White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus); female (doe)
I admit I’ve been trying to survive H1N1 influenza. That’s “swine flu” for anyone not up to date on the latest vernacular. Let me assure you that getting this is as unpleasant as any flu you’ve ever had. In fact, I’d say it’s worse if my experience is any indication.
So anyway… Given how absolutely beat up I’ve felt for more than two weeks, having the wherewithal to be up and about this past weekend gave me renewed hope that I might actually survive the plague.
And what did I do with my newfound ability to function outside the comfort of my own bed? I took a very brief walk Saturday morning at White Rock Lake. When that didn’t kill me, I took another walk Sunday morning. Both wiped me out and left me unable to do more than moan and groan, something The Kids objected to vehemently until I stopped being such a pansy and went to sleep. But anyway…
In both cases I left the house with very specific intentions: Saturday to chase the dadgummed kingfisher and Sunday to get good photos of the scissor-tailed flycatchers before they migrate south for winter (more of those photos in a forthcoming post).
While on my way Sunday morning to Winfrey Point to locate a trio of scissor-tailed flycatchers (parents with offspring) who I knew to be locatable and approachable, a shiny bauble in the grass caught my eye. You know how like a ferret I am when a sparkly trinket appears…
I was too weak to carry more lenses than the super-telephoto (100-400mm), and I didn’t think it mattered since I was going to photograph one specific thing. So there I stood facing a visually delectable tidbit in the grass with nothing but a massive long-distance lens to work with. It’s like having the winning lottery ticket and using it to start a fire because you’re freezing to death in the wilderness.
Still, I tried for some photos because the critter was not only large (about 30 mm/1.25 inches long), but it also had a way cool style with built-in bling.
The minimum focusing distance of my lens required me to stand at least two meters/yards away from the insect. That meant I couldn’t even move obstacles out of the way. The only hope of a clear view relied entirely on the wasp staying in the open.
But stay in the open it did, at least for a brief time, and by doing so it afforded me the opportunity to appreciate its golden highlights, a reflective decoration that looked like the best bling money could buy.
A gold mask, gold necklace, gold tank top worn like precious reins on a valiant steed… This bejeweled devil kept my attention as long as it wanted.
Known as a digger wasp (a.k.a. golden-reined wasp; Sphex habenus), this male no doubt bathed and preened and groomed in hopes of finding a lady friend who might take a liking to him.
Though he wandered into the grass and out of sight, I hoped as I walked away that he would be successful in his quest to find a mate before the change of seasons took the chance away forever.
When night rests dark amongst the trees and air falls wet upon the ground, the wild things grow.
Woodland denizens they are, and haters of the light.
They wither in places where sunshine reaches through verdant cover.
Nothing more than creatures of the dark and damp places where we scarcely go.
Finding them is simple if you brave the travel to where wild things grow.
[all photos of brick caps (Hypholoma sublateritium)]
If you’ve ever tried to photograph a kingfisher, you know they dislike people about as much as they dislike snakes in their nests. Most people hear kingfishers but never see them, or if they see them they only see this:
So when I set out yesterday morning to photograph the female belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) who lives and hunts around Sunset Bay at White Rock Lake, I had my work cut out for me.
She bickered and complained each time I approached. Moaning and groaning all the way, she would dash off to a most inconvenient perch, usually one across the bay or out in the middle of the lake, but sometimes nearby yet in a position that offered me nothing except the worst possible view.
I’m no fool, though. Well, not much of one anyway. I know her buttons and how not to press them, I know her territory and how she guards it, and most importantly, I know her ways and how to predict them.
So after she left the bay and headed inland along Dixon Branch, I followed, a casual stroll that took forever in my eyes—yet I knew she’d be waiting and where she’d be waiting, or at least thereabouts.
When I reached the bridge over the creek, I headed toward Loop 12, Buckner Boulevard, a six-lane nightmare for wildlife and a constant source of too much noise. With all the people wandering about the lake sans a clue as to the goodies hiding just a few steps away, I figured the kingfisher would get away from the fishermen and the joggers and the cyclists and the teeming mass of people.
I was right. Not too far from the thoroughfare in a place where plants on the bank gave her cover, I found her yammering away in protest of my intrusion. I knew she had few options with all the people, so I anticipated where she’d go to get away from me.
On a perch in the wide open…
Though I approached and felt happy with the opportunity to see her so closely, she flew the coop when some of the fishermen daftly walked up to her position. They had less of a clue than a sack of wet hair…