The Heron

Watching and waiting

Watching and waiting

One of the reasons that I started blogging was to write stories about the ponds that I have built at my home. I love all things nature and anything associated with it so I set up a video surveillance system that is directed at the ponds.

My interest in doing so is to see what happens when I am not around (and what the dogs get up to). Recently, the Big Blue Heron has come snooping around and is now a very regular visitor. Yesterday, he was back on four different occasions (at different times) in an effort to help himself to breakfast or lunch or maybe even dinner.

Usually, I am here and when I walk out into the yard, the heron flies off with the sound of the barking dogs to accompany him but yesterday, I had a doctor’s appointment taking me away from the house for a while. The problem with the dogs and probably because they are dogs, they are active when I am around but when I am away, they tend to sleep. One of them always sleeps outside unless the weather is real cold and she has this sixth sense that alerts her when something is afoot like a heron or a coon. Judging by this video, it took her almost five minutes after the heron came down before she became aware of its presence. So much for that alarm system…

The video is not very good quality and I apologize for that but it is interesting enough to watch. This time, the heron does not take any fish although when he landed the day before, I was so busy taking pictures and trying not to frighten it that he did grab one before he flew off. BTW, I call it a “he” but have no idea of its gender.

Just to make life more difficult for the heron, I have now added fencing across the top of the wall that divides the ponds. The fences are all electrified with little doggy shocker in the hope that he will get a jolt enough to scare him away for ever. I forgot to mention that I have wire fences around the big pond and the double pond that are about three to four feet tall to act as a deterrent to the heron. You can see them in the video.

I mention it in the video but the wall divides the goldfish pond from one of the Koi ponds. The Koi tend to hang out in the area of that wall and the heron would only have to turn around to find them. I am quite sure that he intentionally is going after the goldfish as they are small and easy for him to swallow and I am not sure if it could even lift the big Koi out of the water. Many of them weigh 10-15 pounds and maybe more. and their girth is such that he would have trouble in swallowing them. I’m hoping that’s the case as if I have to share the fish, let it be the goldfish.

As much trouble as he is giving me, he is still a beautiful bird. They are huge and their wingspan must be almost six feet and when they stretch their necks, are almost five feet tall. I view it as an ongoing contest between me as the fish owner and the heron who after all is just hungry and doing what comes naturally to him.

Darn heron…

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Another Hike at McKinney Roughs

Bobbie

Bobbie on the trail

Along with my two friends George and Gloria with their dogs, Nina and Bobbie, we went back to McKinney Roughs this time to hike to the Pecan Tree that was outlined on the travel guide as being almost 200 years old. It was situated on one of the trails we had not yet covered.

This time, in order to find a trail that was a little closer to the Pecan Tree, we stopped by the Trail Head to the Park off Pope Bend Road. This is a very popular entry for the horseback riders and while we were there, at least four trailers were in various stages of loading or unloading the horses. Some had finished their ride and were taking care of the horses by giving them a cool down bath with a hose pipe provided for that purpose while others were in the process of saddling up.

Two of the horses

Two of the horses

I had a couple of horses in my younger days and very much enjoyed trail riding with them. It seems nowadays that the horses have either grown much bigger or my memories of my riding days have so faded into the past that the size of my horses has shrunk along with the memories. Mine were nowhere near as big. Or maybe it’s me that has shrunk along with my memory.

Trail

More of the Trail

My friends arrived and we set off along the Buckeye trail heading to the Pecan Tree which we knew was no more than a couple of miles or so in. It was very pleasant walking as it was a little overcast and the trails were all soft going on sandy loam. They contoured  up and down and even though it was only a month or so ago from last time we were there, the vegetation has already grown tall with everything so green. The flowers were out in number and it was wonderful taking in the colors.

Even the dogs had an extra spring in their step as they chased back and forth enjoying the smells. They really love it on the trails. At one point, we came across a wood snake about three feet long and the dogs didn’t want anything to do with it at all. Funny how they know what is not good for them…By the way, that is the first snake I have seen in all of the many hikes I have been on. I guess I make enough noise for them to get out-of-the-way.

Pecan Tree

Pecan Tree

We arrived at the Pecan Tree and as the sign states, it is over two hundred years old with a girth of fifty-eight inches and almost twelve feet in circumference. It looks old and a little worse for wear but I hope I look that good when I reach that age…I tried to take a picture of it and even laying flat on my back could not do it justice. I ended up changing to a wide-angle lens which did the trick and allowed me to get more of the tree into the picture. Gloria stands about five feet three to give you an idea of the size of the tree. We rested for a while enjoying the tree and then went on our way back along the trail. Turns out there are two more Pecan Trees almost of the same size as we continued along the way. Gloria climbed into the fork of one of them to give the size a bit of perspective. Just wonderful to see trees that old and big still living.

