Saturday, July 30, 2016

A New Collection Growing. Dragonflies and Damselflies

Bird photography requires one of two things usually.  

Halloween Darner, Katy Mills Reservoir
One is to find a great spot to sit and wait for the birds to come to you.   As you can imagine there is a lot of downtime to fill in this approach.  

Roseate Skimmer,  Matagorda County Bird and Nature Center
It's a lot of sitting and waiting and hoping for opportunities.

Seaside Dragonlet, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Two is to wander trails and fields which are usually filled with plenty of other wildlife to keep  things interesting on days when the birds are not as cooperative.

Smoky Ruby-spot Damselfly, Matagorda County Bird and Nature Center
On those days I have found more and more that my sim card is filling up with photos of dragonflies and damselflies.

Eastern Pondhawk,  Matagorda County Bird and Nature Center
They can be a lot fun watch, but identifying them when you get home can be a bear.  I may need a book.

Common Pondhawk, San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge
But until I get a book I sure am thankful for the internet.

Four-spotted Pennant,  Hornsby Bend Water Treatment Plant
Blue Dasher, Brazos Bend State Park
And sometimes even the internet isn't enough.  Here are a couple I'm still working on.

Matagorda County Bird and Nature Center
Katy Mills Reservoir

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Number 63: Cedar Hill

I tagged along with my husband on a recent business trip to Dallas.  This post fell off the radar a bit because it came at the same time I took a day at White Rock Lake to photograph birds.  In fact, I didn't realize that I hadn't written this post until just this morning.  With that all said, let me tell you about our visit to Cedar Hill State Park.

First of all it was the worst time of day to hike on a very hot July day.

Since it was so hot and we were short on time we chose a relatively short trail that went up a hill overlooking Joe Poole Lake.  There are trails as short as .54 miles and as long as 12.

Right off the bat we spotted 3 very small butterflies flitting around.  After doing my research at home I found they were Realkirt's Blue butterflies.  A new one for my growing list.

 After a few quick shots and a little water we headed up the trail.

Along the way we saw these footprint stones.  There were only 3, but some of the trail was closed due to recent flooding and I believe there may have been more.

Surprisingly, many wildflowers were still in bloom

And though we heard birds calling in the trees, this feather was as close as we came to seeing one.  A single one.  Not a one.  But like I said it was mid day and very hot.

We did however see some other critters.

Halfway through I realized how poor my footwear was compared to Breck's

That's why he could make the climb down into the valley and I stayed at the top.

When we made it back to the car we took a quick drive through the rest of the park.  There were a lot of people enjoying the long 4th of July weekend camping, picnicking, and boating.

Some of the flood damage was still visible at the picnic areas.  The ground was scoured of grass and weeds and the structures had seen better day.

Still a lovely park especially if you enjoy a nice day on the lake.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bacon on the Move

I spotted a family of wild hogs slopping around in the muck to keep cool.  It was midday, not a cloud in the sky, and the temperatures had soared to a steamy 98 degrees.

Each was content to conserve their energy until the sun relented except for one rather large guy who was trolling for goodies below the surface.

His slow meander had no purpose save foraging for roots and tubers, but it brought him closer to my perch on a deck at the edge of Jones Lake in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

Every meter he traveled increased my opportunity for photographs.  Though not everyone was happy to see him draw near.  Parent Black-bellied Whistling Ducks navigated their brood of 8 through from the beast's path.

After reaching a point of safety, the ducklings hid under a decaying lotus leaf while mom and dad took up watch.

Confident, an all clear was given and the ducklings emerged like ants from under their security blanket.

A Common Gallinule also emerged from the lotus camouflage as he too found disfavor with the large hog's presence.

A Solitary Sandpiper flew out as well, unseen until he took flight and landed to my left.

Amid the fleeing fowl was one lone duck that seemed frozen in place, one webbed foot raised as if prepared to dash if things went south.

I watched through my lens prepared to snap a dozen action photos as the hog grew nearer, head down scavenging.  Surely there would be splashing and squawking and much ado.

But there was no flight or fight.  The duck held his ground, foot still poised, as the hog raised his snout from the unseen buffet and suddenly noticed his presence.

With little fanfare the hog changed course and moved off into the lotus that had moments before provided sanctuary for so many.

Initially hidden from view I could now see another Black-bellied Whistling Duck and another Gallinule that also held firm to their turf (You may need to look hard to see the Gallinule in the center foreground).

There was no flurry of feathers or raucous commotion because these birds were not scared.  I watched their interactions as a newcomer to their environment placing my expectations on them and found them to be wrong.  An hour well spent.