29 September 2010

Lintneria what? Lintneria who?

Yesterday, Heidi and I traveled to the Brewster County DPS/DMV in Alpine to get some affairs in order.
In the middle of the afternoon we came across a huge sphinx moth snoozing on the outward side of a window on the DPS building.

I was about to quickly write it off as a "surely" fairly common certain Ceratomia species;I was getting tired.
Heidi wasn't so sure of the assumption within my rapid response. "I don't know about that.."

I happened to have my camera in the truck on this trip. This is what I took these pictures with.
The only camera Heidi had was the one in her cell phone. She took some pictures nonetheless. In fact, the moth actually spread its forewings momentarily to give us a brief glimpse of the upper-side of its generally covered hindwings.

The photo that cinched, unanimously, the ID with some fairly knowledgeable folks in the lepidoptera world:


Lintneria istar, "Istar Sphinx" moth.

New species for us!
New genus for us!

What a team we are. What a balance. :-)
Thank goodness for Heidi.
Thank goodness for so many reasons..

And a bare-basics cellphone w/ camera.

28 September 2010

Previous post now has video!

Friday's post now has a video at the very bottom - apologies for the delay!

24 September 2010

Aplomado Falcons vs. Northern Harrier

Finally, the video you've all been waiting for (even if you didn't know it!) ...three Aplomado Falcons chasing a young Northern Harrier. This is from September 4th around 7 pm. The drama lasted for a few minutes and the harrier was escorted out of the Aplo territory. I suggest having your volume all the way up to hear the little fellows.

[someday, there will be a video here]

Shadowboxing mantis footage might take a while ;-)

A quick personal update:
Yes, we really are moving to Marathon officially. This update is from Waco, because the internet here is amazing. We'll be on the road this weekend (so be extra nice to folks with U-Haul trailers!) and then it's back to making the house livable. One more coat of paint in the living room and two on the trim should do the trick. The kitchen is another story entirely though!

Edit: I'll try to re-upload the video after the move if it didn't work. Apologies! [vid 9/4 706]

Edit: See? The video DOES exist!

11 September 2010

falcon finale

Things have been busy lately between cleaning two houses and packing! So for the silence, we offer our apologies. It is at least with good news that we wrap up our ~2 months with Aplomado Falcons.

10 September - 93 showed up for dinner carrying his own small, unidentified snack.

8 September - 16, 95, H7, 93... two birds from Group I, two from Group III. 95 had been gone since 1 September, so it was a surprise to see him again.

Here are the final numbers for our groups - since most birds were at or just under 40 days when released, you can base "Age Last Seen" on that. Good news: pretty much anything over 61 days, in this case, counts as successful.

Group I - Released 10 July
Name / Sex Date Last Seen Age Last Seen
Green K8 / F 17 August 77 days
Red OK / M 28 August 89 days
Green 16 / M 8 September 99 days
Red 59 / M 11 July 40 days
Green 95 / M 8 September 98 days
Red 78 / M 11 July 40 days
Green 58 / M 30 August 90 days

Group II - Released 11 July
Name / Sex Date Last Seen Age When Last Seen
Red OP / M 11 July 40 days
Green K6 / F 24 July 56 days
Red C2 / F 13 August 71 days
Green 66 / M 15 July 42 days
Red 43 / M 15 July 42 days
Green 83 / M 4 August 62 days
Red 13 / M 11 July 38 days

Group III - Released 31 July
Name / Sex Date Last Seen Age When Last Seen
Red 93 / M 10 September 81 days
Green H7 / F 8 September 78 days
Green 32 / M 1 August 40 days
Red 24 / M 1 August 40 days
Green 15 / M 1 August 38 days

09 September 2010

sad day for Marathon

The Marathon Motel has operated Basin Radio for the last 8 years. As of Thursday, September 9th, 2010 the FCC has shut it down.

So now we get Marfa's watered down excuse for a station. Bright side: it does have some NPR programming. But it's just not quite the same.

