Scenes from Aransas

Despite uncooperative weather at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge during my visit last week, weather that made distance photography all but impossible, the fog and drizzle and thick clouds served one important purpose: to remind me that the clear view can sometimes obscure, that the richness of color and texture and form can sometimes be appreciated only when nature forces us to look at things differently.

A female bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) swimming in shallows just before sunrise (2009_12_13_043908)

Just before sunrise I stood at Jones Lake and watched a variety of wildlife start the day.  This lone female bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) swam lazily about the shallows.

A tricolored heron (a.k.a. Louisiana heron; Egretta tricolor) resting in a freshwater slough (2009_12_13_044364)

Alligators fill in warmer times the freshwater sloughs along the Heron Flats trail.  Too cool for the large reptiles to pose a threat, this tricolored heron (a.k.a. Louisiana heron; Egretta tricolor) seemed comfortably unconcerned with the cold-blooded dangers lurking in dens hidden around the area.

A male gadwall (Anas strepera) floating in a tidal marsh (2009_12_13_044380)

A plaintive, lonely cry.  That drew my attention to the tidal flats where this male gadwall (Anas strepera) floated by himself.  A few more calls and his mate scrambled from the marshy salt flat quite near where I stood.

A willet (Tringa semipalmata) flying over a foggy marsh (2009_12_13_044741)

Back at Jones Lake later in the afternoon, the weather had deteriorated significantly.  But the thickening fog couldn’t hide this willet (Tringa semipalmata) who flew in from the gray beyond and joined several friends near shore.

A great blue heron (Ardea herodias) standing on a salt flat in thick fog (2009_12_13_044764)

From Jones Lake I moved to the salt marsh and walked the boardwalk to the shore.  In a nearby flat this great blue heron (Ardea herodias) was little more than a shadow in an increasingly gray world.

A foggy shoreline with felled trees (2009_12_13_044542)

The Dagger Point lookout faces into San Antonio Bay where slow erosion of the shore undercuts sand hills and drops oak and redbay trees into the water below.  The fog had become so thick that only what was within arm’s length retained color while everything beyond faded into a world with no ground, no air and no sky—all was a kaleidoscope of gray.  When it moved its head, my eyes were drawn to the great blue heron perched atop the highest limb on the left; otherwise, it was one shadow amongst many, a distant and dark extension of the fallen tree upon which it stood.

8 thoughts on “Scenes from Aransas”

    1. I’m with you, Jain. Great blue herons are pure delight. So large, so beautiful, so full of verve and vigor. Even though I see them every day, each time is like the first time.

      And thank you! I’m glad you liked the photos.

  1. The crispness of the willet against the blur of the ground below is a spectacular image.

    Might I add how impressed I am to see the bird names appended with their scientific names – bravo!

    1. Thank you, Ted! There were perhaps five or six willets on the ground, but the fog and winter vegetation made them invisible–so I was quite happy when this one flew in and gave me an easier scene to capture.

      As for the scientific names, I always try (key word: try) to put the scientific names with anything I can identify–flora, fauna, fungi, whatever. It’s my way of forcing myself to learn since I can’t put a scientific name with something if I don’t know precisely what it is. (Yes, I’m a big ol’ geek that way…)

    1. Thanks, Amber! I’ll be honest and say I was quite frustrated at first. But then when it became clear the weather wasn’t going to cooperate, I decided I might as well try to use it.

    1. I’m glad you like them, Jessamyn. Thank you! Though the bad weather kept me from photographing what I went there for (whooping cranes), it did offer some nice consolation prizes.

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