Monday, 25 February 2008

Central Time Rocks!

The Academy Awards were on last night and they finished at 10:45pm. You’ve gotta love this Central Time. Also with the writer’s strike just being settled they didn’t have a lot of time to make a long drawn out show. It was pretty smooth this year with no ridiculous musical productions. There were the usual performances of the nominees for best song, which I enjoyed. I also liked the montages they did with old footage including all the best picture winners since 1927.

The day before yesterday (Sat.) we went for a long walk on the beach and then went over to the convention centre to attempt to birdwatch at low tide. It wasn’t really low tide in spite of the chart we had and what the Internet said. But we had a lovely time in the bright sunshine. We encountered a lot of serious birders many of whom had spotting scopes. One fellow from Maine was very knowledgeable. He had just come from a Mexbirds tour to El Cielo in Tamaulipas, Mexico. He was very enthusiastic about it and said we should keep sending e-mails until we get a response. We definitely want to do that tour when we’re here next year. We saw the clapper rail wandering out in the open - a very unique sight as they are usually very secretive. We also saw two common loons in winter plumage and a reddish egret in its white phase - still the two-coloured bill but black legs and all white plumage. The long-billed curlew was also to the north of the boardwalk for the first time.

We picked up some beverages and returned to the condo for the big fish fry. There were about 50 people in attendance for the pot luck lunch put on by our neighbours from Iowa down on the first floor. It was a good feed and afterwards, Skip and I had a siesta. After that we went back to the convention centre for about an hour before sundown. The clapper rail was bathing itself in a puddle.

Yesterday morning, we went to the convention centre again and there were tons of people. We saw the clapper rail again and a smaller one. The usual white ibis were there but we could only see two of the roseate spoonbills. We saw the usual pied-billed grebe, the usual collection of gulls, herons and egrets, white pelicans, skimmers, Caspian and Forster’s terns, dowitchers, a willet, dunlins, redheads (a type of duck), mottled ducks, moorhens and coots. I saw a ringed kingfisher there for the first time and he stayed put on the top of a vertical stick for a very long time.

After lunch and a snooze, we got the oil changed and a new air filter on the car at WalMart. We then headed over to Brownsville to Best Buy and I bought a Panasonic Lumix camera. It has 10X optical zoom compared to the 3x zoom of my Olympus 535 zoom camera and it has 7.2 megapixels compared to 5 megapixels on the Olympus. The increase in megapixels will serve me well when I’m cropping pictures. I have the battery charged and ready to go and there is a USB cable so I can hook it up to the computer and I’ll be able to see, save and post my photos again.

Today did some birding along a couple of resacas just NW of Brownsville. And then headed to a World Birding Centre at Estero Llano Grande (literally Big Estuary Plain) south of Weslaco. It was FANTASTIC. There are several boardwalks and paths along waterways which teem with wildlife. We saw Inca doves, two huge alligators, immature white ibis, avocets, northern shovelers, blue-wing teals, kiskadees, and killdeer (among others). It was 90F but the stiff breeze saved us from completely frying in the sun. 50 SPF sunscreen saved us as well.

Skip took a picture of me looking at something interesting.

This is what I was looking at.

That was one big-ass gator!

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