Texas Travel Diary - p 3Winecup (50541 bytes)

11 April 2003
Enough bird photography!!  Today I picked up Charlotte at the Austin airport, and we headed west into the Hill Country for a wildflower weekend.  Our base is the town of Fredericksburg, which was settled by German immigrants.  We soon discover Der Lindenbaum, a restaurant serving wiener schnitzel and other tasty German fare.
    The stars of the wildflower show are of course Bluebonnet and Indian Paintbrush, planted by the millions along roadside rights of way by the Texas Dept of Transportation.  Other natives on display this time of year include Wine Cup (also known as Cowboy Rose in Oklahoma), Prairie Verbena, White Prickly Poppy, Yellow Flax, Showy Primrose, and a host of supporting minor species.  The weather is warm and sunny.  You'd think this would be perfect for photograpy, but actually one wants an overcast day, whose soft light produces rich saturated flower colors.




TX flowerscape (71888 bytes)                                                                         We range over to Johnson City and Marble Falls, where a crisis occurs.   After a photo session along the highway, Charlotte, who had been driving, cannot find the car keys.  We make a thorough search of the car, but she decides that they were dropped among the grass and wildflowers, where we spend a fruitless hour searching.  She then calls the local police on her cell phone, who tell us that the car will most likely have to be towed 50 miles back to Austin.  This information redoubles our effort to find those keys.  Our weekend, not to mention marriage, hangs in the balance, but the fates prove kind - during a third search of the tallest patch of Bluebonnets, Charlotte finds the keys.


14 April 2003
Today I took Charlotte back to the Austin airport for her return flight to Oklahoma City.  This is another work week for her, but for me it's on to the upper Texas coast, a mecca for birders during migration season.  From Galveston I Sanderling (46564 bytes)take the ferry east to the Bolivar peninsula.  The highlight here is Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, maintained by Houston Audubon Society.  Bolivar proves to be one of the most fascinating places in the trip - the light, the waves, and variety of shorebirds provide constant interest.  The best time to be here is late afternoon high tide, when most birds come in to roost.  A long list can be recorded:   both Brown and American White Pelicans, Willets, American Avocets, Piping, Semipalmated, and Snowy Plovers, the ever-present Laughing Gulls, as well as Caspian, Sandwich, and Least Terns.  My favorite is the Sanderlings, now molting into breeding plumage.  From first light to day's end they busily probe the sand near incoming waves for crustaceans and the like.  It's a good idea, because they need as much body fat as possible to reach the high Arctic, even Greenland, where they'll soon be flying to breed.    

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