You wouldn’t think it’s winter down here in southeast Texas. It’s been in the upper 70’s (Fahrenheit) for the past few days. Foggy in the morning, sunny and bright by mid-morning lasting into the evening. Yesterday, it was 80 degrees.
I get every other Friday off. During those Fridays, I generally don’t like to go anywhere (except on vacation, that is). However, I’d scheduled a bone density test for this particular Friday off, so I decided I’d take along my cameras and spend time after the appointment at a state park to which I’d never been.
Well, I’ve still never been to that state park, and probably won’t ever get there. You see, Google Map’s directions are not always spot-on. I managed to get lost and spent the remainder of the morning never finding the park. But, I did see a lot of new area around the outskirts of Houston which I’d never seen before. I’ve read that seeing new places helps your brain’s neurons (or whatever) create new pathways, which in turn keeps you from getting age-related dementia too soon. So I guess the morning wasn’t a total waste.
By the time I finally found a highway that would take me home, I decided I might as well drive out to familiar ground instead of going back to my apartment. So I found myself showing the park ranger my annual Texas State Park pass and I spent a few hours at 40-Acre Lake in Brazos Bend State Park.
The weather was unbelievable. For a winter’s day, people were out in shorts and t-shirts. There still wasn’t much bird life, but the American alligators were sunning themselves in numbers.
Becky was out sunning herself too. Oh, and I was also testing my new Giga Pro T II wireless remote by Hahnel.
I’ve seen a bunch of these guys during my last few visits to Brazos Bend State Park, Texas. They also have nests in the oak trees in my mother’s front yard; every spring, one must be very careful where one steps in certain parts of the road under those trees in front of Mom’s house.
The thing about yellow-crowned night herons that draws my attention are their eyes. And they are great little posers.
The Sibley Guide to Birds says yellow-crowned night herons eat mainly crabs. This particular heron with its first summer plumage appears to prefer the large crayfish (aka crawdads or crawfish) inhabiting the park. Unfortunately for this guy, the paparazzi just wouldn’t let it eat in peace
I was driving home after a morning photo shoot at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. I looked over to the right side of the road, toward a concrete water tank. A large, quirky-looking bird was pecking at the ground. I stopped, grabbed my camera with the 70-200mm and 1.4x extender attached, carefully got out of the car, and managed to fire off one shot before the bird flew away.
A check in my Sibley Guide to Birds identified this bird as a Crested Caracara, a falcon that feeds mainly on carrion. I was subsequently informed by several Facebook friends that it’s seen a lot in Costa Rica, and is also known as the “Mexican Eagle”.
On the July morning of Friday the 13th, 2012, (which has always been a rather fortunate day for me), I drove out to the refuge for some neat cloud shots. On my way home, there were two caracaras on the road.
One of them flew onto a fencepost where it posed nicely for me until I started getting a little too close for its comfort level.
Both birds eventually landed high in some tree branches.
It was a good morning.
Great Kiskadee – Paradise Pond, Port Aransas TX
A taste of things to come once I start to work on the writeup of my 2-1/2 day weekend trip along the Texas coast. I’ve become enamored with bird photography and now understand why birders get so excited about seeing a certain bird. I’ve even got the Shipley’s Guide to Birds now, and it’s a really cool book!