05 September 2010

no news is good news

Recent events have led to a massive backlog in photos and posts. Namely, we found a place out here to rent! The falcons are fewer and farther between, now that they're getting to fend for themselves. So in our down time we're not getting much of a chance to update the blog or do much other than... paint. And clean things. And paint more. And schedule termite treatments. And did we mention paint? The place we're renting is a cute little 1 bedroom house that has some great native grasses in the yard (a lawn crew would absolutely cringe at the sight of it, all patchy and uneven) and is on a quiet corner where 2 of 3 neighbors on the corner have horses. The third actually has a silhouette of a horse painted on the side of the house. Our 'next door neighbor' is a giant wall (somewhere in the compound there does seem to be a snazzy abode), and the lot behind us is vacant, so we have a nice view of the water tower ~2 blocks behind us. We, however, get well water. But it's all the same, cool, crisp, delicious water... we hope.

The excessively fragile old furniture in the house has been flagged as 'not appropriate for the shed' - we should clarify here that the 'shed' is a corrugated tin-roofed, leaky, mud brick pile of old railroad ties supporting an awning... and is not fit for any creature's habitation, much less old furniture. Alas, if we look at the chairs and tables too hard, they may crumble under the sheer intensity of the modern gaze. Never mind touching or moving them! Storage is at a premium, as there is only one closet in the entire building, but there is not a single cabinet anywhere in the house (other than some old glass cases... that are not fit for actual storage). So "quaint" is a good word for the situation! Practical, on the other hand, might be a stretch.

The front porch is a vast expanse of concrete - in the shape of a slab - that in the midday sun, shines a blinding glare. It is due for an awning or roof or at least a gutter of some sort. In the evenings, it'll be fantastic for porch sitting though! The back of the house is another story. Yet again, we'll be living in a house with a non-functioning back door. There's not much hope for this one, either. The light outside the door, however, does turn on! It's one of four lighting fixtures in/on the entire building that does work! We keep flipping switches and swapping new light bulbs with high hopes. Thus far we've not worked during non-daylight hours though, so lighting has not been a problem. Fixtures, other than one soot covered ceiling mount, simply do not exist. Yet.

Oh! There's a composting toilet. We've yet to find the 'starter mulch' for it, but there's some in the mail, and hopefully it arrives before we need to use that restroom. Fingers are crossed! The giant hole in the yard with dead ragweed or milkweed stalks (and crushed keystone light can) should prove fruitful as a compost pit once we get the "biolet" up and... composting. For now there is a gentle aroma wafting through the bathroom. We look forward to having a 'butterfly' pit to accent our butterfly 'nectaring' station. You can tell we'll have way too much fun with this living experiment!

To skip around the house, we should mention the painting situation. The bedroom MUST be painted before we 'move in' (late September being our anticipated Puppy Arrival time). Apparently the little white space heater had itself a little too much fun and the walls, ceiling and windows were COVERED in soot. Several layers of soot. Really, really nasty soot. Three layers of Killz primer is finally making the walls look better. There's little hope for the ceiling, since it's grooved wood panels. We'll pretend that 2 walls looking shiny white will make the dark, reclaimed wooden walls cleaner, too. It's the thought that counts, right? Washing the walls did very little, so the first layer of paint ended up being a kind of smeary gray.

We'll leave the highly visible termite infestation up to the fruitful imaginations of our dear readers.

To conclude this post, we'll give you some strange highlights:
Julio's mild salsa is really medium (the only bad thing about it is that it isn't sold by the quart!)
Black Widow spiders live *outside* the 'new' house, not inside!
Chili cheese dog pizza is WAY better tasting than it sounds
there's a mural of mountains and a yucca in the shower at the 'new house'
prickly pear juice (from the fruit) is a hilariously fun adventure... it deserves its own post
we managed to procure 3 more jars of last year's honey batch!
shadowboxing praying mantis... in the bedroom! (of the current house, not the 'new' one)

...for the record, the praying mantis won. It was then caught in a glass and relocated outside so it could hunt something more juicy than its shadow. Yes, we do keep a very tall glass next to the night stand for that purpose!