Remember that when you leave this Earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given, a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage. -St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More Birds

I don't think I'm a bird nerd, yet.  I do not have a "Life List". But, hey, these birds came to me - so I am not going to ignore them.

No turtles on the Turtle Patrol this morning, but there were a lot of warblers on the dunes and in the pavilion. It was cold and misty and I got wet, but I didn't mind as I was hoping to see a turtle because 2 were found on Wednesday.

Black and White Warbler
on the Pavilion at Isla Blanca Beach

Summer Tanager

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
There were several dozen of these around the bushes
and on the picnic table when I came back
from the turtle patrol.

I put a plate of flax seed (and some water) out for the birds, they seem
to like it - luckily the seagulls don't bother with it.

It's around 4 pm on Thursday and a family is moving into the cottage behind my RV site. This scared the birds away.  Last night all of the birds left around 7:00 - 7:30.  I will put out some fresh oranges early tomorrow morning.

I'm seeing what look like Gray Catbirds, but they look larger than the ones I saw at the Refuge last month. There are also sparrows and more birds I can't get pictures of and can't identify.  The Indigo Buntings are pretty, but move too fast, they mostly stay on the gravel behind my RV site.

Sparrows mingling with the Orioles and Grosbeak

These birds don't know how to share, they fight over the oranges.
Push each other away, bite each other and squawking.

They say this is the biggest "bird fall out" in a long time. The news is that the birds are tired and hungry because of the strong winds and cold temps. I charged up my camera with the 15x zoom and if the birds are still around, will get more pictures tomorrow. I am on the turtle patrol at 11 am tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bird "fall out"

Today's cold and rainy weather has created a bird "fall out".

"Yes, Dear" :)

Information about a "fall out" can be found at

This weather is also the preferred weather for the nesting Kemp's Ridley Turtle.  I will be on the turtle patrol at 8:00 am Thursday.

I started seeing a lot of little birds flying around the campground, so I put out some raisins and sunflower seeds that I found in the cabinet. I don't normally put out bird seed because of the grackles and seagulls. After just a few minutes, I had to bring the seeds in because the seagulls and grackles found them, funny thing is they kept spitting them out. I guess they prefer garbage.

Then I remembered that we put out oranges at the refuge.  I cut 2 oranges in half and stuck them on the bush near the back of my RV site and then waited patiently for the birds to come over from the other shrubs.

These are orioles, but I did see one painted bunting and one black and white warbler. I thought I saw some other red and some yellow birds in the flowering bushes, but was not able to get pictures.

painted bunting

At one point, I counted 18 orioles on the top of this bush, fighting over the 4 orange pieces.
Didn't take them long to clean out the oranges,
I cut an apple in quarters and put it out there and a few of them are eating the apple.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sea Turtles

There are sunset cruises from South Padre Island every day, weather permitting.

I saw a post on Facebook about a special sunset cruise where 3 green sea turtles would be released back into the bay.  I called and reserved seats for Diane and Karl to go with me.

The cruise was on April 11th, this was also the first day of my Turtle Patrol.

Overnight Wed. Apr. 10th to Thurs. Apr. 11th, the weather was stormy, rainy and very windy. The "Mama" sea turtles like to come ashore to nest on windy days.

My patrol was scheduled to start at 8am, it was still raining and windy.  I delayed my start until 9am. The shore was in bad shape. The tides were high and it was still windy. 

click on pictures to enlarge

We are assigned a zone that is around 1.5 miles long. You slowly walk the zone, take a break, and walk back to the starting point.  My GPS watch calculated the zone at 1.8 miles, one way. I also walk to the beginning of the zone from my RV site, so it's 5 - 6 miles total.

The beach was hidden under the high tide, I was walking on the dunes and sometimes at the edge of the water. There was no one else on the beach. The winds had started to slow down, but the waves were still high. It was actually quite peaceful walking along alone, looking for signs of sea turtles.

We are looking for tracks made by the turtles as they go up towards the dunes to lay their eggs. If we are lucky, we will actually see a turtle making the nest and laying the eggs.

I did not see any turtles on Thursday morning. I saw some 'disturbed sand' that looked like the pictures of nests that we were shown.  I met the director of Sea Turtle Inc at that site, he checked it out and did not find a nest. He gave me more tips on what to look for on my next patrol.

Our sunset cruise was from 6pm - 8pm. It was a dolphin watch, sunset cruise, and turtle release. The weather continued to improve during the day, the temps were lower than normal, but the sun warmed us. 

The boat went out to a cove at the south end of the island.  Wow,  there were dolphins everywhere.  I said to the kids that it looked like they set this up.  But Jeff, the director of Sea Turtle Inc said he had never seen so many dolphins in one place.  I did not take any still pictures, but have a few video clips from my phone. I posted them on Facebook and have to figure out how to get the videos on the blog.  I will make a separate post for the videos.

The boat stayed in this area for almost an hour.  We saw many dolphins including some babies. Then it was time to move over to South Bay.

The turtles being released were Green Sea Turtles that feed on sea grass.  Jeff said they would stay in the bay until they were 250# then they would move into the Gulf.

These turtles were small, wonder how long it will take them to get to that size.

Thursday was a great day on the Island. Sea Turtles and Dolphins and a fun cruise with the kids.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Summer Job

Just got the call, I will be working at KOA.  I will move over there on Monday, but probably will not start working until May.

2 days a week at the front desk

2 days a week as the Children's Activity Director
Friday evenings, Saturday afternoon
 and Saturday Movie Night
(plus Sundays on holiday weekends) 

This should be interesting, I like working with kids.  I was a Girl Scout leader a long time ago, for about 8 years, and we had at least 30 girls in our group.

I get to decide what types of activities to add 
to the standard, planned events.

I get paid for all hours worked and my rent is very cheap,
just enough to cover the utilities.

The uniforms are yellow shirts, I don't think I have ever owned any yellow clothes.  Oh well, its only during work hours.

I will still be volunteering with the Sea Turtle Patrol. I am on the the patrol schedule on Thursday, April  11th and April 18th.  I hope I find a turtle nesting.
We will get an updated schedule every two weeks.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Small Town Living

Easter Sunday was my last day of work at Laguna Atascosa NWR.

I will miss the quiet of the refuge and I will miss seeing the animals roaming around in their natural habitat. On the other hand, it is great to be back in civilization, back to 5 bars on my cell phone and a fast enough internet connection to post photos to my blog. The refuge is not very far from the island but it feels like it is in the middle of nowhere.

Technology or Nature - I guess I will move back and forth between these.

On Monday morning I moved over to South Padre.  I am on a great corner site and everything I need is within walking or biking distance.  There is a free bus on the Island and the bus also goes across the bridge to Port Isabel.

It is a short walk from my site to the beach or to the Laguna Madre. I am looking forward to spending many hours riding my bike and walking along the beach.

I will not be working during the month of April, but I will be volunteering for Sea Turtle, Inc., helping with sea turtle beach patrols. We will be looking for the nesting Kemp's Ridley turtles so that the nests can be protected. 

photo from Sea Turtle Inc. website

Now I am only a few minutes from my daughters house. Monday was moving day for her, too.  Diane and Karl are moving into a beautiful, new, 2 bedroom condo and she is happy to start setting up the baby's room.

Gramma has been shopping

All is well in Teri's World.

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Overnight stays in these states:

Overnight stays in these states:
It is the sandstorm that shape the stone statues of the Desert. It is the struggles of Life that form a person's character ~ Native American Proverb