Spring Cleaning

As the locals can attest, Spring is over for us and we are heading quickly into Summer. Most days have a bit of clouds in the morning, but by noon it is just relentless heat and humidity. Except this week - we were treated to downpours and flash floods. For those curious about our weather, take a look at this Wikipedia article: Climate of Houston.

Here is just a brief quote under the Summer paragraph:

The temperatures in the summer in Houston are very similar to average temperatures seen in tropical climates, such as in the Philippines and Central America.

Already most of the days are too sunny for photographs in my opinion. I am going through the archives for oddities and edits from when it was nice outside. You know, like I did in the adventure called Short Stories. We can call this one Cows and Flowers for now. Or Bovines and Blossoms. And most of these photos have been post-processed with different plug-ins and treatments such as Fractalius, Topaz Labs, NIK Collection and/or Photoshop. If you want the details, drop me a line from the contact page.

Calf meets Cattle Egrets Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1250 sec. f/6.3 ISO 400

Calf meets Cattle Egrets

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1250 sec. f/6.3 ISO 400

Recently on the way back from Brazos Bend State Park, we stopped to check out a huge flock of Cattle Egrets and their objects of affection, cows. Each cow seemed to have 5 or 6 birds following closely behind, eating insects the cows scare up as the move through the fields. Near the stock tank we hoped to get a cow with an egret on his back; you know, like you see on Wild Kingdom with the African wildebeests. Is that show still on? Anyway, you get extra points if you have a photo of a Cattle Egret on the back of a cow, bonus points if the bird has breeding colors.

My 400mm lens didn't bring in the bird detail I had hoped for, but the cow and bird interactions were fascinating.

Calf foils attempt to land on cow Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/2000 sec. f/7.1 ISO 400

Calf foils attempt to land on cow

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/2000 sec. f/7.1 ISO 400

It seemed the young calves did not like the egret's landing on their mom. Maybe I am anthropomorphizing here, but several times I saw a calf nudge the bird out of the way. Perhaps it takes time to get used to them; the adult cows paid no attention whatsoever to the birds.

Curious calf Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1000 sec. f/6.3 ISO 400

Curious calf

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1000 sec. f/6.3 ISO 400

After taking way too many shots from the vehicle, we got out and walked up to the fence. Mostly we were ignored, by the birds and cows, but the youngsters were rather curious.

The light was harsh and horrible; the post-processing with the various plug-ins and filters makes them much more interesting. IMO.

Firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/800 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1600

Firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella)

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/800 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1600

These are some wildflowers I found at Lafitte's Cove in Galveston on the way to see all those pretty warblers. The wind was rather strong and I liked the way the backside of the flowers looked. I have seen that described as the 'flower butt' on some Instagram macro shots, but I never really cared for that term.  These are Gaillardia and have been processed with some of my magic Photoshop plug-ins and mad skillz.

Cow munching on new greens Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1000 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Cow munching on new greens

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1000 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

This cow was found along side the park road at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. I believe it was late the same day I found the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, or it could have been a different trip. We usually end up at that park late in the day because of the nice afternoon light.

Texas has lots of rural open areas, and cows graze right next to collections of MacMansions, near refineries and along bayous.

Thistles. I just bet they are covered with chiggers. Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/100 sec. f/9.0 ISO 1600

Thistles. I just bet they are covered with chiggers.

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/100 sec. f/9.0 ISO 1600

Have you noticed those thistles growing up in vacant fields or along the roadside? This one got some artistic treatments with Topaz Simplify. I should be a lot more careful wading out in the tall grass for these shots. Why?

Chiggers.

Butterfly and purple flowers at Elm Lake, Brazos Bend State Park Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1000 sec. f/7.1 ISO 1600

Butterfly and purple flowers at Elm Lake, Brazos Bend State Park

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1000 sec. f/7.1 ISO 1600

The flower here is not that attractive, but the butterfly didn't seem to mind. This was taken at Brazos Bend with my 400mm lens; usually I have my little Panasonic FZ200 for macro work, but it was back in the car this trip. I like the background better even if I couldn't get as close. Did you know butterflies seem to prefer purple flowers?

Surprise deer Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1000 sec. f/5.6 ISO 800

Surprise deer

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1000 sec. f/5.6 ISO 800

Deer at Brazos Bend State Park can often be seen in small groups on the sides of the main road early mornings. But not always. This one crossed the path one afternoon and then disappeared into the brush. The photo is a bit dark but in these cases, I shoot with the settings I have; no time to change. Maybe I will get faster with that.

It is warming up, and the pretty little warblers have left for the North. Shorebirds are sporting breeding colors and the dragonflies and damselflies are more noticeable.

Life is good.

Pelicans

Pelicans

Herons of the Night

Herons of the Night