Since October 30th we've had this Buff-bellied Hummingbird in our yard. He's fond of the thicket along our driveway, which is where this photo was taken on the 31st. Birds like this remind me that we really do live in Texas, even if this part of the state sometimes feels like it's slipping into Louisiana.
Other recent additions to our yard list include a Swamp Sparrow at the pond on October 19th and a Lincoln's Sparrow at the pond on November 2nd. I've never had to work so hard for a Lincoln's Sparrow. Usually they don't give me any trouble, but this one was a complete bastard. Spent much of its time hiding in the minimal (yet frustratingly sufficient) vegetation bordering the pond, and when it was in view it had an uncanny ability to keep obstructing limbs between us at all times. Eventually I did manage to get a few decent looks at the bird, securing its place as yard bird #128.
Other winter birds are returning. In recent days I've seen Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Phoebe, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Yellow-rumped Warbler around the yard.
Hurricane Ike didn't take down any of our trees, but we did lose a lot of foliage and some massive limbs. Michelle and I spent a weekend cutting and moving the fallen branches, some of which were the size of trees. The smaller pieces I burned, and I've got a big stack of logs behind the garage saved for future bonfires. Once again our garage suffered some minor damage from falling limbs, but otherwise our property came through the storm relatively unscathed. By comparison, after Huricane Rita we had several trees down, our house needed a new roof, our carport was demolished, our fences were heavily damaged, and the debris cleanup took weeks. I'd say we were lucky this time.