Our garden scarecrow, whom I have named Malcolm Eubanks, has masked up. Malcolm used to work in a department store, modeling fashionable clothing for would-be buyers. Now, his hollow head is being scoped out as a possible nest location by a pair of Carolina Wren. Such is the trajectory of our lives. But you should have seen him in his day. No one could make a pair of Dockers and a cardigan look more desirable. He had the gift.
I had caught glimpse of this bird several times since I moved here and was stumped on the ID. That white rump patch is distinct and not present on any other North American bird of this general size and shape. Not to mention the bright red below. Finally got a photo and tracked it down. Red-vented Bulbul is an Asian transplant, introduced and established in a number of countries around the world. In the US its range is limited to Houston, TX with highest concentrations in the neighborhood where I live now.
Having done web searches on its description and coming up with nothing, I fed the image above into Google Lens and it popped out the correct answer without so much a moment’s hesitation. Another handy bird ID tool.
The neighbors keep bees and they sure love that basil. It’s a really large bush covered in blossoms now, and bees.
Lots of Incas around here.
Mannequin head scarecrow is now sporting a facer. Smart lad! I saw a Carolina Wren poking around at the rear opening to his hollow head.
At the very break of dawn they rouse us from our bed Their calls addressed to everyone awake, asleep or dead You know us in the daylight by our bright and piercing red In the dark you know us by the noise we make, instead
Dealing with thick stands of bamboo is a new birding experience for me. The property here is surrounded by them. Birds enjoy excellent protection within the maze of vertical shafts: no Sharpie is going to swoop in there, that’s for sure. No telephoto lens will penetrate either.
I hear cardinals all the time around here, but rarely see them. I was on the fourth floor, the roof of the stacks, when I caught this one, and still I’m aiming up its skirt as it sways on a bamboo pole some 20 feet above.
An amortization as periodic table as a protractor stabbing pinholes in the charts of a then comes wonder These are the geometries of heaven the wavelengths of moonlight The scholar studies it, a merchant ponders its returns, a poet lurks in its blue shadows, scribbling charcoal rubbings from the reliefs These are the trade guilds of heaven the arbiters of moonlight What seeing saw, the feelings felt are the joins and fittings where everything that comes together in congregation, parts
(Graphic: Selectively tinted photograph of temporarily arranged steel scraps.)
We claimed our independence from a sovereign, long forgot But we're all inter-dependent in what they call the melting pot Freedom: is it something that I myself have got? Exclusive of my neighbor's freedom: freedom this is not.
They visit the sunflowers here every morning.
They’re awfully spooky for an urban population. I finally had to stake out the bush from the rooftop.
Mercifully cool early in the morning on July 4th.
Ever seduced by the cult of surfaces. Morning light is when they rally to recruit new members. The gallery of nobs above is a detail of a sculpture whose final appearance is still under development by the steady hand of time and weather.
I’ve just this week moved from Galveston to Houston, taking a studio dwelling in a private artist collective up in the Heights. The complex is a work in progress, a prototype for a much more ambitious arts/community/living vision by its creator, Nestor Topchy.
The vibe here is terrific. Being still under development it has a post-apocalyptic utopian feel to it. Photos above all taken on the property which is strewn with large steel sculpture projects, miscellaneous construction materials and debris. The residences are stacked shipping containers, and the studios are quite small. Though more than adequate for a retiree and his cat.
The grounds feature a large excavated pond, called Crescent Pond, which is home to fish, turtle, crayfish, birds, dragonflies and at least a couple of koi. Some large trees and dense bamboo groves round it all out. Cardinals and Inca Doves in good numbers, and a variety of dogs and cats who reside here.
I’ve decided to designate my bird photography website as an archive and begin locating all my writing and photography here at Starfish Sutra. As always, thanks for following.
Winning Texas Hold’em against robots
with imaginary money is no substitute
for a full and productive youth
But the days are as long as
as a life is short, and the cards
gaze up at you from your hands
See right through that poker face
and catch you thinking of something else