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.