Winter visitors – Part 2

Quiet.  Even at this hour, it blankets the world around me.

Feeble sunshine winks through wisps of cirrus as a distant star lingers over the horizon.  Soon it will cast no more light except what bends and bounces through the atmosphere.

A male redhead (Aythya americana) swimming in White Rock Lake (2009_11_15_039836)

Nightfall comes soon these days.

Overhead, silently as though nothing more than apparitions of the mind, three American white pelicans glide effortlessly, their wings slightly bent to slow their momentum.  They come to join their brethren at the lake for what the season brings.  Shadows against a sky dimly lit by dusk, they do not speak and do not waver.  Soon they will rest with familiars in a place wherein they are protected, welcomed, enjoyed in their natural state.

A crisp, autumnal cool front passed by recently.  The air feels dry as it brushes my cheek with soft caresses promising winter’s impending arrival.

A male northern pintail (Anas acuta) sleeping near the shore of White Rock Lake (2009_11_15_040011)

And in the week ahead, my beloved friend seems perched behind falling leaves and a landscape turning bare, for even though the hour is late, cooler temperatures now prevail—though cooler only than yesterday and last week and last month, but not cool enough yet.

What can I say but from my love of such things comes great joy.

The brisk touch of icy fingers born on northerly winds…

Air cleansed by squeezing hands wrought of arctic intent…

A male lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) swimming in White Rock Lake (2009_11_14_038655)

Huddled masses of humans seeking every bit of sunlight in which to stand, afraid of what shivers shade might bring…

The smell of cold, even by Texas standards, that rests sweetly on the tongue…

Visitors from far off places blessing me with their arrivals, their taking shelter here from what besets their homes elsewhere…

A white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) perched in a tree at White Rock Lake (2009_11_14_038971)

Trees shed their summer clothes in favor of the stoic dress of winter, bare limbs standing like skeletons against brief days and long nights…

The rustle of leaves carried to and fro tickles my ears…

These things and more carry beauty to the very heart of me.

A female dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis) foraging on the ground at White Rock Lake (2009_11_01_036852)

This is my season, this season of cold, this season of change.

A song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) perched in reeds along the shore of White Rock Lake (2009_02_03_006432)

Let winter come.  Let Nature bring her chill upon the land.  I’m ready.  I’m wanting.

— — — — — — — — — —

Photos:

[1] A male redhead (Aythya americana).  He and his mate arrived early one morning under the cover of heavy clouds.  Less gregarious than their scaup and mallard cousins, the two ducks remained far out in the middle of the lake and visited the shore only briefly.

[2] A male northern pintail (Anas acuta).  Never have I seen a female pintail at the lake, though one or more males often spend winter here.  A truly global species, pintails occupy the entire northern hemisphere as one vast population with no known subspecies.

[3] A male lesser scaup (Aythya affinis).  Before autumn gives way to winter, he will be joined by many of his friends, both males and females, and the group of them will mingle with coots and ducks and cormorants and pelicans and a host of other waterfowl and shorebirds who overwinter at White Rock Lake.

[4] Though I recently covered many of the sparrow species visiting for the season, the white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) was not included.  These birds, like spotted towhees and brown thrashers, spend a great deal of time rummaging through dense brush and thickets, hence they aren’t always easy to photograph—though they certainly are easy to hear.  I lucked out when this one perched high in a tree and sat patiently while I tried to snap a few photos.

[5] Another sparrow species not covered in my previous entry is the dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis).  Juncos are in fact sparrows, though unlike most of their brethren they lack the typical sparrow colors and patterns.  Their clean markings and small size make them a delight to see.

[6] An additional sparrow that overwinters in Dallas is the song sparrow (Melospiza melodia).  Their soft call and distinctive song fill the marshes and reed beds around the lake.

6 thoughts on “Winter visitors – Part 2”

  1. Your photos are beautiful, your words bring tears to my eyes. Even if I don’t comment I am reading every word you write, bringing a touch of gentleness and reason to my day.

  2. You say, “Trees shed their summer clothes in favor of the stoic dress of winter, bare limbs standing like skeletons against brief days and long nights.” I say something far less articulate, “Naked.” Hmmm. We are basically the same but so different.

    I love this post so much I read it twice. What a talent you have. Your bird photography is above and beyond the rest, and your words…wow.

    1. LOL! “Naked.” Yes, that summed it up nicely and tickled me so.

      Read it twice? That’s a marvelous compliment, Mary. Thank you! And I’m glad you like the photos. You honor me with your comment about my photography. Again, thank you!

    1. Thank you for the kind compliment, Laura! I’m also fond of ducks. In winter when the world begins to feel bare, the variety of overwintering ducks that arrive add back all the color and vigor that autumn hides away for spring.

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