Friday, 30 March 2018

National Butterfly Center, Mission TX

This morning, before it got too hot, Skip and I went to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX. It's about 20 minutes away from our hotel in McAllen. The other two times we've visited there it's been stinking hot so it was really nice that it was cooler.

Texas Prickly Poppy
Tawny Emperor Butterfly
Ladderback woodpecker (female)
Coral Bean

Coral Bean close up
Common Chachalaca
Clay-coloured Robin
Golden-fronted woodpecker
Altamira Oriole

We think this is a Vesper Sparrow - ID to be confirmed
White-tipped dove
Cardinal and Green Jay
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly
Longtail Skipper
Spike, the resident African Spurred Tortoise
Water Lily

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Birding Today

Skip and I went to the Birding Center this morning in hopes the tide would be a bit lower and we'd see more waders. Hmmm, not really. However it didn't deter me from taking a bunch of photos.
Black-necked stilts - the brown-ish back on the one on the right indicates the female
Neo-tropic cormorant
Black-bellied whistling ducks looking every whichway
Young gator
Infant gator (favourite snack of great blue herons)
Green heron
'Pre-teen' gator
11 out of the 13 cattle egrets we saw.
Cattle egret
Cattle egret
White-striped longtail butterfly
A pair of scissor-tailed flycatchers
This gives an idea of how shallow the Laguna Madre is (note fisher on the top right)
Ruddy turnstone
Marbled godwits, gulls, and other shore birds
Same pair of flycatchers from the other side
I couldn't get a good picture of a scissor-tail in flight but here's one I found on Google.
A couple dozen black-necked stilts.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Raised Stem Stitch and Shadow-box Laid Stitch

I learned another couple of stitches last night.

The flower bud interior used the Raised Stem Stitch. It was pretty fun and easy. Then satin stitch finished the edge. The leaf below the bud uses the fishbone stitch. The leaf to the left used satin stitch with split stitch outline.
The Shadow-box Laid stitch looked tricky but was fairly easy to do. Colours are used from darkest to lightest, criss-crossing to give depth. There is more of this stitch on the white magnolias in the centre.
I'm about half finished.
I'm really enjoying working with the wools and linen fabric. I will be on the hunt for more embroidery kits, including needlepoint.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Polo on the Island

This morning we went to the Farmer's Market. Many of the vendors are no longer there as most of the Winter Texans have returned to the north. I was very sad to see my tamale people were no longer there. (sniff, sniff!)

Over on the grass beside the market area is the polo field. Skip and I attended a match there three years ago and I wrote about it in detail here.

Today was a much sunnier day, but I only had my iPhone with me to take photos.

The water behind them is an inlet of the Laguna Madre - the shallow 3km wide waterway between the island and the mainland.

There are three on each team - rather than the customary 4.
Spectators sit on folding chairs on the sidelines. General admission is $7.
The VIPs paid $45 and get to sit under the tents and are served 'heavy hors d'oeuvres' and drinks.

We got to see an exciting goal. (best viewed 'full screen' by clicking on the triangle, then the little square on the bottom right).

The guy with the little flag gets to run over and change the numbers on the portable scoreboard.
There is no end of excitement here on South Padre Island.

Onion Fest and a Bit of Birding at Estero Llano Grande State Park

Skip and I ventured up the Valley today to attend the Weslaco Onion Fest - a one day fair featuring the state vegetable of Texas: the 1015 Onion. It is a sweet onion that got its name by the optimum planting date of October 10.

While there we had a delicious plate of tacos de bistek with a side of frijoles charros. I had a couple of mango and strawberry 'brainfreezes' (slushies). We then ambled over to the Hermes Music Stage to listen to Mariachi Mariposas, an all-female, 13-piece mariachi band. Most of the members are school teachers who direct and promote mariachi music in their schools in the Valley. Because of backlighting, my iPhone pics were crappy but I did get a few seconds of video when I stood over to the side.
We then headed over to Estero Llano State Park to see what birds we could find.

The Texas olive trees are in bloom all over the Valley.
A large flock of these little sandpipers flew in.

The yellow legs were the diagnostic for least sandpipers.
There were lots of green-winged teal.

Female Green-Wing Teal
Then we saw this unfamiliar duck with a dark bill and dark back with white stripes.
They were intently feeding and it was hard to get a shot with its head out of the water.
They're fulvous whistling ducks - life birds for both Skip and me.

Northern Shovelers
We sat on the bench by the Grebe Pond (no grebes - only turtles) and a blue dragonfly landed on the gravel in front of me. 
At the turn on the way to the Alligator Pond was the usual gang of night herons. This time, we only saw yellow-crowned ones.

The top one had the plumes on its crown straight out.

Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
Right in front of me was a smooth softshell turtle.
At the feeding station I only got one shot of the buff-bellied hummingbird before my SD card in the camera was full. 
While I was deleting old pics to make room, I totally missed the chachalaca that flew up onto the feeder. Oh well.

It was a very nice day 'up the valley'.

Next Thursday we'll be back in the area until Sunday - our getaway from the crowds on the island for Holy Week. While there, we'll visit Quinta Mazatlan, the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse, a couple of favourite restaurants, Costco, Barnes and Noble, and a driving range. We'll return to the island on Easter Sunday where things should calm down for our last 10 days here.