Monday, March 16, 2015

Special Treats

Last week we had a special treat.  Our friend Eugenia was in town for a few days and stayed with us.  It was a short visit, but enjoyable, including this walk down muddy Turkey Creek Nature Trail with the dogs.

This week is the beginning of Spring Break for students in Austin, as well as the start of the music portion of the several-week-long legendary Austin event known as SXSW, or South by Southwest.  The town is bursting at the seams with kids out of school and music celebrities and enthusiasts of all ages and genres.  Freeways are bumper-to-bumper and restaurants are packed.  It’s the one week every year that Austinites either can’t wait for, or can’t wait to be over.

We fall into the latter category.  It’s not that we don’t like music.  However, with John’s hearing problems, live music venues, especially loud ones, aren’t the most enjoyable for him.  And then, there is the traffic!  So, we usually head for the farm as we did on Friday.  

On the way, we experienced a special treat of a different kind.  We sighted this unusual turkey vulture a few miles north of Lampasas.  It had the characteristic red head, but instead of dull black feathers, this one was black and white.  I don’t know how common it is for “buzzards” to be anything but black, but this is the first one I have ever seen.  Even at a considerable distance its coloration was striking.

In doing research, I discovered that this vulture is leucitic.  Leucism is “a condition in which there is a partial loss of pigmentation in an animal, resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes.”  Leucism is a genetic anomaly caused by a recessive gene.  Supposedly, the more animals in a population, the more likely that an individual will carry this recessive trait.  Turkey vultures are abundant, at least in this part of the country, so there is a greater likelihood that this condition will occur.  I’m glad we were there to see this one, and that we had a camera!

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