Spotted Owls

Spotted Owls
adapted from my photo of 2008

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Gray Partridges!

I glanced out the window this morning and was delighted to see what I thought was a Sharp-tailed Grouse family. Although I have seen many in SD, I did not have them on my yard list here. And I still don't, because they were Gray Partridges, a mother and 6 young, and not Sharp-tailed Grouse. The young easily came through the backyard fence while mama waited and called outside the yard. Eventually they all wandered off into the taller grass outside our fenced yard. I have been looking for them in SD since I arrived, but these are the first. The only other time I've ever seen them in the US (they are introduced from Europe) was in Washington State during my 2008 big year!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer South Dakota birding

It's been many years since I lived where there were many breeding birds. North Carolina and Texas are better for migrants and wintering birds. It's wonderful to wander up and down South Dakota roads and see baby birds and parents with worms in their beaks. Many of the birds are the same species I grew up with in Wisconsin (Eastern Kingbird, Bobolink, Western Meadowlark, American Robin) but there's the delightful addition of more western species than I typically had in central Wisconsin, such as Burrowing Owls (see picture, small & distant family of Burrowing Owls), Western Kingbirds, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Greater Sage-Grouse (see picture of mother and one of the 2 young that I saw along a NW SD roadside). Tomorrow I'm off to join a morning field trip in the Black Hills.

Monday, June 27, 2011

South Dakota birding

I've finally gotten a bit of birding done (ignoring for the moment the remaining boxes in the garage). I did my Breeding Bird Survey east of Rapid City last Wednesday, went birding with a new SD birding friend south and east of Rapid on Friday, and went with the Northern Hills Bird Club on a field trip to the upper northeast corner of the state on Saturday. I'm hoping to take a bit of bird-exploring time this afternoon after my husband goes to work his 3-11 pm shift at the Weather Service. Lots of neat birds so far, and many more to look for. Best photos up here so far are ones I've posted on my Facebook page, but I am just so happy to have gotten them that I have to share them here too -- a Northern Saw-whet Owl up in Harding Co., SD.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Texas to South Dakota accomplished

I have arrived!! I left Fort Worth after the movers cleared out our house about 6:30 PM on Wed., 6/8, and drove to Oklahoma City for the night. Then yesterday (our wedding anniversary) I drove the remainder of the 1110 miles and arrived in Rapid City about 8:00 PM (MDT). The fence folks are finally able to begin putting in the dog fence that we ordered in April. It's been so rainy that the test fence post hole that they had drilled has had standing water in it. It's still wet, having rained again last night, but they can at least begin on the uphill fenceline area.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Extreme Birder book

Book sales of the books that I got from the publisher in late March have been going well - and something one of the publisher folks emailed me implied that their sales have been going really well too. I should find out more soon because I will be going to down to College Station next week to pick up more books, some of which I will have moved to South Dakota with all our furniture and other books, etc., and some of which will remain here with a friend so that when I come back to Texas for my scheduled talks I won't have to bring them back with me. I am very much enjoying selling them; until now I thought I have never liked selling anything, but there's an exception to any rule.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Anybody out there?

I'd love it if someone would comment on this blog. If there's a problem commenting, please email me at, so I can check on it. Thanks.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Late Easter Bunny

So far our Rapid City yard list (after 2 days) is 18 species. The latest are Killdeer (in the street in front of the house) and Chipping Sparrow (behind the house on the ground, of course). The only mammal so far is in the picture.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Rapid City

I've started my "yard list" of birds in Rapid City, even though I've not moved up there yet. The best by far is a singing Western Meadowlark out the back in the fields beyond the yard. This is the first yard (I think) since I grew up in Wisconsin that meadowlarks were around the house. This is serious prairie, even though civilization (and a rumored Wal-mart) are encroaching on it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Eat, sleep, unpack old boxes, shred and/or throw away junk, repack new boxes, do client work,sell Extreme Birder books, and sneak in a bit of birding. The latter, this morning at Village Creek Drying Beds, where highlights were a Willet (rarely there), a breeding plumage Eared Grebe, lots of swallows and Chimney Swifts, and the usual nesting season Great Blue Heron rookery.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring, Book-writing/publishing, News

I took a morning drive around south Tarrant Co. today. The Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, which ought to be the Texas state bird, have arrived. I've sold some of my Extreme Birder books even though I haven't yet given a talk or done a book-signing yet. I was delighted yesterday when I got an email asking if I could speak in November at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival! And in the newest news of all - I have just signed a contract with Texas A&M Press for another book, which will be about endangered birds in the U.S. It will be written especially for concerned citizens who are not fanatic birders, and will contain species information and stories and paintings and sketches and probably photographs of the birds chosen for the book. Life is exciting!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Snowy Egret painting

Not content to ever sit still, I wander the house, putting a few brushings of paint on a painting, scanning old slides, making some of many phone calls on my to-do list, paying bills, and of course, doing client work. Out of it all I've finished a couple more paintings, one of which is the Snowy Egret shown here. To see the other new one of a Vermilion Flycatcher as well as a bunch of old ones, go to my web site (

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Boxes of books

There are boxes of books in my house, and also still in my car,just in case I am somewhere and someone says, "Oh I'd like to buy a copy of your book", and also because those boxes are heavy and I just could not get them all in the house. I have already sold a handful of books, even though I haven't begun with my scheduled book-signing events/talks. I have signed a few in addition to those sold, because the Texas A&M Press had me sign a box-full when I was there. Four of those will go to the Great Texas Birding Classic, as gift/prizes as I recall.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's here!!!

