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December 14, 2001:I just upgraded my computer to a newer, faster one and my Internet provider initiated an upgrade to the satellite receiver about the same time and this resulted in some incompatibilities that had me offline for a while. 

At this busy time of year it is difficult to find time to write a complete entry to the Lair Log. I do want to note some nature information, though, as a record. 

Very few birds are at our feeders. Ordinarily, I have to refill our large feeders around three times a week, but right now they are staying almost full. We occasionally hear chickadees and black crested titmice, but they are not frequenting the feeders. Neither are they coming to eat the suet I put out and in the past that has been a sure bird magnet. We have no house finches. No goldfinches have come at all and usually they come the first week in November. I do not know why they haven't come, but finches are notoriously fickle regarding following usual patterns. No ducks have visited the wildlife pond. We do have a lot of sparrows in our fields, but I have not had an opportunity to take the scope or binocular out to identify what kinds we have. Perhaps when it turns colder we will see more birds. I assume the seedeaters that are here are finding enough food in the fields and that is why they are shunning our feeders. We are using fresh food, and neighbors have reported few birds as well.

I spent some time on a sunny fall afternoon watching dragons! Well, our version of them, known as dragonflies.  This was precipitated by a delightful email from Kathy Biggs, someone I did not know, who found via a search engine my entry about building our wildlife pond. My correspondence with her was interesting, and you might enjoy a visit to her web site where she chronicles building their backyard wildlife pond. If you plan to build one yourself you can profit by their mistakes as they worked on their project. The results of their work are so pretty! The photo looks like a picture you would see in a high-end magazine article on gardening. 

As a result of building the pond, Kathy became interested in dragonflies and has become expert enough about them to lecture and write a book about dragonflies in California. Although she lives in California, Kathy says she has learned a lot from two sources not far from where we live in Texas. One of the sites  is called Digital Dragonflies and the specimens presented on that site were gathered by the entomology program based at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in Stephenville, part of the Texas A&M University System. Some are photographs and some are scanned and none of the specimens were harmed in the process. This is a most informative site with marvelous photographs and diverse information. Be sure to click on the the links to the Dragonfly Catalog, the Dragonfly Museum, Specimen Handling, and Damselflies of Texas to increase your knowledge, awareness of, and enjoyment of the flying jewels that we see regularly on our outdoor walks. The other site Kathy gave me is from the University of Texas at Arlington, TX, but they have since redesigned their web site and I have thus far been unable to find that link.

Kathy inspired me to leave the computer and go look for dragonflies on our land. I went to the little pool at the Fairy Grotto and three were zooming round and round in the bright, hot sunlight. I have always liked dragonflies but until this summer have not taken a lot of time to observe them. On this day I patiently watched as two of them flew around the pool and occasionally returned to the same individual perches. The third, a bright orange one, never did perch and he was too fast for me to photograph on the wing. Here is a real jewel; the focus isn't great but it is so pretty I am going to put the picture up anyway. 

Roseate Skimmer

I didn't even know we have fuchsia dragonflies! The other one is one I see here often and it was great about posing for me:

Twelve Spotted Skimmer

And here is a picture from my sugar kettle fountain or mini-wildlife pond that contains goldfish, water lilies, and some kind of pond grass. I took much pleasure in and many photos of my lilies this summer and will share them from time to time. This picture would be a great visual prompt for someone who keeps a journal and needs a jump start. Just write about any thoughts this lovely flower brings to mind..

water lily
Water Lily

Now for all our loved ones, friends, and readers in these troubled times when our young men and women in the armed forces and our precious free country are in harm's way, here is our Christmas card I designed and our greeting for you all:

Christmas card

May your Christmas be Blessed.

May God Bless America

and grant

all nations Peace.

Farris and Rheba Mitchell

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Last revised: November 26, 2010

Copyright 2001-2010 Rheba Kramer Mitchell. All rights reserved.