Saturday, May 21, 2016

Back in Colorado

We always like to get back to Colorado Springs for the Spring migration - around mid-May. This year we've not been disappointed.

A Bullock's Oriole was here to welcome us. He stayed around for a few days before moving on.

We always enjoy the Western Tanagers. This year we've had 5 or 6 flying around.

We've seen a couple of male Black-headed Grosbeaks and one female.

This is a younger Western Tanager with just a hint of red on the head.

We had an entire flock of Chipping Sparrows stop by one morning.

I love the Woodpeckers! This Downy stops by everyday for a snack.

We've also had quite a few Pine Siskins this year.

This picture shows the streak of yellow better. This is a first for the yard.

Another first - a Nuthatch.

It's hard for me to determine size when I look at my pictures. I assume this is a Downy and not his bigger cousin the Hairy.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

More Pictures from South Texas

The Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park is one of the few places in the US where you are almost guaranteed to see an Altamira Oriole.

This one was busy trying (with little success) to build his nest on the wire. There were several "starts" that looked like air plants along the wire. Hopefully, this one went better.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are another South Texas specialty although I have seen them in Florida.

...and the ever-present Chachalacas.

On Saturday we took a guided walk with a Naturalist through some wonderful habitat. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the place - I'll have to check with Cheryl.

Our guide took us to a portion closed to other visitors so we could see the nesting Green Parrots.

Too cute! Rabbits are just too photogenic!

Another treat - a Long-billed Thrasher. Apparently the Long-billed and Curved-billed Thrashers look extremely similar. I'll bet I mis-identified this on our last trip in 2013.

Cheryl spotted this Texas Lizard.

This is a Couch's Kingbird - or is it a Tropical Kingbird?

Doves! We saw lots of Doves. This is a small Inca Dove.

 Here the Inca Dove is next to a White-winged Dove so you can see the difference in size.

The whole time we were visiting, Cheryl tried to find us a Road-runner. Laura and Cheryl have seen them in their front yard (so they said) but try as they might, they were no where to be found! Bill and I took a ride one afternoon down around the border (and met lots of nice Border Patrol) and when we got back we proudly showed then the picture of the Road-runner we found!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Birding South Texas

 Bill and I took a "little" detour on our way from Florida to Colorado. We drove south to Mission Texas for a fabulous visit with daughter Laura and her wife Cheryl.  Cheryl shares our passion for birding and arranged several trips to area hot spots.

The Great Kiskadees were everywhere, Laura & Cheryl's backyard and at Sabal Palm Sanctuary on the Rio Grande River in Brownsville, Texas.

Another bird you'll only see in South Texas is the Green Jay. Absolutely gorgeous birds! This one was at Bentson Rio Grande Valley State Park in Mission.

And what trip to South Texas would be complete without seeing one (or 20) Plain Chachalacas! They are big chicken-like birds that make a racket!

We saw two types of hummingbirds: Buff-bellied by the dozen around the Hummingbird Bush in the backyard and this Broad-billed Hummingbird at Sabal Palm.

Cheryl spotted this Harris's Hawk sitting on a light pole - a lifer for Bill and me!

And then there are the parrots! Cheryl took us into town just before dusk. We parked in a shopping center lot and watched as dozens and dozens of Green Parakeets flew in from their day's activities to roost on the overhead wires. It was really something to see - and hear!!

We had a fabulous visit and can't wait to go back! The girls were wonderful hosts. Thank you so much!!

Friday, February 26, 2016

American Goldfinches

It's been very interesting to watch the American Goldfinches. 

When we arrive in Florida in September, we rarely see any. Our feeders host lots of Pine Warblers, but not many finches. They begin to trickle in starting in November and the numbers grow throughout the winter months. By February, we have so many that we are filling the sunflower feeders almost daily.

Last week, we had about 200 on the feeders, the ground and in our oak tree.

The next day, they were gone. This Yellow-rumped Warbler had the feeders all to himself!

