On Christmas day, after most humans already had disposed of the fancy paper and ribbons that surrounded their gifts, this pretty cattail (Typha latifolia) continued unwrapping itself at the edge of a Brazoria Wildlife Refuge pond.
Pleased by the vaguely octagonal framing these aquatic plants had provided for themselves — a framing emphasized by some creative cropping — I paused to look more closely at the image.
As so often happens, I’d missed a few things when taking the photo: especially two dragonflies perched on the plants, and a very small, very young alligator cruising through the reflected reeds.
Given to pareidolia — the tendency to recognize familiar images in unfamiliar places, like a man in the moon or a dragon in the clouds — it wasn’t long before I noticed an angelfish cruising through the air, well above more ordinary fish still forced to live in the water.
Somewhere, an aquarium may be missing a resident.
While most of us have seen birds splashing in water to find relief during hot weather, other cooling techniques are available to them. Lifting or spreading their wings, allowing the flow of air across unfeathered or less-feathered body parts, also helps to dissipate the heat of summer.
Because I’ve usually been at work and without a camera at hand when I’ve seen great blue herons engaging in the behavior, I was especially pleased to find this pied-billed grebe with raised wings at the Brazoria Wildflife Refuge near the end of July.
Despite their reputation for being a bit skittish and camera-shy, this grebe continued its behavior for nearly fifteen minutes. Raising and lowering its wings in a slow, repetitive pattern allowed body heat to escape, and keeping its wings raised for as much as a minute at a time might have caught a bit of breeze as well.