Last night, we finally made it back to the area where we first saw the peacocks wandering about in the wild. We were armed with digital and video cameras, and we were rewarded for our efforts.

peacock

We immediately saw a male strutting about...

peacock tail

...dragging his lovely tail.

peacock calling

And then he called, and Ronak was able to capture him in mid-note. (I think peacocks are named "Mayoor" in Hindi, because that's what it sounds like they are saying when they call.)

peahen

A group of females (peahens) arrived on the scene...

peacock dancing

...and two of the peacocks were inspired to dance.

peacock dancing

This male tried his best, but he didn't attract any peahens to his vicinity. (Maybe it had something to do with his backdrop of a run-down shed.)

peacock dancing

Meanwhile, this peacock did better. We saw two females fight over him. And he rewarded his admirers with side-steps, back-steps, spins, and tail shakes. (And I captured it all on video.)

peacock dancing

But in the end, this male danced solo too. (Maybe he'll have better luck tomorrow without the distracting paparazzi.)

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In a neighborhood like ours, yards are adjoining. One fence divides us, so we each own a half. We keep our side clean and functional; and they keep their side in working order; and we hope that nothing falls on the top to make it bend one way or the other, or we're going to have a problem.

Where there isn't fence, there's lawn with a division created by the placement of sod pieces and a trench leading rainwater away from our homes, a line to be touched by lawnmower blades and sprinkler sprays but not crossed.

lawn

Ronak and I were the first to move in, with vacant houses on either side, so we didn't have anyone to keep up with at first. We were able to take our time, testing out mowers.

lawn

Eventually we picked a model that was convenient and easy to push, at the same time that it wouldn't leave a large environmental imprint: an electric mower.

electric lawnmower

Someone moved into the home on one side of us, and we were still able to keep up, because they didn't have a mower yet. Our side of the line looked well-kept while theirs blossomed into an unruly field.

lawn

So we mowed semi-regularly and allowed our wildflowers to bloom.

wildflowers

And then one day, we heard a sound, looked out the window, and saw that our neighbors had hired a professional lawn care service. The fields were trimmed to be lawn, the tight spaces edged. The competition had begun.

pulling weeds

So we got to work on our weeds, mowed down a few wildflowers, and got mowing...

mowing with electric lawnmower

...up to the line...

mowing with electric lawnmower

...so we can blur the line between lawns and keep up with the Joneses.

Lately the wildlife have been playing hide and seek with us. When we have a camera in hand, they hide; and when we don't, they give us amazing shows that make us wish we'd remembered our cameras.

Scissor-tailed flycatchers have shown us why their tails are named after scissors as they cut the air and rapidly change directions. They have landed on trees right in front of us. They tease us almost every time we take a walk in the neighborhood. But if we dare bring along a camera, they are shy and reserved.

Last Saturday, while we were eating our lunch outside, we saw a unique show: a grackle attacking a squirrel. The poor mammal was just trying to eat a nut he found, but he must have been too close to the bird's nest. The grackle swooped in low, and the squirrel turned his back to it. Then the grackle became bolder, got some altitude, and swooped towards the squirrel's back so that it scurried forward out of its path. But then he relaxed and continued eating his nut, still too close for the comfort of the bird. We watched the grackle fly up into a tree above. We thought perhaps he'd given up. Then suddenly, he flew straight down onto the squirrel like a helicopter landing. That got a bigger reaction from the squirrel. And of course, during all of this show, Ronak and I lamented not having brought our camera. (They were just too far away for our cell phone cameras to be of any use.)

So, Ronak got out the binoculars and I packed the camera, and we took both along with us in the car, wherever we went, just in case. We did see a Great Egret in the sky, but it quickly disappeared behind the treeline, so we didn't have a chance to take a picture. We drove past Ronak's workplace, hoping to spot a roadrunner. We revisited our old apartment, eyes peeled for armadillos or skunks. But there was nothing to see.

So, I finally removed the binoculars and the camera from the car last night, disappointed but hoping we'd see some wildlife another day.

We realized we needed groceries later that eveing, and we headed out. We passed the llama farm. We saw a deer by the side of the road. And then I spotted a peacock walking across a parking lot, and I pointed at it excitedly. Ronak turned the car around, but we were stuck at a light for a long time, and when we finally returned to the spot where we'd first noticed him, he was no longer there, (although we did see another deer).

I suggested we head around the back of the building just in case that was where he disappeared to. And sure enough, there he was in the middle of the road! I had never seen a peacock outside a zoo - and definitely never this close!

And then I saw another in the distance - and a peahen - and another deer. And we only had our phones, but we used them the best we could - shot after shot, video after video.

peacock

And then we saw more and more peacocks and suspected we must be near some kind of farm, because peacocks aren't native to Texas. But the birds were wandering about freely.

We counted at least 6 males and 3 females in all. And occasionally they would call to one another.

peacock

Sadly, these were the best pictures we could get last night - with phone cameras and with the sun going down. (A few of the videos turned out okay too, and I may try to get them online - if we don't get better footage in the near future.)

Ronak and I have a plan now. We want to go back to that road with a real camera and a real video camera, and hopefully the wildlife won't hide from us then. Ready or not, here we come!

This spring, the weather has been perfect for primroses. And they've been thriving in our backyard.

primroses

Last year, Ronak and I saw a lot of blues, reds, and yellows of bluebonnets and Indian blankets, which must have enjoyed the cooler, rainier weather.

primroses

But this has been the year of the primrose, with weather condition that have been warmer, sunnier, drier.

primroses

And as long as those primroses thrive in our yard, we'll continue to mow around.

Ronak and I found this creepy-looking spider on the side of our house. We thought it curious that it had prey in hands, but there was no web to be seen. We wondered how it had captured its dinner.

bold jumper, Phidippus audax, jumping spider

So I snapped a few photos (some of which came out creepier looking than the spider itself) and searched the net, hoping to identify the strange spider.

bold jumper, Phidippus audax, jumping spider

Texas Agriculture Extension Service has a nice page on spiders which helped me identify my spider as a jumping spider, specifically a bold jumper (Phidippus audax), which sounds scarier than it is.

Jumping spiders, leap towards their prey, leaving a string of web as a repelling rope in their wake. Which explains why we saw our spider chowing down with no fancy web in sight.

They are commonly found around houses and gardens, so I was especially happy to learn that they are not harmful to humans.

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In 2007, we moved to Austin, and this blog chronicled our adaptation to Texas life: festivals, wildflowers, and bats - oh my! Then we had a baby, and that changed everything, so now, we blog about where to buy organic food, what parks are fun for babies, which exterminator is taking care of our scorpion problem. (You know, the usual parental concerns.)

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