Alligators and Bitterns

This is a re-post from my emailed Nature Reports from November 4, 2012

Saturday morning was a trip to my favorite, Brazos Bend State Park. I left while it was still dark (dodging a river on my street where a water main had broken overnight) and got to the park just as the sun was coming up. The ground fog is so pretty but it burned off fast. One of the volunteers told me that on Friday the fog hung around most of the morning; it was a black and white world.

I started at the pier on 40-acre lake and tried my hand at sunrise pictures. You will not be subjected to my failures; obviously I need to practice more. But, the light certainly contributed to this shot:

Awesome Alligator

Awesome Alligator

I am going to use it for my desktop at work. Should keep me awake during long call-in meetings, don't you think? In case you want to become an expert this is an American Alligator.

The lake is low, the leaves are turning. I am curious to how things will look in the winter. Already, you can see into the woods in places where it was a solid wall of green during the summer.

View from the pier to the west

View from the pier to the west

Traveling around on the trail (which goes behind that row of trees) to the Observation Tower, I found my old friend the Bittern. He was out in the open and consented to pose for a while. Still, the background is so messy. I am getting very particular about my shots.

American Bittern

American Bittern

I almost got a great woodpecker shot. He was close enough and I had him in focus, but the sun was coming in from the side so strong I was practically blinded. I just had to guess and none of them came out nice. They are pretty fast movers.

There were some Ibis that squawked at me, herons and egrets out of camera range and lots and lots of sparrows. There are almost impossible to identify when they are up close, but in the brush they blend in and are just movements. There is a whole class in sparrow identification at Audubon; not sure if I can sustain enough interest for that. But, lots of cheep cheep noises on the trail.

Passing the Observation Tower (where I changed my battery) each side of the trail had a lot of noise. This cheeping plus the falling leaves keep you constantly looking for birds. This is probably my best Over Caffeinated Plain Flitting Around Bird. Ever.

Female Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Female Ruby Crowned Kinglet

During lunch at the picnic tables looking out on the lake, I was thinking how much I really enjoy the quiet. No phones (well, I don't have one of those) but no email, no noise, nobody wants anything. And you are far away from everyday life.

Made a quick trip over to Creekfield Lake. I have to practice more on my scenery shots. There are some Cypress trees there with spectacular fall color but nothing came out well enough to brag about. I even got really brave and tried some white egrets in flight! Maybe next time.

These are the famous Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. I watched them for a while. These are all adults; and they are not happy when another tried to squeeze in on the log. They squawk and peck at the newcomers. Funny how most of them are looking the same direction, even if the one that is facing the other way.

Whistling Ducks all in a row

Whistling Ducks all in a row

And the juveniles are exiled to a smaller clump of dry land. None were brave enough to try to sit with the adults on the log.

Juvenile Whistling Ducks at the Children's Table

Juvenile Whistling Ducks at the Children's Table

Nice day and nice photos. Enjoy the fall weather.

Fall colors in South Texas

Fall colors in South Texas

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A trip to the coast

In which our heroine gets an idea

In which our heroine gets an idea