I got an email today that my books have arrived at the publisher. Now to schedule a time to go down there and pick up boxes of them. Should I be optimistic? I can't even estimate how many friends will get one, much less strangers when I give talks about my big year. People's enthusiasm about the book may not translate into spending money for it. And they all know that they can get it a lot cheaper by ordering from Amazon or other book dealers (and I get nearly none of that). Oh well, the real point is to have lots of people buy it, because it was a wonderful year and I want people to read all about it, and see the pictures. It really would take a million years for the book sales to pay me back for the $$ spent that year.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bald Eagle

I explored north of Rapid City today. In spite of the bright, warm (45F) day, it is still winter and few birds are around. Lapland Longspur, both Bald and Golden Eagles, a Prairie Falcon and a Ferruginous Hawk, Horned Larks, and many Sharp-tailed Grouse and a few pheasants were the main birds. The Bald Eagle was in a leafless deciduous tree along the road, and although he peered at me when I stopped and turned around and took many photos, he never flew away even though I was probably only 25 fee from him.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More about paintings

I figured out how to "shrink" the big paintings so they wouldn't take a lifetime to open, so most of my paintings are now on my website. That includes the brand new one of a Scaled Quail that I just finished, and that I'm going to post here too.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

More Paintings

On my web site (, I have added two "paintings" pages that together have copies of many of my paintings, especially the smaller ones. Some of the larger ones were scanned commercially and need to be reduced in pixel size or something so they can be displayed on my web site. Eventually I'll figure it out. The advantage of viewing paintings on my web site, as compared to on this blog, is that larger views can be seen by clicking on the thumbnail view. I'm posting a copy of my most recent painting here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Extreme Birder

No news is no news. I'm still expecting the book to be out soon, maybe as soon as mid-March. If anyone wants to schedule me to come and talk about it, and of course sell and sign books, you can email me at or you can send me a message from my web site ( At my web site is a list of the dates and places where I'm currently scheduled to speak/appear.

Late winter and early spring

This is such an odd time of year in north Texas. It's late February, a couple of weeks past snow and ice and cold. Last night it was just 40 degrees, but a month ago, it was in the 80s during the day. The flowering quince is full of gorgeous flowers. The wintering American Goldfinches, fewer than during the storm, are still coming each day, as are the wintering Orange-crowned Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warbler (one each). Cedar Waxwings are more evident than they were mid-winter, often being heard high in the naked pecan tree or seen swooping down to our tiny vegetation-choked pond or one of the bird baths. Of all non-aquatic birds, Cedar Waxings seem to me to love water most.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thinking about Rufous's past

I finished a painting of "my" Rufous Hummingbird (or one of them). It's sad. Although the nastiest of this winter seems to be gone, I have no Rufous Hummingbird with which to enjoy the spring. But I did have 9 winter/springs with a Rufous Hummingbird, a very rare and wonderful thing in north-central Texas.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Painting Birds

The more I take the time to paint birds, the more I realize that it is one of my favorite things to do. Turning a white sheet of paper gradually from undifferentiated colors and blobs and squiggles to something that looks somewhat like, and sometimes quite a bit like, a particular bird species is both satisfying and surprising. To some extent it may be like writing a novel (which I have not done), where the characters emerge as the writing happens. Now if there just was a way to earn a real income from it. But not only do paintings not bring that kind of money, but also I can't stand the idea of selling the ones that I like most. It's mostly just a labor of love I guess. I'm attaching copies of my most recent two.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fort Worth ice and snow

Monday night (1/31) Fort Worth became covered first with a layer of frozen rain, and then with a light layer of snowy stuff. The temperature stayed below 20 since then (until today, Friday). Most roads remained icy and were hazardous to drive in spots until last night/this morning when everything became covered with 1-4 inches of light snow. I haven't ventured out to try to drive anywhere yet today, and may not, but I did shovel off the driveway and a place to put bird seen on snow-covered porch. Through all the cold, my water-dripper has stayed unfrozen and has been a major attraction for the birds. The temperature is approaching 32 just before noon today, and periodically the sun peaks out (finally), but it will be some time before the snow all melts I think. Our dog Shar loves bounding out in it to chase away all the birds that keep coming down to eat the seed that I keep putting out. A Downy Woodpecker, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, an Orange-crowned Warbler and numerous Blue Jays share the suet, and there are over 90 American Goldfinches coming in to their feeders. Busy yard.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter wonderland

