Another Drive


white-tailed-deer_1

I walked a while at one of the Parks
taking pictures along and throughout the day
the weather was extremely hot
not many birds flying my way
I could hear them singing in the trees
but it was so hard to see
and although I got a couple of shots
the picture I wanted was not to be
I saw a couple of white tail deer
bounding along away from me
but as is usual in this case
my camera was not free
I missed the best shot of the day
as I watched the deer run away
quickly to disappear from view
as the animals are apt to do.

I finished walking for the day
and started driving to my house
instead of taking the quick way home
I chose instead that I would roam
and drive the countryside once more
such is the beauty that it holds
and had not gone for a mile or two
as in the distance big and bold
a big brown deer standing aloof
waiting to cross with her tiny hoofs
I slowed the car to let her cross
but the deer turned and I was at a loss
as she jumped the fence and she was gone
the picture missed as I took too long.

I watched her go and something caught my eye
not far away half hidden in the grass
with a Momma Skunk leading the way
and four young Kits not stopping to play
as they followed behind in a single line
with Momma not giving them much time
as into the bushes away from the car
and out of my view travelling far
I continued driving along the road
thinking of what I had just seen
and even though no pictures to show
I knew It had not been a dream
and once more Mother Nature’s display
helped to make a wonderful day.

Squirrels and Bird Feeders


DSC_2146I have a crossteed bird feeder outside of my window that I built a couple of years ago for the many birds that visit and give me untold hours of pleasure just watching them. Among the many visitors are grey squirrels whose antics amuse me even more than the birds.

When the feeders are full, then it is easy pickings for everyone but when the feeders get low, especially the ones closest to the pole in the middle, then the squirrel has to resort to all forms of gymnastics in order to get anything out of the feeders. I am pretty sure it is the same squirrel all of the time as he/she tends to chase off any others that approach although I suppose they could be taking it in turns.

This particular fellow is very industrious and enterprising in his quest for mainly sunflower seeds. I have sat here and watched him figure out how to get the lids off some of the feeders so that he can then stick his head down inside the cylindrical shaped ones. He gets his head in, loads up with sunflower seeds and then pulls himself out to sit on one of the cross tees to eat his loot and then does it all over again. I am waiting for him to let loose with his back legs as they are all that it holding him up in his precarious position. If it happens, then I will have to save him/her as I can’t see it getting out by itself.

It’s hard to get mad at this little guy. I know that some people think of squirrels as a pest and shoot them or drive them off. The only time I get a little teed off is when they are destructive to the feeders, chewing them up and damaging them in their attempts to get at the food. When that happens, I mumble a few bad words under my breath and either repair the damaged feeder or go out and buy a new one.

Currently, I guess because there is so much other food available to the birds, I am not getting too may avian visitors of the smaller variety. I still get Ringneck Doves in abundance along with Cardinals, Blue Jays and even a couple of different woodpeckers, Downy, Golden Fronted and Red Bellied. The last one, incidentally is very noisy. That’s not to say that the smaller birds are not visiting, they are but not in the same numbers as through  the winter. Incidentally, I have bird feeders all over my yard and it usually takes more than a 100 pounds of feed every two weeks to keep them full.

But the squirrel is always there…

Note: If you click on one of the images, it will enlarge and then use the side arrows to view the rest. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.

Walking McKinney Roughs May 3, 2015


Trail on Yaupon

Trail on Yaupon

I decided that I was going out for a long walk as the weather was so nice. I thought I was going hiking yesterday (Saturday) and pulled into three different places but quickly discovered that the whole world was visiting and even worse, was playing in the stream. So I vowed to make these hikes during the week when I knew it would be much quieter.