This year we have two Sherman Fox Squirrels that visit almost daily. There has been a lot of new construction in the area so we don't see the numbers as in previous years. I hope they are ok.

Any day that we see a Pileated Woodpecker is a good day!

We had an unusual visitor this morning - a Brown-headed Cowbird.

Our beautiful Bluebirds are much more welcome!

In other news, this is a sink hole that opened up in a drainage ditch in front of a neighboring community. Scary!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Big Beachy Bag

I host a small sewing group each Wednesday. This week we are making Big Beachy Bags so I've been practicing in preparation. The nice feature of this bag is the bottom - 11-inches square. It's not only perfect for the beach, it's a great casserole or side dish transport. 

BIG Beachy Bag

You will need:
1 ½ yards main fabric
1 yard coordinating fabric
Interfacing: 1 yard Pellon fusible Decor Bond 809 (stiff) or Pellon 931 TD (pliable)
Fusible Fleece: 1 ½ yards Pellon 987F

Main fabric:

4 pieces 8 1/2 inches wide by 27 1/2 inches long (2 pieces are for the outside, 2 pieces are for the lining)
2 pieces 7 inches wide by 27 inches long (handles)

Coordinating fabric:

4 pieces 8 1/2 inches wide by 27 1/2 inches long.
(2 pieces are for the outside, 2 pieces are for the lining)

Decor Bond or lighter fusible interfacing:

4 pieces 8 1/4 inches wide by 27 1/4 inches long

Fusible fleece:

4 pieces 8 1/4 inches wide by
27 1/4 inches long
2 pieces 3 1/2 inches wide by 27 inches long (handles)

Fuse & Mark:
1. Fuse the Decor Bond to 2 pieces of main fabric (NOT THE HANDLES) and two pieces of coordinating fabric. This is the outside of the bag.
2. Fuse the larger pieces of fleece to two pieces of main fabric (NOT THE HANDLES) and two pieces of coordinating fabric. This is the lining of the bag.

At this point you should have 4 panels with fusible fleece and 4 panels with interfacing. The panels with fleece are the lining and the panels with interfacing are the outside of the bag.

On the 4 outside pieces, mark a very small square on the bottom LEFT corner of the right side of the fabric.

On the 4 lining pieces, mark a very small square on the bottom RIGHT corner of the right side of the fabric.

Measure up 8 ½ inches from the bottom where the square is and make a small mark on the wrong side of the fabric. Do this on all 8 panels.

Line up the four outside panels as shown in the picture, matching squares.

1.      Sew the left two panels from the square to the 8 ½ inch mark. Iron towards main fabric.
2.     Repeat with the two right panels. Iron towards main fabric or opposite from the way you ironed the first two panels.
3.     Sew the 2 sections together matching center seams.

Now it gets just a little tricky.

4.     Fold one side to meet the side next to it RST. Sew. The two sides will not be even. There will be about 8-inches at the top of the 2nd side.
5.     Repeat for all four sides.  You should have a bag with points sticking up.

Line up the four lining panels as shown in the picture, matching squares. The lining panels will be opposite from the way the outside panels lined up.

            Outside                                                         Lining

Repeat steps 1 to 5 for the lining panels. Leave an opening in the final seam to turn the bag right side out.

1.      Fold your fabric in half long ways with wrong sides together and press a crease.
2.     Open.
3.     Fold the outer edges in to the center line and press. Open.
4.     Center the fleece using the lines as a guide. Fold the outside edges in again (over the fleece and meeting in the center where your first ironed line was).
5.     Press to fuse.
6.     Fold in half, press and top-stitch along both sides.

Pin one end of one handle to a point top on the right side of the lining. Pin the other end to the point top on the panel next to the first one. Make sure the handle is not twisted.  Sew across. Reinforce. Repeat with the 2nd handle and the two remaining point tops.

Place the outside of the bag into the lining RST. Pin the 4 points, the 4 valleys and the sides. Sew around pivoting at the valleys and sewing just to the inside of stitching on the handles.  Gently clip the inner corners.

Pull bag through opening in lining. Sew opening closed.