Monday, August 25, 2008

Birding Hiatus

No birding here. Work work work. Over the weekend there was a Jabiru in another part of Texas - some other birders tracked it down for looksies. Got pictures and everything. If I wasn't so tired I'd be envious. Hereabouts I've only noticed an increase in Broad-winged Hawks, which means there must be great hordes of them around, because I'm really not very observant.

So far it's been a very wet August. Hot and buggy too. That pretty much sums things up.

Friday, August 08, 2008

More of the Hideous World of Bugs

Still working on the garage. This evening I was preparing to mess with it some more when I noticed a cicada killer (a.k.a. giant ground hornet) down in the grass wrapped around a very immobilized cicada. These wasps are big enough to fly while gripping a cicada. I maintained a respectful distance.

The biggest wasp I've ever seen was in Costa Rica, where huge bugs abound. I was birding in Braulio Carillo National Park when I came upon a Pepsis wasp (tarantula hawk) nervously hunting on the trail ahead of me. It was several inches in length, and I imagine the prey it was searching for must have been one of the larger "bird-eating spiders." Again I kept my distance. The sting of a Pepsis wasp is supposed to be second in pain only to the bite of a bullet ant. Incidentally, there are bullet ants in Braulio Carrillo. Also trees with spines like sharpened knitting needles projecting from their trunks. And I saw a gorgeous golden-yellow eyelash viper on one of the trails there. Birds too. It's a great place.

A few days ago I removed a big pile of debris from our yard, mostly wood and sheetrock from the garage project. Never seen so many cockroaches. Under that pile of garbage they had established a little cockroach metropolis. When I raised the last couple of boards they were everywhere. I could actually hear the rush as they scattered.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Another Bullet Dodged

Ever since Hurricane Rita we've been watching the Gulf nervously for the next monster storm. There was Hurricane Humberto, which snuck up on us, and didn't even get classified as a hurricane until the night it made landfall. Yesterday we found out that Tropical Storm Edouard was coming our way, so we had time to make preparations and indulge in excessive worrying. The City of Beaumont took no chances, and told non-essential personnel such as myself not to report to work, so I was at home when the storm passed through. If you watched The Weather Channel you probably got the impression that Edouard was one badass mo'fo, a category five killstorm raining down death and destruction. Well, not so much. They made it sound like Edouard was all that, and I'm just saying he wasn't all that. We had the usual downed tree limbs, but no significant damage. Of course the storm may have been worse elsewhere - looks like we took the brunt of the wind, but Houston got the rain.

In real news, yesterday Lucy walked for the first time! Bryce has been a pedestrian for a while now, but Lucy hasn't shown much interest in doing the bipedal thing. At least not until yesterday. Now they are both officially toddlers, which means they are babies no more (sigh). Also means that from now on it will be that much harder to keep them out of trouble. Once they learn to run we won't have a prayer.