Instead, I opted to go to one of my favorite spots, McKinney Roughs on the way to Bastrop. I loaded my gear making sure that I had plenty of water and some fruit, hopped into my car and was off. It takes me about 45 minutes if the traffic is good and today was one of the lucky days as I pulled into the Pope Bend Trailhead just before 1:00 pm. There were a couple of horse trailers already in the lot with the owners getting ready to make the ride. it’s always interesting to watch the various owners as they prepare their horses. They treat them as I would treat my dogs, talking to them and making a big fuss over them. I had horses many years ago at a different time of my life and I know the bond that grows between a horse and its owner. Hard to imagine being affectionate to a 1000 pound (or more) animal. As I looked at their mounts, I realized I had forgotten just how big horses are. They are bloody enormous…

Getting ready to ride

Getting ready to ride

As is usually the case, they were friendly people and we exchanged a few remarks as we made our trail preparations. In my case, I changed into my hiking boots, strapped on my water bottle, took out my camera and made sure it was set up and ready to go, hoisted my backpack over my shoulders, grabbed one of my minipods that I use as a walking stick (the other was strapped to my pack) and after locking my car, was off.

I had already made up my mind that I was going for a long walk and pretty much had the trails mapped out in my head with the help of the handy trail map provided by LCRA. I had alternative trails ready in case I was not hiking well and needed a shorter route. From the Trail Head, I took the Yaupon trail stopping along the way to take pictures. I had not traveled more than a half mile when I was passed by another hiker who was obviously into serious walking. He not only had two water bottles that he was carrying but was also walking at an amazing speed and quickly disappeared out of site.

Fast Hiker

Fast Hiker

Everything was so green and lush that I couldn’t help but take many pictures of the different trails that I was walking. What I like about McKinney Roughs is that most of the trails are in some sort of shade and you are never out in the sun for too long at a time. It was not my intent but as I was reviewing the images later, I realized that I had a lot of different trail pictures so I decided to dedicate this posting to them.

In previous blogs that I have written about McKinney Roughs, I mentioned the absence of birds and their songs which was not true on this hike. They were singing the entire time I was out there making a devil of a racket with their glorious sounds. I even came across a small rabbit but it was gone before I could take a picture.

From Yaupon, I took Bobcat Ridge which brought me very close to the main park buildings although, being a Sunday, there was no one around. The summer camps that they hold for the kids do not start for a couple of months and everything was quiet and peaceful as I walked through. It was along this part of the hike that four horses and riders passed me from behind. I had heard them coming as they talked to each other and had pulled off the trail. As usual, greetings were exchanged and I took my usual pictures of the horses as they passed from view. From Bobcat Ridge, I took a short walk on FoxTail and then to Riverside.

Riding the trail

Riding the trail

Riverside is a very interesting trail. It starts pretty level for probably half a mile or so and is nice and easy walking. Then it descends towards the river and becomes much more difficult to walk with the loose pebbles and stones that cover the path coupled with the incline which is a pretty steep grade.  When you finally get to the bottom, the footing changes and the stones are replaced with good old black dirt, sediment from the river floods over the years. The recent rains had left the trails soft especially anywhere there was any form of dirt and the horses using the trail had left a multitude of hoof prints making for difficult walking as the hoof prints began to dry out. This was true over the entire area of trails that I covered as all shared the trail with horses and hikers and the horses had cut up and rutted the trails pretty good.

I got some good shots of the horizon as I was going down Riverside from in between the trees and looking at the pictures, it is possible to get a good indication of how steep the grade really is. That coupled with the loose pebbles made the going a little tricky.

Walking close to the river gave the hike a whole different perspective. The trees were all much taller and closer together making for a heavy canopy of shade. I had to make camera adjustments in order to lighten the pictures under the trees, it was so dark. Only in a couple of places does the trail actually get close enough to the river to walk to the water’s edge. Most of the trail is running parallel and about 50 or more feet from the water. The river is visible through the trees and only in a couple of places was it worth taking pictures.

It must have been my lucky day as I came across a horseshoe thrown by one of the many horses that had passed that way. I checked it out as I walked by and continued walking for a couple of hundred yards, thought about it a bit, and turned back to retrieve it and stuck it in my pack. It was a combination of helpfulness and superstition which made me go back to pick it up and I will leave it up to the reader to decide which one.