Branches of the Pecan Tree

Branches of the Pecan Tree

Pecan Tree Plaque

Pecan Tree Plaque

We followed the trail along Pecan Bottom and back along Deep Sandy to Coyote Road. These were all trails we had not hiked before until we hit Road Runner which we recognized from before. The terrain had changed underfoot and now, much of the trail was covered in pebble stones and small rocks. Much harder to walk on.

On the way back along Road Runner, there is a short branch off to the Overlook at Meditation Point which gives a good view into the valley and the river and is one of the highest points in the park. There were a couple of buzzards floating in the wind and it seemed they were directly overhead and very close. It’s wonderful to watch them as they find the air currents and swoop and glide apparently almost without effort.

View of the River

View of the River

We finally arrived back to the Trail Head at Pope Bend Road. Several of the trailers had already left and the parkway was a little deserted. Altogether, we had hiked about five and a half miles, a nice comfortable hike. We burned off almost five hundred calories and had the good fortune to have stimulating company, good weather and the opportunity to get close to Nature.

George and Gloria along with Nina and Bobby headed home while I sat for a while just enjoying the solitude before de-touring into Bastrop to the local Starbucks to feed my one and only bad habit once more. Altogether a very fun and pleasant day.

 

Dull and cloudy days…

Dark clouds on top of hill

Dark clouds on top of hill

Another day so dull and dark
as the clouds cover the sky
and stop the sun
from shining through.

Will it stay like this all day
or will the sun with all of its power
burn through the clouds
to cheer us with its light

Will it rain?
are they rain clouds
or just clouds
that cover the sky

With days so dark
it is hard to get going
and reluctant to go outside
because it looks so depressing

Even the birds are hiding
away from the feeders
usually such a busy place
as they squabble for the best perch

There is a lone squirrel
making the most of the opportunity
to eat the sunflower seeds
without sharing with the birds

I can only wait
for the sun to shine
as I am sure it will
as this is Texas…

News and Reporting

Reading with coffee

Reading with coffee

Every day I read the newspaper
it’s a part of my morning routine
along with drinking coffee.

The news is always depressing
a shooting here, an accident there
people in indescribable situations
day after day.

The world news is no better
one country invading another
ignoring its sovereign rights
and creating chaos.

The sports pages are the same
with everything reported
biased towards the USA
with very little news
of other countries achievements.

The question is
why do I read the newspaper
when it is so depressing?

Is it that I am hoping
and occasionally finding
people doing good things
for others?

Or  helping the homeless
or stories about your neighbors
or donating time and money?

I don’t know the answer…

Gray Skies

Sunrise

Sunrise

Today is another day
with skies above so very gray
the clouds have blotted out the sun
and dark and dismal it has become.
of one thing we can be sure
this will not last for evermore
as this is Texas and the old folks say
wait a while if you want to play
as the sun will shine later today…

 

Keep on smiling…

Red Rose

Red Rose

Whether a cup of coffee or to buy a car
the people of Texas are by far
the friendliest that you can ever meet
even when passing in the street
a smile, a nod or a passing “hello”
they always want to let you know
that they noticed you as you passed by
and in return you have to say”Hi”.

It seems their nature is to be friends
and even though you never see them again
that passing smile or nod of the head
lightens up the day until in the end
you find yourself doing the same
to people you pass along the way.

A smile can be a contagious thing
and costs nothing to give and no meaning meant
other than to greet in a personal way
people  like you with good intent
to make this and every other day
as pleasant as can be in every way.

There are no strangers…only friends you have not yet met.

 

What a difference a day makes…

Chesil Beach

A stormy day

Yesterday when I awoke it was so dark as to still be night
I checked the time just to be sure that it was supposed to be daylight
heavy clouds overhead as the storm moved through
with flashes of lightning so bright
followed by the rolling sound
of thunder enough to start the dogs
in a chorus of barks and howls.

The rain poured down which is no surprise
as the forces of gravity pervade
if ever it pours UP instead then the end of the world is nigh
it rained for a couple of hours or more
rain we so desperately need
to water the yard and fill the ponds
to make things grow back green again.

After a while the storm passed by
and the sun came out to warm the sky
but the weather was still very cold
as a front from the North came blowing through
enough that I did not venture out
although things were waiting for me to do.

Today is a totally different day
the sun is shining and the weather is warm
and I will go outside
to do the things that I love to do
the air still has a cold, cold feel
enough to wear a shirt for warmth
but best of all the sun shines bright
and things are cheerful once again.