Keeping an Eye on the Prize

 

Given the form of the ripples, I suspect this juvenile Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) had its eyes on a crab rather than a fish.

Its yellow feet, sometimes called ‘yellow slippers,’ make these birds unmistakable as adults, but it can be easy to confuse young Snowy Egrets with juvenile Little Blue Herons. In this case, the lime green leg color, the black bands on the front of the legs, and the crouched foraging posture helped to confirm its identity.

Although I watched and waited for nearly ten minutes, the strike I anticipated never came: the prey continued to swim, and the bird continued to watch. If patience be a virtue, this is a very virtuous bird.

 

Comments always are welcome. Click on any photo for greater size and detail.

Those Serendipitous Sunflowers

Show all the blooms, but show them slant (with apologies to Emily Dickinson)

For weeks I chased Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) like a birder in hot pursuit of a rare species. Initially, I thought I’d found them at the Attwater refuge, but after both a friend and a member of the refuge staff persuaded me that my glorious find was swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius), I knew I’d have to look farther.

One morning, in the process of just roaming around, I passed a patch of vibrant yellow leaning against a pasture fence.  Even at 60 mph, it seemed unusually substantial, so a mile down the road I turned around in a driveway and hustled back to the fence. My instincts had been right. The flowers were Maximilians: beginning to fade, but still glowing as they slanted into the rising light.

I’d always assumed Maximilians were a central-Texas-and-north flower, but I’d missed seeing that the USDA map suggested otherwise. I began looking more closely, and on a small patch of land less than a quarter mile from the Galveston/Brazoria county line, I found them again. Well on their way to forming seed, their little patch of land had escaped both public and private mowers.

As the day progressed, haze from burning fields obscured the morning’s pure blue skies, but added a certain delicacy to some of the images. Here are a few of my favorites from that unexpected encounter.

If one bloom is good, more can be better
A few clouds provide a pleasing background
When it comes to growth, horizontal does as well as vertical
Hazy skies and scattered grasses lend a delicate air
This feels as old-fashioned as my grandmother’s kitchen
A photo-bombing leaf? It’s odd, but I like it
An attractive combination of seed head and bloom
The plant’s graceful leaves deserve equal time
A late season treat for pollinators

 

Comments always are welcome.

My Favorite Autumn Leif

Of all the people I meet on the road, motorcyclists tend to be the friendliest and most interesting. Sometimes they’re fairly high on the wackiness scale, like this fellow riding with his club in Arkansas, but wackiness adds spice to life — especially when it arrives wearing a faux-Viking helmet and introducing itself as ‘Leif.’

Increasingly, groups of riders are cruising the Texas countryside, stopping for refreshment in places like the aptly-named Cruisers Ice House outside Santa Fe.  Hill Country loops are especially favored; after a run through the famed route known as the ‘Twisted Sisters,’ riders congregate at Medina’s Apple Store, gas up at the Country Store near Lost Maples, visit the Motorcycle Museum near Vanderpool, or head to Camp Wood for burgers and beer.

They’re not alone. Miatas and Corvettes flock to the roads, and occasionally even a prim little sedan can be seen scooting over the hills, taking those curves with perhaps a little too much verve.

From now until March, bridge replacement on a portion of the Twisted Sisters will necessitate a detour, but that’s hardly a reason for concern. Untraveled roads abound; who wouldn’t want to be in the driver’s seat?

Take a ride with the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club

 

Comments always are welcome.