I continued along Riverside until it met up with Road Runner which I knew would bring me back to the Trailhead. Road Runner turned out to be the hardest part of the entire hike. It was a long up hill grade composed of the loose pebbles and stones that I had encountered on the downgrade. Whether it was the last lap home and that I was getting tired or it really was a lot rougher to walk on and was on a steep incline, I was very glad when I reached the top and the trail leveled out for a bit. I crossed the road (twice) that leads to the Hyatt Resort Hotel and finally arrived back to the Pope Bend Trailhead.

The original group of horses and riders were already back and were washing their horses down. One had already loaded and was pulling out and I noticed that another trailer was now in the group. As I watched a couple more horses appeared ridden by a woman in the lead and followed by a man who had his very small son on the saddle with him. I inquired around but none of any of the riders horses had thrown a shoe. I guess it will join the others on my shed to hopefully, bring me luck.

Along the way, I had taken many pictures of all of the flowers that I saw and there were a lot of them all showing their pretty faces at the camera.  In the end, I had to stop taking pictures as there were so many of the same kinds.

I had taken a lot of pictures which slows me down and my walking speed is never very fast at the best of times but altogether, I had spent over four hours on the trails and covered almost ten miles, at least that is what my trusty pedometer says. It also says that I walked more than 20,000 steps and better yet, burned off over 800 calories. As usual, I was totally soaked and as I try to carry a change of clothing at all times, changed into something drier for the trip home.

This being McKinney Roughs and Bastrop (and Starbucks) only a short drive away, I felt that I had to reward myself for such a long hike and consequently found myself heading in the wrong direction to home just so that I could satisfy my one and only really bad habit. On the way, in the space of a mile, I passed two different car wrecks both covered by State Troopers, Bastrop Sheriff’s Department and Ambulances and all with flashing lights and causing traffic back ups for a couple of miles. The sight of these accidents made me take more care with my own driving and to pay attention to the road as I drove the 30 odd miles back to my house enjoying my Grande Latte.

What a wonderful and enjoyable day…

McKinney Roughs May 3, 2015 Shortened from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The pictures are best viewed in full screen.

Fresh and Green


Green

                New Greenery

The view from my window though wonderfully green
has changed so much from things that were seen
before the seasons changed to Spring
are now no longer visible to me
as I cannot see through the leaves on the trees
so thick and new and beautifully green.

During the winter months with the leaves all down
I was able to see all through the grounds
to watch and see what was around.
like squirrels running from tree to tree
chasing each other away from the feed
put out for the birds in the form of seed.

The birds all gather in little flocks
before swooping in on the perches to feed
Goldfinches abound in their special way
with a dozen or more all at having their say
feeding and squabbling as they search for the seed
put out for them to satisfy their needs.

The Ring-Necked Doves come in threes and fours
trying to perch in places where they
are far too big and cannot stay
as with a fluttering of wings they scramble away
to settle in the trees and watch the show
before giving it another go.

I love this time of the year
with everything so green and new
with leaves so thick and growth so wild
and plants springing up where there were none
as nature performs her miracle of life
to make everything come back as one.

Free as a Bird…


Goldfinches on a feeder

Goldfinches on a feeder

Oh to be as free as a bird
to come and go and to be heard
as high up in the tree to sing
a call to a mate who is on the wing
letting her know where to rest
so we can together quest
an endless search for food and then
a time to rest before we begin
to do it all over again.

With nests to build and eggs to lay
we are kept busy every day
babies to raise and teach how to wing
so they can join us in everything
a bird has to do as a part of life
for us it is short and full of strife
danger around every corner lies
and we always are looking to the skies
to stretch our wings and to fly away
so we can fly again another day.

Life for us is always this way
to feed and rest no time to play
except when we are on the wing
and flying around with purpose it seems
swift and straight as the bigger birds fly
or swoops and loops are the little guys
all with a purpose that only they know
it may be just to put on a show
but if you were to ask and they could reply
that you wanted to know the reason why
they will say that they haven’t a clue
except this is what all birds do.

