. Scarlett was so excited to see water. Before I let her play and get a drink, I took pictures of the cool fish gathered in a pool. There were lots of dragonflies about but very skittish. I managed to get a pic of one little guy.
Texas Ciclid – this fish was about 3 inches long. You can see little babies it’s protecting
After the aqueduct, I drove to Mission Concepcion. I loved the grounds surrounding this mission. It had beautiful palm trees and expansive lawns.
Beautiful old palm trees
This mission had a lot of rooms to explore along with a beautiful sanctuary.
Alter at the Mission
I hope you enjoyed reading about my morning exploring the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. By now it was 11:30 am and it was over 100 degrees F, and I was so ready for a cold drink, a shower and air conditioning!
While in San Antonio last June, I visited the Japanese Tea Garden. It’s not a very big place, but it’s very unique. This site was initially a limestone quarry that opened in 1840. Many of the buildings in San Antonio during that time were built with the stone from this quarry.
Entrance to the gardens
In 1880 it was changed to a cement quarry. At this time a kiln was added to the site, which still stands today.
Old kiln door
Kiln stack and buildings
Such unique craftsmanship
Living quarters for the laborers
More openings for the kiln
By 1917 the cement plant had shut down. The City Parks department of San Antonio launched a program to convert the old quarry into a Japanese Tea Garden. Prison labor was used to shape the quarry into a complex that included walkways, stone arch bridges, an island and a Japanese pagoda.
Restored pagoda, gardens and pond
What a wonderful idea for an old quarry.
In 1919, at the city’s invitation, Kimi Elzo Jingu, a local Japanese-American artist, moved to the garden. Him and his wife maintained the garden, lived in the garden and raised 8 children. Kimi died in 1938 and in 1941 the family was evicted from the garden due to the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment of World War II.
Arched path built by prison labor
Such beautiful landscaping
Bridge to the kiln stack.
The Japanese Tea House up above.
For years the garden sat in neglect and disrepair, becoming a target of graffiti and vandalism. In 2005 the city started restoration on the pagoda-like pavilion.
The roof was rebuilt in 2005.
In 2007 restoration began to restore the ponds and waterfall.
View from the pagoda
Path to the waterfall.
I loved the waterfall!
All work was completed by 2011. The Jingu family members still alive returned for the public re-opening. In recognition of the garden’s history, it has been designated as a Texas Civil Engineering Landmark, a registered Texas Historic Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Walkway from the gardens to the zoo nearby
I am so glad this precious gem of history has been saved and has been restored to its previous glory. It was a wonderful place to visit. So peaceful and beautiful.
I loved walking these paths
If I lived here, I would visit often!
Scarlett enjoyed touring the walkways as well. She was curious of the Koi fish and they looked like they were just as curious.
Scarlett was fascinated by the curious koi 🙂
I love the colorful koi fish
I’m so glad I decided to visit the gardens. I would have been sad if I had never taken the time to see such beauty that has been restored to its former glory.
At the end of May I drove my mom back to San Antonio so we could get her house cleaned up to sell. I stayed for about 2 weeks. Summertime in Texas is HOT and HUMID. Ugh! Because of this, there weren’t very many birds about during the dog days of summer. All of the migrants were gone leaving only the local birds.
In order not to die while birding, I got up at 6 am every morning to head out before it got to 100 degrees. Yikes! I drove to several locations during my stay. I found the best opportunities for birds was if I visited the small lakes all around San Antonio.
On of my favorite birding spots I discovered was Live Oak Lake in Live Oak, Texas. It was only about 7 miles from mom’s house. It had a nice path all the way around the lake. Believe me, you don’t want to wander off path into the grasses there. That lake was loaded with snakes!
They even had signs saying so!
I thought it was a joke until I saw this!
Needless to say, I tread carefully wherever I went. Yikes!
The resident Northern Mockingbird greeted me when I pulled into the parking lot. I have never found a shy Mockingbird.
Live Oak Lake is home to lots of herons and egrets. They are used to people walking around the lake, so they just seemed to ignore me and go about their business…as evidenced by this Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. He caught a monster crawdad!
Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
While I was photographing him, he quickly lunged and came up with the huge crawdad!
It’s like the size of a lobster!
There was a juvenile looking on with envy…
Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
There lots of Green Herons about. In Albuquerque I’m lucky to come across one here and there. But at this lake, there were so many they constantly chased each other trying to keep a preferred fishing spot to themselves.
Checking me out 🙂
Needed a better look LOL!
The resident Great Egret was fishing along the edge of the lake. I saw him intent on something in front of him.
Then all of a sudden he lunged! Fortunately I managed to get a great pic of him diving for his prey. Sadly, he missed on that attempt and decided to move to a different part of the lake for better luck fishing.
Great Egret fishing
There was a pair of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks watching all the goings on around the lake. I think they are beautiful waterfowl.
Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks
The Muscovy Ducks had some babies while I was gone for several weeks. I saw this one mother with a huge brood!
All the while I’m photographing birds, Scarlett was kicked back relaxing and watching all the people and birds.
And Squirrels!!! She was on high alert when she spotted the squirrels!
Scarlett keeping a sharp eye on the squirrel nearby.
The squirrels kept on eye on her as well.
Staring contest between the squirrel and Scarlett
There were some other small birds about. But overall it was pretty quiet for them. So I ventured over to Converse Lake. It’s a more wild lake. You pretty much can only walk along one edge of the lake. The rest of it is overgrown. Because of this, the smaller birds tend to hang out here more. I got 2 lifers at this lake!!! A Rusty Blackbird and a Couch’s Kingbird.
The Mute Swan I saw last time I visited was joined by his lady and their two new babies. Adorable! I’d never seen baby swans before.
Mute Swan male
Mute Swan female and babies
Here are some of the other small birds I saw around this lake.
Black-Crested Titmouse enjoying a bird drip fountain
Brown-Headed Cowbird female and male
While photographing the little birds, I heard a commotion behind me. I looked across the open field and saw a Red-Tailed Hawk had caught a White-Winged Dove. Surprisingly a Northern Mockingbird harassed the hawk until it took its breakfast elsewhere.
Red-Tailed Hawk being attacked by a Northern Mockingbird
One delight while visiting Converse Lake was that the water lilies were in full bloom. Just beautiful!
One of my favorite photos of the visit
One thing I noticed about San Antonio is that there is a huge population of Black Vultures. These birds are huge and were everywhere I went in great numbers.
Must be tasty as a squabble broke out over it
There are always lots of White-Tailed Deer around the San Antonio parks. I really liked this photo I took of a doe enjoying the wildflower field.
There were a few other blooming flowers about, but not many as San Antonio was experiencing a drought.
Honey bee enjoying the clover blooms
This squirrel appreciated the water put out for the birds.
While driving around, I came across this sign. I had to turn around to take a picture. Don’t you wonder how this creek was named???
One morning I arrived well before sunrise. I came across this Little Blue Heron fishing. I loved the colors and lighting of this photo.
Little Blue Heron
It was nice getting out early every morning and seeing some fun bird sightings. I actually got a 3rd lifer, but sadly my photo is just too poor to post. I saw a Brown Boobie. I never dreamed I would see this bird in San Antonio. It was a rare sighting indeed. Sadly, it was on the far side of a lake with no way to get closer. My lens just couldn’t get a clear pic, though the markings are clear enough to identify it for me. Someday I might see one to get a better photo! 🙂
This doe found a nice place to sit out the day’s heat