Cave Dwellings: Woot! Woot! Whoop! Whoop! Hoot! Hoot!
Cave Dwellings

Buckhorn Creek, Lake O' The Pines, Jefferson, TX

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Woot! Woot! Whoop! Whoop! Hoot! Hoot!


Just about the time I start whining that I haven’t seen any Whooping Cranes…I see them.  Yesterday, Den and I took a ride up by the Big Live Oak Tree about a mile from the park. My Blogger friend, Ingrid, had told me to go to the road the Big Tree was on and the Whoopers were usually in the field with the cows… (Ingrid is the lady with the beautiful curly hair sitting with me on our “butt seats” in the last blog)…We drove up that road yesterday, and sure enough, there they were!! So now, all of you will have to suffer a little information I dug up on these beautful Whoopers…Pay attention, class..I am NOT The Bird Lady of Blogland, but she does sometimes refer to me as a future bird nerd…and sometimes even “grasshopper”..

Whooping cranes nearly vanished in the mid-20th century, with a 1941 count finding only 16 living birds. But since then, these endangered animals have taken a step back from the brink of extinction. Captive breeding programs have boosted their numbers, and successful reintroduction efforts have raised the number of wild birds to over 200, with roughly the same number living in captivity. These majestic white birds are the tallest in North America. They live in family groups and frequent marshes, shallow lakes, and lagoons. Cranes feed by foraging with their bills and gobbling up plants, shellfish, insects, fish, and frogs.”

“The whooping crane's primary natural breeding ground is Wood Buffalo National Park, in Canada's Northwest Territories and Alberta. Here the cranes perform elaborate running, leaping, wing-flapping dances to choose mates that they will keep for life.When summer ends, these migratory birds set out for the Gulf Coast of Texas, where they winter in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Managers hope to establish a Wisconsin breeding population that will winter in Florida, where a small introduced population lives year-round on the Kissimmee Prairie.”


Did I take more?? YOU BETCHA!  Today I went back on my bike (stocking cap, vest and gloves) and found that there were more there…AND…there were at least a dozen Sandhill Cranes in one corner of the same field the Whoopers were in…

02-09-20141As you can imagine, I was in Whooper Heaven after all this……To get these photos , I left my bike and walked up to the fence …


There were other people there parked in their cars, hanging out the windows to get pictures with their fancy long zoom lenses longer than my arm..But, of course, I was right at the fence, hanging over it to get the best shots I could with my little Kodak.  Some people herd members were not thrilled with my presence at their fence and once one of the herd began crabbing mooing, they all joined in..How embarrassing, but it didn’t deter me in my mission…GET OVER IT , BOSSY!

The water birds here are just a thrill to see, and it doesn’t take much to get me excited..On our walk, I happen to see what looked like a fake Heron on top of one of the homes in the area..(People DO put pretend Herons out, and I think that is a dirty trick)… So when I first saw this ….


…I figured it for a cute little trick to get the tourists to look…But upon closer examination…



I realize this blog is “for the birds”, but I have one more exciting incident to talk about..If you nod off, I will understand…

OK, so last night MacGyver and I were just lighting a campfire. It was finally tolerable to sit outside..I had my usual stylish “ensemble” on, and just mixed myself a nice Rum and Diet H.E.B., when we  heard the distinct “HOOT,HOOT”, of an owl..He sounded fairly nearby.  I went inside and got my trusty camera then proceeded to walk down our Bayberry St., past many a camper, to see if I could find him. I do NOT have good luck finding owls..I have never actually succeeded in spotting one… was just getting dusk.  Suddenly, I noticed a couple with binoculars, peering up into the trees. I quietly walked up by them (trying not to scare them with my attire)..and I almost fainted at the sight…

101_5290 101_5292

I have never seen anything so scary, noble, serious, intimidating and BIG in a tree…AND..he has night goggles!  Now, as you know, I am NOT a real birder, but I was pretty darn sure that this was a Great Horned Owl..I snapped a few pictures and hurried back to get Dennis.  (He tries NOT to come with my on my pajama parades.). So now, I will create yet another collage to save from running this blog off into the ditch with photos..


I immediately got out my bird book…and …SCORE!! I give to you The Great Horned Owl!  HOOT!HOOT! I was so excited after that and couldn’t quit talking . MacGyver was beginning to wish he had the local mental facility on speed dial…I still AM on a bit of a Whooping, Hooting High!! I make NO apologies for this way too long blog…I am a “happy camper”!!


  1. Oh my! Photographing an owl is at the top of my all time wish list for a lucky day to see one!
    Totally awesome....

  2. Sounds like you had a whooping good time there! I spotted my first Great Horned Owl in a Tree at our campsite in New Mexico two years ago. Ran into the motorhome to get camera..came out...owl was gone. Love your photos!

  3. Oh no, Grasshopper, I may have to call you Stink Bug! Those are not young Whoopers in the second pic, they are Sandhill Cranes. :(

    1. OK, then I guess that guy standing next to me telling me that they were young Whoopers was nuts, right?...Oh well..I sure cannot tell the difference! I DID get the Whoopers right, right???

    2. I took care of that problem..I had the feeling that guy was just trying to "hit" on me by impressing me with his knowledge..Grasshopper should be called foolish Cockroach!! Thanks for letting me continue my training, Nichiwan!

  4. REALLY...... Your day and dusk were amazing !!!!! WHAT A JACKPOT YOU HIT !!!!! Come on how far up the Birding Rookie ladder does this take you ???? Thank goodness you were willing to show off your PJ's ...... Anything for the cause !!!! CONGRATULATIONS..... IT WAS A MONUMENTAL DAY !!!!! Thank The Lord it is recorded in the CAVE DWELLINGS BLOG ARCHIVES

  5. Patience grasshopper, you time shall come...

  6. Awesome job Donna. You captured some amazing shots. The 'young' whooper is white with brown/rust color on the head and backend. As they mature they turn all white.
    I had an outing last night dressed 'fashionably' as I ran out to capture the sunset. Not thinking anyone would notice me.....low and behold some gal with a serious camera shot me shooting the sunset unbeknownst to me till this morning. She let me know and gave me her email address if I would like her to send me the photo.....sure thanks lady!
    Loved Canyon Lake even though the weather sucked. We'll be back :-)

  7. Great that you got to have your owl experience! It was on my list also, and I got it twice last year, once in Kentucky and once in the Smokies. Whoo knows when I'll see one again?

  8. Good job Donna! We had two of those on fence post near our rig in South Texas. One of them ended up on our RV after bedtime, picking at our TV ant. And hooting up a storm.

  9. Woop! Woop! I'm sure you'll be getting a merit badge from the Bird Lady for all those bird pics - whatever types of birds they are!! Well done, Grasshopper!

  10. Ok, that is just waaaay too awesome!!! Every bird is beyond fantastic but to get that owl...I'm jealous!!! GREAT pics!!!

  11. I think you did very well with your bird photos. No easy feat capturing those images. To me bird photos are always extra special when the bird's eyes can be seen. You managed to do that with some of these photos:))

  12. We have an owl that lives in the tree at the back of the yard, we always worry that he'll think Sadie is a small bunny, so we watch her when she's out. Wearing jammies is now in style or at least I guess that's what the gals that go in the gas station up the street want us to think. Just tell Denny you were way ahead of your time in the fashion world.