The Guardian of the Gaillardia


At Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve on Galveston Island’s west end, I found this Snowy Egret huddled against yesterday’s wind on the far side of the pond. Nearer at hand, still-vibrant Gaillardia pulchella continued to bloom, providing a bit of autumn color as well as a pleasant framing for the bird.


Comments always are welcome. Click on the image for greater size and detail.

41 thoughts on “The Guardian of the Gaillardia

    1. Thanks, David. In the past, I’ve accidentally created an image or two with a softly-focused foreground. This time, I tried to do so intentionally. I liked the result as much as I enjoyed the conversation with the people who wondered why I was lying flat on the ground at the pond’s edge!

  1. Lying on the ground? You need an alligator (or cranky at being invaded turtle) spotter! That little preserve is tucked in there so quietly.
    Works just as well for a holiday picture…after all, the snowy…
    Love the blur that neatly frames the subject!

    1. Sometimes the ground’s the only option. It is good to know that game wardens, deputies, and various plain old passersby are willing to check out grey-haired ladies who’ve gone prone, though. It is a kick to intend something photographically, and then more-or-less pull it off. There were so many Gaillardia blooming I just had to put them to use.

    1. It was interesting to see how different the same species of bird looks with a different background. I was able to watch this one stirring up the water with its foot to get the prey to come to the surface, too. I’d read about it, but never seen it so clearly.

    1. I didn’t notice how well the reflection had turned out until I got home; my attention was so focused on the bird and the flowers it never occurred to me I could manage the reflection, too. It’s a trifecta!

    1. A bloompath is much more appealing than a warpath, that’s for sure. I think I’ve seen both flowers in every month of the year. I know I’ve seen them in January, though at that point it’s hard to say whether they’re ‘late’ or ‘early.’

      I can’t for the life of me figure out why I’ve never seen an egret with dirty feathers. You’d think that at least the ones patrolling the mud flats would need a little extra cleaning, but they don’t seem to. More research is required.

    1. There are some photos here. Do a search for Lafitte’s Cove, and you’ll find all kinds of information; it’s one of Galveston’s best known birding hotspots. Coming from Sea Isle, it’s north of the Blue Water Highway at Pirate’s Beach, off Stewart Road between 12 Mile and 11 Mile Roads.

    1. If there were, I wonder what the password would be? Since it’s living in a place named for the famous pirate, Jean Lafitte — who frequented the area — maybe “Ahoy, matey!” would do.

    1. Aren’t those eyes great? He did seem to be curious about what I was up to, even though we were on opposite sides of the pond. His expression suggests attentiveness, to say the least.

  2. I see you’ve had a lot of rain down there … and parts now are under a freeze warning. Hope this pretty bird has found a safe haven to hunker down in until the sun comes back out to warm things up!

    1. We’ve had the rain, but no freeze for us. In Houston and points north, it probably will get a little frosty, but our avian friends have those feathers for a reason — they wear personalized down jackets. I’ll bet you’re wearing a jacket now, too.

    1. I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to those golden lores, but you’re right — the color complements the red and yellow of the flowers very nicely. I’m glad those flowers still were blooming; they were great fun to work with.

    1. I had fun with this one. The idea came lickety-split, but the execution took a little longer. It was fun to see so many Gaillardia in bloom, and even more fun to put them to such good use.

    1. I just learned they have special feathers, called powder down. That’s part of the reason they stay so pretty and white; the powder down apparently ‘slicks up’ their feathers, helping them to get rid of mud and such when they preen. They certainly do a good job of it. I can’t remember ever seeing a dirty heron, except for their beak and their legs.

  3. Terrific photograph! Love the composition and, of course, the handsome subject.

    On our next trip to Houston we’ll try and visit this preserve.

    Now I’m on a quest. Obtain a photograph of a dirty Snowy Egret. (Now I’m humming … “oh, them golden slippers …)

    1. This place is set up for birding, with oak motts and such as well as ponds. It’s a true hot spot during spring migration. There’s another place just down the road, at the corner of Stewart Road and Settegast/11Mile Road: the Artist Boat. They have a new observation platform, and nice hiking trails.

      Here’s my favorite version of “Golden Slippers. When I lived in Salt Lake City, I had the pleasure of running into this group at a beer-and-bluegrass place up Cottonwood Canyon. I got permission to use their version of “Railroading on the Great Divide in the only Youtube video I ever posted.

  4. That added soft color really makes this a delightful image of the snowy, Linda. And as you might imagine, it’s so nice for someone here in the cold north to see some warm bloom despite that chilly wind you mention.

    1. As you might imagine, I was pretty pleased with myself when I pulled this off. Sometimes I get a great idea for a photo, but the result isn’t quite what I’ve imagined. This really worked, and I thought the balance between the bird and the color was great. Of course, I’m easily pleased, so there’s that!

      1. I am guessing you are not that easily pleased as you have shown to be a quick learner, have obviously worked at it, and are a very good photographer. We all take images that make us wonder what we were thinking. They seem great on the back of the camera but not so much on a large display.

    1. Thanks, Dina. I was really pleased with the way the photo turned out — and pleased that there still were some flowers blooming to frame the bird. It’s such fun to see what a camera can do!

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