Wondering..


Goldfinches on a feeder

Goldfinches on a feeder

I wonder where the birds all go
when the seed in my feeders is running low
and after I fill them back to the brim
the birds come flying back again.

I understand if the seed is low
that someplace else they must go
as what I have is an additional thing
to what they normally are eating.

But, how do they know when the feeders are full
what messaging system do they have
that they all come flocking back again
not just one or two but a whole lot more
eager to feast outside my door.

All different types of birds are there
do they all the same language speak
does each song though different sung
tell the same story to every one?

Ah, Mother Nature at her best
knows the secret of the birds
but she will not help to solve
one of her mysteries she has evolved.

Here they all come again
from the tiny wren to much larger birds
even those that are way to big
to balance themselves as they try to eat.

To me it is interesting
to watch them squabble over the seed
that some are so busy guarding the stuff
they never have the time to feed.

Others take one sunflower seed
and speedily depart to the nearest tree
to consume their bounty in relative peace
until they go back for more to feed.

And so it goes day after day
I find it amusing in my own way
and try to keep the feeders filled
so that bored, I can never say

These tiny birds are a pleasure to watch
as they go about their work
to them they simply need to eat
in order for them to survive
so the act of filling up the bowls
is my way of saying thank you to them
for all of the pleasure they do show
as I sit and watch them over again.

A Rainy Day in Texas


Blue Bird on Feeder

Blue Bird on Feeder

As I sit here in front of the glass
that looks out onto my back yard
teeming with birds of every kind
all visiting the feeders that I keep supplied
with food for them and the squirrels too
although for them uninvited guests
do help themselves whenever they want
only driven by the dogs who bark and chase
them back aloft where they sit and wait
and scold the dogs and chatter away
as though to say, “Go away, Go away”.

Squirrel

Squirrel

This battle goes on a daily basis
and sometimes the dogs manage to chase
the squirrels out of the yard by following them
and barking hard, loud enough that the squirrels decide
to leave where it is quieter but not for good
as the feeders supply them with plenty of food.

Sometimes the rats at night do raid
the feeders for they have found
easy pickings to help their insatiable need
for food of every kind and size.

Racoons or also troublesome too
and with them they are big enough
that damage to the feeders they cause
in their effort to get to the seed inside.

I have seen the feeders bent in two
or dragged up on the roof askew
in their attempts to get to the seed inside
and any method they know will try.

Today it is raining and is cold and wet
not the day to adventure out to work
in the yard as Lord only knows
there is plenty to do now the frost
has touched everything with its icy blast

Frost Damage

Frost Damage

Several days will be needed to clear the yard
of all of dead growth frozen hard
but that is OK as out with the old
Nature will spring into life and will grow
new where the old no longer resides.

Together this is an amazing thing
as the cycle of life continues on
each year singing the same old tune
out with the old and in with the new.

Thank goodness that nature knows what to do
as we would be in trouble if she forgot
and decided that this year she had enough
and was no longer going to supply us with new.

I guess I will sit inside and look
out on the yard and watch things unfold
as the birds squabble over what feeder to pick
although the one right next door
would do the trick but no, that’s not the right one
so it seems as the birds fight over on which one to perch.

Winter Snow Scene

Winter Snow Scene

The one thing I am real grateful for
that here in my part of Texas
really bad weather is not usually on call
at least of snow and freezing rain
and winter to us is remarkably short
and will start to warm up in about a month
and things will be growing all over again.

We need the rain Lord only knows
as we have not had any amount
of rain in a couple of years
and drought conditions persist throughout.

Wildfires will a worry be
as things continue to be dry
no burning of refuse is allowed
which means on the compost heap will I
have to stack all of the stuff
from my garden that I cut
and the compost heap already high
will then reach up to the sky.

But worry not for with the spring
the garden I will need to mulch
and with the heap that I already have
should have enough to cover all.