It sounds like much of the US is a winter wonderland, or a winter nightmare (east coast). Here in South Dakota (which I'm about to leave and where I spent a long weekend) it's a wonderland, but very cold. Only an inch or so of snow last night, but the temperature is 0 degrees (like 32 degrees below freezing) in mid-morning and it's very windy with a wind chill of -27. It's forecast to be -19 degrees F tonight and -40 degrees wind chill, but I'll be in Fort Worth where it's forecast to be only at about freezing or a little below, and tomorrow possibly freezing rain and/or snow. At least in Fort Worth there's a good chance winter will be over before May.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Extreme Birding

Preparing to move to South Dakota (months from now) and preparing to give a Powerpoint talk on "extreme birding" to groups that have already seen my big year talk, I'm scanning as many of my slides (you remember - those non-digital little rectangles of picture mounted in white cardboard) as I can. Last weekend I scanned my over 800 Attu slides from 2000. Lately it's been Antarctica slides from 1998, surely a place to do extreme birding. It's fun reminiscing. I've chosen this picture, because it probably is a cartoon of me, telling the world about my new book.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Extreme Birder is a real book!

I received the advance copy today. It's strange - it's so recognizable and so strange. How can my text and my photos and my artwork and my poems come together to be a finished book? There's a big disconnect between imagining getting a book published and the real thing! I'm sure it will be even more disconcerting to see boxes and boxes of my books, but I'm looking forward to the disconcertedness!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Even better news about Extreme Birder

Yesterday I learned that THIS WEEK my book will begin its journey from Asia to Texas. Because of customs, and who knows what all, they normally figure it takes 6 weeks. As I posted on Facebook yesterday, the length of the journey makes me think of long ago boats struggling across the ocean to find the new world, beset by danger and waves and the unknown, and of course, then it has to go overland, by stagecoach no doubt, to College Station, TX. I hope it makes it. Assuming it does, I should have copies to take to a Fort Worth garden club talk on March 31st, and then to Fort Worth Audubon (4/14) and a signing night at our church (4/28), and of course to my 3 scheduled talks in May. Excitement!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Update on Extreme Birder

About 2 months left until it's in print! I've begun working on trying to schedule talks on my big year (or talks on the more general topic of "extreme birding" for those who have already heard the big year talk). Also I'm going to try to schedule book signings (and hopefully can get some help in all this from the press). So far, I've got 2 signings, at Fort Worth Audubon and our Fort Worth church, respectively on April 14 and 28 (evenings). In May, I've got a brief marathon of talks scheduled for the 14th (Black Mesa State Park, way out in the Oklahoma panhandle at the OOS meeting), the 16th in Oklahoma City, and the 17th (my birthday) in San Saba in central Texas. I'm really looking forward to seeing what it's like to try to sell my book. I know there won't be any huge rush to buy the book, but for the nutty birders, and the people who have nutty birders for friends, there might be some demand. Always the optimist! And in any case, it all will give me an excuse to go birding in different places. Now if all those potential places for me to talk and/or sign my book would just come out of the woodwork and contact me (or let me find them)!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pine Siskin, Extreme Birder update, and vow to post

A wintery day, about to get moreso. About 50 American Goldfinches at my 4 feeders and in the trees, among which was 1 feisty Pine Siskin for awhile.

Now that the wonderful (in spite of rain) TOS meeting is over, I can think more about how I'm going to try to promote (and hopefully sell) my upcoming book (Extreme Birder). I've begun to contact people who've expressed interest in either having me come to sign the book (beginning in April)and/or give a talk about my ABA big year, or about what Extreme Birding is, or any number of other possible bird-talks I would live to give. What's hardest to do is try to sell me and my book to strangers or others who may not be so interested in having me come. I've never been comfortable with selling stuff, but I'm hoping my enthusiasm for the subject will keep me going. So far, I've lined up two book signings (Fort Worth Audubon and our church) and 2 talks (Oklahoma City Audubon and San Saba (TX) bird and nature club), and at least 3-4 others are in the process of figuring out a date. I'll put schedule details on my web site ( as I know them. It doesn't help that I don't know if I'll be in Texas or South Dakota or somewhere else in the months to come!!

I'm vowing to try to post on this blog at least once a week, not only to tell about bird sightings, but to post schedule updates for my book. I'll try to post each weekend for starters and see how that goes.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rufous Hummingbird for 2011!

I really had almost given up hope for having a Rufous Hummingbird visit my yard this winter, but I've been putting out feeders, changing the sugar-water regularly anyway. Previous winter visitors had arrived between August 3 and December 25th. Today, January 2nd, when I returned from grocery shopping and glanced out into the back yard, there was a green backed bird sitting on one of the hummingbird feeders, a hummingbird. I raced out into the back yard, but it had disappeared. Then, there she was, a female Rufous Hummingbird sitting on a branch near me. She may just be passing through, but she very much brightened my day/year!

gold parties