Posts Tagged With: bats

A CRUISE THOUGH TEXAS.

DSC06935 (Copy)There is an upside to downsizing. My cousin Debbie collects postcards and while going through my stuff I found a scrapbook of a trip to Texas. I grabbed some pages and put them in a box to mail, thinking explanatory stuff might interest her. But, oh the memories.  Dallas/Fort Worth really does have more shops than New York, more music than Nashville and more thrills than Disneyland. We went to the stockyards and saw a cattle drive that was a life-sized sculpture of long horns crossing a river. Museums, art galleries, the Hard Rock Cafe, the White Elephant Saloon, a cooling water walk, Assyrian treasures at Kimball, Cavanaugh Flight Museum, a sewing machine museum, the H.W. Perry Homestead.  We followed the footsteps of Kennedy’s assassin at Dealy Plaza and the grassy knoll.  We could easily have spent three weeks there, so much to see and do.

DSC06933 (Copy)Our method suited both my husband’s and my personality. He would write for tourist information, we’d fly into the major airport, rent a car and do as much as we could during a 3 to 4 week period. In Houston, the Sam Houston Museum, the Astrodome, LBJ Space Center, San Jacinto Battlefield,  Missons. We toured the Battleship Texas, and the Funeral Services Museum. We really did go to Billy Bob’s  Honky Tonk, (disappointing) and  Ruth’s Chris steak house, but we didn’t order steaks the size of a roast. George wanted to go to the Millionaires Club, just for a peek, but realized you need to be a millionaire.

DSC06936 (Copy)We drove to Galveston and visited the historic Moody Mansion, The Texas Seaport Museum where I got my art fix watching Anthony Blackman draw. The old downtown area is quite small and interesting. A Mardi Gras Museum,  History of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The best estimate of life lost was six thousand perished, one of the worst disasters in our nation’s history. We took pictures of a mansion with a two  foot picket fence. The other four feet were covered in mud and the owners never rebuilt. They chose to live in what was the top two floors of the mansion.  I loved Galveston.

We drove to San Antonio to see the Alamo. Texans didn’t set aside land around the Alamo. It sits on a city block with businesses surrounding it, smaller than you’d think.  The missions- magnificent edifices in stone, a cool place rest. The Arts are the heart of San Antonio at La Villita with glass blowers, candle making, stained glass, weavers, jewelry, etc. And, every where we ate Tex Mex, different from California Mex. The best River Walk in Texas, on the San Antonio River right through the middle of town. Cooling, breathtaking.

Then to Austin, to visit the State Capital building, the Governor’s Mansion, LBJ Library, the amazing Bishops Palace resembles Chateau of France. George didn’t want to see a bunch of bats, but I’d heard about Mexican bats living under a bridge in Austin and I worked to convince him. It helped to have a nearby journalism  museum.  We sat on the grassy banks of the river. When it got dark, the bats flowed out in waves of millions swooping up and down the river, wave, after wave, after wave.

Once we got home, the thing that impressed him the most of our entire trip was the bats. I enjoyed his enthusiasm for the bats, as he told everyone we met about them.

My favorite experiences from that trip? The bats, the funeral museum and the San Antonio river walk. American diversity, every state a marvel.

 

 

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SAM HOUSTON JONES STATE PARK

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We arrived at Sam Houston Jones yesterday mid-morning in a slight rain. The first critter we encountered was a mosquito with a bunch of relatives. I’m lucky in that they don’t bite me, or if they do, I don’t feel it or know it. But, I’m never sure. Are Louisiana mosquitoes different?  The campgrounds are located next to this cypress swamp, so we know we are going to be buddies every day.

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The park added shelters around the swamp for bats. Smart move!

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The swamp is covered with some pretty green plant I’m unfamiliar with.

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In the shallows near a cluster of cypress knobs, another bright green water plant I’ve bought in a pet store when I was still trying to raise gold fish in an outdoor pond.

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It’s nice to see a healthy cypress swamp. These cypress are young and have made a comeback from the early days when lumbermen cut every tree. They regenerate from the knobs that come up from roots. At the park, they will never be lumbered to death again.

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The park is also surrounded by a river on its south end. DSC02152 (Copy)

The rain came back in earnest and we cut short our walk.

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We had a short opportunity to get out and see the park. It is from here we will motor into Lake Charles for Mardi Gras over the next few days. Lake Charles has the second largest Mardi Gras Celebration in the states, second only to New Orleans. We’ll keep you posted.

