Cold Medina

Nobody around on Medina River on an autumn day. Summer’s clear waters are obscured by a sludge of fallen leaves and slicks of dusty and pollen. Perch and catfish can be glimpsed floating in the darkness. Things keep falling out of the trees: leaves; branches; owls; a hawk hunting a water snake. Kingfishers kept up…

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The Mouth of the Salado

On the first day of exploring the San Antonio River north of Blue Wing Road I came upon a wide gravel bar that marks its confluence with Salado Creek. Although its upper reaches are well explored — all the rains that fall in far north and eastern San Antonio eventually end up in the Salado…

Night Riders

A shadowy flight, around the Ft. Sam Houston national cemetery and the adjacent golf course. They’re not bats, they’re nighthawks, and in late summertime they congregate to cruise low over the marble headstones in the gathering dusk. Despite their name, nighthawks are most active not at night, technically, but around dusk — they need a bit of…

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A Mesquite, and What Came After

Hobson, Texas. I tramped forty miles to keep an appointment with a blackbird. Bare dust; not much going on in empty fields where the coastal bermuda had already been baled.  I stopped in a patch of mesquite shade to catch a spot of wind. A little squawk drew my eye back to my shade tree,…

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Ruins of Ancient Civilizations

The San Antonio River from Helton Park.  After the summer’s early floods, the launch from Helton Park is still passable, unlike those further north.   Going upstream you can see all the ruins of ancient civilizations: The Cave. The Eye. The Eye is almost hidden by the vegetation that has overgrown it after so many…

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San Antonio River Descending a Staircase

The San Antonio River at Falls City. The water’s pretty clear.  You can even see the bottom. Churning waters as the river pours over a wide sandstone abutment. The San Antonio River descending a staircase.  Notice the water level at right, compared to the left. Buttonbush and American elm crowd a tiny island. I thought…

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Bastille Day Tricolored Herons

I didn’t have binoculars  at Elmendorf Lake yesterday so I spent some extra time checking out the heron rookery with bare eyeballs.  I’ve never noticed it before, but there’s at least one family of tricolored herons  roosting around the southeast corner of the heron island, easily observed from Our Lady of the Lake’s parking lot.…

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Wild Parrots of Concepcion

A nanday (black-hooded) parakeet of the group sometimes appearing around Jefferson High School.   I spent months checking for these birds all around the neighborhood and Balcones Heights. Finally they showed up out of nowhere, and that day, immediately started a nest-building exercise, using scraps of palm bark.  There are lots of big old palm trees…

The Hummingbird in Winter

Visited Patty Paztor to check out a green hummingbird she’s been seeing, wondering if this could be the interesting Anna’s hummingbird which neither of us gets to see often.  I called out a few vague pointers.  “Does it look fat?  Dark?  Big headed?  Neckless?  Green underneath?”  When I arrived Patty had milk and cookies ready…