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EARTH DAY

The current issue of Smithsonian Magazine pointed out some of the wonders of discovery since the first Earth Day in 1970. Not all of them were negative. Ocean placed wind farms aren’t as damaging as many environmentalists thought they would be.  Birds are not as threatened and habitat for ocean creatures has improved under the platforms.

On the other hand, bio-fuels have turned out to be more damaging than not. Mainly because preparing them releases more methane than the burning oil would have.

And, several new and exciting species were found, an Australian dolphin, a neon gecko and several species of mice.  We think we have seen every living creature and it kind of amazes me that we have not.

Global warming has already caused food prices to increase and, that will likely get worse. Habitat loss for penguins, polar bears and smaller creatures is a difficult problem to solve, and it may be unsolvable in the end. The oceans are in bigger trouble than anyone thought possible.  And, eating meat warms the planet. Hmm. Now, that is something I personally wrangle with. More on that tomorrow.

A great result on bee colony collapse. Scientists now know with solid proof that colony collapse is caused by pesticides. And some positive progress on white nose bat syndrome fungus. The fungus is identified, it is better understood and now scientists are working diligently on a cure.

Did you know that some of our elected officials do not believe in science?  And that some religions and fanatical groups refute science. They are called Flat Earthers.  Science was always my favorite subject in school and my youngest daughter and son-in-law are both scientists and I love bragging about them.  So, if you like science, Smithsonian has a list of wonderful blogs you might like. This is only a partial list and I haven’t visited many of them:  I picked them because they sounded intriguing.

Skepcheck—Cocktail Party Physics—Real Climate—Science Made Cool—Geeks Are Sexy—Extinction Countdown—13.7: Cosmos And Culture.

And one of Smithsonian’s blogs:   Food And Think.

 

 

 

 

 

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ADOPTED I HOPE

A few years back I had my yard registered as Certified For Wildlife and it has been an interesting panorama of wildlife frequenting my small acreage. Mostly they come for the water. I have had deer, cougar, bobcat, fox, raccoon, squirrel, owl, bat and various cats and dogs stop in to have a drink.   Over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen this chicken pecking about. She is bantam of a mixed breed. During my 40 year marriage, we had chickens in every yard we had until this particular spot. The hawks came by and gobbled up my last 17 chickens as we were moving here.  I never replaced them. I never cooped them, either, they were always free range. And this little bitty seems to have survived the predators on her own. My kind of gal.

I know she must belong to somebody, but she seems to have adopted my place. She isn’t wildlife. I don’t feed her. One neighbor down the way may be her owner and I’ll check with him, but, chances are, she is going to stay.  And, I hope she does. Karen’s cat took a swipe at her, but she just ignored him and Wiley just doesn’t know what to make of a bird that isn’t afraid of him.

 

The woodpeckers that regularly meet on my power pole and I had a conference, and they agree with me. She is here to stay. (I hope.)

 

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SLIGHTLY BATTY


I currently maintain a tub of water for bats, but I was totally unprepared for a gift of a bat house even though I’ve been accused of being slightly batty.
You will never know how delighted I was to receive a bat house given that bats are the best thing that ever happened to a mosquito, in my opinion.
I’ve had several encounters with bats. One got caught in an old fashioned fly strip, those sticky spirals one hangs in the barn to keep down the flies. Its wings were not removable without doing the bat fatal damage and, in the end, I had to kill it. It taught me that the bat would most likely have eaten twice the number of flies in my barn and I never put up another fly strip.
As kids we used to throw rocks wrapped in white cloth up in the air and watch the bats dive bomb them. One time, I scored by clunking a bat on the head and it came down with the rock. We kids stood in awe and opened its wings and got a good look at it. It trembled for a bit before it was able to fly away.
But the most exciting encounter was in Austin, Texas. A bridge there attracts millions of Mexican red bats under its corrugated structure. At dusk, tourists like myself sit comfortably about the banks and watch as the bats take flight in enormous waves from under the bridge to launch themselves on the insect population up and down the river. For me, what is memorable about that experience, is my husband’s reaction. He grumbled for days claiming: “I can’t believe I’m going to Austin so you can see a bunch of !^#*) bats.” When we returned home, all he talked about was those bats. It was quite a sensation.
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